Diomede Islands – Bering Strait


The islands where the USA and Russia meet, and the East becomes West!

The Diomede Islands on the horizon

Two continents, two countries

Two cultures, two regimes

There is a place in the world where the territories of the United States and Russia are less than 4 km away, but any route between them will be 24 hours apart…

Location of the Diomede Islands, lost between 2 continents.

We are talking about the unknown and isolated Diomede Islands, in the Bering Strait, the inhospitable sea portion that separates Alaska from the far east of Asia, where probably the first inhabitants of America crossed into these lands.

In Little Diomede, its inhabitants squeeze themselves on the steep slope

North American territory!

The two islands, known as Big Diomede and Little Diomede, are separated by a strip of water of only 4 km, which is frozen during a good part of the year, allowing the passage on foot between them. The curious thing is that Big Diomede is the most easterly point in Russia, and Little Diomede is the most western point in the United States.

Cold War, a period to be forgotten

During the Cold War period, the natives who inhabited the islands before Russian or American colonization were not allowed to move between the islands, nor to exchange any type of information, in the area that became known as “Ice Curtain”.

The village of Little Diomede, with only 170 inhabitants

After the end of World War II, all the natives of the Russian island of Big Diomede were transferred to the mainland, and the archipelago maintained a small settlement only on the North American island of Little Diomede, which today has about 170 inhabitants, in one of the locations most isolated on the planet.

Detail of Little Diomede. It doesn’t look pleasant

What makes the place even more curious is that exactly between the two islands the “International Date Line” passes, creating a time zone of no less than 24 hours in a distance that is so small that it is so visual.

The International Date Line runs right between the islands


In 1987, an emblematic event brought small islands to the headlines around the world. American swimmer Lynne Cox crossed the little more than 3,700 meters that separate the sister islands, in a gesture of approximation between the superpowers that were striving to strengthen ties that had been so long apart.

Lynne Cox, a warm gesture in waters at 4ºC


Today, in times of peace, there are several projects to create monuments that would symbolize peace between the two countries. In a recent contest, a project called “Bridge of Memory”, linking the two islands, was among the champions, in what would be the first link between America and Asia after tens of thousands of years.

Bridge project between the islands, known as “Bridge the Memory”
Project Detail. A fantastic engineering work for few to know.

Umberto Eco, in his novel “L’isola del giorno prima” explores the idiosyncrasies of living in Diomede very well…

Umberto Eco wrote about the weather

[…] Midnight on Friday, here on the ship, it is midnight on Thursday on the island. […] If you travel from America to Asia, you lose a day; if, in the opposite direction, you travel, you win one day: that is why Daphne [the ship] traveled the way of Asia, and you, stupid, the way of America. You are now a day older than me! It’s not funny? […]

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