In this week’s Maphead, Ken Jennings explores the tiny outpost of Alaska that really can see Russia from its backyard.
Yes. Russia and Alaska are divided by the Bering Strait, which is about 55 miles at its narrowest point. At their closest, these two islands are a little less than two and a half miles apart , which means that, on a clear day, you can definitely see one from the other.
IT IS EASY to forget—if you ever knew—that Russia and the United States are less than three miles apart, across the icy waters of the Bering Strait (see map). From America’s Little Diomede Island, which is indeed very little, you can cheerily wave or glower, depending on your attitude, at Russia’s Big Diomede Island.
A Bering Strait crossing is a hypothetical bridge or tunnel spanning the relatively narrow and shallow Bering Strait between the Chukotka Peninsula in Russia and the Seward Peninsula in the U.S. state of Alaska . The names used for them include “The Intercontinental Peace Bridge ” and “Eurasia–America Transport Link”.
Little Diomede Island is located about 25 miles (40 km) west from the mainland, in the middle of the Bering Strait. It is only 0.6 miles (0.97 km) from the International Date Line and about 2.4 miles (3.9 km) from the Russian island of Big Diomede .
Cox is perhaps best known for swimming 2 hour 5 minutes in the Bering Strait on 7 August 1987, from the island of Little Diomede in Alaska to Big Diomede, then part of the Soviet Union, where the water temperature averaged around 43 to 44 °F (6 to 7 °C).
In March 2006, Bushby and French adventurer Dimitri Kieffer crossed the Bering Strait on foot, having to take a roundabout 14-day route across a frozen 150-mile (240 km) section to cross the 58-mile (93 km) wide strait from Alaska to Siberia.
Russia offered to sell Alaska to the United States in 1859, believing the United States would off-set the designs of Russia’s greatest rival in the Pacific, Great Britain. This purchase ended Russia’s presence in North America and ensured U.S. access to the Pacific northern rim.
On March 30, 1867, the United States reached an agreement to purchase Alaska from Russia for a price of $7.2 million. The Treaty with Russia was negotiated and signed by Secretary of State William Seward and Russian Minister to the United States Edouard de Stoeckl.
This month, Alaska celebrated its 60th anniversary of statehood. The project would build more than 5,000 miles of new railroad to connect North America with Russia and Asia via Alaska and a 60-mile tunnel under the Bering Strait.
The United States shares international land borders with two nations: The Canada– United States border to the north of the Contiguous United States and to the east of Alaska. The Russia – United States maritime boundary was defined by a disputed agreement covering the Bering Sea, Bering Strait, and Arctic Ocean.
The Bering sea , near the chain of the Aleutian Islands, is one of the most intense patches of ocean on Earth. Strong winds, freezing temperatures, and icy water are normal conditions. The combination makes for some of the most ferocious waves on the planet, where the water can rise and fall 30 feet on a normal day.
The narrowest distance between mainland Russia and mainland Alaska is approximately 55 miles. The stretch of water between these two islands is only about 2.5 miles wide and actually freezes over during the winter so you could technically walk from the US to Russia on this seasonal sea ice.
The shortest distance between mainland Russia and mainland Alaska is approximately 88 kilometers (55 miles), according to the Alaska Public Lands Information Centers. The main route of the Trans-Siberian railway runs from Moscow to Vladivostok and covers 9,258 kilometers.