Alaska And Aleut Islands
The countryside is placed, together with Aleut Arch (created by means of local volcanic activity) between 50th and 75th parallel of north hemisphere. Just here, the highest peak of the whole continent (Mt. McKinley – 6194 m), is to be found. On coastal mountain belt, most extensive continental glaciers of North America are placed. Its chutes reach frequently sea water level. Nevertheless, on places, where the glaciers do not reach, the Arctic tundra is dominating, covering slopes and plains. Total area of 600 000 square kilometres is overgrown with fir-and pine forests. The tourists could enjoy a beauty of local nature first of all in national parks, such as: Denali National Park (22 830 square kilometres), Kenai National Park (2500 square kilometres), Katmai National Park (15000 square kilometres) or Glacier Bay National Park (12000 square kilometres).
Alaska, including Aleut Arch, take up a surface of nearly two millions of square kilometres. Cordillera Mountain Relief forms their nature sign. To most important mountain formations of Alaska Cordillera could be placed St. Elias Mountains, Chugah and Kenai, Wrangel Mountain Range and Alaska and Aleut Mountain Range.
St. Elias Mountains
This mountain range stretches, 500 kms long, from Cross Sound in south, up to mouth of Copper River in the north. The highest peak, Mt. Logan (5959 m) is the second highest point of the continent and the highest top-point of Canada at the same time. St. Elias Mountain (5488 m) is a bit lower point, arising from coastal massif, situated in USA territory. This mountain is, thanks to its picturesque beauty, quite popular tourist target. You can find there also Malaspina Glacier, the greatest Alaska glacier, covering the surface of 2200 square kilometres. Glacier Bay National Monument is narrow fjord in Ice Bay is its sole outlet. It is a complex of mountains, glaciers, sea coasts, fjords and bays, covering the surface of 11000 square kilometres.
Chugah and Kenai Mountain Range
This territory, rich in nature parks, forms 500 kilometres long belt, terminated with its last headland - Kodiak Island. The highest peak is Mt.Marcus Baker (4010 m - covered with thick ice layer). Another mountains, reaching an altitude of 2000-3000 metres above sea level, are situated inside protected areas, such as: Chugach State Park and Chugach National Forest.
Four volcanic cones reach the height of 5000 metres: the highest peak is Mt. Blackburn (4996 m), Mt. Sanford (4949 m), Mt. Wrangel (4317 m) and Atna Peaks (4225 m). Its latest eruption was registered in the course of 19th century.
Alaska Mountain Range
This mountain range is characteristic with its different geological construction (in the same way as Aleut belt). It is created with narrow long chain of ridges. It is stretched in the length of nearly 1000 kilometres (the width of parallel ridges does not exceed 50 kilometres), up to Iliamna Lake. Average altitude of ridges moves around 2500 metres above sea level. In its central part, there are to be found five volcanic peaks, the highest of them is those of Mount McKinley (6194 m). Mt. Foraker reaches 5304 metres, whereas the next three ones reach about 4000 metres of sea level.
Brooks Mountain Range
These mountains present a continuation of Siberian ranges as their rugosity zone. The maximal heights reach 2700 metres (Mt. Michelson - 2749 m). These mountains are, with reference to Alaska relations, rather low. Despite this fact, they hold the primacy of highest mountain range behind Polar Circle. On north slopes, the vegetation is missing, or poor tundra is covering the surface.
Aleut Mountain Range
From continental Aleut Mountain Range, arch of volcanic Aleut Islands. approx. 2500 kms long, is running out. You can find there 80 great volcanos, and at least 36 units are active for the time being. Nine volcanic cones are placed in one line on the greatest mountain range, and several other volcanos are dispersed in its direct neighbourhood. Attu Island is most remoted point of the arch.
The area is included in two climatic belts – arctic and subarctic ones. In arctic belt, the life is missing, involving also east Canada islands, such as: Baffin or Ellesmer Islands. The precipitations make 200 mm in a year only. Permafrost (persistently frozen soil) is very spreaded there. Coastal mountains have more moderated climate, but, on the other hand, the continental area has more rough climate, with extreme temperatures, frequent snow showers and strong winds.
Most part of surface at foot of mountains is covered with forests – taiga. In lower plain sections,broad-leaf trees are growing (such as: ash-trees, birches, maples, alders, etc.), in higher altitudes dominate coniferous (fir-trees, pine-trees). Owing to rough climatic conditions, 36 sorts of mammals and 120 sorts of birds are living (inhabitated) lower positions first of all. You can meet there, for instance, polar fox, wolves, lemmings, wapiti deer, reindeer, sea otters, karibu, bear grizzly or Pacific walrus.
Population density (i.e. 1 person for 4 square kilometres) is self-explanatory. 99% Alaska Territory remains uninhabitated. In 2000, only 627 000 inhabitants live there, mostly along coasts or in river - valleys. Original inhabitants, Aleuts and Eskimos (Inuits) came there 35000 years ago. However, white-men pushed them back subsequently. Main migration boom broke out during so calle „Gold Fever Time Period“, when thousands of persons wandered there to obtain some wealth. From total local population, the whites form 67% from total local population, the Indians and original inhabitants form not only 16%, the Hispans 5% and Asiats 4,5%.
Text: J. Štantejský
Translation: ing. Jan Jonáš
Photo: Magdalena Radostová
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