Alaska - Location, size, and extent



Situated at the northwest corner of the North American continent, Alaska is separated by Canadian territory from the coterminous 48 states. Alaska is the largest of the 50 states, with a total area of 591,004 sq mi (1,530,699 sq km). Land takes up 570,833 sq mi (1,478,456 sq km) and inland water 20,171 sq mi (52,243 sq km). Alaska is more than twice the size of Texas, the next-largest state, and occupies 16% of the total US land area; the E-W extension is 2,261 mi (3,639 km); the maximum N-S extension is 1,420 mi (2,285 km).

Alaska is bounded on the N by the Arctic Ocean and Beaufort Sea; on the E by Canada's Yukon Territory and province of British Columbia; on the S by the Gulf of Alaska, Pacific Ocean, and Bering Sea; and on the W by the Bering Sea, Bering Strait, Chukchi Sea, and Arctic Ocean.

Alaska's many offshore islands include St. Lawrence, St. Matthew, Nunivak, and the Pribilof group in the Bering Sea; Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska; the Aleutian Islands in the Pacific; and some 1,100 islands constituting the Alexander Archipelago, extending SE along the Alaska panhandle.

The total boundary length of Alaska is 8,187 mi (13,176 km), including a general coastline of 6,640 mi (10,686 km); the tidal shoreline extends 33,904 mi (54,563 km). Alaska's geographic center is about 60 mi (97 km) NW of Mt. McKinley. The northern-most point in the US—Point Barrow, at 71°23′ 30″ N, 156°28′ 30″ W—lies within the state of Alaska, as does the western-most point—Cape Wrangell on Attu Island in the Aleutians, at 52°55′ 30″ N, 172°28′ E. Little Diomede Island, belonging to Alaska, is less than 2 mi (3 km) from Big Diomede Island, belonging to Russia.



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