The Alexander Archipelago is a 300-mile (480 km) long archipelago, or group of islands, of North America off the southeastern coast of Alaska. It contains about 1,100 islands, which are the tops of the submerged coastal mountains that rise steeply from the Pacific Ocean. Deep channels and fjords separate the islands and cut them off from the mainland. The northern part of the Inside Passage is sheltered by the islands as it winds its way among them.
The islands have irregular, steep coasts and dense evergreen and temperate rain forests, and most are accessible only by boat or aeroplane. The vast majority of the islands are part of the Tongass National Forest.
In order of land area, the largest islands are Prince of Wales Island, Chichagof Island, Admiralty Island, Baranof Island, Revillagigedo Island, Kupreanof Island, Kuiu Island, Etolin Island, Dall Island, Wrangell Island, Mitkof Island, Zarembo Island, Kosciusko Island, Kruzof Island, Annette Island, Gravina Island, and Yakobi Island. All the islands are rugged, densely forested, and have an abundance of wildlife.
The Tlingit and Kaigani Haida people are native to the area. The Tsimshian people found on Annette Island are not originally from the area, having immigrated to the region from British Columbia in the late 19th century.
Ketchikan on Revillagigedo Island and Sitka on Baranof Island are the largest towns on the islands. The most populous neighborhoods of the largest town in the region, Juneau, are on the mainland, though portions of the city also lie on Douglas Island, which is a part of the archipelago.
Tourism, fishing, and logging are the main industries of the islands.
The first European to visit the archipelago was the Russian navigator Aleksei Chirikov in 1741, who sighted the coasts of Noyes and Baker Islands (both off the west coast of Prince of Wales Island), as well as Baranof, Chichagof, Kruzof and Yakobi Islands. In 1774 Juan José Pérez Hernández sighted the south coast of Dall Island, while Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra entered Bucareli Bay off Prince of Wales Island the following year. In 1792 Jacinto Caamaño sighted Revillagigedo Island and the Gravina Islands, discovering Clarence Strait. George Vancouver and his men made an extensive survey of the archipelago in 1793 and 1794, circumnavigating both Revillagigedo and Admiralty Islands, charting the entirety of Kuiu Island, the east sides of Baranof and Chichagof Islands, and Etolin, Wrangell, Zarembo, Mitkof, and Kupreanof Islands. Within a decade the Russians had traversed Peril Strait separating Chichagof and Baranof Islands, and in the following decades found the straits and passages separating several of the other major islands. An 1844 Russian chart shows Kupreanof separated from Mitkof Island and Etolin, Wrangell, Woronkofski, and Zarembo Islands separated from each other.
According to Donald Orth's Dictionary of Alaska Place Names (p. 64), the Alexander Archipelago received its name from the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1867. The island chain is named for Tsar Alexander II of Russia.
On an 1860 map of Russian America (Alaska), the island group is called the King George III Archipelago.
The ABC Islands bear (Ursus arctos sitkensis) or Sitka brown bear is a subspecies of brown bear that resides in Southeast Alaska and is found on Admiralty Island, Baranof Island, and Chichagof Island of Alaska. These islands have the colloquial name of the ABC Islands and are a part of the Alexander Archipelago. This brown bear population has a unique genetic structure, which relates them not only to brown bears but to polar bears as well. Ursus arctos sitkensis habitat exists within the Tongass National Forest, which is part of the perhumid rainforest zone.Admiralty Island
Admiralty Island is an island in the Alexander Archipelago in Southeast Alaska, at 57°44′N 134°20′W. It is 145 km (90 mi) long and 56 km (35 mi) wide with an area of 4,264.1 km2 (1,646.4 sq mi), making it the seventh largest island in the United States and the 132nd largest island in the world. It is one of the ABC islands of Alaska. The island is nearly cut in two by the Seymour Canal; to its east is the long, narrow Glass Peninsula. Most of Admiralty Island—more than 955,000 acres (3,860 km2)—is occupied by the Admiralty Island National Monument - a federally protected wilderness area administered by the Tongass National Forest. The Kootznoowoo Wilderness encompasses vast stands of old growth temperate rainforest. These forests provide some of the best habitat available to species such as brown bears, bald eagles, and Sitka black-tailed deer.
