Boroughs and census areas of Alaska
Borough • City-borough • Census areas of the Unorganized Borough
LocationState of Alaska
Number19 organized boroughs
11 census areas
Populations(Organized boroughs): 687 (Yakutat) – 286,075 (Anchorage)
(Census areas): 2,262 (Hoonah-Angoon) – 18,224 (Bethel)
Areas(Organized boroughs): 434 square miles (1,120 km2) (Skagway) – 88,824 square miles (230,050 km2) (North Slope)
(Census areas): 4,393 square miles (11,380 km2) (Aleutians West) – 145,576 square miles (377,040 km2) (Yukon-Koyukuk)

The U.S. state of Alaska is divided into 19 organized boroughs and 1 unorganized borough. Alaska and the state of Louisiana are the only states that do not call their first-order administrative subdivisions counties (Louisiana uses parishes instead).[1] Delegates to the Alaska Constitutional Convention wanted to avoid the traditional county system and adopted their own unique model with different classes of boroughs varying in powers and duties.[2]

Many of the most densely populated regions of the state are part of Alaska's boroughs, which function similarly to counties in other states. There are four different classifications of organized boroughs: "Unified Home Rule" or "Non-unified Home Rule" (may exercise all legislative powers not prohibited by law or charter); "First Class" (may exercise any power not prohibited by law on a non-area wide basis by adopting ordinances); and "Second Class" (must gain voter approval for authority to exercise many non-area wide powers).[3]

However, unlike county-equivalents in the other 49 states, the organized boroughs do not cover the entire land area of the state. The area not part of any organized borough is referred to as the Unorganized Borough. The U.S. Census Bureau, in cooperation with the state, divides the Unorganized Borough into 11 census areas, each roughly corresponding to an election district, thus totaling 30 county equivalents. However, these areas exist solely for the purposes of statistical analysis and presentation; they have no government of their own. Boroughs and census areas are both treated as county-level equivalents by the Census Bureau.

Some areas in the Unorganized Borough receive limited public services directly from the Alaska state government, usually law enforcement from the Alaska State Troopers and educational funding.

Seven consolidated city-borough governments exist—Juneau City and Borough, Skagway Municipality, Sitka City and Borough, Yakutat City and Borough, Wrangell City and Borough, Haines Borough, as well as the state's largest city, Anchorage. Though its legal name is the Municipality of Anchorage, it is considered a consolidated city-borough under state law.

The Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 55-2,3,4 codes, which are used by the United States Census Bureau to uniquely identify states and counties, is provided with each entry.[4] Alaska's code is 02, so each code is of the format 02XXX. The FIPS code for each county equivalent links to census data for that county equivalent. There are 30 divisions in Alaska.

