The distance between US and Russia is shorter than you can imagine


Have you ever seen the world map and wondered what could be the shortest distance between 2 of today's largest developed countries? Take a look below -

Photo of The distance between US and Russia is shorter than you can imagine by Sujay Jamkhandi

Were you able to guess looking at the map above? You may be amazed to know the the shortest distance between the US and Russia is just 3.8 kilometers! Yup, you read it right.

Diomede Islands

Diomede Islands are two small islands in the Bering Strait, lying about 3.8 km) apart and separated by the U.S.–Russian boundary, which coincides with the International Date Line. Just 3.8 kilometers (2.4 miles) separate Big Diomede Island (Russia) and Little Diomede Island (U.S.). The island pair is visible in the detailed images below -

Photo of The distance between US and Russia is shorter than you can imagine by Sujay Jamkhandi
Photo of The distance between US and Russia is shorter than you can imagine by Sujay Jamkhandi

The water between the two islands is bisected by the maritime border of the two countries. The passage was historically nicknamed the “ice curtain,” which had more to do with Cold War tensions than climate.

During winter, an ice bridge usually spans the distance between these two islands. At these times, it is theoretically possible (although not legal, since travel between the two islands is forbidden[6]) to walk between the United States and Russia.

Big Diomede and Little Diomede sit on opposite sides of the International Date Line. Because of this, the islands are sometimes called Tomorrow Island (Big Diomede) and Yesterday Island (Little Diomede)

Big Diomede Island

Big Diomede Island or Tomorrow Island (Russian: Остров Ратманова, romanized: ostrov Ratmanova; Ratmanov Island, Chukot: Имэлин; Inupiaq: Imaqłiq) is the western island of the two Diomede Islands in the middle of the Bering Strait. The island is a part of the Chukotsky District of the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug of Russia. The International Date Line is about 1.3 km (0.81 mi) east of the island. During World War II, Big Diomede became a military base, and remained so for some time into the Cold War.

Today, unlike Alaska's neighboring Little Diomede Island, it has no permanent native population, but it is the site of a Russian weather station and a base of Border Service of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation troops (FSB).

Little Diomede Island

It is the smaller of the two Diomede Islands located in the middle of the Bering Strait between the Alaska mainland and Siberia. Unlike its larger Russian neighbor, Little Diomede retains a permanent native population. As of 2021, Little Diomede had a population of 82, down from its recorded peak of 178 in 1990. It is only 0.6 kilometers (0.4 mi) from the International Date Line.

There is a heliport, the Diomede Heliport, with regular helicopter flights. In the past, locals carved a runway into the thick ice sheet so that bush planes could deliver vital products, such as medicine and grocery supplies. Due to annual variations of the ice sheet, the runway would change position every year. However, climate change has meant that sea ice has not been thick nor stable enough to support landing a plane safely on an ice runway (minimum required sea-ice thickness was 4.5 feet, and no open water to the north of the island), so the last Bering Air flight landed here in May 2013 and there has not been an ice runway since.

In popular culture

Little Diomede was featured in the first episode of Full Circle with Michael Palin, a 1997 BBC documentary series in which the broadcaster Michael Palin traversed many of the countries of the Pacific Rim.[11] The Diomede Islands are also featured in the novel Further Tales of the City, by Armistead Maupin, and the miniseries based on the book. In addition, Alexander Armstrong visited the island as part of his 2015 series Land of the Midnight Sun.

Little Diomede was also featured in the 1952 film Arctic Flight, starring Wayne Morris and Lola Albright.