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History and Facts of Alaska Boroughs

Today’s Alaska boroughs did not always exist in the present form. They went through many different changes in the space of a few short years.

Territory of Alaska Boroughs

The Territory of Alaska was organized on August 24, 1912. The territory was previously the Department of Alaska, 1868-1884; and the District of Alaska, 1884-1912.

The State of Alaska entered the union as the 49th state on January 3, 1959.

Alaska Boroughs Today

Today, Alaska is divided into 19 Organized boroughs, 1 Unorganized Borough and 10 Census areas. States bordering Alaska are Canada.

Most of the densely populated regions of the state are part of Alaska’s boroughs, which function similar to counties in other states.

However, unlike county equivalents in the other 49 states, the organized boroughs do not cover the entire land area of the state. The area not part of any organized borough is referred to as the Unorganized Borough. 

For the most part, organized boroughs were formed in those areas where economies were better developed. The large portion of the state that has not incorporated as an organized borough is designated the unorganized borough.

What is a Borough?

Use of the term “borough” was a controversial part of Alaska’s Constitutional plan and debated at length by the delegates. It was adopted largely to avoid legal and political connotations of the traditional county.

Alaska’s boroughs were intended to be more versatile and powerful than counties. The failure of some local economies to generate enough revenue to support separate counties was an important issue.

The desire to use a model that would reflect the unique character of Alaska was another.

The primary difference between boroughs and census areas is that boroughs have an organized area-wide government, while census areas do not.

The entire area of the state outside of organized boroughs is treated as one large unorganized borough.

In addition, census areas are not defined by the State, but rather by the United States Census Bureau.

Consolidated City-Borough’s of Alaska

There are 6 consolidated city-borough governments:

  1. Municipality of Anchorage. (considered a consolidated city-borough under state law)
  2. Juneau City and Borough
  3. Skagway Municipality
  4. Sitka City and Borough
  5. Yakutat City and Borough
  6. Wrangell City and Borough

Fun Facts about Alaska Boroughs

Alaska is not divided into counties but rather into organized and the so-called unorganized borough. Organized boroughs are similar to counties, however, and each of the such units are supervised by a small assembly.

The unorganized borough includes more than 80% of the state’s area but less than 20% of its population. It is administered by the state government; for statistical purposes it is divided into census areas (divisions).

Boroughs by Year

  • Bristol Bay Borough was the first of Alaska’s boroughs created on October 2, 1962.
  • Petersburg Borough was the last borough created on January 3, 2013.

Borough Size Facts

  • Unorganized Borough (323,440 sq mi) is the largest borough in Alaska.
  • North Slope Borough (88,817 sq mi) is the largest named borough in Alaska.
  • Municipality and Borough of Skagway (452 sq mi) is the smallest borough in Alaska.

Borough Population Facts

  • City and Borough of Yakutat (662) is the least populated borough in Alaska.
  • Municipality of Anchorage (291,826) is the most populated borough in Alaska.

Alaska City Facts

Alaska’s 10  largest cities (2010.) are:

  1. Anchorage (291,826) is in Anchorage Borough
  2. Fairbanks (31,535) is in Fairbanks North Star Borough
  3. Juneau (31,275) is in Juneau Borough
  4. Sitka (8,881) is in Sitka Borough
  5. Ketchikan (8,050) is in Ketchikan Gateway Borough
  6. Wasilla (7,831) is in Matanuska-Susitna Borough
  7. Kenai (7,100) is in Kenai Peninsula Borough
  8. Kodiak (6,130) is in Kodiak Island Borough
  9. Bethel (6,080) is in Bethel Census Area
  10. Palmer (5,937) is in Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Boundary Changes of Alaska Boroughs

This Interactive Map of Alaska Boroughs Coming Soon!

List of Alaska Boroughs

List of Old Former / Extinct Alaska Boroughs

There are no Alaska boroughs no longer exist