The City and Borough of Juneau (pron.: /ËdÊuËnoÊ/) is a unified municipality located on the Gastineau Channel in the panhandle of the U.S. state of Alaska and the 2nd largest city in the United States by area. It has been the capital of Alaska since 1906, when the government of the then-District of Alaska was moved from Sitka as dictated by the U.S. Congress in 1900. The municipality unified on July 1, 1970, when the city of Juneau merged with the city of Douglas and the surrounding Greater Juneau Borough to form the current home rule municipality.
The area of Juneau is larger than that of Rhode Island and Delaware individually and almost as large as the two states combined. Downtown Juneau 58Â°18â²07â³N 134Â°25â²11â³Wï»¿ / ï»¿58.30194Â°N 134.41972Â°Wï»¿ / 58.30194; -134.41972 is nestled at the base of Mount Juneau and across the channel from Douglas Island. As of the 2010 census, the City and Borough had a population of 31,275. As of July 2011 the population estimate from the United States Census Bureau is 32,164.
Juneau is named after gold prospector Joe Juneau, though the place was for a time called Rockwell and then Harrisburg (after Juneau's co-prospector, Richard Harris). The Tlingit name of the town is DzÃ¡ntik'i HÃ©eni ("Base of the Flounderâs River", dzÃ¡nti âflounderâ, âkÊ¼i âbaseâ, hÃ©en âriverâ), and Auke Bay just north of Juneau proper is called Ãak'w ("Little lake", Ã¡a âlakeâ, -kÊ¼ âdiminutiveâ) in Tlingit. The Taku River, just south of Juneau, was named after the cold t'aakh wind, which occasionally blows down from the mountains.
Downtown Juneau sits at sea level, with tides averaging 16 feet (5 m), below steep mountains about 3,500 feet (1,100 m) to 4,000 feet (1,200 m) high. Atop these mountains is the Juneau Icefield, a large ice mass from which about 30 glaciers flow; two of these, the Mendenhall Glacier and the Lemon Creek Glacier, are visible from the local road system; the Mendenhall glacier has been generally retreating; its front face is declining both in width and height.