Alaska Panhandle

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The Alaska Panhandle, sometimes referred to as Southeast Alaska, is the southeastern portion of the U.S. state of Alaska, which lies west of the northern half of the Canadian province of British Columbia. The majority of the panhandle's area is part of the Tongass National Forest, the United States' largest national forest. In many places, the international border runs along the crest of the Boundary Ranges of the Coast Mountains (see Alaska boundary dispute).

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Geography

The Alaska Panhandle is the northern terminus of the Inside Passage, a protected waterway of convoluted passages between islands and fjords, beginning in Puget Sound in Washington state. This was an important travel corridor for native canoeists, as well as gold-rush steam ships, and in modern times is an important route for ferries and cruise ships. The Panhandle has a land area of 35,138 miles (56,549 km), comprising six entire boroughs and three census areas, in addition to the part of Yakutat Borough lying east of 141° West longitude. Although it has only 6.14 percent of Alaska's land area, it is larger than the state of Maine, and almost as large as the state of Indiana. The 2000 census population of the Panhandle was 72,954 inhabitants, about 42 percent of whom were concentrated in the city of Juneau.

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