Geography : The Hub of the Interior
Fairbanks is Alaska's second largest city and residents commonly refer to it as the "Golden Heart of Alaska." Due to its central location Fairbanks has become the transportation, trade and service center for the vast Interior region encompassing some 200,000 square miles. The community was founded a century ago on the banks of the winding Chena River, which drains into the Tanana River immediately south of town. The Chatinika, Chena, and Salcha River drainages define the area surrounded by rolling hills to the north, east and west of the urban centers. The Tanana Valley surrounds Fairbanks at an elevation of 436 feet above sea level and rises east to about 2,000 feet at the Canadian border. Fairbanks has stunning views of the Alaska Range to the south, including
Denali, and the White Mountains to the
Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB), a local government unit similar to a county, covers 7,361 square miles and has
97,484 residents. Within the Borough are two cities,
North Pole. There are
Fort Wainwright and
Eielson Air Force Base as well as several unincorporated communities.
By air, Fairbanks is approximately three and a half hours north of Seattle and fifty minutes from Anchorage, Alaska's largest city. The Borough is also the northern terminus of the Alaska Railroad with access to the ports of Seward, Whittier and Anchorage. Other than the Glenn and Sterling Highways, all major Alaskan highways meet at or near Fairbanks.
Fairbanks is the also the closest large city south of
the north slope. FSNB's location in Alaska, along the transpolar air routes (64º50' latitude, about the same as Oslo, Norway) makes it logistically attractive to air cargo airlines and the military; by air Fairbanks is less than nine hours from both Europe and Asia.