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When Russia sold Alaska

How the global market for territory has evolved

| Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan

It was an epic swindling or a strategic bargain, depending on who you ask. When the U.S. took possession of Alaska from Russia, 150 years ago this week, it paid less than two cents an acre. Some economists have dubbed it a losing investment, while most foreign policy experts praise the move as a savvy opening to the Pacific. Squaring economic and national security considerations has never been easy, but it has grown even more difficult as the global market for territory has transformed.

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