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According to what I've been told, one state (Alaska) has land which is considered the easternmost, northernmost, and westernnmost in all of the USA. What are the three points that allows it to claim this, if it is indeed true, and how to get there?

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up vote 17 down vote accepted

Alaska is indeed the easternmost, northernmost, and westernmost in all of the USA. General assumption of one state being both easternmost & westernmost in a country is that the state being spanning across the country. But it's not the case with Alaska, below is the explanation from the website World Atlas

As far as the most western state, note how Alaska's Aleutian Islands stretch right up to the edge of the Western Hemisphere at the 180º line of Longitude, thus the most western state in the country.

Alaska is also the answer for eastern, as the Aleutian Islands stretch across the 180º line of Longitude, into the Eastern Hemisphere, and up the edge of the Russian Federation.

I'm searching to get these three points & their co-ordinates. I'll update once I get them.

Update: Co-ordinates of three extreme points as per Wiki -

  • Northernmost: Point Barrow, Alaska 71°23'20"N 156°28'45"W
  • Easternmost: Pochnoi Point, Semisopochnoi Island, Alaska 51°57'42"N 179°46'23"E
  • Westernmost: Amatignak Island, Alaska 51°16'7"N 179°8'55"W
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Three points? By this definition wouldn't anywhere along the 180 degree line of Longitude be both the most easterly point AND the most westerly point at the same time? – Doc Mar 15 '12 at 0:36
not if they're separate islands on either side of the 180 deg line - ie with ocean between them. – Mark Mayo Mar 15 '12 at 0:43
ANY point in Alaska would give it claim to being the Northernmost state in the US ... – Marcel Turing Mar 7 '15 at 19:34

If you look at the Aleutian Islands, parts of the chain is located in the Eastern Hemisphere so technically you can consider them to be the easternmost part of the United States, but since you normally go west to get there and considering their proximity to the antimeridian it crosses Amchitka pass they could be considered the westernmost part of the US as well.

I found an interesting article about Extreme Points of the US. When people say that "Everything new is just well forgotten old" I can easily believe it. From travel.SE archives. The last airline that had scheduled service to Attu was Reeve Aleutian Airlines, which ceased operations in 2000.

I found that you can actually fly close to the Point Barrow to Barrow Airport. As far as I can tell only Alaskan Airlines fly there but I could be wrong.

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Utter nonsense. A given state can be easternmost or westernmost, but not both (unless its east-west extent covers the entire rest of the nation). The easternmost point of Alaska's panhandle would have to be east of Eastport, ME, while the westernmost Aleutian island would have to be west of the westernmost Hawai'ian island (I think it is).

That a state or territory happens to lie across the 180th meridian does NOT make it both the easternmost and the westernmost state. Draw a continuous minimal bounding box around Alaska and compare it to bounding boxes around Hawai'i and the Lower 48. Draw a continuous bounding box around the 50 states.

Alaska is the westernmost and northernmost state. Maine is the easternmost. Hawai'i is the southernmost. Period.

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"East" and "West" depend on your frame of reference. You're assuming that the frame of reference is centered on the US, but the OP is using a frame of reference centered at Greenwich, UK (aka the prime meridian, 0 degrees longitude). – jpatokal Jun 4 '14 at 23:49
Wrong. What counts is the minimal (continuous) bounding box that encloses all the real estate in question. If you split it at some arbitrary point (e.g., 180 degrees), it's no longer a continuous bounding box, but now two independent pieces. You would have the western Aleutians' box and the Rest of Alaska box, but you would not have an "Alaska" bounding box. – Phil Perry Jun 5 '14 at 18:06
No, it's not wrong. He's defining "east" by longitude, ie. direction of travel from (0,0). You're defining "east" by direction of travel from an arbitrary point, namely the continental US. The world being spherical, there must always be a "split" where east turns into west; if you use a US frame of reference, it's around 90 deg E. – jpatokal Jun 5 '14 at 23:53
While the question could be called somewhat ambiguous, I can see why this answer would be correct if the frame of reference is taken as centred around continental US (and if the question stated that). Otherwise, the standard Greenwich meridian is an obvious reference point, even if it yield a counterintuitive answer. – Ankur Banerjee Jan 6 '15 at 0:31
It doesn't have anything to do with where you are "centered", it's how you draw your bounding box, as Phil said. If you say "what is the eastern-most point IN THE UNITED STATES" then you draw a box containing the United States, oriented so the north pole is atop, and look at the point furthest left. If you say "what is the eastern-most point IN THE WORLD which lies in a US state" then you would get different answers depending on where you draw your prime meridian (a bounding "box" covering the entire world is equivalent to a choice of a prime meridian). @jpatokal he didn't define east at all. – Marcel Turing Mar 7 '15 at 19:29

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