The island was named by George Vancouver in honor of his Royal Navy employers, the Admiralty. Joseph Whidbey, master of the Discovery during Vancouver's 1791-95 expedition, explored it in July–August 1794, in the process circumnavigating it.Known to the Tlingit as Xootsnoowú, which is commonly interpreted as "Fortress of the Bear(s)", Admiralty Island is home to the highest density of brown bears in North America. An estimated 1,600 brown bears inhabit the island, outnumbering Admiralty's human residents nearly three to one. Angoon, a traditional Tlingit community home to 572 people, is the only settlement on the island, although an unpopulated section of the city of Juneau comprises 264.68 km2 (102.19 sq mi) (6.2 percent) of the island's land area near its northern end. The island's total population at the 2000 census was 650.Alaska boundary dispute
The Alaska boundary dispute was a territorial dispute between the United States and the United Kingdom, which then controlled Canada's foreign relations. It was resolved by arbitration in 1903. The dispute existed between the Russian Empire and Britain since 1821, and was inherited by the United States as a consequence of the Alaska Purchase in 1867. The final resolution favored the American position, and Canada did not get an all-Canadian outlet from the Yukon gold fields to the sea. The disappointment and anger in Canada was directed less at the United States, and more at the British government for betraying Canadian interests in favour of healthier Anglo-American relations.Alexander Archipelago wolf
The Alexander Archipelago wolf (Canis lupus ligoni), also known as the Islands wolf, is a subspecies of the gray wolf, Canis lupus. The coastal wolves of southeast Alaska inhabit the area that includes the Alexander Archipelago, its islands, and a narrow strip of rugged coastline that is biologically isolated from the rest of North America by the Coast Mountains.The Tongass National Forest comprises about 80% of the region. In 1993, a petition to list the Alexander Archipelago wolf as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act was lodged with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency decided in 1997 that listing was not warranted at that time. In the interim, a multiagency conservation assessment of the species was published. In 2011, a second petition to list the species as either threatened or endangered was filed with the Fish and Wildlife Service. It referenced scientific studies and other information that had arisen over the intervening 14 years. In March 2014, in response to the petition, the agency made a positive initial finding that listing the species as threatened or endangered "may be warranted" and that it will prepare a formal status review.Baranof Island
Baranof Island, also sometimes called Baranov Island, Shee or Sitka Island (Russian: остров Баранова, Ситха) is an island in the northern Alexander Archipelago in the Alaska Panhandle, in Alaska. The name Baranof was given in 1805 by Imperial Russian Navy captain U. F. Lisianski to honor Alexander Andreyevich Baranov. It was called Sheet’-ká X'áat'l (often expressed simply as "Shee") by the native Tlingit people. It is the smallest of the ABC islands of Alaska.Chichagof Island
Chichagof Island, or Shee Kaax, is an island in the Alexander Archipelago of the Alaska Panhandle. At 75 miles (121 km) long and 50 miles (80 km) wide, it has a land area of 2,048.61 square miles (5,305.9 km2), making it the fifth largest island in the United States and the 109th largest island in the world. Its coastline measures 742 miles. There was a 2000 census population of 1,342 persons. It is one of the ABC islands of Alaska.
Chichagof Island has the highest population of bears per square mile of any place on Earth.Chichagof Island is directly north of Baranof Island, with Peril Strait separating the two islands. It is bounded by Chatham Strait to the east, Icy Strait to the northeast, Cross Sound to the northwest, and the Gulf of Alaska to the west.
The communities of Hoonah, Pelican, Tenakee Springs, and Elfin Cove are all located on the northern half of Chichagof Island, in the Hoonah-Angoon Census Area. The southern half of the island comprises the northern part of the City and Borough of Sitka. Only eight persons were counted in this portion of Sitka at the 2000 census. The primary economic sources for all these communities come from either Chichagof Island or the waters and fjords surrounding it. Commercial fishing, guided hunting trips, charter fishing and logging are all vital economic facets of the local economies.
This island is named after Admiral Vasili Chichagov, a Russian Arctic explorer who never visited Alaska. The entire island lies within the limits of Tongass National Forest. The western coastal portion has been officially designated as the West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness.Douglas Island
Douglas Island is a tidal island in the U.S. state of Alaska, just west of downtown Juneau and east of Admiralty Island. It is separated from mainland Juneau by the Gastineau Channel.Frederick Sound
This article is for the sound in Alaska, United States. For the sound in British Columbia, Canada, see Frederick Sound (Canada).
Frederick Sound (also called Prince Frederick Sound or Prince Frederick's Sound) is a passage of water in the Alexander Archipelago in Southeast Alaska that separates Kupreanof Island to the south from Admiralty Island in the north.
Frederick Sound was named by Captain George Vancouver for Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany. It was first charted in 1794 by two of his men, Joseph Whidbey and James Johnstone. The sound may also be known as the Russian transliteration Fridrikhe Zund.
