Can you see Russia from Alaska?

6 mins read
Photo by Matt Noble on Unsplash

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

While the question, that is,” Can you see Russia from Alaska?” might sound like a simple geopolitical issue, It is a question that has a lot of connotations attached to it. With tidbits of Cold War history, a hilarious SNL sketch, diplomatic stand-off and so on. This question is worth exploring and looking into.

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

Knowing Alaska

Alaska was initially Russian territory sold to the United States as long ago as in 1867. While the US and Russia are separated by the international dateline and are 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 made their way into 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. When both the countries seem to have significant differences, the Bering Strait is of great importance.

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

Alaska is a land of great physical diversity and means “Great Land.” It acts as a connector of North America to 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.

https://www.pexels.com/photo/adventure-alaska-beautiful-blue-sky-207049/
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. When the deal between the United States and Russia was made concerning Alaskan territory, the Diomede Islands played a very crucial role.

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

Diomede Islands

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 outcropping. These are located in the Bering Sea and are called the Diomede island. The Diomede Island plays a vital role by acting as a geographical marker that draws the border between Alaska and Russia. They are also home to the Inuits. When Winston Churchill first spoke of the Iron curtain, the world was divided. A political “ice curtain” descended upon the 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, the little Diomede island belongs to the US. Russia’s big Diomede is also known as Ratmanov island.

Russia’s big Diomede is separated from the American Diomede by the international dateline.

The tale of two tiny islands

It is also known as Gvozev Island in Russia.

These are blobs of rock that are flat-topped outcroppings. These are located in the Bering Sea and are called the Diomede Islands. They are also home to the Inuits. Diomede Island plays a very important role by acting as a geographical marker that draws the border between Alaska and Russia. When Winston Churchill first spoke of the Iron Curtain, the world was divided. A political “ice curtain” descended upon the Diomede island. Mobility on the island has never been the same.

The Diomede Islands have two major parts, better known as “meta islands.” The big Diomede island is Russian. While the tiny Diomede island belongs to the US, Russia’s big Diomede is Ratmanov island. The Diomede Islands, located midway between mainland Siberia and Alaska, have the Bering Sea to the south and the Chukchi Sea to the north.

Russia’s big Diomede is separated from the American Diomede by the international dateline.

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.

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 using travelling through this bridge! So we suggest you book your flight tickets, as usual, to travel between two continents!

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 freezing temperatures of the Arctic 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 both Mikhail Gorbachev and his American counterpart, Ronald Reagan.

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 away 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. The whole world was puzzled by this, 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 just lucky enough to spot mainland Siberia.

You will find the answer to the question on your own! A trek up the Cape of Wales on a clear day must be added to your bucket list to catch a glimpse of tomorrow’s island.

You will find the answer to the question within yourself!

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

This would probably give you a better view of the next-door neighbours with your naked eye.

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

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

Presidential elections of 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 after all.

 

Hopefully, as the uncertain times end and you begin ticking boxes off your bucket list, you will take a trip 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 definitely poses problems for tourists, but if you wish to enjoy the luxury of seeing Russia from your front door, then the little Diomede Islands are the only place to be!

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