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Bethel is a city located near the west coast of the U.S. state of Alaska, 340 miles west of Anchorage. Accessible only by air and river, Bethel is the main port on the Kuskokwim River and is an administrative and transportation hub for the villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
Bethel is the largest community in western Alaska and in the Unorganized Borough. It had an estimated population of 6,356 in 2006. Bethel has the lone detention center in southwestern Alaska, the Yukon Kuskokwim Correction Center.Annual events in Bethel include a noted dogsled race, the Kuskokwim 300, and Camai, a traditional dance festival held each spring.
Bethel, at its original location, was a Yup'ik village called Mamterillermiut, meaning "Smokehouse People", after the nearby fish smokehouse. The Alaska Natives in this area have a long Christian history, in part from Russian Orthodox, Catholic and Moravian influence, and the Christian tradition has intermingled with its cultural history.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 48.8 square miles. 43.8 square miles of it is land and 5.1 square miles of it (10.39%) is water.
The state-owned Bethel Airport is the regional transportation center, and is served by seven passenger carriers, including Alaska Airlines, Grant Aviation, Hageland Aviation Services, Yute Air and Frontier Flying Service. There are also from five cargo operators: Everts Air Cargo, Northern Air Cargo, Alaska Central Express, Arctic Transportation Services, and Lynden Air Cargo, along with minor private players. River travel is the primary means of local transportation in the summer. A relatively recent addition to the economy of Bethel is farming. Initiated by a small organic farm, local food production in Bethel has been increasing.A coal powered generating station is also proposed.
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