Alaska is a U.S. state in the northwest corner of the North American continent. It featured in the news more than usual during the 2008 political season because of Republican Presidential candidate John McCain’s selection of Alaska’s Governor, Sarah Palin, as his running mate.
The United States purchased the territory from Russia in 1867, and it became a U.S. state in 1959. Alaska is one of two states, the other being Hawaii, which does not border any other U.S. state. The only country it borders is Canada.
Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city; the other two sizable towns are Fairbanks and the capitol, Juneau. The bulk of Alaska’s economy is based on oil and gas. Seafood, tourism, and the military are also important to the state’s economy.
Alaska has varied geography, resulting in a wide range of climates. The far north of the state lies north of the Arctic Circle, while the interior gets very cold in winter but quite warm in summer, and temperatures in the Anchorage area are somewhat more temperate and less extreme.