Bering Strait
Overview
 
The Bering Strait known to natives as Imakpik, is a sea strait
Strait
A strait or straits is a narrow, typically navigable channel of water that connects two larger, navigable bodies of water. It most commonly refers to a channel of water that lies between two land masses, but it may also refer to a navigable channel through a body of water that is otherwise not...

 between Cape Dezhnev
Cape Dezhnev
Cape Dezhnyov or Cape Dezhnev is a cape that forms the eastmost mainland point of Eurasia. It is located on the Chukchi Peninsula in the very thinly populated Chukotka Autonomous Okrug of Russia. This cape is located between the Bering Sea and the Chukchi Sea, across from Cape Prince of Wales in...

, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug
Chukotka Autonomous Okrug
Chukotka Autonomous Okrug , or Chukotka , is a federal subject of Russia located in the Russian Far East.Chukotka has a population of 53,824 according to the 2002 Census, and a surface area of . The principal town and the administrative center is Anadyr...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, the easternmost point (169°43'W) of the Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

n continent and Cape Prince of Wales
Cape Prince of Wales
Cape Prince of Wales is the westernmost point on the mainland of the Americas.Located on the Seward Peninsula of the U.S. state of Alaska near the city of Wales, Cape Prince of Wales is the terminus of the Continental Divide, marking the division between the Pacific and Arctic coasts, as well as...

, Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

, USA, the westernmost point (168°05'W) of the North American continent, with latitude
Latitude
In geography, the latitude of a location on the Earth is the angular distance of that location south or north of the Equator. The latitude is an angle, and is usually measured in degrees . The equator has a latitude of 0°, the North pole has a latitude of 90° north , and the South pole has a...

 of about 65°40'N, slightly south of the polar circle
Polar circle
A polar circle is either the Arctic Circle or the Antarctic Circle. On Earth, the Arctic Circle is located at a latitude of  N, and the Antarctic Circle is located at a latitude of  S....

. The present US-Russia boundary in the strait, agreed to only by the USA, is 168°58'37"W. The name of this sea is sometimes spelled Behring in older books.

The Bering Strait has been the subject of scientific speculation that humans migrated from Asia to North America across a land bridge at a time when lower ocean levels–perhaps a result of glaciers locking up vast amounts of water–exposed a ridge beneath the ocean.
Encyclopedia
The Bering Strait known to natives as Imakpik, is a sea strait
Strait
A strait or straits is a narrow, typically navigable channel of water that connects two larger, navigable bodies of water. It most commonly refers to a channel of water that lies between two land masses, but it may also refer to a navigable channel through a body of water that is otherwise not...

 between Cape Dezhnev
Cape Dezhnev
Cape Dezhnyov or Cape Dezhnev is a cape that forms the eastmost mainland point of Eurasia. It is located on the Chukchi Peninsula in the very thinly populated Chukotka Autonomous Okrug of Russia. This cape is located between the Bering Sea and the Chukchi Sea, across from Cape Prince of Wales in...

, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug
Chukotka Autonomous Okrug
Chukotka Autonomous Okrug , or Chukotka , is a federal subject of Russia located in the Russian Far East.Chukotka has a population of 53,824 according to the 2002 Census, and a surface area of . The principal town and the administrative center is Anadyr...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, the easternmost point (169°43'W) of the Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

n continent and Cape Prince of Wales
Cape Prince of Wales
Cape Prince of Wales is the westernmost point on the mainland of the Americas.Located on the Seward Peninsula of the U.S. state of Alaska near the city of Wales, Cape Prince of Wales is the terminus of the Continental Divide, marking the division between the Pacific and Arctic coasts, as well as...

, Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

, USA, the westernmost point (168°05'W) of the North American continent, with latitude
Latitude
In geography, the latitude of a location on the Earth is the angular distance of that location south or north of the Equator. The latitude is an angle, and is usually measured in degrees . The equator has a latitude of 0°, the North pole has a latitude of 90° north , and the South pole has a...

 of about 65°40'N, slightly south of the polar circle
Polar circle
A polar circle is either the Arctic Circle or the Antarctic Circle. On Earth, the Arctic Circle is located at a latitude of  N, and the Antarctic Circle is located at a latitude of  S....

