Alaska is a U.S. state in the northwest extremity of the United States West Coast, just across the Bering Strait from Asia. The Canadian province of British Columbia and territory of Yukon border the state to the east and southeast. Its most extreme western part is Attu Island, and it has a maritime border with Russia to the west across the Bering Strait. To the north are the Chukchi and Beaufort seas—southern parts of the Arctic Ocean. The Pacific Ocean lies to the south and southwest. It is the largest U.S. state by area and the seventh largest subnational division in the world. In addition, it is the 3rd least populous and the most sparsely populated of the 50 United States; nevertheless, it is by far the most populous territory located mostly north of the 60th parallel in North America: its population—estimated at 738,432 by the United States Census Bureau in 2015 - is more than quadruple the combined populations of Northern Canada and Greenland. Approximately half of Alaska's residents live within the Anchorage metropolitan area. Alaska's economy is dominated by the fishing, natural gas, and oil industries, resources which it has in abundance. United States armed forces bases and tourism are also a significant part of the economy.
On March 30, 1867, the United States purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire for 7.2 million U.S. dollars, or approximately two cents per acre ($4.74/km2). The area went through several administrative changes before becoming organized as a territory on May 11, 1912. It was admitted as the 49th state of the U.S. on January 3, 1959.
Alaska is truly different and unique. It has more mountains, glaciers, and wildlife than just about anywhere else in the world. Alaska is an ever-popular destination with more people than ever visiting the 49th state. In fact, visitation records have been set year-after-year with an estimated 2,026,300 visitors travelling to Alaska between May and September 2018.
More than half of all visitors coming to Alaska arrive by cruise ship. In 2018, 1,169,000 travelled by cruise ship, 760,100 were air visitors, and 97,200 were high/ferry visitors.
There are thousands of businesses that depend on the passengers coming to Alaska to take their tours, dine in their restaurants, and stay in their guest rooms. Visitors benefit a multitude of Alaskans in different ways.