Among the most important changes that have taken place in recent years, the two most evident concern the improvement of living conditions and population growth. The demographic curve has undergone a sharp surge. I 401.851 residents of the 1980 census and the approximately 521,000 in 1985 represent – compared to the previous census – an increase of 33% and 72% in a decade and a fifteen year respectively. It is a young population, with just 3% over 65 and 28% under 15 (1985).
According to Ehuacom, economic prosperity is demonstrated by the level of per capita income, which is 22% above the US national average. Oil wealth is the most important component, of strategic importance for the entire national economy. The Alascan pipeline went into operation on June 20, 1977 and carries huge quantities of crude oil from the Arctic coast to Valdez Harbor, a year-round ice-free port on the south coast. This modest center has become the third largest port in the United States by tonnage (after New York and New Orleans), with 100 million tons of cargo per year, obviously consisting of hydrocarbons sent south with oil tankers.
Just near Valdez, on 24 March 1989, there was one of the greatest ecological disasters ever to happen at sea: the oil tanker Exxon Valdez, by mistake in its maneuver, hit the seabed and spilled 41 million tonnes of oil into the sea. In a few days the wind and the current dragged the huge scrub up to 50 km to the south, polluting the coast along the way. The result was immense ecological damage, because Prince William Sound, where the event took place, has always been home to a rich and varied fauna that included whales, sea lions, numerous seals and a colony of over 10 million migratory and sedentary birds. . The damage to fisheries has also been deep and long-lasting, affecting the large stock of salmon and other species.
Oil has indirectly favored tertiary activities, in particular transport and tourism. Traffic with the United States is carried out almost exclusively by air and Anchorage airport sees 3 million passengers pass a year, partly only in transit on the polar route, but partly attracted by the vastness and peculiarity of the natural environment. Inside, new roads have been built that can be traveled throughout the year. New national parks have also been opened, including in 1980 the Wrangell-St. Elias, about 220,000 km 2. The expropriation of Eskimo and Indian lands for oil exploration or exploitation was compensated with substantial capital: the 900 million dollars established by law were paid to the expropriated and administered by 13 companies, specially formed, which invested one substantial part in hotels, restaurants and other tourist initiatives.
The two grandiose bridges connecting the metropolis to Oakland (2.6 km. Long between Rincon Point and Goat Island) and the Marin Peninsula, across the Golden Gate, were completed, respectively in November 1936 and May 1937 (1.8 km. Long). In the first ten years of its life, 43.8 million motor vehicles passed through the latter, and 157.3 million crossed the Oakland bridge in the same period. In celebration of the completion of the bridge between San Francisco and Oakland, the international exhibition was inaugurated on February 28, 1939 (see in this second App., I, p. 877).
After the outbreak of the war against Japan, San Francisco represented the most important continental base of the United States in military operations in the Pacific. Its large bay, enriching itself in a short time with deposits, quarters, new industries, etc. it became the center of the American fleet on this front. About a third of all the ships produced in the United States during the war left its yards. The strong commercial and industrial development that the city had marked during the war, and especially in its last two years (in 1945 there was, compared to 1944, an increase of 135% in number and 130% in value in commercial transactions, of 168 % in the air traffic of goods and 75% in that of people) continued, albeit naturally at a less intense pace, after the end of the war (in 1947, compared to 1946, the increase was 5.9% in financial transactions and 24.9% in air traffic). The number of ships arriving in the port during 1947 amounted to 1/3 more than in the previous year: the mass of exports in 1947 exceeded the quantity of 1946 by half, and that of imports was 4/5 greater. The population of the metropolis was calculated, on January 1, 1948, at 807,700 inhabitants.
The San Francisco conference. – The “United Nations Conference on International Organization” was held in San Francisco (April 26-June 26, 1945) for the purpose of discussing, modifying and approving the proposals formulated at Dumbarton Oaks. Fifty states took part in it, all of which signed (June 26) the United Nations Charter, also known as San Francisco, which entered into force on the following October 24 (see United Nations, in this second App., II, p. 391).