. The present US-Russia boundary in the strait, agreed to only by the USA, is 168°58'37"W. The name of this sea is sometimes spelled Behring in older books.

The Bering Strait has been the subject of scientific speculation that humans migrated from Asia to North America across a land bridge at a time when lower ocean levels–perhaps a result of glaciers locking up vast amounts of water–exposed a ridge beneath the ocean. This would have allowed humans to walk from Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 to Alaska, thus populating North and South America (see History of the Americas
History of the Americas
The history of the Americas is the collective history of the American landmass, which includes North and South America, as well as Central America and the Caribbean. It begins with people migrating to these areas from Asia during the height of an Ice Age...

).

Population

The area is sparsely populated. The Diomede Islands
Diomede Islands
The Diomede Islands , also known in Russia as Gvozdev Islands , consist of two rocky, tuya-like islands:* The U.S. island of Little Diomede or, in its native language, Ignaluk , and* The Russian island of Big Diomede , also known as Imaqliq,...

 lie directly in the middle of the Bering Strait, and the village in Little Diomede has a school which is part of Alaska's Bering Strait School District
Bering Strait School District
Bering Strait School District is a school district in northwestern Alaska, United States, serving approximately 1,700 students in grades K-12 in fifteen isolated villages...

. Because the International Date Line
International Date Line
The International Date Line is a generally north-south imaginary line on the surface of the Earth, passing through the middle of the Pacific Ocean, that designates the place where each calendar day begins...

 runs equidistant between the islands at a distance of 1 mi (1.6 km), the Russian and American sides are usually on different calendar days, with Cape Dezhnev 21 hours ahead of the American side.

The area in the immediate neighborhood on the Alaskan side belongs to the Nome Census Area which has a population of 9,000 people. There is no road from the Bering Strait to the main cities of Alaska and there are a few roads around Nome
Nome, Alaska
Nome is a city in the Nome Census Area in the Unorganized Borough of the U.S. state of Alaska, located on the southern Seward Peninsula coast on Norton Sound of the Bering Sea. According to the 2010 Census, the city population was 3,598. Nome was incorporated on April 9, 1901, and was once the...

. Air and water are the main mode of travel. However there is no regular air connection across the strait, just a few summer charter flights. This is because of a Russian policy only to allow tourists in organized tours, and with special permit to everyone.

The Russian coast belongs to Chukotka Autonomous Okrug
Chukotka Autonomous Okrug
Chukotka Autonomous Okrug , or Chukotka , is a federal subject of Russia located in the Russian Far East.Chukotka has a population of 53,824 according to the 2002 Census, and a surface area of . The principal town and the administrative center is Anadyr...

. Provideniya
Provideniya
Provideniya , is an urban-type settlement situated on Komsomolskaya Bay, part of Provideniya Bay in the northeastern part of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia. It is located across the Bering Strait from Alaska, and is very close to the International Date Line. The town is served by Provideniya...

 (4,500 people) and Chukotsky
Chukotsky
Chukotsky , Chukotskaya , or Chukotskoye may refer to:*Chukotka Autonomous Okrug , a federal subject of Russia*Chukotsky District, a district of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia...

 (5,200 people) are the two areas located at the Bering Strait. These areas are also roadless.

Expeditions

Semyon Dezhnyov (1648) was the first recorded European to pass through the Bering Strait, while Mikhail Gvozdev
Mikhail Gvozdev
Mikhail Spiridonovich Gvozdev was a Russian military geodesist and a commander of the expedition to northern Alaska in 1732, when Alaskan shore was for the first time sited by Russians....

 in 1732 crossed it for the first time, from Asia to América. Vitus Bering
Vitus Bering
Vitus Jonassen Bering Vitus Jonassen Bering Vitus Jonassen Bering (also, less correNavy]], a captain-komandor known among the Russian sailors as Ivan Ivanovich. He is noted for being the first European to discover Alaska and its Aleutian Islands...

 entered it in 1728. Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld
Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld
Freiherr Nils Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld , also known as A. E. Nordenskioeld was a Finnish baron, geologist, mineralogist and arctic explorer of Finnish-Swedish origin. He was a member of the prominent Finland-Swedish Nordenskiöld family of scientists...

 in 1878/79 sailed along the complete northern coast of Siberia, thereby proving that there was no northern land bridge from Asia to North America.

