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Alaska Cruises Sitka, Alaska (SIT-kuh)
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Current Population: 8,881 (2010)
Borough Located In: City and Borough of Sitka
Taxes: 5% Sales Oct-March, 6% Sales Apr-Sept, 6% Bed

Location and Climate
Sitka is located on the west coast of Baranof Island fronting the Pacific Ocean, on Sitka Sound. An extinct volcano, Mount Edgecumbe, rises 3,200 feet above the community. It is 95 air miles southwest of Juneau, and 185 miles northwest of Ketchikan. Seattle, Washington lies 862 air miles to the south. The community lies at approximately 57.053060° North Latitude and 135.330000° West Longitude (Sec. 36, T055S, R063E, Copper River Meridian). Sitka is located in the Sitka Recording District. The area encompasses 2,874.0 sq. miles of land and 1,937.5 sq. miles of water.

January temperatures range from 23 to 35; summers vary from 48 to 61. Average annual precipitation is 96 inches, including 39 inches of snowfall.

History, Culture and Demographics
Sitka was originally inhabited by a major tribe of Tlingits, who called the village "Shee Atika." It was discovered by the Russian Vitus Bering expedition in 1741, and the site became "New Archangel" in 1799. St. Michael's Redoubt trading post and fort were built here by Alexander Baranof, manager of the Russian-American company. Tlingits burned down the fort and looted the warehouse in 1802. In 1804, the Russians retaliated by destroying the Tlingit Fort, in the Battle of Sitka. This was the last major stand by the Tlingits against the Russians, and the Indians evacuated the area until about 1822. By 1808, Sitka was the capital of Russian Alaska. Baranof was Governor from 1790 through 1818. During the mid-1800s, Sitka was the major port on the north Pacific coast, with ships calling from many nations. Furs destined for European and Asian markets were the main export, but salmon, lumber and ice were also exported to Hawaii, Mexico and California. After the purchase of Alaska by the U.S. in 1867, it remained the capital of the Territory until 1906, when the seat of government was moved to Juneau. A Presbyterian missionary, Sheldon Jackson, started a school, and in 1878 one of the first canneries in Alaska was built in Sitka. During the early 1900s, gold mines contributed to its growth, and the city was incorporated in 1913. During World War II, the town was fortified and the U.S. Navy built an air base on Japonski Island across the harbor, with 30,000 military personnel and over 7,000 civilians. After the war, the BIA converted some of the buildings to be used as a boarding school for Alaska Natives, Mt. Edgecumbe High School. The U.S. Coast Guard now maintains the air station and other facilities on the Island. A large pulp mill began operations at Silver Bay in 1960. In 1971, the City and Borough governments were unified. Sitka offers abundant resources and a diverse economy.

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Sitka Tribe of Alaska; Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. The population of the community consists of 24.7% Alaska Native or part Native. Tlingit culture, Russian influences, arts and artifacts remain a part of the local color. Sitka has year-round access to outdoor recreation in the Gulf of Alaska and Tongass National Forest.

According to Census 2010, there were 4,102 housing units in the community and 3,545 were occupied. Its population was 16.8 percent American Indian or Alaska Native; 65.3 percent white; 0.5 percent black; 6 percent Asian; 0.3 percent Pacific Islander; 9.8 percent of the local residents had multi-racial backgrounds. Additionally, 4.9 percent of the population was of Hispanic decent.

Economy and Transportation
The economy is diversified with fishing, fish processing, tourism, government, transportation, retail, and health care services. Cruise ships bring over 200,000 visitors annually. 586 residents hold commercial fishing permits and fish processing provides seasonal employment. Sitka Sound Seafood and the Seafood Producers Co-op are major employers. Regional health care services, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Coast Guard also employ a number of residents.

The State-owned Rocky Gutierrez Airport on Japonski Island has a 6,500' long by 150' wide paved and lighted runway, an instrument landing system, and a 24-hour FAA Flight Service Station. Daily jet service is provided, and several scheduled air taxis, air charters and helicopter services are available. The City & Borough operates five small boat harbors with 1,350 stalls, and a seaplane base on Sitka Sound, at Baranof Warm Spring Bay. There is a breakwater at Thompson Harbor, but no deep draft dock. A boat launch, haul-out, boat repairs and other services are available. Cruise ships anchor in the harbor and lighter visitors to shore; a new lightering facility is needed. The Alaska Marine Highway system (state ferry) has a docking facility. The fast ferry M/V Fairweather serves Sitka twice a week with a 6-hour run to Juneau. Freight arrives by barge and cargo plane.

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Did You Know?
City Of Anchorage. In 1915 President Woodrow Wilson authorized funds for the construction of the Alaska Railroad. Ship Creek Landing was selected as the headquarters of this effort. A Tent City sprang up in the wilderness at the mouth of Ship Creek, and soon swelled to a population of over 2,000. On July 9, 1915, the Anchorage townsite auction was held, and over 600 lots were sold. Although the area had been known by various names, in this same year the U.S. Post Office Department formalized the use of the name Anchorage, and despite some protests the name stuck.
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