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Ready, Set, Count!

Census workers in Toksook Bay, Alaska, check their maps on January 20. GREGORY BULL—AP

The U.S. Census happens every 10 years. It’s an official count of people living in the country. The first one was in 1790. Now it’s time for the 2020 U.S. Census. For much of the country, it starts in March.

But Alaska is special. The 2020 census started there on January 21. That’s when workers began counting residents of Toksook Bay. The census has started in Alaska ever since it became a state in 1959. Workers go door to door. It’s easier for them to get around in January, when the ground is frozen. “Our goal is to count everyone once, only once, and to count them in the right place,” says Steven Dillingham. He leads the U.S. Census Bureau.