List of boroughs

FIPS code[5] Borough seat[6] Class
Est.[6] Origin Etymology Density
Population[10] Area[11] Map
Aleutians East Borough 013 Sand Point Second 1987 - Its location in the east Aleutian Islands, which are themselves of uncertain linguistic origin; possibly derived from Chukchi word aliat ("island") 0.50 3,461 6,985 sq mi
(18,091 km2)
State map highlighting Aleutians East Borough
Anchorage 020 (Consolidated
Unified Home Rule 1964/1975 Anchorage Borough formed in 1964, merged with city in 1975 to form unified city-borough Derived from the presence of a safe place to anchor and unload supplies for construction of the Alaska Railroad c. 1913, thereby creating a community. 167.59 286,075 1,707 sq mi
(4,421 km2)
State map highlighting Anchorage
Bristol Bay Borough 060 Naknek Second 1962 - Named in 1778 by Capt. James Cook for George Digby, 2nd Earl of Bristol. 1.75 844 482 sq mi
(1,248 km2)
State map highlighting Bristol Bay Borough
Denali Borough 068 Healy Home Rule 1990 - From Denali, the tallest North American mountain, which means "great one" in the Dena'ina language 0.13 1,584 12,641 sq mi
(32,740 km2)
State map highlighting Denali Borough
Fairbanks North Star Borough 090 Fairbanks Second 1964 - Named for its borough seat of Fairbanks, named in turn for Charles Fairbanks (1852–1918), U.S. Senator from Indiana and vice president under Theodore Roosevelt, and for Polaris, the North Star 12.93 94,840 7,335 sq mi
(18,998 km2)
State map highlighting Fairbanks North Star Borough
Haines Borough 100 (Consolidated
Home Rule 1968
(Consolidated 2002)
- After Haines, which was itself named for Mrs. Francina E. Haines (1819–1870), the key fundraiser for the construction of a Presbyterian mission in the town. 0.88 2,070 2,343 sq mi
(6,068 km2)
State map highlighting Haines Borough
Juneau 110 (Consolidated
Unified Home Rule 1970 The cities of Juneau and Douglas merged with the surrounding borough to form the municipality Joseph "Joe" Juneau (1836-1899), prospector and co-founder of the city. 11.67 31,555 2,704 sq mi
(7,003 km2)
State map highlighting Juneau
Kenai Peninsula Borough 122 Soldotna Second 1964 - The Kenai Peninsula, whose name may be derived from Kenayskaya, the Russian name for Cook Inlet. 3.82 61,223 16,017 sq mi
(41,484 km2)
State map highlighting Kenai Peninsula Borough
Ketchikan Gateway Borough 130 Ketchikan Second 1963 - The borough seat of Ketchikan and the borough's gateway location on the Alaska-Canada border. 2.83 13,738 4,857 sq mi
(12,580 km2)
State map highlighting Ketchikan Gateway Borough
Kodiak Island Borough 150 Kodiak Second 1963 - Named after Kodiak Island, which may itself be named for the Koniag people 1.88 12,565 6,689 sq mi
(17,324 km2)
State map highlighting Kodiak Island Borough
Lake and Peninsula Borough 164 King Salmon Home Rule 1989 - The borough's many large lakes, and the Alaska Peninsula 0.06 1,331 23,832 sq mi
(61,725 km2)
State map highlighting Lake and Peninsula Borough
Matanuska-Susitna Borough 170 Palmer Second 1964 - Named for the valley that the Matanuska and Susitna Rivers form. 4.66 115,239 24,707 sq mi
(63,991 km2)
State map highlighting Matanuska-Susitna Borough
North Slope Borough 185 Utqiaġvik Home Rule 1972 - The Alaska North Slope along the Brooks Range. 0.12 10,603 88,824 sq mi
(230,053 km2)
State map highlighting North Slope Borough
Northwest Arctic Borough 188 Kotzebue Home Rule 1986 In 1986, residents of Kotzebue and 10 other area villages voted to form the Northwest Arctic Borough (with boundaries coincident with those of NANA), to be economically based on taxing the Red Dog mine, then under development. Its geographic location and position above the Arctic Circle. 0.21 7,361 35,663 sq mi
(92,367 km2)
State map highlighting Northwest Arctic Borough
Petersburg Borough 195 Petersburg Home Rule 2013 Incorporated after voters approved borough formation in December 2012. Named for Norwegian immigrant Peter Buschmann (1849-1903), founder of the former city of Petersburg. 1.18 3,427 2,901 sq mi
(7,514 km2)
State map highlighting Petersburg Borough
Sitka 220 (Consolidated
Unified Home Rule 1971 - Derived from Tlingit word Shee At'iká, meaning "People on the outside of Shee (Baranof Island)." 2.89 8,282 2,870 sq mi
(7,433 km2)
State map highlighting Sitka
Skagway 230 (Consolidated
First 2007 - Derived from Tlingit word Shgagwèi, meaning "a windy place with white caps on the water." 2.52 1,095 434 sq mi
(1,124 km2)
State map highlighting Skagway
Unorganized Borough - - - 1961 The Borough Act of 1961 created The Unorganized Borough including all of Alaska not within a Unified, Home rule, First class or Second class borough. A legal entity in Alaska, covering those parts of Alaska not within an incorporated borough; it is directly administered by the State of Alaska.[12] 0.24 75,362 319,852 sq mi
(828,413 km2)
State map highlighting Unorganized Borough
Wrangell 275 (Consolidated
Unified Home Rule 2008 Formerly part of Wrangell-Petersburg Census Area Ferdinand von Wrangel, Russian administrator of Alaska, 1840-49. 0.81 2,064 2,556 sq mi
(6,620 km2)
State map highlighting Wrangell
Yakutat 282 (Consolidated
Home Rule 1992 - Yakutat Bay and the Yakutat Alaska Native people 0.09 687 7,623 sq mi
(19,743 km2)
State map highlighting Yakutat

Census areas in the Unorganized Borough

Map of Alaska highlighting the Unorganized Borough

The Unorganized Borough is the portion of the U.S. state of Alaska not contained in any of its 19 organized boroughs. While referred to as the "Unorganized Borough", it is not a borough itself. It encompasses over half of Alaska's area, 970,500 km2. If the unorganized Borough were a state in itself, it would be the largest state in the United States of America, larger than the rest of Alaska and larger than Texas or California. (374,712 mi2). As of the 2023 Census estimate, 10% of Alaskans (75,362 people) reside in it.

