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The Seward Peninsula is a large peninsula on the western coast of the U.S. state of Alaskamarker. It projects about into the Bering Seamarker between Norton Soundmarker, the Bering Straitmarker, the Chukchi Seamarker, and Kotzebue Sound, just below the Arctic Circle. The entire peninsula is about long and - wide.

The Seward Peninsula was once part of the Bering land bridge, a roughly thousand mile wide swath of land connecting Siberiamarker with mainland Alaska during the Pleistocene Ice Age. This land bridge aided in the migration of humans, as well as plant and animal species from Asia to North America. Archeological discoveries throughout the Seward Peninsula show proof that Inupiat Eskimos have been living in the region for thousands of years. Excavations at sites such as the Trail Creek Caves and Cape Espenberg in the Bering Land Bridge National Preservemarker as well as Cape Denbighmarker to the south have provided insight into the timeline of prehistorical migrations from Asia to the Seward Peninsula.

Demographics

Communities on the Seward Peninsula, with 2005 state population estimates:
City Population
Nomemarker 3,508
Shishmarefmarker 581
Bucklandmarker 434
Koyukmarker 350
Brevig Missionmarker 327
Elimmarker 302
Tellermarker 263
White Mountainmarker 224
Walesmarker 151
Golovinmarker 150
Deeringmarker 139


Other locations on the Seward Peninsula include the mining towns of Council, Solomon, Candle, Haycock and Taylor. While still frequented by locals of neighboring communities, there are no longer year round residents in these locations. There is a United States Coast Guard LORAN station at Port Clarencemarker. The U.S. Air Force operates a radar station at the "Tin City" site, southeast of Wales.

Geography and ecology

The Seward Peninsula has several distinct geologic features. The Devil Mountain Lakesmarker on the northern portion of the peninsula are the largest maar lakes in the world. They were formed over 21,000 years ago as the result of an underground steam explosion. The Killeak Lakes and White Fish Lake are also volcanic maar lakes of notable size on the northern Seward Peninsula. Four mountain ranges line the southern side of the peninsula, the most prominent being the Kigluaikmarker (or Sawtooth) Mountains. The highest point in the range and the peninsula is the peak of Mount Osbornmarker. Other mountain ranges on the Seward Peninsula include the Bendeleben Mountainsmarker, Darby Mountains, and York Mountains. The Lost Jim Lava Flow north of Kuzitrin Lake is a lava field formed roughly 1,000 to 2,000 years ago, which covers roughly .Several geothermal hot springs are located throughout the peninsula, including Serpentine Hot Springs, Pilgrim Hot Springs, Granite Mountain, Elim, Clear Creek and Lava Creek.

The Seward Peninsula has several rivers. The largest include the Koyukmarker, Kuzitrinmarker, Niukluk, Fishmarker, Tubuktilik, Kiwalikmarker, Bucklandmarker and Agiupuk Rivers. These play a vital role in the subsistence lifestyles of many peninsula residents and ease travel, hunting, and fishing. Most peninsula rivers have at least a small yearly run of several varieties of salmon, as well as Dolly Varden, Arctic Grayling, whitefish of various species, Northern Pike, and Burbot. Most rivers on the Seward Peninsula freeze in mid-October; spring break-up usually occurs in mid- to late May.

The Seward Peninsula is the western-most limit of distribution for the Black spruce, Picea mariana, a dominant overstory species of the region.

Cape Prince of Wales, the westernmost point on the mainland of the Americas, is on the western tip. The cape is only from Cape Dezhnevmarker, the closest point on the Russian mainland.

The peninsula was named after William H. Seward, the United States Secretary of State who negotiated the Purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867.

References

  1. Cultural Resources in the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve
  2. Alaska Communtiy Database Community Information Summary
  3. Rozell, Ned. Volcanoes, permafrost, earthquakes shape Alaska Alaska Science Forum.



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