Alaska derived its name from “Alyeska,”an Aleut native term which means "The Great Land." In 1867, Alaska was purchased from Russia for $7.2 million, but it was not until 1959 when this "Land of the Midnight Sun" covered with forests and glaciers became the 49th state. Alaska is the largest state and covers 571,951 square miles, with a 2012 estimated population of 731,449 people – 238,642 living in rural Alaska (USDA-ERS). Juneau, the capital, is located in the southeastern coastal region of the state. The state’s largest cities are Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 67.5% of the state’s population is white, 14.8% is Alaskan Native/American Indian, 5.7% is Asian, 3.7% is African-American/Black, and 6.1% is of Hispanic/Latino origin (2012).
There are 23 hospitals in Alaska (Kaiser, 2011), 17 of which are located in rural areas (North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center, Dec. 2008). The state has 13 hospitals identified by the Flex Monitoring Team as Critical Access Hospitals (June 2013). There are 2 Rural Health Clinics in Alaska (Kaiser, 2012), and 25 Federally Qualified Health Centers provide services at 161 sites in the state (Kaiser, 2011).
Most Alaskans have some form of health insurance coverage, although 18.0% of its residents lack health insurance (Kaiser, 2011). According to the USDA Economic Research Service, the average per-capita income for Alaskans in 2012 was $49,436, although rural per-capita income lagged at $46,308. Estimates from 2012 indicate that a poverty rate of 14.1% exists in rural Alaska, compared to a 9.3% level in urban areas of the state. 2012 ACS data reports that 10.3% of the rural population has not completed high school, compared to 7.5% of urban populations. The unemployment rate in rural Alaska is at 8.9%, while in urban Alaska it is at 6.1% (USDA-ERS, 2012).For a national comparison, please see an overview of the United States.
U.S. Census Bureau: State & County QuickFacts; USDA Economic Research Service: State Fact Sheets; Kaiser Family Foundation State Health Facts; Flex Monitoring Team: Critical Access Hospital List
Directory of Rural Health
Contact information for people and organizations in Alaska with an interest in rural health.
There are more organizations related to Alaska in the organizations section.
Last Reviewed: 4/17/2013