Alaska is a state in the United States of America, in the
northwest of the North American continent. It is the largest U.S. state by area
(by a substantial margin), and one of the wealthiest (per capita) and most
The area that became Alaska was purchased from the Russian Empire on March 30, 1867, for 7.2 million dollars (at 2 cents per acre, about 5 ¢/ha) after Congress concluded its resources could be vitally important to the nation's future growth. The land went through several administrative changes before becoming an organized territory on May 11, 1912 and the 49th state of the U.S. on January 3, 1959. The name "Alaska" was already introduced in the Russian colonial time, when it was only used for the peninsula and is derived from the Aleut alaxsxaq, meaning "the mainland," or more literally, "the object towards which the action of the sea is directed." It is also known as Alyeska, the "great land", an Aleut word derived from the same root.