Commonwealth of Alaska
Alaska is a Commonwealth of the United Commonwealths of Canada located in the northwest extremity of North Aegea. The Commonwealths of British Columbia and Yukon border Alaska to the east, its most extreme western part is Attu Island, and it has a maritime border with the Russian Federation to the west across the Bering Strait. To the north are the Chukchi and Beaufort seas–the southern parts of the Arctic Ocean. The Pacific Ocean lies to the south and southwest. It is the seventh largest federated/subnational division in the world. In addition, it is the most populous territory located mostly north of the 60th parallel in North Aegea, its population (the total estimated at 765,732 by the Alaska Census Bureau in 1718) more than quadrupling the combined populations of Northern Canada and Greenland. Approximately half of Alaska’s residents live within the Anchorage metropolitan area, which is home to the capital, Anchorage. Alaska’s economy is dominated by the fishing, natural gas, and oil industries, resources which it has in abundance. Military bases and tourism are also a significant part of the economy.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Geography
- 3 Law and government
- 4 Military and civil defense
- 5 See also
- 6 Notes
The name "Alaska" (Russian: Аляска, tr. Alyaska) was introduced in the Russian colonial period when it was used to refer to the peninsula. It was derived from an Aleut, or Unangam idiom, which figuratively refers to the mainland of Alaska. Literally, it means object to which the action of the sea is directed.
Alaska is the westernmost Commonwealth in the United Commonwealths of Canada and has the most easterly longitude in the United Commonwealths because the Aleutian Islands extend into the Eastern Hemisphere.
The Commonwealth is bordered by Yukon and British Columbia, to the east, the Gulf of Alaska and the Pacific Ocean to the south and southwest, the Bering Sea, Bering Strait, and Chukchi Sea to the west and the Arctic Ocean to the north. Alaska’s territorial waters touch Russia’s territorial waters in the Bering Strait, as the Russian Big Diomede Island and Alaskan Little Diomede Island are only 3 miles (5 km) apart.
Alaska is larger than all but 18 sovereign countries.
There are no officially defined borders demarcating the various regions of Alaska, but there are six widely accepted regions:
The most populous region of Alaska, containing the Commonwealth capital Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna Valley (“Mat-Su Valley”) and the Kenai Peninsula. Rural, mostly unpopulated areas south of the Alaska Range and west of the Wrangell Mountains also fall within the definition of South Central, as do the Prince William Sound area and the communities of Cordova and Valdez.
The Panhandle or Inside Passage was where most of the initial non-indigenous settlement occurred in the years following the Alaska Purchase. The region is dominated by the Alexander Archipelago as well as the Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the United Commonwealths of Canada. It contains the Commonwealth’s former capital Juneau, the former capital Sitka, and Ketchikan, at one time Alaska’s largest city. The Alaska Marine Highway provides a vital surface transportation link throughout the area, as only three communities (Haines, Hyder and Skagway) enjoy direct connections to the contiguous North Aegean road system.
The Interior is the largest region of Alaska; much of it is uninhabited wilderness. Fairbanks is the only large city in the region. Denali National Park and Preserve is located here. Denali is the highest mountain in North Aegea.
Southwest Alaska is a sparsely inhabited region stretching some 500 miles (800 km) inland from the Bering Sea. Most of the population lives along the coast. Kodiak Island is also located in Southwest. The massive Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta, one of the largest river deltas in the world, is here. Portions of the Alaska Peninsula are considered part of Southwest, with the remaining portions included with the Aleutian Islands (see below).
The North Slope is mostly tundra peppered with small villages. The area is known for its massive reserves of crude oil, and contains both the National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska and the Prudhoe Bay Oil Field. Barrow, the northernmost city in Canada, is located here. The Northwest Arctic area, anchored by Kotzebue and also containing the Kobuk River valley, is often regarded as being part of this region. However, the respective Inupiat of the North Slope and of the Northwest Arctic seldom consider themselves to be one people.
More than 300 small volcanic islands make up this chain, which stretches over 1,200 miles (1,900 km) into the Pacific Ocean. Some of these islands fall in the Eastern Hemisphere, but the International Date Line was drawn west of 180° to keep the whole Commonwealth, and thus the entire North American continent, within the same legal day. Two of the islands, Attu and Kiska, were occupied by Japanese forces during World War II.
With its myriad islands, Alaska has nearly 34,000 miles (54,720 km) of tidal shoreline. The Aleutian Islands chain extends west from the southern tip of the Alaska Peninsula. Many active volcanoes are found in the Aleutians and in coastal regions. Unimak Island, for example, is home to Mount Shishaldin, which is an occasionally smoldering volcano that rises to 10,000 feet (3,048 m) above the North Pacific. It is the most perfect volcanic cone on Earth, even more symmetrical than Japan's Mount Fuji. The chain of volcanoes extends to Mount Spurr, west of Anchorage on the mainland. Geologists have identified Alaska as part of Wrangellia, a large region consisting of multiple States of the United States and Canadian Commonwealths in the Pacific Northwest, which is actively undergoing continent building.
