As people in Alaska like to say, “If Texas doesn’t quit saying they’re the biggest state, we might just cut ourselves in half and make them third biggest.” Alaska may be the baby of the American family – it became the 49th state out of 50 on this day in 1959 – but it is by far the largest. There are only 18 countries bigger than Alaska, and it’s also bigger than the 22 smallest U.S. states combined. Thanks to having all that space, Alaska has lots of room for huge mountains, beautiful glaciers, and lots of cool animals, including 200,000 of the state animal, the moose. By comparison, there are only about 730,000 people – not surprising for a state with a record low temperature of negative 80 degrees. At the least, everyone has lots of space.
Wee ones (counting): If Alaska is the 49th state to join the U.S., how many states had already joined?
Little kids: Of the 20 tallest mountains in the U.S., 17 are in Alaska. How many of the top 20 aren’t in Alaska? Bonus: There may be 200,000 moose in Alaska, but there are about 900,000 caribou (also called reindeer). How many more caribou than moose are there?
Big kids: Alaska covers about 660,000 miles. So if Alaska did cut itself in half, how much bigger than Texas’ 268,000 square miles would each half still be? Bonus: By comparison, the entire United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) covers about 94,000 square miles. How many whole UK’s could you fit inside Alaska?
Wee ones: 48 other states.
Little kids: 3 other mountains. Bonus: About 700,000 more caribou.
Big kids: 62,000 square miles. Bonus: 7 of them, which comes out to about 658,000 miles (using the rounded numbers here).