The Lake and Peninsula Borough was incorporated in April 1989 as a home-rule borough with a manager form of government. The Lake and Peninsula School District was formed in 1976.
Located approximately 300 air miles southwest of Anchorage along the Alaska Peninsula, the Lake and Peninsula Borough takes in a vast swath of territory, encompassing 23,782 square miles of land and 7,125 square miles of water. If one considers land area only, the Borough is roughly the size of West Virginia. No roads connect the Borough with the Outside, air travel and / or small watercraft are the only means to transport people and freight in and out of the Borough. It is bordered on the west by Bristol Bay and on the east by the Pacific Ocean. The Bristol Bay coast is comprised of low lying wetlands and the rugged Pacific coast is dominated by numerous volcanoes of the Aleutian Range, which runs the length of the Borough from Lake Clark to Ivanof Bay. Iliamna Lake, located in the north, is the largest freshwater lake in Alaska and the second largest in the United States.
According to the U.S. Census (2013), the Lake and Peninsula Borough is home to 1,648 year round residents.
Seventeen communities are located within the borough in three distinct areas: The Lakes Area, the Upper Peninsula Area, and the Chignik Area.
The Lakes Region
The Upper Peninsula Region
The Chignik Region
The region has been inhabited for the past 9 to 10,000 years. The area is rich in cultural resources and diversity. Generally speaking, the people inhabiting the Lake Iliamna sub-region are Dena’ina Athabascan. Those inhabiting the coastal sub-regions of the Northern Alaska Peninsula are Yup'ik Eskimos (Yupiit). Those in the southern Alaska Peninsula sub-region are Alutiiq. Traditionally, these societies were nomadic and movement in and out of the region and between communities was common. Tribe, bands, kinship groups would move from campsite to campsite utilizing each location’s resources in a seasonal cycle. At various times and locations throughout history the inhabitants of the area now contained within the Borough relied for their support upon fish (salmon, halibut, shell fish, & etc), caribou and moose, small game, waterfowl and game birds, whaling, as well as berries and other plants.
In the south, contact with Europeans began in 1740s as Russian traders, fur hunters and missionaries moved into the region. Russian expansion into the north began in 1818. Although Russian influence proved stronger and more lasting in the south, the Russian Orthodox Church remains a vital presence across what is now the Lake and Peninsula Borough.
In 1867 the U.S. purchased the Alaska territory. Shortly after the acquisition of Alaska, American policy strongly encouraged Alaska Natives to settle in year around communities. Missionaries from the Lower 48s arrived soon after, making their presence felt. In addition to their religious activities, the Missionaries built some of the first schools in the region and introduced Western medical care to the area. By the 1880s commercial fishing activities were underway in the south and in the Bristol Bay region. For many years Alaska natives were, for the most part, excluded from finding employment as fishermen or in the canneries / processing plants.
With the influx of non-Natives into the Alaska Peninsula came a series of devastating epidemics. The 1918 flu epidemic hit Natives Peoples especially hard. Reindeer were introduced to assist the survivors, but the experiment eventually failed. In the 1930's, additional disease epidemics further decimated villages.
The non-Natives who came into the Alaska Peninsula following U.S. acquisition came from diverse backgrounds. Many, of course, came from the Lower 48s. Additionally, commercial fisherman came from Scandinavia, Italy, and other European countries. Lapps (Sami) and Finns came into the region when the experiment with Reindeer herding was underway. At times, the canneries brought in workers from the Philippines and China to man the processing lines.
Following the end of WWI, aviation brought broad and sweeping changes to the Peninsula. Travel was no longer limited to lengthy and arduous travel overland or by boat. Where it once took weeks or months to reach a Peninsula village, weather permitting the trip could be made in hours or a few days. Air travel in the region received a boost during and after WWII, with the construction of new runways and advances in technology.
One of the most far reaching changes to effect the Peninsula, and all of Alaska, was the enactment of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) in 1971. The settlement established Alaska Native claims to the land by transferring titles to twelve Alaska Native regional corporations (later thirteen) and over 200 local village corporations.