Land of the Midnight Sun

(United Reader) – Every state holds some secrets and achievements that no other state has. That’s what makes each of the 50 states unique. Some may seem more enjoyable than others, but of course the comparisons are relative. The Land of the Midnight Sun is the biggest state in the US — and no, it’s not Texas.


While being admitted as part of the union in 1959, Alaska was a US territory long before it became the 49th state. Of course, long before it became a US territory, Alaska was occupied by natives for thousands of years, until Russian began to settle the area in the 18th century. Russian America covered most of the modern-day state. However, it was costly to maintain such a distant possession, which led to the US buying the land for about two cents per acre for a total of $7.2 million.

Alaskan Weather

You may have put together by now the reason as to why Alaska is called the Land of the Midnight Sun. However, many people believe that Alaska experiences 6 months of darkness and 6 months of light. While there is some truth to this, the duration is a little exaggerated.

In the town of Barrow, AK, the sun rises on May 10th, and then it doesn’t fully set again for about 3 months. When the sun sets on November 18th, Barrow won’t see it again until sometime in January. So yes, parts of Alaska do have extended daylight and darkness, but not for 6 months.

A fact that may not be all too surprising is that the state of Alaska has never recorded a temperature of over 100ºF. The record for its highest temperature is exactly 100ºF and took place in Fort Yukon, about 8 miles inside of the Arctic Circle, in 1915. Again, not surprisingly, the lowest recorded temperature in the US was taken in Prospect Creek, AK and was -80ºF.


Alaska is home to the only battle that took place on American soil during World War II, in 1943 when Japan invaded the Aleutian Islands. The Battle of Attu took place from May 11th until May 30th and wounded or killed more Americans than Pearl Harbor.

It’s rumored that in 1897, during the Klondike Gold Rush, the vitamin C content of potatoes was highly valued, so much in fact that miners would trade gold for them. Before the Gold Rush and the US purchase of the land, Alaska was first discovered by outsiders when Vitus Jonassen Bering, a Danish explorer, spotted it on a voyage from Siberia. Eventually Russian hunters would travel to the state and establish the first colonies.

When Russia decided to sell Alaska to the US, it was originally seen as a bad deal on America’s part, often called “Seward’s Folly” by the press. However, when gold was found, people flocked to Alaska. Now, Alaska celebrates “Seward’s Day” on March 30th to celebrate the sale.

Strange Facts

As with any state, it has its strange and unusual facts. For example, Alaska is the only state where you can spell its entire name on a single row of a keyboard — believe us, we tried it. Alaskans take hunting very seriously. In fact, it’s illegal to whisper into someone’s ear while they’re hunting for moose. Perhaps one of the strangest laws in Alaska is that a slingshot may only be concealed carried by permit, but firearms are legal to open carry as long as the person can lawfully own and possess it.

One of the strangest and likely most adorable facts about Alaska, or any state for that matter, is the story of Alaska’s state dog. Three years of campaigning and legislative process to name the Alaskan Malamute as the state dog began simply because a kindergartner asked why Alaska didn’t have a state dog. Talk about serving the people!

Alaska is a vast place, having more area than the next three largest states of Texas, California, and Montana combined, so there’s no surprise that a place this big would hold some surprising facts and who knows how many secrets. We recommend that you visit the Land of the Midnight Sun between mid-June and mid-September, when the weather is warmer and more enjoyable. However, it doesn’t have to be warm to see how beautiful Alaska really is and to enjoy what Alaska has to offer.

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