The place standing on American soil can see Russia

On a clear day, you can come to stand from Alaska, USA and look across the Bering Strait to the other side which is Siberia, Russia.

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Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska state, is famous for a quote in the 2008 US presidential campaign about political views with Russia: "They are our neighbors, and you can see Russia from an island of Alaska ". In fact, Russia and Alaska are so close that one can see the other side with the naked eye.

On a clear day, you can climb a hill at the tip of Prince of Wales, the westernmost point on the US mainland, and look across the Bering Strait to the mainland of Siberia. However, where you can easily see Russia rather than from Small Diomede Island, USA.
Little Diomede Island
Indigenous people can also walk from Little Diomede Island (before) to Big Island on a natural ice "bridge" formed each winter. Photo: Ira Block.
In fact, there are two islands named Diomede on the Bering Strait: one is the Great Diomede of Russia, the other is the American Diomede. In 1867, the United States bought Alaska from Russia, a treaty that took the two islands as a landmark to draw borders.

Until before 1948, Eskimo aborigines on the two Diomede islands were still free to travel between Siberia and Alaska to hunt, fish or visit relatives. They can even build a bridge or tunnel connecting the two islands, because the middle sea is only 30 to 45 m deep, with light waves or tides.
Prince of Wales Cape, Alaska
Prince of Wales Cape, Alaska on the right, about 80 km from the Siberian mainland. Photo: NASA.
However, during the Cold War, an "icy curtain" was pulled down the Bering Strait, closing the border and separating families living on the two islands of Diomede. Russia and the United States both built military bases on it. The Eskimos on the Big Diomede Island were forced to migrate to Siberia.

In 1987, American swimmer Lynne Cox decided to swim across the Bering Strait between the two islands of Diomede to break the ice curtain from the Cold War. The night before Lynne left, the Soviet leader granted her permission to go to the Big Diomede Island.

Lynne was only 30 years old, the distance was not what she was worried about, but it was the 3.3-degree C underwater swimming journey. Lynne's limbs were black and blue all over but she told herself she could not be allowed to stop despite of her limbs being so cold and constantly short of breath. Upon her arrival, she was greeted with a party on the beach, samovars filled with hot tea. At the Washington D.C. summit that summer, both Russian and US leaders praised Lynna for their efforts to end the Cold War.

However, the Eskimos on the Diomede's two halves are still unable to reunite with their families soon. Ozenna, an Eskimo patriarch on the Small Diomede Island, answered Al Jazeera: "We know we have relatives over there. The old people are slowly disappearing from the mountains, and we know nothing about each other. We are slowly losing our native language. Now we speak English, they speak Russian. It's not anyone's fault, but everything is bad. "

It was not until 2017 that Ozenna and her tribe were able to apply for a permit for relatives in Russia to return to Small Diomede Island even though they had never met before.
Ignaluk Village on Small Diomede Island
Ignaluk Village on Small Diomede Island. The island is larger than 725 hectares, with about 100 residents living a traditional fishing life. Photo: Filmservices.
Just over 4.3 km apart, Diomede Islands Big and Small are located on two different hemispheres and even the international border between them is the International Day of Change (IDL). Now on Big Diomede 21 hours earlier than small island, so locals can call it "Tomorrow Island" and "Yesterday Island".

Currently Diomede Big Island is not populated by Russia's military base, so visitors can only visit Small Diomede Island in the US territory. Visitors to Small Diomede Island need a letter of authorization. The cost of traveling from the island to the mainland and vice versa is quite expensive, the vehicle is strictly controlled.

You should arrange your own transportation such as helicopters or boats, sleeping places, and food because there are no hotels or cafes on the island - only a small grocery store, a post office and schools, few people's houses have running water. In recent years, the island began to have high speed internet for several hours a day.

The average temperature on the island is from -12 to -10 degrees C. In winter, people have to dig runway on the ice for small airplanes to land to transport necessities, goods or letters.

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