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Alaska, Canada connected by more than just geography

Scott Woodham

The start of the Yukon Quest 1,000-mile International Sled Dog Race is a month away, and more than 30 teams have entered. The teams this year will leave Fairbanks on Feb. 4 and head for the finish line in Whitehorse, across the border in the Yukon Territory of Canada. With all those people and dogs gearing up to cross the border between Alaska and Canada, Alaska Dispatch takes a look by the numbers at what people and goods cross the border during the rest of the year.

Approximate length of border between Alaska and Canada: 1,539 miles

Number of Native language regions whose traditional areas the border touches or crosses: 8

Roadways that cross the border: 5

Road crossings shared with The Yukon: 2 (Top of the World and Alcan highways)

Shared with British Columbia: 3 (Haines Highway, Klondike Highway, and International Street in Hyder)

Number of round-the-clock official points of entry, Alaska side: 1 (Alcan)

Canada side: 2 (Beaver Creek, Yukon, and Stewart, B.C.)

Busiest crossings, Canada side: Beaver Creek (Alcan) and Fraser, B.C. (Klondike)

Peak month for crossings: August

Low months: January and February

Number of foreigners entering Alaska in fiscal year 2011: 1,061,854

Of those, number assumed to be originating in Canada: 1,041,912

Transportation for most arrivals: Commercial ship or small vessel with 436,230 passengers and crew

Next most common: Personal vehicle, 214,778 people

Number of train passengers and crew entering Alaska: 73,307

Number of pedestrians entering Alaska from Canada: 2,751

Dollar value of Alaska exports to Canada, 2010: $390.3 million

Dollar value of Alaska imports from Canada: $563 million

Percentage increase in Alaska exports to Canada: 21.9

Largest increases from 2009: Refined petroleum products 104% and machinery 117%

Percentage of total 2010 Alaska exports to Canada consisting of refined petroleum and machinery: 6.4%  and 5.4% respectively

Largest 2010 export product, by dollar: Zinc and lead ore, $210.5 million

Value of exports to Canada transported by vessel: $220.5 million

Value of exports to Canada by air: $11.7 million

Value of exports to Canada by "other" transportation: $157.7 million (mostly seafood, refined petroleum products, machinery)

Most common type of contraband seized at the border: Marijuana

Number of marijuana seizures by Canadian officials in 2011: 35

Number of violations involving weapons in the same time frame: 21

Caribou herds whose annual range crosses the border: 4 (Fortymile, Porcupine, Mentasta/Nelchina, and Chisana)

Sources: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, The Consulate of Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency, Alaska Division of Economic Development, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska Native Language Center