The sound is a popular location for watching whales in the summer and is busy marine passageway for both Alaska Marine Highway ferries and cruise ships.
The sound is home to the Five Finger Islands Light.Gulf of Alaska
The Gulf of Alaska (French: Golfe d'Alaska) is an arm of the Pacific Ocean defined by the curve of the southern coast of Alaska, stretching from the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak Island in the west to the Alexander Archipelago in the east, where Glacier Bay and the Inside Passage are found.
The Gulf shoreline is a rugged combination of forest, mountain and a number of tidewater glaciers. Alaska's largest glaciers, the Malaspina Glacier and Bering Glacier, spill out onto the coastal line along the Gulf of Alaska. The coast is heavily indented with Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound, the two largest connected bodies of water. It includes Yakutat Bay and Cross Sound. Lituya Bay (a fijord north of Cross Sound, and south of Mount Fairweather) is the site of the largest recorded tsunami in history. It serves as a sheltered anchorage for fishing boats.Inside Passage
The Inside Passage (French: Passage Intérieur) is a coastal route for ships and boats along a network of passages which weave through the islands on the Pacific NW coast of North America. The route extends from southeastern Alaska, in the United States, through western British Columbia, in Canada, to northwestern Washington state, in the United States. Ships using the route can avoid some of the bad weather in the open ocean and may visit some of the many isolated communities along the route. The Inside Passage is heavily travelled by cruise ships, freighters, tugs with tows, fishing craft and ships of the Alaska Marine Highway, BC Ferries, and Washington State Ferries systems.
The term "Inside Passage" is also often used to refer to the ocean and islands around the passage itself.Kuiu Island
Kuiu Island is an island in the Alexander Archipelago in southeastern Alaska. It lies between Kupreanof Island, to its east, and Baranof Island, to its west. The island is 105 km (65 mi) long, and 10 to 23 km (6–14 miles) wide. It is nearly cut in two by Affleck Canal. It has 1,936.16 km2 (747.56 sq mi) of land area, making it the 15th largest island in the United States. The entire island is part of Tongass National Forest. The population was 10 persons at the 2000 census. It is separated from Baranof Island by Chatham Strait.
The Cape Decision Light is located on Kuiu Island. Also on the island are the Kuiu Wilderness and the Tebenkof Bay Wilderness areas.Kuiu Wilderness and Tebenkof Bay Wilderness
The Kuiu Wilderness and Tebenkof Bay Wilderness are federally designated wilderness areas within the Tongass National Forest, located on Kuiu Island, Petersburg Census Area, Alaska. The 60,581-acre Kuiu and 66,812-acre Tebenkof Bay wildernesses are managed by the United States Forest Service as a single area — creating a 200-square-mile wilderness preserve covering the heart of the island. Together, the two areas protect old-growth temperate rainforests rising from coastal estuaries to subalpine meadows more than 2,000 feet in elevation, with a high point atop 3,355-foot Kuiu Mountain.Tebenkof Bay Wilderness was created by Congress and signed into law on December 2, 1980 as a provision of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The Kuiu was created by Congress and signed into law on November 28, 1990 as part of the Tongass Timber Reform Act.Kupreanof Island
Kupreanof Island is an island in the Alexander Archipelago in southeastern Alaska. The island is 84 km (52 mi) long and 32 km (20 mi) wide with a total land area is 2,802.84 km2 (1,082.18 sq mi), making it the 13th largest island in the United States and the 170th largest island in the world. The Lindenberg Peninsula, on the southeast side of the island is considered part of the island. The peninsula is separated from the rest of the island by a narrow inlet called Duncan Canal. The island's population was 785 at the 2000 census.
The island was first charted in 1793–1794 by James Johnstone and Joseph Whidbey, both part of George Vancouver's 1791–1795 expedition. The island is named after vice admiral Ivan Antonovich Kupreianov, governor of the Russian American colonies from 1836 to 1840; the name was published in 1848 on a Russian Hydrographic Department chart as "Os(trov) Kupreyanova".The largest settlement on the island is Kake, on the northwestern side of the island. The only other city is Kupreanof, on the eastern side, across the Wrangell Narrows from the city of Petersburg on nearby Mitkof Island. The island lies within the limits of Tongass National Forest (Petersburg Ranger District). The Petersburg Creek–Duncan Salt Chuck Wilderness is a part of the forest that is located on the island.Prince of Wales Island (Alaska)
Prince of Wales Island is one of the islands of the Alexander Archipelago in the Alaska Panhandle. It is the fourth-largest island in the United States (after Hawaii, Kodiak Island, and Puerto Rico) and the 97th-largest island in the world.Revillagigedo Island
Revillagigedo Island (locally Revilla ) is an island in the Alexander Archipelago in Ketchikan Gateway Borough of the southeastern region of the U.S. state of Alaska. Running about 89 km (50 mi) north-south and 48 km (35 mi) east-west, it is 2,754.835 km² (1,063.65 mi²) in area, making it the 12th largest island in the United States and the 167th largest island in the world. Its center is located near 55°38′03″N 131°17′51″W.
