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Coastlines of the United States, Alaska Coastline
tundra landscape, Trans-Alaska Pipeline, Arctic oceans, Yukon River, Prince William Sound
The coastline of Alaska, bordering the Pacific and Arctic oceans, is 10,690 km (6,640 mi) long. Much of Alaska’s southern coastline has large bays, inlets, and prominent fjords, which were created largely through glaciation. High mountains of the Alaska Range skirt this part of the coastline, often plunging directly into the Pacific Ocean. Hundreds of islands, including the Aleutians, are concentrated off the southern coastal area. The large Yukon River delta is a dominant feature of the western coastline. The tundra landscape of the northern coastline lies on the flat Arctic Coastal Plain adjacent to the Arctic Ocean.
Much of Alaska’s economy is based on profitable offshore fisheries and on 2.2 million hectares (5.5 million acres) of commercial forests. Both of these businesses are tied directly to the coastal areas, where warm Pacific winds keep most of Alaska’s coastline ice-free year round, allowing for continuous fishing and transportation for logging operations. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline connects the oil fields of the Arctic coastal area to the southern Alaska coastline, at Prince William Sound. Approximately 1.5 million barrels of oil are transported through this pipeline every day. Most of the urban settlements in Alaska are concentrated along the coastline, with the notable exception of Fairbanks, situated in the heart of Alaska along a tributary of the Yukon River.
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