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Population of Alaska

alaskaIf you’re wondering what is the population of Alaska, the best estimate can be taken from a 2014 report of the US Census Bureau which pegs it at 736,732. That’s not a lot, considering the number of cities in the US that have more than a million residents. Alaska also happens to be the largest state in the US.

The Largest State

Most Americans know that Alaska is the largest state in the nation. At 663,268 square miles it is twice the size of Texas, which had long boasted of being the largest state in the US until Alaska was admitted to the Union in 1959.
If Alaska was a separate country, it would have been number 18 in the list of largest countries in the world! It’s so big that it is bigger than the combined sizes of the next biggest states in the US, namely Texas, California, and Montana. So when you add their respective populations, you get a total of 66,783,037 people. That’s a difference of more than 66 million people compared to the state of Alaska.

So what we have here is the largest state in the country but with the 4th smallest population among all the US states and territories, when you include the District of Columbia, Vermont, and Wyoming. Wyoming is in fact the least populous state, but its population density is at least at 6 people per square mile making it the second lowest density among the states. Alaska is the undisputed leader in terms of lowest density, because it only has 1.3 people per square mile.

Population Facts

The population of Alaska isn’t exactly dispersed evenly throughout the area. In fact, half of the population resides in what’s known as the Anchorage Metropolitan Statistical Area, which consists of the Municipality of Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough in the South Central part of Alaska.

Anchorage is the most populous city, with a 2010 population of more than 291 thousand residents. After that, the cities become much less populated. The next most populous city is Fairbanks, and they only have 31,500 people. Juneau is a close third at 31,300.

The demographic makeup has white folks comprising about two-thirds of the population. Native Alaskan and Native Americans come in second, making up 14.7%. Latinos, Asians, and African Americans each comprise less than 7% of the population.

Most of the population of Alaska over the age of 25 has completed at least high school education, with 91.6% of them high school graduates.

Why So Few People?

Obviously, the Alaskan climate is one of the more common reasons cited why people don’t want to live here. Even people who were born and raised in this state and who leave for college often don’t want to return as a permanent resident. The thought of living in such a cold place isn’t really all that appealing once people have tried living in sunny states like Florida and California. And even the coldest places in the northern part of the US such as New York and Seattle can’t compare to the freezing temperatures in Alaska.

The climate in Anchorage is mild by Alaskan standards, yet it’s still cold compared to what the other states offer. The summer is very cool here, with the average daytime temperatures ranging from 55 to 78 °F. In the winter during daytime, the average temperature plummets to 5 to 30 °F.

Another reason why people don’t want to live in Alaska is that there aren’t all that many people around. It can get very lonely. There isn’t much tourism or people visiting, so for the most part people see the same old faces every day.

Employment opportunities are also limited, even though the state needs a lot of workers such as doctors, nurses, and engineers. There isn’t much need for specialized services and the arts, so there is no real demand for interior decorators, programmers, book editors, reporters and artists.

Cost of living is also much higher in Alaska compared to the lower 48 states. In the rural areas food and consumer goods can be very expensive, and the groceries have to be ordered weeks or even months in advance. Also, in the rural areas electric fencing is crucial, because of the presence of polar bears.

Attracting More People

One of the more important issues concerning Alaska today is attracting more people to live in this state and convincing more people to stay for good. To that end, Alaska doesn’t have a state individual income tax and with a few exceptions there are no state sales taxes either.
In fact, you can say that the state pays every resident including their children. That’s because of the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend, which issues checks every year from the trust fund built with money from oil taxes. The amount varies, although $1,800 for every person is about average. In 2008 the checks were for $2,069.00. Of course, every year in October when the checks come out there’s a big sale offered by major businesses.

Workers, such as federal government employees, military personnel, and USPS workers also get a cost of living allowance that’s equal to about a fourth of the base pay.

There’s a brain drain due to the unwillingness of college students to return to Alaska after they’ve graduated from a college in the lower 48 states. To counter this, the University of Alaska offers a scholarship program that provides partial 4-year scholarships to the top 10% of the high school graduates.

There are many other possible reasons why people may be attracted to live in Alaska:

  • The locals are friendly, and yes, they can be eccentric. That’s always interesting.
  • If you love seafood, you’re going to be ecstatic about all the fresh salmon, halibut, and crabs available here.
  • Live blue grass music is also all the rage. You can check out the Talkeetna Blue Grass Festivals and the Alaska Folk Festival.
  • There’s no traffic – so for LA and New York residents this place is heaven.
  • You can also see the Northern Lights.

While the population of Alaska will probably never go up at a significant rate because of the climate, it is also fairly certain that some people will want to come here, because the experience of living here is so different than what you may expect anywhere else in the US or in the world, for that matter.

One Comment

  • Pammie  says:

    Yeah, very beautiful state with unique nature, but very cold. I doubt that I would be able to live there. I was thinking about boat cruise in summer, looks gorgeous, but that’s it about Alaska! I wonder, is the population of Alaska is bigger than the population of polar bears there?)