Alaska and Hawaii

Alaska and Hawaii were the last two states to be admitted into the union. They both became states in 1959 and are the only two states that are not connected to the rest of the United States. Those are some of the only things they have in common.


Brrr! The snowy tundra in Alaska can get very cold in winter, especially on top of Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America, which stands at 20,320 feet. Alaska has 17 of the 20 highest mountains in North America. During the summer, the sun is out all day and night and you can see the aurora borealis — colored lights that dance in the sky. Alaska is known for its beautiful landscapes and its wildlife, which includes moose, bison, elk, whales, eagles, seals, sea lions, otters, wolves, and bears.

Alaska is located right next to Canada, and it's closer to Russia than to the rest of the United States. Actually, Alaska used to be part of Russia. The Russians sold it to the United States in 1867 for two cents an acre. That might not sound like a lot, but Alaska is so big that it cost the United States $7.2 million! Alaska has more land than any other state and more coastline than all the other 49 states combined. But for such a big state, there aren't many people. Only three states have lower populations than Alaska. Alaska's economy depends on its oil pipeline and fishing trade.







The Last Frontier



Aloha State



Before Europeans settled in Alaska, it was home to many different cultures, including the Eskimo and Aleut people. The name Alaska actually comes from a native word meaning “great land.”


The Rest of the Story

The United States also possesses the following territories: Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean, and American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific Ocean. The people who live in these territories (except for American Samoa) are American citizens.


Hawaii's warm beaches feel nice after all that snow and ice. Hawaii is an island chain in the Pacific Ocean. All the Hawaiian Islands were formed by eruptions from undersea volcanoes. Mount Kilauea is Hawaii's most active volcano. It has been erupting since 1983, and you can see it if you go to Volcanoes National Park. What you won't be able to see is a new Hawaiian island called Loihi. It's still forming underneath the surface of the Pacific, and it will take tens of thousands of years for the new island to reach the surface.

Hawaii's islands have some interesting wildlife. Many of the birds on these tropical islands are brilliant reds and yellows. But there are also some familiar faces. Nenes look a lot like the Canada geese you might see on the mainland, and the two species are actually related. As you might guess, there's also a lot of sea life. Whales, dolphins, and sharks swim off the shore, and sea turtles lay their eggs on Hawaii's beaches. Hawaiian monk seals are an endangered species that are only found in Hawaii. Tourism is Hawaii's main industry, and pineapples and sugarcane are its main crops.

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