Alaska is named after the Aleut word Alyeska or alaxsxaq,meaning "great land" or, more literally, "the object against which the action of the sea is directed."
The United States tried in the early decades of the twentieth century to improve communications(especially to connect Alaska with the rest of the United States by rail), and to promote settlement of the Matanuska Valley. However, World War II naval battles in the Aleutian Islands to Japan changedthe course of U.S. policy in the affairs of Alaska. Thus, in 1942, was built in months a road of communication (Alcan Highway) to ensure the defense of the Territory of Alaska, while establishing newmilitary bases (eg radar) and civilian settlements were promoted. The end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War accelerated the need to integrate the territory into the Union. In 1959,Alaska was finally accepted as the 49th state of the United States of America.
The discovery of very important oil fields has allowed an enormous economic growth in Alaska over the past decades, despitethe geographic isolation and the harsh living conditions. The major milestone of its development has been the construction, from 1974, the Trans Alaskan Pipeline, a 1,269 km pipeline that connectsPrudhoe Bay to the port of Valdez. But oil has also been the origin of certain disasters, such as the accident in 1989 when the supertanker Exxon Valdez ran aground in the waters of Alaska and caused anoil slick that has been described as a major ecological disaster in history.
The climate is different, depending on the region. The west coast has a maritime climate, while the rest of the...