Although it had been occupied for thousands of years by indigenous peoples, from the 18th century onward, European powers considered the territory of Alaska ripe for exploitation. The United States purchased Alaska from Russia on March 30, 1867, for $7.2 million ($120 million adjusted for inflation) at approximately two cents per acre ($4.74/km²). The area went through several administrative changes before becoming organized as a territory on May 11, 1912. It was admitted as the 49th state of the U.S. on January 3, 1959.
The name "Alaska" (Аляска) had been introduced in the Russian colonial period, when it was used to refer to the peninsula. It is derived from the Aleut alaxsxaq, meaning "the mainland" or, more literally, "the object towards which the action of the sea is directed". It is also known as Alyeska, the "great land", an Aleut word derived from the same root.
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