Alaska is a land of superlatives. It claims the largest land of area of the 50 states, 586,400 square miles. It also contains the tallest mountain in the Western Hemisphere (Mount McKinley at 20,230 feet). It's span from the tip of the panhandle to the tip of the Aleutian Islands is equal to the span of the continental United States from the east coast to the west. It's names include "The Last Frontier" (the official state motto), "The Land of the Midnight Sun" (in mid-summer, the sun never sets in locations north of Anchorage), and "Seward's Ice-box" (arising from the all-but-forgotten criticism of William H. Seward's purchase of the territory at 2.5 cents per acre!).
On January 3rd, 1959, Alaska became the 49th state to enter the Union. With a population about 635,000 in 2001, it has a population density of only 1.1 persons per square mile. More than half of these are located in the Anchorage area (if you include Matanuska Valley).
A midnight landing in Anchorage with the sun watching from the tips of mountain peaks to the north, after timeless hours of watching a forbidding landscape of glacier-covered, towering, jagged mountains pass beneath, properly initiates the eerie and mystical effect of a visit to this land.
For More Information:
See Wikipedia's Alaska page.