Can You See Russia from Alaska?

As Russia and the USA lock horns over various geopolitical issues, many even talk about the reopening of the Cold War chapter. We considered returning it to the good old days of the late 2000s. The good old days when social media was part of our lives and not our entire lives as it may be today.

While the question might sound like a simple geopolitical issue, it is a question that has a lot of connotations. With tidbits of Cold War history, a hilarious SNL sketch, a diplomatic stand-off, and so on. This question is worth exploring and looking into.

Cold War history, a hilarious SNL sketch, a diplomatic stand-off, and so on. This question is worth exploring and looking into.

1. Knowing Alaska

Alaska was initially a Russian territory sold to the United States as long ago as in 1867. While the international dateline separates the US and Russia and is two ends of the world, deciding it was no easy feat. Alaska happens to be the largest state in the United States area-wise. By crossing the Bering Strait, many Europeans entered North America, and the Russians were the first Europeans to occupy Alaska.

The Bering Strait is a crucial strait located right between the Arctic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. It is also used as a boundary demarcating the US from Russia. The Bering Strait is important when both countries seem to have significant differences.

Alaska has the Arctic Ocean at the top, British Columbia to the east, the mighty Pacific Ocean, and Alaska’s Gulf in the south.

Alaska has great physical diversity and means “Great Land.” It acts as a connector between North America and Asia.

Alaska is blessed with petroleum reserves that have done wonders for its economy. The state has been home to various ethnicities and is very diverse.

Can You See Russia from Alaska
Alaskan Landscape Pexels

Alaska was a constituent state of the United States and joined the union as the 49th state in 1959. The treaty struck between the United States and Russia in 1867 is called the Treaty of Cession. The Diomede Islands played a crucial role when the deal between the United States and Russia was made concerning Alaskan territory.

Most of Alaska is within the Arctic Circle, and most of the state is covered by permafrost. It lies in the tundra region.

2. Diomede Islands

2.1 The Tale of Two Little Islands

It is also known in Russia as the GVOZEV Island.

These are blobs of rock that are flat-topped outcroppings. These are located in the Bering Sea and are called Diomede Island. Diomede Island is a vital geographical marker that draws the border between Alaska and Russia. They are also home to the Inuits. The world was divided when Winston Churchill first spoke of the Iron Curtain. A political “ice curtain” descended upon Diomede Island. Mobility on the island never remained the same.

The Diomede Islands, located midway between mainland Siberia and Alaska, have the Bering Sea to the south and the Chukchi Sea to the north. The Diomede Islands have two significant parts, better known as meta islands. The big Diomede island is Russian. At the same time, little Diomede island belongs to the US. Russia’s big Diomede is also known as Ratmanov Island.

The international dateline separates Russia’s big Diomede from the American Diomede.

2.2 The Ice Bridge Cutting Through the Ice Curtain

It is interesting to know why the Diomede islands are merely 2 miles away from each other. They have been part of two different empires and lie in different hemispheres of the Earth. They are too close yet too far apart. This has been the fate of these two islands for more than 1 1/2 centuries.

There is an ice bridge in the harsh winter that bridges the gap. While one can say that it is possible to move from North America to Asia on foot, you might find yourself in trouble with the law by traveling through this bridge! So we suggest you book your flight tickets, as usual, to travel between two continents!

3. Lynne Cox, the Most Incredible Peace Warrior, Connecting the Diomede Russia to Diomede of Alaska

A 30-year-old American, Lynne Cox, thawed the ice curtain. She did what global leaders took years to do: spread peace. She undertook the herculean feat of swimming for over two hours in the Bering Strait between the little Diomede of Alaska and the Russian Big Diomede Island.

Lynne Cox braved the Arctic’s freezing temperatures on her mission to spread the message of peace. The ice curtain that separated Russia and Alaska from each other did not seem to stop this courageous woman.

Green Swim Band
Woman Swimming Pexels

She constantly had to move in the freezing water of the Arctic Ocean while swimming in the Bering Strait to stay alive. As she traversed through the frozen ocean, taking off from the little Diomede, a small beach party arranged by the Russians awaited her arrival on the flat-topped rock outcroppings of the big Diomede island after she was granted permission to step on Russian soil by the Gorbachev government. The Russian island saw rays of global peace!

Lynne Cox’s achievement was lauded by Mikhail Gorbachev and his American counterpart, Ronald Reagan.

4. The Distance Between the Two Diomede Islands – Two Miles and Twenty-One Hours

It is mind-boggling how Russia’s big Diomede island is only a 2-mile ride from the little Diomede of Alaska. However, because of international convention, the international dateline and the international border separate the two islands, specifically the two Diomede Islands.

The big Diomede of Russia is a whopping 21 hours ahead of time concerning the little Diomede. No two small islands would experience such an anomaly! In Alaska, the big Diomede of Russia is also known as the “Tomorrow Island.”

This question was the ultimate question of the year—2008. Credit probably goes to the then-governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. Ms. Palin said in an interview that one could see Russia from Alaska. This puzzled The whole world, and many discovered a lesser-known gem of cartographic knowledge!

To answer this question and realize the information given by the former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, one is recommended to climb up Cape Prince of Wales on a day with a clear sky and might be lucky enough to spot mainland Siberia.

A better way to spot Russia from Alaska is to travel onto the tiny Diomede island via the Bering Strait. This would probably give you a better view of the next-door neighbors with your naked eye.

The fanfare that revolved around this question did not end there. There was more to deciphering the mystery between Alaska and Russia. Tina Fey turned the puzzle involving these countries into the center of a huge joke.

Post the revelation made by Sarah Palin during an interview amidst the Presidential elections 2008. Tina Fey made a hilarious spoof of the same.

On an episode of Saturday Night Live, Tina Fey poked fun at Sarah Palin’s statement by saying, “I can see Russia from my front door.” soon enough, people googled to realize that Sarah Palin was not wrong.

Hopefully, as the uncertain times end and you begin ticking boxes off your bucket list, you will travel to the places mentioned.

While you set out to answer this question for yourself, please realize that there are no airports or hospitals on the little Diomede islands. This poses problems for tourists, but if you wish to enjoy the luxury of seeing Russia from your front door, the little Diomede Islands are the only place to be!

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