Strange Maps: You CAN See Russia From Alaska
March 21, 2011
In 2008, a Sarah Palin impersonator famously said, “I can see Russia from my house.” This quote has provided fodder for countless comedians and perhaps helped propel her opponent into the White House. [Edited for accuracy]
But what many people do not realize is … Yes, Sarah, you can see Russia from your house!
That is, if you own a home on Little Diomede Island, Alaska.
As these maps of Alaska and Russia show, this tiny island is in the middle of the Bering Sea between Alaska (obviously part of the USA) and Russia, and is just 2.4 miles from its larger sibling, Big Diomede Island. However, the gulf between the two islands is actually much larger; the USA / Russia border runs between the two islands, and Big Diomede Island is owned by Russia.
Little Diomede Island, Alaska is home to less than 200 hardy residents, practically all in a small village on the west side in full view of the larger island 2.4 miles away. So, these American residents can literally see Russia from their house. Sarah was right after all!
The two islands are also separated by the International Date Line. Does that mean Sarah Palin would be seeing her future each time she gazes at Big Diomede Island, and Putin his past when he looks at Little Diomede Island? Hmm.
Legend has it that the same families settled both islands and then were torn asunder when the United States claimed one island and Russia claimed the other. And, again according to legend, births and deaths were announced by shouting across the water to the other island.
However, according to reliable (?) Wikipedia, all native residents were removed from Big Diomede Island by the Soviet government. Nowadays, only a small weather base and its staff remain on Big Diomede Island.