The island is separated from the Alaska mainland to the east by Behm Canal, from Prince of Wales Island to the west by the Clarence Strait, and from Annette Island to the south by Revillagigedo Channel and Nichols Passage. The island is traditional Tlingit territory, and by the nineteenth century was divided between the Saanyaa Ḵwáan and Taantʼa Ḵwáan tribes or subdivisions. The first European recorded as having sighted it was Spanish explorer Jacinto Caamaño in 1792; it was named the following year by George Vancouver for Juan Vicente de Güemes, 2nd Count of Revillagigedo, then viceroy of New Spain (Mexico).
The island's population was 13,950 as of the 2000 census. The only cities on the island are Ketchikan and Saxman, although the unincorporated community of Ward Cove and the historical community of Loring are also on the island. The principal industries are fishing, canning, logging and tourism. In addition to the cities, several logging communities are based on barges, which move about the waterways. These serve the unconnected system of logging roads that dot the island and have access to waterfront.Saint Lazaria Wilderness
The Saint Lazaria Wilderness (formerly the Saint Lazaria National Wildlife Refuge) or St. Lazaria Island is a nesting bird colony located twenty miles (32 km) west of Sitka, Alaska and is a part of the Gulf of Alaska unit of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. It is located in Sitka Sound, just south of Kruzof Island, and within the limits of the City and Borough of Sitka, Alaska. The island's name is Kanasx'ée in the Tlingit language.Tongass National Forest
The Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska is the largest national forest in the United States at 16.7 million acres (68,000 km2). Most of its area is part of the temperate rain forest WWF ecoregion, itself part of the larger Pacific temperate rain forest WWF ecoregion, and is remote enough to be home to many species of endangered and rare flora and fauna. The Tongass, which is managed by the United States Forest Service, encompasses islands of the Alexander Archipelago, fjords and glaciers, and peaks of the Coast Mountains. An international border with Canada (British Columbia) runs along the crest of the Boundary Ranges of the Coast Mountains. The forest is administered from Forest Service offices in Ketchikan. There are local ranger district offices located in Craig, Hoonah, Juneau, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Sitka, Thorne Bay, Wrangell, and Yakutat.Warren Island (Alaska)
Warren Island is an island in the Alexander Archipelago of southeastern Alaska, United States. It lies on the Pacific coast just southwest of the community of Edna Bay (on Kosciusko Island). Directly west is Coronation Island and directly north is Kuiu Island. Warren Island has a land area of 47.191 km² (18.22 sq mi) and no permanent resident population. The entire island has been designated as the Warren Island Wilderness, a part of Tongass National Forest.Wrangell Island
Wrangell Island is in the Alexander Archipelago in the Alaska Panhandle of southeastern Alaska. It is 48 kilometres (30 miles) long and 8 to 23 kilometres (5.0–14.3 miles) wide. It has a land area of 544.03 square kilometres (210.05 square miles), making it the 29th largest island in the United States. Wrangell is separated from the mainland by the narrow Blake Channel.
The first European to sight the island was James Johnstone, one of George Vancouver’s officers during his 1791-95 expedition, in 1793. He only charted its east coast, not realizing it was an island. It was occupied in 1834 by the Russians. It is named after Ferdinand Wrangel, a Baltic German explorer in Russian service, and government official. From 1867 to 1877 it was a U.S. military post; later it became an outfitting point for hunters and explorers, and for miners using the Stikine River route to the Yukon.
The island contains the city of Wrangell, Alaska. Wrangell Island is heavily forested and contains an abundance of wildlife. The only other community is Thoms Place on the southwest side, across the Zimovia Strait from Etolin Island. Wrangell Island's total population was 2,401 at the 2000 census.
Fishing and mining are pursued in the area. A lumber mill closed in the 1990s. The island and surrounding areas contain many recreational areas. It is at the mouth of the Stikine River, which provides many recreational opportunities.