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The City and Borough of Sitka, originally called New Archangel when under Russian Rule, is a unified city-borough located on Baranof Island and the southern half of Chichagof Island in the Alexander Archipelago of the Pacific Ocean (part of the Alaska Panhandle), in the U.S. state of Alaska. It had an estimated population of 8,986 in 2005, making it the fourth-largest city by population in Alaska. Urban Sitka (Downtown), the part that is usually thought of as the "city" of Sitka, is situated on the west side of Baranof Island.
The current name "Sitka"means "People on the Outside of Shee", "Shee" being the Tlingit name for Baranof Island.Sitka was originally settled by the native Tlingit people. Old Sitka was founded in 1799 by Alexandr Baranov, the governor of Russian America. Baranov arrived as a representative of the Russian-American Company, a "semi-official" colonial trading company chartered by Tsar Paul I. The home rule charter of the City and Borough of Sitka was adopted on 2 December 1971 for the region of the Greater Sitka Borough, which was incorporated on 24 September 1963.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough is the second largest incorporated city by area in the U.S, with a total area of 4,811.5 square miles, with 2,874.0 square miles of land and 1,937.6 square miles, or 40.27%, being water.
Sitka displaced Juneau, Alaska as the largest incorporated city in the United States upon the 2000 incorporation with 2,874 square miles of incorporated area.
In 2008, the largest two employers in Sitka were the South East Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), employing 489 people, and the Sitka School District, employing 285 people. In 2005, after government and health industries, the seafood industry accounted for 13% of the jobs in Sitka and the tourism industry hired 11% of Sitka's workforce. Many Sitkans hunt and gather subsistence foods such as fish, deer, berries, seaweeds and mushrooms.Sitka's power is generated by dams at Blue Lake and Green Lake, with supplemental power provided by burning diesel if usage exceeds the supply of water left in the lakes in the Spring.
In 2010 a Texas company S2C Global Systems announced that it was moving forward with a plan to ship 2.9 billion US gallons to 9 billion US gallons of fresh lake water a year from Sitka (Blue Lake) to the west coast of India. This deal would represent the world's first regular, bulk exports of water via tanker. The water thus obtained will be redistributed to places in India, southeast Asia and the Middle East. Sitka could earn up to $90 million a year in revenue.
Sitka is not accessible by road.
Sitka's weather and location make construction and maintenance of transportation inherently difficult, expensive, and inconvenient.