Alaska got its name from the Aleut word "alaxsxaq," which refers to a piece of land the sea is directed toward. Russia only used "Alaska" in reference to the Alaskan Peninsula, but the United States decided to refer to the entire territory as Alaska after its purchase.
The United States purchased Alaska from Russia on March 30, 1867. Alaska officially became the 49th state on Jan. 3, 1959. Alaska comprises a total area of over 663,000 square miles, making it the largest of the 50 states and larger than the combined area of Texas, California and Montana. The capital of Alaska is Juneau, while the largest city is Anchorage. Alaska had a population of about 735,000 people as of 2013.