On October 18, 1867, the United States purchased Alaska from czarist Russia for $7.2 million―about $120 million by today's standards―in what is considered one of the most lucrative land deals in history.
Exactly 150 years later, many are celebrating the purchase with Alaska Day. A festival to celebrate the occasion occurs every year in Sitka, Alaska, to celebrate "the diversity of cultures and historical perspectives of our people" and honor the day "the great land of Alaska was transferred from Russia to the United States."
But a number of hard-right Russian nationalists view Alaska Day as a day of mourning, with some calling for the territory to be returned.
Some historians regard the transaction as a short-sighted blunder by Czar Alexander II, giving up Alaska's rich natural resources, particularly its oil and gas, for $7.2 million―about $125 million (£100 million) in today's money.
“If Russia was in possession of Alaska today, the geopolitical situation in the world would have been different,” Sergey Aksyonov, the prime minister of Crimea, told a Crimean television network.
Others point out Alaska has caused a lot of trouble for the United States. According to University of Iowa economist David Barker, the federal government has lost money on the Alaska deal because of the number of federal subsidies spent on the state.
But Alaska is also home to Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, admired by some for her decision to defend health care and put her morality over party loyalty. Alaska also has some of the happiest people in the country, with the best standards of living, according to a Gallup Poll. Alaska is also second in the nation for affordable public universities, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Alaska is also home to the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, the largest national park in the country, "six times the size of Yellowstone," and home to "the biggest subpolar ice field in North America."