Alaska is the largest state in the U.S., and also the least densely populated. It was purchased from the Russian Empire in 1867 for about two cents per acre. After several administrative changes, Alaska became an official territory of the U.S. in 1912, and the 49th state of the United States in 1959.

Alaska is divided into Boroughs in lieu of counties. Eighteen organized boroughs cover the most densely populated parts of the state. The Municipality of Anchorage is the most populous borough, followed by the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Alaskan land that falls outside the 18 organized boroughs is referred to as belonging to the "Unorganized Borough." It covers over half of Alaska's area, which is larger than any other US state. Only 13% of Alaskans reside in the Unorganized Borough.

Resident Benefits
Oil production is a major part of the economy of Alaska. One attractive feature to being a resident of the state is the "Permanent Fund," which determines where the revenues from energy production are appropriated. Each year, 5% of the dividends are distributed equally to all qualifying Alaskans.

To qualify for this payment, one must have lived in the state for a minimum of 12 months, maintain constant residency and not be subject to court judgments or criminal convictions. Alaska also does not collect sales tax or individual income tax from its residents, another perk of living in this state.

Darkness and Daylight
Due to its unique location on the map, Alaska has periods where the sun doesn't set at night, and other times when the sun doesn't rise in the mornings. This state has the longest day of the year in the U.S., when there is no sunset for 82 days in the summer. The longest night occurs with no sunrise for 67 days in the winter.

The extended period of darkness in particular takes a toll on the psychological well-being of many Alaskan residents. Many people have found that light therapy, antidepressants, or vacationing to sunnier places during the winter can help to counteract the negative effects of the extended darkness.

Substance Abuse
Alaska has an ongoing substance abuse problem, especially among the rural communities. A significant number of Alaska Natives were introduced to alcohol in the 1950's.  By the 1970's, alcoholism had become a leading cause of death among Alaska Natives. The suicide rate among this population also had a dramatic increase in the 1970's, and continues to be a large problem today.

The current suicide rate in Alaska is four times the national average, and 80% of these suicides are alcohol related. Many of the rural communities have outlawed the importation of alcoholic beverages, but this has not remedied the problem.

Alaska has the highest rate of sexual assault in the United States. Domestic abuse and other violent crimes are also at very high levels. This is thought to be due to a high incidence of alcohol abuse. The rate of incarceration in Alaska is 357 per 100,000 people, which is lower than the U.S. rate of 502.

Alaska Jails