Alaskan economic development is characterized by free economic initiatives and little state intervention. In 1958, Alaska attained statehood and became a state in the United States. It is the largest territory of the United States, but the population is among the smallest (500,000). Life and economic development are primarily based on natural resources. However, economic development in Alaska is now primarily based on gold, mining, and oil. Since the Klondike era at the end of the 1800s, Alaska has always had a turbulent and volatile economy with boom towns and mines extremely rich for a short period of time. The Alaskan economy has been event driven, and the events have been world known. Over time Alaska has gained strategic importance for the United States, from the establishment of military bases in Alaska. Since the discovery of oil in the North Slope and the construction of the Trans-Alaska pipeline, the strategic importance is a core element for Alaskan economic development. Development interests may face increasing resistance from environmentalists, however. The yield from oil exploitation is placed in a financial fund construction, which finances the public sector, and in general there is no Alaskan income tax. Alaska also has an important fishery, especially of salmon, as well as a comprehensive and increasing tourism. It is debatable whether Alaska has now


recovered from the Exxon Valdez oil spill catastrophe in 1989. Economic development in Alaska has always had the most market-based economic development in the Arctic world.

Lise Lyck

See also Industrial Development; Sustainable Development

Further Reading

Lyck, Lise, Economic and Constitutional Space of the Small

Nordic Jurisdictions, Stockholm: Nordrefo, 1996 Morrison, William R., True North: The Yukon and Northwest

Territories, New York: Oxford University Press, 1998 Myers, H. & S. Forrest, "Making change: economic development in pond inlet 1987-1997." Arctic, 53(2) (2000) Osherenko, Gail & Young Oran, The Age of the Arctic, Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989

Pretes, Michael & Michael Robinson, "Beyond boom and bust: a strategy for sustainable development in the North." Polar Record, 25(153) (1989): 115-120

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