In this week’s Maphead, Ken Jennings explores the tiny outpost of Alaska that really can see Russia from its backyard.
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”.
Yes. Russia and Alaska are divided by the Bering Strait, which is about 55 miles at its narrowest point. In the middle of the Bering Strait are two small, sparsely populated islands: Big Diomede, which sits in Russian territory, and Little Diomede, which is part of the United States.
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).
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.
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.
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.
There is a base on the northern side and no civilians. In contrast, the American island of Little Diomede has no government or military presence. Directly facing Russia is a village with a population of fewer than 80 people, who live in huts clustered up the steep and rocky hillside.
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.
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.
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.
Russia did not sell Alaska to the United States in 1867. The Russia government only leased the region to the U.S. for an indefinite span of time. Now there are many in Russia who think the span has run its course, and they want Alaska back . It is a favorite theme of extreme Russian nationalists.
Interesting Facts. Russia controlled most of the area that is now Alaska from the late 1700s until 1867, when it was purchased by U.S. Secretary of State William Seward for $7.2 million, or about two cents an acre.
Crime in the U.S. state of Alaska is exceptionally high and is present in various forms. Crime rates in Alaska are among the highest in the U.S.