A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.
Fairbanks: 27°/46°/Partly sunny
From the Bering Land Bridge to the oil pipeline, state has a storied past
Although Alaska's statehood is relatively brief, the state's history is long and colorful.
Dinosaurs once roamed the Great Land, followed by bison and woolly mammoths. The first people moved across the Bering Land Bridge into northwestern Alaska more than 20,000 years ago (and moved southward), archaeologists think, and Europeans arrived about 260 years ago.
A series of fur, timber, gold, fishing and oil booms and busts have marked Alaska's history and culture. Each boom brought in a different set of people.
Alaska Natives, who make up 15 percent of the state's population, maintain many traditions, such as whaling, subsistence hunting and fishing, and old ways of making crafts and art. Native heritage history and culture can be found in such diverse places as Ketchikan, Anchorage and Kotzebue, as well as in hundreds of villages where people live in traditional ways.
But while Native culture, as a whole, may define much of Alaska's appearance, the state contains a broad mixture of cultures. In Anchorage, for example, the school district has found that its student body comes from homes that speak 83 languages.
Anchorage, the state's biggest city, has many Alaska influences but is also sometimes called Los Anchorage for its Lower 48-style architecture and mannerisms. Most residents of Alaska were born outside the state, and when they came to Alaska they brought their own traditions and desires.
There are European influences as well. Petersburg, in the Inside Passage, has a strong Scandinavian heritage. Cordova and Valdez bear names bestowed by a Spanish explorer; Cook Inlet is named for a British explorer; Russians left a legacy of the Orthodox Church in much of the state.
According to the 2000 census of Alaska's 626,932 people, the population can be described this way:
In addition, the census says, 25,852 Alaska residents, or 4.12 percent, described themselves as Hispanic or Latino (of any race).