Diomede Islands

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Satellite photo of the Bering Strait, with the Diomede Islands at center.
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Satellite photo of the Bering Strait, with the Diomede Islands at center.

The Diomede Islands (Big Diomede or Imaqliq, also known as Ratmanov Island, and Little Diomede or Inaliq) are two rocky islands located in the middle of the Bering Strait between Alaska and Siberia.

The islands straddle international borders as well as the International date line. At the closest land approach between the United States (which controls Little Diomede), and Russia (which controls Big Diomede), are 3km (two miles) apart. The Big Diomede Island is Russia's easternmost point, while Alaska's Aleutian Islands extend U.S. territory further west.

Some miles south-east of Little Diomede, there is a small uninhabited island, called Fairway Rock Island.


History

The islands were named by Danish explorer Vitus Bering in 1728.

The text of the 1867 treaty finalizing the sale of Alaska uses the islands to designate the boundary between the two nations: The border separates "equidistantly Krusenstern Island, or Ignaluk, from Ratmanov Island, or Nunarbuk, and heads northward infinitely until it disappears completely in the Arctic Ocean."

During the Cold War, Lynne Cox swam from one island to the other. The Diomede Islands are often mentioned as likely intermediate stops for a bridge or tunnel spanning the Bering Strait.

In the summer of 1995, the British television actor, Michael Palin, famous as one of the stars of the BBC's Monty Python's Flying Circus television series of the 1960s and several movie spin-offs, started his counter-clockwise circumnavigation of the Pacific Rim, encompassing 18 different countries, on Little Diomede Island as part of the BBC series, "Full Circle". It was his intention to set foot on it again at the very end of his journey lasting nearly eight months, but he was unable to do so owing to the fact that he was returning during the following winter (on a U.S. Coast Guard cutter, as it so happened) and the sea became just too rough to allow him and his BBC film crew to land on the island.

See also

fr:les Diomde hu:Diomede-szigetek it:Isole Diomede ja:ダイオミード諸島 ru:Острова Гроздева

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