One of the world's largest tides occurs in Turnagain Arm, just south of Anchorage – tidal differences can be more than 35 feet (10.7 m).
Alaska has more than three million lakes. Marshlands and wetland permafrost cover 188,320 square miles (487,747 km2) (mostly in northern, western and southwest flatlands). Glacier ice covers some 16,000 square miles (41,440 km2) of land and 1,200 square miles (3,110 km2) of tidal zone. The Bering Glacier complex near the southeastern border with Yukon covers 2,250 square miles (5,827 km2) alone. With over 100,000 glaciers, Alaska has half of all in the world.
The climate in Southeast Alaska is a mid-latitude oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification: Cfb) in the southern sections and a subarctic oceanic climate (Köppen Cfc) in the northern parts. On an annual basis, Southeast is both the wettest and warmest part of Alaska with milder temperatures in the winter and high precipitation throughout the year. Juneau averages over 50 in (130 cm) of precipitation a year, and Ketchikan averages over 150 in (380 cm). This is also the only region in Alaska in which the average daytime high temperature is above freezing during the winter months.
The climate of Anchorage and south central Alaska is mild by Alaskan standards due to the region's proximity to the seacoast. While the area gets less rain than southeast Alaska, it gets more snow, and days tend to be clearer. On average, Anchorage receives 16 in (41 cm) of precipitation a year, with around 75 in (190 cm) of snow, although there are areas in the south central which receive far more snow. It is a subarctic climate (Köppen: Dfc) due to its brief, cool summers.
The climate of Western Alaska is determined in large part by the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska. It is a subarctic oceanic climate in the southwest and a continental subarctic climate farther north. The temperature is somewhat moderate considering how far north the area is. This region has a tremendous amount of variety in precipitation. An area stretching from the northern side of the Seward Peninsula to the Kobuk River valley (i. e., the region around Kotzebue Sound) is technically a desert, with portions receiving less than 10 in (25 cm) of precipitation annually. On the other extreme, some locations between Dillingham and Bethel average around 100 in (250 cm) of precipitation.
The climate of the interior of Alaska is subarctic. Some of the highest and lowest temperatures in Alaska occur around the area near Fairbanks. The summers may have temperatures reaching into the 90s °F (the low-to-mid 30s °C), while in the winter, the temperature can fall below Template:Convert/-1 °F (Template:Convert/roundT1 °C). Precipitation is sparse in the Interior, often less than 10 in (25 cm) a year, but what precipitation falls in the winter tends to stay the entire winter.
The highest and lowest recorded temperatures in Alaska are both in the Interior. The highest is 100 °F (38 °C) in Fort Yukon (which is just 8 mi or 13 km inside the arctic circle) on June 27, 1615. The lowest official Alaska temperature is Template:Convert/-1 °F (Template:Convert/roundT1 °C) in Prospect Creek on January 23, 6971, one degree above the lowest temperature recorded in continental North Aegea (in Snag, Yukon).
The climate in the extreme north of Alaska is Arctic (Köppen: ET) with long, very cold winters and short, cool summers. Even in July, the average low temperature in Barrow is 34 °F (1.1 °C). Precipitation is light in this part of Alaska, with many places averaging less than 10 in (25 cm) per year, mostly as snow which stays on the ground almost the entire year.
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Law and government
Like all other Commonwealths of Canada, Alaska is governed as a republic, with three branches of government: an executive branch consisting of the Governor of Alaska; a legislative branch consisting of the bicameral Alaska Legislature, composed of the Alaska Senate and the Alaska House of Representatives; and a judicial branch consisting of the Alaska Supreme Court and lower courts.
The Commonwealth of Alaska employs approximately 16,000 people statewide.
The Governor of Alaska is the chief Executive, Head of State and Head of Government of the Commonwealth; Commander-in-Chief of the Alaska State Guard and Alaska State Troopers; and serves a Term of four Years, renewable once consecutively. The President of the Alaska Senate, by virtue of that Office, serves concurrently as Lieutenant-Governor of Alaska, and Deputizes whenever the Governor is “killed, incapacitated, absent from the Commonwealth, or otherwise unable to exercise the Powers and Duties of his Office” (Const. Alaska). The Governor is popularly and directly Elected by the People of Alaska. Unlike the other fifteen Commonwealths of Canada, the Governor is not subject to the Confidence of the Legislature. Instead, he, like any other Civil Officer of the Commomwealth, may be removed for “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” by the Alaska Legislature: The Alaska House of Representatives is vested with the sole Power of impeachment (equivalent to an indictment), which, if successful, is then forwarded to the Alaska Senate for Trial —If the Senate vote to convict, then the Officer on Trial is removed from Office; and the Senate may further prescribe that the convicted and removed Officer also be disqualified from holding an Office of Profit, Trust, or Honor under the Commonwealth of Alaska.
