Page last updated at 00:57 GMT, Tuesday, 26 January 2010

US census 2010 starts on dog sled in Alaska

Robert Groves in a dogsled in Noorvik, Alaska, driven by Brian Coffin, 11
Eleven-year-old Brian Coffin and some furry residents give Mr Groves a ride

The US Census Bureau has kicked off its official count of America's population in a remote Alaskan village.

Bureau Director Robert Groves flew to Noorvik and initiated the count in the Inupiat Inuit community of around 650.

He was picked up at the airport by dog sled. A traditional feast of caribou, moose and beaver meat awaited him, Mayor Bobby Wells told Reuters.

The official census - which must be held every 10 years - begins in March for the rest of the country.

The results are used to allocate federal funding, as well as the number of each state's seats in the US House of Representatives.

The 2000 census started in Unalakleet, another Inupiat village on the Bering Sea coast along the route of the famous Iditarod sled dog race.

In the coming weeks, census workers will visit more than 200 Alaskan communities that are not linked by roads.

They will use the same 10-question form that will be posted to most US residents on 15 March.

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