Southeast Alaska’s panhandle stretches about 500 miles from Annette Island in the southern reaches, near the border of British Columbia, up to Yakutat on the mouth of the Gulf of Alaska. This rugged region of coastal mountains boasts few roads. Most of Southeast Alaska can only be accessed by boat or plane, including Juneau, the state capital and the region’s population center.
About 70,000 people live in Southeast Alaska, a region encompassing about 23 million acres. Southeast Alaska includes 23 incorporated communities and 21 unincorporated villages, according to the Juneau Economic Development Council.
Three Alaska Native tribes make their home in Southeast Alaska: the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshians. Major industries of Southeast Alaska include government, fishing and seafood processing, tourism, education, construction, mining, transportation and forest products, according to the Alaska Department of Labor. More than one in three Southeast Alaskans count on some form of government-related work for income. But many are also employed by the fishing and seafood industries. According to research commissioned by Trout Unlimited, salmon and trout fishing contribute some $1 billion to the regional economy annually and account for more than 7,300 jobs directly or indirectly.
Over 80 percent of Southeast Alaska rural residents rely on subsistence hunting, fishing or gathering for dietary and cultural purposes.