Currently unique among the United States, Alaska is not entirely subdivided into organized county equivalents. For the 1980 census, the United States Census Bureau divided the unorganized borough into 12 census areas to facilitate census taking in the vast unorganized area. As new boroughs incorporate, these areas have been altered or eliminated to accommodate,[13] such that there are currently 11 census areas:

Census area
FIPS code[5] Largest town
(as of 2000)
Etymology Density
Population[10] Area[11] Map
Aleutians West Census Area 016 Unalaska Location in the western Aleutian Islands. 1.17 5,160 4,393 sq mi
(11,378 km2)
State map highlighting Aleutians West Census Area
Bethel Census Area 050 Bethel City of Bethel, the largest settlement in the census area, which is itself named for the Biblical term Bethel ("house of God"). 0.45 18,224 40,627 sq mi
(105,223 km2)
State map highlighting Bethel Census Area
Chugach Census Area 063 Valdez The Chugach people
(Part of Valdez–Cordova Census Area prior to January 02, 2019) [14][15]
0.71 6,769 9,530 sq mi
(24,683 km2)
State map highlighting Chugach Census Area
Copper River Census Area 066 Glennallen The Copper River
(Part of Valdez–Cordova Census Area prior to January 02, 2019) [14][15]
0.11 2,674 24,692 sq mi
(63,952 km2)
State map highlighting Copper River Census Area
Dillingham Census Area 070 Dillingham The city of Dillingham, the largest settlement in the area, which was itself named after United States Senator Paul Dillingham (1843–1923), who had toured Alaska extensively with his Senate subcommittee in 1903. 0.25 4,607 18,334 sq mi
(47,485 km2)
State map highlighting Dillingham Census Area
Hoonah–Angoon Census Area 105 Hoonah The cities of Hoonah and Angoon 0.35 2,262 6,555 sq mi
(16,977 km2)
State map highlighting Hoonah–Angoon Census Area
Kusilvak Census Area 158 Hooper Bay Kusilvak Mountains
(Known as Wade Hampton prior to 2015)
0.47 8,001 17,077 sq mi
(44,229 km2)
State map highlighting Kusilvak Census Area
Nome Census Area 180 Nome City of Nome, the largest settlement in the census area. 0.43 9,763 22,969 sq mi
(59,489 km2)
State map highlighting Nome Census Area
Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area 198 Craig Prince of Wales Island and the town of Hyder
(Known as Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan prior to the expansion of Ketchikan Gateway Borough in 2008)
1.08 5,696 5,268 sq mi
(13,644 km2)
State map highlighting Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area
Southeast Fairbanks Census Area 240 Deltana Its location, southeast of Fairbanks 0.29 7,077 24,831 sq mi
(64,312 km2)
State map highlighting Southeast Fairbanks Census Area
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area 290 Fort Yukon Yukon River ("great river" in Gwich’in), which flows through the census area; and the city of Koyukuk 0.04 5,129 145,576 sq mi
(377,040 km2)
State map highlighting Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area

See also


  1. ^ "Alaska Population Estimates". Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Archived from the original on March 27, 2020. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  2. ^ "Local Government". Alaska Humanities Forum. Archived from the original on November 5, 2021. Retrieved November 4, 2021.
  3. ^ "Alaska Local Government Primer" (PDF), Alaska Municipal League, archived (PDF) from the original on September 8, 2023, retrieved September 8, 2023
  4. ^ "FIPS Publish 6-4". National Institute of Standards and Technology. Archived from the original on September 29, 2013. Retrieved April 11, 2007.
  5. ^ a b "EPA County FIPS Code Listing". Archived from the original on March 13, 2011. Retrieved February 23, 2008.
  6. ^ a b "Find A County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on April 16, 2013. Retrieved April 7, 2012.
  7. ^ "Municipal Certificates". Local Boundary Commission, Division of Community and Regional Affairs, Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. Archived from the original on January 6, 2018. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
  8. ^ "Alaska Taxable 2004 Municipal Taxation - Rates and Policies" (PDF). Division of Community and Regional Affairs, Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. January 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 9, 2008. Retrieved July 16, 2008.
  9. ^ "Background on Boroughs in Alaska" (PDF). Local Boundary Commission, Division of Community and Regional Affairs, Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. November 2000. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 9, 2022. Retrieved July 16, 2008.
  10. ^ a b "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Alaska". Archived from the original on September 28, 2021. Retrieved March 20, 2024.
  11. ^ a b "TIGERweb". US Census. Archived from the original on November 3, 2012. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  12. ^ "Governmental Unit Boundary Data Content Standard (Working Draft, Version 2.0)" (PDF). Subcommittee on Cultural and Demographic Data, Federal Geographic Data Committee, United States Census Bureau, United States Department of Commerce. February 1999. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 9, 2022. Retrieved July 16, 2008.
  13. ^ "Substantial Changes to Counties and County Equivalent Entities: 1970-Present". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on March 12, 2019. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  14. ^ a b c "Changes to Counties and County Equivalent Entities: 1970-Present". The United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on April 28, 2021. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  15. ^ a b "Alaska Population Estimates". Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Archived from the original on March 27, 2020. Retrieved March 1, 2020.

Other sources