Sitka is the 6th largest port by value of seafood harvest in the United States. International trade is relatively minor, with total exports and imports valued at $474,000 and $146,000, respectively, in 2005 by the American Association of Port Authorities. The port has the largest harbor system in Alaska with 1,347 permanent slips.
During Russian rule, Sitka was a busy seaport on the west coast of North America, mentioned a number of times by Dana in his popular account of an 1834 sailing voyage Two Years Before the Mast. After transfer of Alaska to U.S. rule, the Pacific Coast Steamship Company began tourist cruises to Sitka in 1884. By 1890, Sitka was receiving 5,000 tourist passengers a year.
Sitka hosts one active post-secondary institution, the University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus, located on Japonski Island in an old World War II hangar. Sheldon Jackson College, a small Presbyterian-affiliated private college suspended operations in June, 2007, after several years of financial stress.
Sitka is served by the Daily Sitka Sentinel, one of the remaining few independently-owned daily newspapers in the state. Sitka also receives circulation of the Capital City Weekly a weekly regional newspaper based out of Juneau.
Alaska's first newspaper following the Alaska purchase, the Sitka Times, was published by Barney O. Ragan on September 19, 1868. Only four issues were published that year, as Ragan cited a lack of resources available at the time. The paper resumed publishing the following year as the Alaska Times. In 1870, it moved to Seattle, where the year following it was renamed the Seattle Times (not to be confused with the modern-day newspaper of the same name).
There are two hospitals in Sitka.
Sitka Community Hospital is in the downtown area and offers a full range of health care services including general medical care, surgery, 24/7 emergency room, laboratory, radiology, rehabilitative services, outpatient clinic, home health, infusion therapy, visiting specialists and long term care.
Edgecumbe Hospital is across Sitka Harbor on Japonski Island about half a mile from Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport. The facility is part of the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, or SEARHC, a non-profit tribal health consortium of 18 Native communities. The hospital serves as a regional referral center for people throughout Southeast Alaska, and also provides primary outpatient care. Numerous specialty clinics are offered at the hospital that are not available in the smaller communities such as: neurology, orthopedic, dermatology, ophthalmology and denture clinic.