Alaska, wild and immense, is one of the planet’s treasures — a vast landscape of cloud-swept peaks, deep blue lakes, and mammoth glaciers. Between its mountain ranges stretch endless forests and tundra plains, where wolves howl from their lookouts and herds of migrating caribou flow like dark waves across the countryside.
The size of this state is legendary: twice as big as Texas, its area is almost one-fifth that of the other 49 states combined. Yet Alaska is home to fewer than 600,000 people, more than half of whom are concentrated in two urban centers, Anchorage and Fairbanks. The rest live in isolated towns whose populations range from a few dozen to a few thousand. In the outlands and offshore roam Alaska’s more numerous inhabitants — an estimated 600,000 caribou, 250,000 walruses, 150,000 moose, 150,000 sea otters, 25,000 beluga whales, and 3,000 polar bears.