Understanding Alaska: People

Alaska today has more than three times the people and five times the jobs it had in 1959, when it became the 49 th state. More than 60 percent of all Alaskans live in Anchorage and the adjacent Mat-Su and Kenai Peninsula boroughs in southcentral Alaska, and most of the rest live in a handful of other large communities in the Interior and Southeast regions. Like the population elsewhere in the U.S., Alaska’s population—especially in the urban areas—is becoming more diverse and also aging. A big share of the Alaska Native population now lives in urban areas, but many still make their homes in hundreds of small, remote villages scattered throughout the state, mostly along the coasts and major rivers. All Alaskans share certain concerns, but there are also sharp differences between urban Alaskans—who live much as other urban Americans do—and rural Alaskans, many of whom still do subsistence hunting and fishing, face very high unemployment, and may still lack safe water and sewer systems.

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Alaska 20/20