Cook Inlet stretches 180 miles (290 km) from the Gulf of Alaska to Anchorage in south-central Alaska. Cook Inlet branches into the Knik Arm and Turnagain Arm (postcard) at its northern end, almost surrounding Anchorage. The watershed covers about 100,000 km² of southern Alaska, east of the Aleutian Range and south of the Alaska Range, receiving water from its tributaries the Knik River, the Little Susitna River, and the Susitna and Matanuska rivers. The watershed includes the drainage areas of Mount McKinley. Within the watershed there are several national parks and the active volcano Mount Redoubt, along with three other historically active volcanoes. Cook Inlet provides navigable access to the port of Anchorage at the northern end, and to the smaller Homer port further south. Approximately 400,000 people live within the Cook Inlet watershed. Before the growth of Anchorage, Knik was the destination for most marine traffic in upper Cook Inlet.
Alaska is a state in the United States, situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with the international boundary with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait. Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area, the 4th least populous and the least densely populated of the 50 United States. Approximately half of Alaska’s 731,449 residents live within the Anchorage metropolitan area. Alaska’s economy is dominated by the oil, natural gas, and fishing industries; it has these resources in abundance.
Alaska was purchased from Russia on March 30, 1867, for $7.2 million ($118 million adjusted for inflation) at approximately two cents per acre ($4.74/km²). The land went through several administrative changes before becoming an organized (or incorporated) territory on May 11, 1912, and the 49th state of the U.S. on January 3, 1959.
The name “Alaska” (Аляска) was already introduced in the Russian colonial period, when it was used only 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.