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Alaska

Economy


US Nursing: Alaska

Understandably given the climate a nurse will notice that Alaska has very little agriculture. The state’s best farming land is in its south central region, in the Matanuska Valley north of Anchorage and the Tanana Valley (around Fairbanks).

Alaska’s strength is in the value of its commercial fishing catch-chiefly salmon, crab, shrimp, halibut, herring, and cod. Nurses will see that the main fishing ports are Anchorage and Dutch Harbor. The freezing and canning of fish dominates the food-processing industry, the state’s largest manufacturing enterprise. Lumbering and related industries are of great importance, Mining, principally of petroleum and natural gas, is the state’s most valuable industry. Gold, which led to settlement at the end of the 19th cent, is no longer mined in quantity. Fur-trapping, Alaska’s oldest industry, endures; pelts are obtained from a great variety of animals. The Pribilof Islands are especially noted as a source of sealskins (the seals there are owned by the U.S. government, and their use is carefully regulated).

In 1968 vast reserves of oil and natural gas were discovered on the Alaska North Slope near Prudhoe Bay. The oil reserves were estimated as determined to be twice the size of any other field in North America. The Trans-Alaska pipeline from the North Slope to the ice-free port of Valdez started pumping in 1977, after bitter opposition from environmentalists, and oil began to dominate the state economy.

Government-federal, state, and local-is Alaska’s major source of employment. The state’s strategic location has generated considerable defense activity since World War II, including the establishment of highways, airfields, and permanent military bases. Alaska’s tourism increased dramatically with the help of improvements in transportation; it now follows only oil among the state’s industries.