In end of June, early July 1989 a British expedition, Kayaks Across The Bering Strait, completed the first sea kayak crossing of the Bering Strait from Wales (Kiŋigin), Alaska, to Cape Dezhneva
Cape Dezhnev
Cape Dezhnyov or Cape Dezhnev is a cape that forms the eastmost mainland point of Eurasia. It is located on the Chukchi Peninsula in the very thinly populated Chukotka Autonomous Okrug of Russia. This cape is located between the Bering Sea and the Chukchi Sea, across from Cape Prince of Wales in...

, Siberia. The four expedition members, Robert Egelstaff, Trevor Potts, Greg Barton
Greg Barton
Greg Barton is an American sprint kayaker who competed from the mid 1980s to the early 1990s....

 and Peter Clark, kayaked from Nome (Siqnazuaq) up the Alaskan coast, and around Cape Prince of Wales
Cape Prince of Wales
Cape Prince of Wales is the westernmost point on the mainland of the Americas.Located on the Seward Peninsula of the U.S. state of Alaska near the city of Wales, Cape Prince of Wales is the terminus of the Continental Divide, marking the division between the Pacific and Arctic coasts, as well as...

, before crossing the Strait via the Diomede Islands
Diomede Islands
The Diomede Islands , also known in Russia as Gvozdev Islands , consist of two rocky, tuya-like islands:* The U.S. island of Little Diomede or, in its native language, Ignaluk , and* The Russian island of Big Diomede , also known as Imaqliq,...

. They joined forces with an American team of about six people called Kayaking into Tomorrow as they paddled up the coast from Nome. Later, they met a third team in Wales village who were paddling a three-man Baidarka
Baidarka
Baidarka is the Russian name used for Aleutian style sea kayak. The ancient Unangan name is Iqyax. The word has its origins from early Russian settlers in Alaska. Iqya-x builders who kept the tradition of building skin-on-skeleton boats alive in the 20th century include Sergie Sovoroff.A prominent...

 one of them was a paraplegic. This team also brought a film crew with them and made the film Curtain of Ice. Having completed the crossing, Kayaks Across The Bering Strait continued north to Uelen
Uelen
Uelen is a rural locality in the Chukotsky District, just south of the Arctic Circle in Chukotka Autonomous Okrug in the Russian Far East. Population: 776 in 2003, with 595 Chukchi and 72 Yupik. Located near Cape Dezhnev where the Bering Sea meets the Chukchi Sea, it is the easternmost settlement...

, where they were welcomed by the Soviet Sports Committee and eventually returned to the UK via Moscow.

In March of 1913 Captain Max Gottschalk (German) crossed from the east cape of Siberia to Shishmaref on dogsled via Little and Big Diomede islands. He was the first documented modern voyager to cross from Russia Alaska without the use of boat.

In 1998, Russian adventurer Dmitry Shparo
Dmitry Shparo
Dmitry Shparo is a Russian Arctic explorer and endurance skier. He is internationally known for twice reaching the North Pole on snow skis....

 and his son Matvey made the modern crossing of the frozen Bering Strait on skis.

In March 2006 Briton Karl Bushby
Karl Bushby
Karl Bushby is a British ex-paratrooper, walking adventurer and author, currently attempting to be the first person to completely walk an unbroken path around the world. Bushby's trek is known as the Goliath Expedition.-Early life:...

 and French American adventurer Dimitri Kieffer crossed the strait on foot, walking across a frozen 90 km (55.9 mi) section in 15 days. (BBC) They were soon arrested for not entering Russia through a border control.

