Attached to the northwest corner of North America, Alaska is the largest state in the United States encompassing 656,425 square miles. It is one fifth the size of the entire lower 48 states, and larger than the next three largest states combined. Alaska holds the record for the coldest temperature in the US: -80F on January 23, 1971 in Prospect Creek, and for the highest point, Mt McKinley, at 20,300 feet above sea level. Alaska is organized into 16 boroughs instead of counties. Remote areas not included in the boroughs are divided into census areas. The capital of Alaska is Juneau. Despite its grand geographical presence, Alaska ranks 48th in population with approximately 670,000 people according to the 2006 U.S. Bureau of the Census Population Estimates Program. While over 40% of the residents live in the largest city of Anchorage, most of the rest of the state is sparsely populated or uninhabited with communities separated by vast distances. 52.3% of the state population lives in frontier areas. Residents are 67% white, 16% Alaska Native and American Indian, 4.6% Asian, and 3.7% African American with 4.7% of the population reporting more than one ethnicity.
The Alaska Native population represents eleven distinct cultures who speak twenty different languages. This diverse Alaska Native population is often organized based on five cultural groupings drawing upon cultural similarities or geographic proximity. The Athabascan live in the interior of Alaska, the Yup'ik/Cup'ik live in western Alaska primarily on the coast, while the Iñupiaq/St. Lawrence Island Yupik live on the north coast. The Aleut and Alutiiq live on the string of islands extending towards Asia; and the Tlingit, Haida & Tsimshian groups live in southeast Alaska bordering British Columbia. Alaska's rugged geography and harsh climate challenges the implementation and maintenance of core services such as health care for these and other groups