Nome is said to be an abbreviation for No Name, and to many people it sounds like the end of the world – which it is. Nome sits at one of the westernmost points of the North American continent on Norton Sound of the Bering Sea, 102 miles south of the Arctic Circle and 160 miles east of Siberia. No highways connect Nome to the outside world, although there are about 300 miles of roads which lead to nearby villages. Nome is 539 air miles from Anchorage.
Nome is unlike most other small isolated towns in Alaska in that it did not have its beginnings as an Eskimo settlement, although nearly half of the 3,500 inhabitants today are of Native American decent. The town was officially established in 1901, as a gold-rush boomtown, and it still has the look and feel of the old wild west. The fabulous wealth of Nome’s nugget-rich hills and beaches of gold drew a population of 20,000 during its heyday. Gold mining and tourism are still major factors in keeping the town alive into the 21st century.
The city is the commercial hub of northwestern Alaska, as well as the site for the finish of the 1049-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race from Anchorage each March.