Alaska is a state in the United States of America, in the extreme northwest portion of the North American continent. It is the largest U.S. state by area (by a substantial margin), and one of the wealthiest and most racially diverse. The area that became Alaska was purchased from Russian interests on March 30, 1867. The land went through several administrative changes before becoming an organized territory on May 11, 1912 and the 49th state of the U.S. on January 3, 1959. The name "Alaska" is derived from the Aleut alaxsxaq, meaning "the mainland," or more literally, "the object towards which the action of the sea is directed."
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