The USA buys Alaska from Russia
Bald eagle, Alaska, USA (Getty Images)
How many states are there in the USA? Some people say 48, others 52. The truth is, there are 50, and Alaska is one of the newest: number 49, in fact. It became a state in 1959, but it had been American territory since 1867. On 30 March of that year the USA bought it from Russia for $7,200,000 – 5 cents per hectare!
The Russians had colonized Alaska earlier, but it was never very profitable, and they were glad to sell it, especially as they needed money badly after fighting an expensive war. They offered the territory to Britain, but the British were not interested. But the Americans were, and America loves a bargain.
Two people sea kayaking on Stikine River, Alaska (Getty Images)
The Russians were probably very sorry some years later, when gold was discovered in Alaska. Thousands of Americans moved there in the hope of becoming rich. And things got better and better. In 1968 oil was discovered, and then gas. Alaska is one of the most important states for the USA’s economy, and it is also the largest state, bigger even than Texas!
True or false? Mark these statements with “T” if they are true and “F” if they are false.
Activities for the links below
1) The first website below contains information about Alaska. Read it, and then answer these questions. Again, use your own words as far as you can.
2) If you click on the BBC link, you will find an article on Alaska’s most famous governor. Work in pairs and decide whether these statements are true or false. Correct the false ones.
BBC Profile: Sarah Palin