Actor Ewan McGregor
Ewan McGregor
Ewan Gordon McGregor is a Scottish actor. He has had success in mainstream, indie, and art house films. McGregor is perhaps best known for his roles as heroin addict Mark Renton in the drama Trainspotting , young Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequel trilogy , and poet Christian in the...

 said in an interview on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno that part of the inspiration for his Long Way Round
Long Way Round
Long Way Round is a documentary television series, DVD set and book documenting the journey of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman from London to New York on motorcycles...

 motorcycle journey from London to New York was that, when seen on a map, the gap between Russia and the USA across the Bering Strait looked very small. McGregor and his team crossed the strait with their motorcycles loaded onto a Magadan Airlines plane, flying from Magadan
Magadan
Magadan is a port town on the Sea of Okhotsk and gateway to the Kolyma region. It is the administrative center of Magadan Oblast , in the Russian Far East. Founded in 1929 on the site of an earlier settlement from the 1920s, it was granted the status of town in 1939...

, Russia to Anchorage
Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage is a unified home rule municipality in the southcentral part of the U.S. state of Alaska. It is the northernmost major city in the United States...

, Alaska, USA.

In 1987 swimmer Lynne Cox
Lynne Cox
Lynne Cox is an American long-distance open-water swimmer and writer. In 1971, she and her teammates were the first group of teenagers to complete the crossing of the Catalina Island Channel in California. She was always the slowest swimmer in her swim classes...

 swam the two miles (3 km) between the Diomede Islands from Alaska to the Soviet Union in 40 °F (4 °C) water during the last years of the Cold War.

August 2008 marked the first ever crossing of the Bering Strait using an amphibious road going vehicle. The specially modified Land Rover Defender 110 was driven by Steve Burgess and Dan Evans across the straits on its second attempt following the interruption of the first one due to bad weather.

Bridge or tunnel

In 1864 the Russian-American telegraph company began preparations for a telegraph line to link Europe and America overland via the Bering Strait, but this was abandoned when the Atlantic Cable proved successful.

Suggestions have been made for the construction of a bridge
Bridge
A bridge is a structure built to span physical obstacles such as a body of water, valley, or road, for the purpose of providing passage over the obstacle...

, the Bering Strait bridge
Bering Strait Bridge
A Bering Strait crossing is a hypothetical bridge or tunnel spanning the relatively narrow and shallow Bering Strait between the Chukotka Peninsula in Russia and the Seward Peninsula in the U.S. state of Alaska...

, between Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

 and Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

. An alternative connection would be a tunnel
Tunnel
A tunnel is an underground passageway, completely enclosed except for openings for egress, commonly at each end.A tunnel may be for foot or vehicular road traffic, for rail traffic, or for a canal. Some tunnels are aqueducts to supply water for consumption or for hydroelectric stations or are sewers...

 underneath the strait, the TKM-World Link being the most recent such proposal. Despite the unprecedented engineering, political, and financial challenges, Russia green-lighted the project in August 2011. If completed, the project would create the world's longest tunnel (103 km or 64 miles) and would cost an estimated US $65 billion.

The "Ice Curtain" border

During the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

, the Bering Strait marked the border between the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The island of Big Diomede
Diomede Islands
The Diomede Islands , also known in Russia as Gvozdev Islands , consist of two rocky, tuya-like islands:* The U.S. island of Little Diomede or, in its native language, Ignaluk , and* The Russian island of Big Diomede , also known as Imaqliq,...

 in Russia is only 2.4 mi (3.9 km) from the island of Little Diomede in the USA. Traditionally, the indigenous peoples in the area had frequently crossed the border back and forth for "routine visits, seasonal festivals and subsistence trade", but were prevented from doing so during the Cold War. The border became known as the "Ice Curtain". It was completely closed, and there was no regular passenger air or boat traffic. In 1987, American swimmer Lynne Cox
Lynne Cox
Lynne Cox is an American long-distance open-water swimmer and writer. In 1971, she and her teammates were the first group of teenagers to complete the crossing of the Catalina Island Channel in California. She was always the slowest swimmer in her swim classes...

 symbolically helped ease tensions between the two countries by swimming across the border and was congratulated jointly by Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 and Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

. After 1990 tourist air and boat traffic exists, but is hampered since visas and special military visit permits are still required in this part of Russia.
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