Exploration of Alaska

Russian explores made a mighty drive to the East in the 16th and 17th centuries. Despite the absolutely abominable conditions, they covered Siberia and the far east very quickly, and it seems that by the end of the reign of Ivan the terrible (1547-1584) they had crossed the whole of the Asian mainland and reached not only Chukotka and Kamchatka, but also the coast of North America.

At the beginning of the 18th century, a number of Russian expeditions explored Alaska, but its discovery is usually linked with the year 1741 and the name of A. Chirkov . then, until the end of the century, there were more than 80 expeditions by explorers, merchants and hunters. Russian merchant G. Shelikhov founded the first Russian settlement on Kodiak island in 1798. Then the Russian-American Co was set up, and the control of all the hunting and mining on the northwestern coast of America up to the Bering Strait was handed over to it. Novo-Arkhangelsk (now Sitka) became the center of Alaska.

Russian possessions in Alaska led to several conflicts with Great Britain and the USA, and, in 1853-1856, when Russia was engaged in the Crimean war against a coalition of great Britain, France, Turkey and Sardinia for control of the Middle East, the tsarist government lacked the necessary forces on the Pacific Ocean to defend Russian settlements on the American continent. It decided, therefore, to sell Alaska. Of its two major rivals Russia gave preference to the USA, counting on the latter`s support in the international arena, and in 1867, Alaska was sold to the USA for 7,2 million dollars.


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