Discover the Smallest Town in Alaska — Everyone Could Fit in a Limo Coach

map of State of Alaska through magnifying glass
Naruedom Yaempongsa/Shutterstock.com

Written by Christina Eck

Updated: September 6, 2023

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Alaska is already known for having a small population, but what does the smallest town in Alaska look like? Villages are common throughout the state, with many of them only having a population of 100 or less. However, Alaska’s smallest town only has a population of 21 people.

With that many, the town could literally fit into a limo coach, as some models can fit around 25 people. Let’s take a closer look at the smallest town in Alaska, how it came to be, and what you can find in and around the area.

What Is the Smallest Town in Alaska?

The smallest town in Alaska is called Kupreanof and has a population of 21 people, according to the 2020 U.S. Census. The two smallest towns in the state include Bettles, which has a population of 23, and Edna Bay, which has a population of 25. Beetles, AK, used to be the smallest town, but from 2010 to 2020, the population rose from 12 to 23.

Kupreanof, AK, used to have a population of 27 in 2010. However, by 2020, the town had a population decrease of 6, which brought the total to 21. Due to this, it replaced Bettles as the smallest official town in Alaska.

Where is Kupreanof Located?

Kupreanof island (United States of America, North America, Alaska, US, USA, Alexander Archipelago) map vector illustration, scribble sketch Kupreanof map

Kupreanof Island is located in southeastern Alaska next to Petersburg city.

Kupreanof, AK, is on the eastern shore of Kupreanof Island. The island is inside the Petersburg Borough in the state’s southeastern part. When looking at a map, one can find the town by finding it across from Wrangell Narrows on Mitkof Island.

Kupreanof spans only 6.1 square miles, with only 4 square miles being land. The remaining 2.1 square miles are shorelines and water located next to the city. It’s a notably small town located on part of the island. 

About Kupreanof, Alaska

Totem pole

The Tlingit people were the first to occupy Kupreanof Island.

Kupreanof was originally home to the Tlingit people who inhabited southeast Alaska. The town is named Kupreanof but is known as Aansaddak’w to natives. Over the past century, the town became known as a major hub for trade and fishing.

Formerly known as West Petersburg, it was home to fur farmers and fishermen in the early mid-20th century. It was most populated in the 1950’s, when the population was 60. A decade later, the population dropped to only 26 people. Since then, the population has risen and dropped by 20 people.

Many residents who moved away ended up moving to Petersburg, which is only a three-minute drive away. Petersburg Borough was formed on January 3, 2013, but Kupreanof remained a separate municipality. While Kupreanof was allowed to join Petersburg and merge, the government decided against it. The two are now separate areas despite being only a few miles away.

Wildlife Around Kupreanof

Southeastern Alaska is full of wildlife year-round, especially Kupreanof Island. The island and surrounding area are home to many fish, mammals, and birds. So, let’s take a closer look at all the animals you can find!

Mammals

Black Bears - bear with cubs

Black bears are

very

common on Kupreanof Island and the surrounding islands.

Some mammals on Kupreanof island include Sitka black-tailed deer, Alexander Archipelago wolves, and black bears. Smaller critters can also be found, such as beavers, red squirrels, and porcupines. However, you most likely won’t see any deer and wolves, as they tend to stay hidden in the forest.

Birds

Bald eagle in flight on isolated background

Birds of prey, such as the bald eagle, are commonly spotted on the island.

There are many birds of prey that are often commonly sighted alongside the skirts of the city. This can include bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, and even sharp-shinned hawks. These birds are often found on the shorelines and can be seen sitting in groups. In addition, smaller birds roaming the ground include the spruce grouse and red-breasted sapsuckers. 

Fish and Shellfish

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Kupreanof Island and other areas are popular for whale watching during the summer months.

Island Point Lodge is a popular fishing location on Kupreanof Island. Here, visitors can fish both freshwater and saltwater fish species. Salmon, halibut, cutthroat trout, and Dolly Vardens are the most commonly found. Dungeness crabs can also be found during mid-June. In addition, whales are sighted alongside the islands. Specifically, the sighting of orcas or humpback whales.

Others

Insects are also plentiful in the southeastern area of the state. Year-round conditions are often warm enough for bug species to survive, so plenty exist. The most commonly found on Kupreanof Island include aphids, spruce beetles, and hemlock sawflies. In fact, in 2019, there were two separate aphid infestations on the island.

While there aren’t many amphibians or reptiles, as Alaska is known for not having any snakes, lizards, or freshwater turtles, there are amphibians. This can include the western toad, wood frog, and Columbian spotted frog. In addition, there is the rough-skinned newt, long-toed salamander, and the northwestern salamander.


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About the Author

Christina Eck is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily focusing on animals and travel. Christina has been writing about and researching animals for more than seven years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, which she earned in 2019. As a resident of Washington State, Christina enjoys hiking, playing with her dog, and writing fiction and non-fiction pieces.

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