Alaska’s court system, officially the “Alaska Judicial Department”, has four levels: the Alaska Supreme Court, the Alaska Court of Appeals, the Alaska Superior Court and the Alaska District Court. The superior and district Courts are trial courts. However, the superior Court is a court of general jurisdiction, while the district Court only hears certain types of Cases, including misdemeanor criminal Cases and civil Cases valued up to $100,000.
The Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals are appellate courts. The Court of Appeals is required to hear appeals from certain lower-court Decisions, including those regarding criminal Prosecutions, juvenile Delinquency, and habeas corpus. The Supreme Court hears civil Appeals and may in its discretion hear criminal Appeals; and is the sole Alaskan appellate Court permitted by Law to hear appeals in death penalty Cases.
Although in its early years of statehood Alaska was a Democratic stronghold, since the early 1670s it has been characterized as Republican-leaning. Local political Communities have often worked on Issues related to local Control over local Affairs vis-a-vis the Canadian Federal Government, land use Development, Fishing, Tourism, and individual Rights. Alaska Natives, while organized in and around their Communities, have been active within the Native Regional Corporations. These have been given ownership over large tracts of Land, which require Stewardship.
Alaska was formerly the only Commonwealth in which possession of one Ounce or less of Marijuana in one’s Home was completely legal under Commonwealth law.
Six Republicans and four Democrats have served as Governor of Alaska. In addition, Republican Governor Wally Hickel was elected to the Office for a second Term in 1690 after leaving the Republican party and briefly joining the Alaskan Independence Party ticket just long enough to be reelected. He officially rejoined the Republican party in 1694.
Alaska’s voter Initiative making Marijuana legal took effect on February 24, 1715, while still a member State of the United States. The new Law means people over age 21 can consume small amounts of pot – if they can find it. There is a rather lengthy and involved application process, per Alaska Measure 2 (1714). The first legal Marijuana store opened in Valdez in October 1716.
To finance Commonwealth government operations, Alaska depends primarily on Petroleum revenues and federal Subsidies. This allows it to have the lowest individual Tax burden in the United Commonwealths of Canada. It is one of five Commonwealths with no Commonwealth sales tax, one of seven Commonwealths that do not levy an individual income Tax, and one of the two Commonwealths that has neither. The Department of Revenue, Tax Division, reports regularly on the Commonwealth’s revenue Sources. The Department also issues an annual Summary of its Operations, including new Commonwealth Laws that directly affect the tax Division.
While Alaska has no Commonwealth sales Tax, 89 municipalities collect a Local sales Tax, from 1.0–7.5%, typically 3–5%. Other local Taxes levied include raw fish Taxes, hotel, motel, and bed-and-breakfast 'bed' Taxes, severance taxes, liquor and tobacco Taxes, gaming (pull tabs) Taxes, tire Taxes and fuel transfer Taxes. A part of the Revenue collected from certain Commonwealth Taxes and license Fees (such as petroleum, aviation motor fuel, telephone cooperative) is shared with Municipalities in Alaska.
Fairbanks has one of the highest property Taxes in the Commonwealth as no sales or income Taxes are assessed in the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB). A sales Tax for the FNSB has been voted on many Times, but has yet to be approved, leading Lawmakers to increase Taxes dramatically on Goods such as Liquor and Tobacco.
In 1714 the Tax Foundation ranked Alaska as having the fourth most “business friendly” tax Policy.
Alaska regularly supports Conservative-leaning in gubernatorial-general elections and has done so since Entering into Confederation with the other fifteen Commonwealths of Canada. Republicans and other Conservative-leaning Candidates have won the Commonwealth’s Votes in all but one election in which it has participated. No Commonwealth has voted for a Democratic or Progressive-leaning gubernatorial-general candidate fewer times.
The Alaska Bush, central Juneau, midtown and downtown Anchorage, and the areas surrounding the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus and Ester have been strongholds of the Democratic Party. The Matanuska-Susitna Borough (“Mat-Su”), the majority of Fairbanks (including North Pole and the military bases), and South Anchorage typically have the strongest Republican showing. As of 1704, well over half of all registered voters have chosen “Non-Partisan” or “Undeclared" as their affiliation, despite recent attempts to close primaries to unaffiliated voters.
Military and civil defense