1741: Russian explorer Vitus Bering discovers Alaska while sailing for the Russian Empire.
1867: The United States purchases Alaska from Russia in a transaction known as the Alaska Purchase, with Secretary of State William H. Seward negotiating the deal.
1880s-1890s: Gold discoveries in the Klondike region of Yukon, Canada, spark the Klondike Gold Rush. Prospectors and adventurers pass through Alaska on their way to the goldfields.
1912: The Territory of Alaska is established, replacing the District of Alaska, with its capital in Juneau.
1942-1943: During World War II, Alaska becomes a crucial strategic location as the Japanese occupy parts of the Aleutian Islands. The Battle of Attu and the Battle of Kiska are fought as U.S. forces retake the islands.
1959: Alaska is admitted to the United States as the 49th state on January 3, becoming the largest state in terms of land area.
1968: The discovery of oil at Prudhoe Bay on Alaska's North Slope leads to the development of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), which transports oil from the North Slope to the port of Valdez.
1989: The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurs in Prince William Sound, one of the largest oil spills in U.S. history, causing significant environmental damage.
1994: The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act is enacted, providing land and financial compensation to Alaska Native peoples, settling their land claims.
2008: Mount Redoubt, an active volcano in the Aleutian Range, erupts multiple times, causing disruptions to air travel and affecting local communities.
Present: Alaska's economy relies on diverse industries, including oil and gas, fishing, tourism, and mining. The state is renowned for its pristine wilderness, vast landscapes, and wildlife, attracting visitors from around the world.
This timeline highlights key moments in the history of Alaska, from its Russian exploration and the gold rush era to its statehood, economic developments, and environmental challenges. Alaska's unique geographic and cultural characteristics have contributed to its distinct identity as the northernmost state in the United States.