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Bering Strait

For other uses, see Bering Strait (disambiguation).

Coordinates: 66°0′N 169°0′W / 66.000°N 169.000°W / 66.000; -169.000{{#coordinates:66|0|N|169|0|W|scale:2000000|| |primary |name= }}

File:Bering Strait.jpeg
Satellite photo of the Bering Strait
File:US NOAA nautical chart of Bering Strait.png
Nautical chart of the Bering Strait
File:Peters projection, date line in Bering strait.svg
The Peters map is parted in the Bering Strait. * [3] On other maps a part of Russia is shown left of Alaska.

The Bering Strait (Russian: Берингов пролив, Beringov proliv, Yupik: Imakpik[1][2]) at its narrowest point, between Cape Dezhnev, Chukchi Peninsula, Russia, the easternmost point (169° 43' W) of the Asian continent and Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska, USA, the westernmost point (168° 05' W) of the North American continent, is Script error: No such module "convert". wide. Named after Vitus Bering, a Russian explorer born in Denmark, it lies slightly south of the polar circle at about 65° 40' N latitude, with the present US-Russia east-west boundary, agreed to only by the USA,[citation needed] at 168° 58' 37" W.

The Strait has been the subject of scientific speculation that humans migrated from Asia to North America across a land bridge known as Beringia when lower ocean levels – perhaps a result of glaciers locking up vast amounts of water – exposed a wide stretch of the sea floor,[3] both at the present strait and in the shallow sea north and south of it. This view of how paleo-indians entered America has been the dominant one for several decades and continues to be the most accepted one.

As of 2012, the Russian coast of the Bering Strait has been a closed military zone.[citation needed] Through organised trips and the use of special permits, it is possible for foreigners to visit. All arrivals must be through an airport or a cruise port, near the Bering Strait only at Anadyr or Provideniya. Unauthorized travelers who arrive on shore after crossing the strait, even those with visas, may be arrested, imprisoned briefly, fined, deported and banned from future visas.[4]

Geography and science

The Bering Strait is about Script error: No such module "convert". wide at its narrowest point, with depth varying between Script error: No such module "convert". and Script error: No such module "convert"..[5] It connects the Chukchi Sea (part of the Arctic Ocean) to the north with the Bering Sea (part of the Pacific Ocean) to the south.

The International Date Line runs equidistant between the Strait's Diomede Islands at a distance of Script error: No such module "convert"., leaving the Russian and American sides usually on different calendar days, with Cape Dezhnev 21 hours ahead of the American side (20 hours during daylight saving time).


The area is sparsely populated.

The area in the immediate neighborhood on the Alaskan side belongs to the Nome Census Area, home to a population of over 9,000. No roads exist from the Strait to the main cities of Alaska, with only a few around Nome.

The Russian coast belongs to Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. Roadless Provideniya (4,500 people) and Chukotsky (5,200 people) lie along the Strait.

The Diomede Islands lie midway in the Strait. The village in Little Diomede has a school which belongs to Alaska's Bering Strait School District.


From at least 1562 European geographers thought that there was a Strait of Anián between Asia and North America. In 1648 Semyon Dezhnyov probably passed through the strait, but his report did not reach Europe. Danish-born Russian navigator Vitus Bering entered it in 1728. In 1732, Mikhail Gvozdev crossed it for the first time, from Asia to America. Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld in 1878–79 sailed along the northern coast of Siberia, thereby proving that there was no northern land bridge from Asia to North America.

In March 1913, Captain Max Gottschalk (German) crossed from the east cape of Siberia to Shishmaref, Alaska on dogsled via Little and Big Diomede islands. He was the first documented modern voyager to cross from Russia to North America without the use of boat.[6]

In 1987, swimmer Lynne Cox swam a Script error: No such module "convert". course between the Diomede Islands from Alaska to the Soviet Union in Script error: No such module "convert". water during the last years of the Cold War.[7]

In June and 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 Dezhnev, Siberia. The team of Robert Egelstaff, Trevor Potts, Greg Barton and Pete Clark landed on Little Diomede Island rested a few days and completed the journey to Uelen. They were escorted to Moscow from where they flew back to London at the end of July.

During the first part of the crossing they were accompanied by two other groups, Paddling into Tomorrow led by Doug Van Etten. There was also small party led by Jim Noyes in a 3-man Baidarka who were accompanied by a film crew. The film "Curtain of Ice" was produced by Aggi Orse.

In 1998, Russian adventurer Dmitry Shparo and his son Matvey made the modern crossing of the frozen Bering Strait on skis.

In March 2006, Briton Karl Bushby and French-American adventurer Dimitri Kieffer crossed the strait on foot, walking across a frozen Script error: No such module "convert". section in 15 days.[8] They were soon arrested for not entering Russia through a border control.[9]

August 2008 marked the first 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 by bad weather.[10]

In July, 2012, six adventurers associated with "Dangerous Waters", a reality adventure show under production, made the crossing on Sea-Doos but were arrested and permitted to return to Alaska on their Sea-Doos after being briefly detained in Lavrentiya, administrative center of the Chukotsky District. They were treated well and given a tour of the village's museum, but not permitted to continue south along the Pacific coast. The men had visas but the western coast of the Bering Strait is a closed military zone.[4]

Between August 4 to 10 (U.S. dates) 2013, a team of 65 swimmers from 17 countries performed a relay swim across the Bering Strait, the first such swim in history. They swam from Cape Dezhnev, Russia to Cape Prince of Wales, USA (roughly 110 km, due to the current).[11][12] They had direct support from the Russian Navy, using one of their ships, and assistance with permission.

Proposed tunnel

A physical link between Asia and North America via the Bering Strait nearly became a reality in 1864 when a Russian-American telegraph company began preparations for an overland telegraph line connecting Europe and America via the east. It was abandoned when the undersea Atlantic Cable proved successful.[citation needed]

Suggestions have been made to construct a Bering Strait bridge between Alaska and Siberia. However, despite the unprecedented engineering, political, and financial challenges, Russia green-lighted the US $65 billion TKM-World Link tunnel project in August 2011. If completed, the 103 km (64 mile) project would be the world's longest.[13] China is considering construction of a "China-Russia-Canada-America" 600 km/h bullet train[14] railroad line that would include construction of a Script error: No such module "convert". long underwater tunnel that would cross the Bering Strait.[15]

Proposed dam

In 1956, the Soviet Union proposed to the US a joint bi-national project to warm the Arctic Ocean and melt some of the ice cap. The Soviet project called for a Script error: No such module "convert". wide dam across the Bering Straits. Ice floes and the cold currents would be trapped north of the dam and the warm currents would bring warm water further north with the dam blocking the cold water. The warmer water would be pumped over the dam into the Arctic Ocean.

However citing national security concerns, the CIA and FBI experts opposed the Soviet plan by arguing, that while the plan was feasible, it would compromise NORAD and thus the dam could only be built at an immense cost.[16]

The "Ice Curtain" border

File:Diomede Islands Bering Sea Jul 2006.jpg
Little Diomede Island (USA, left) and Big Diomede Island (Russia, right).

During the Cold War, the Bering Strait marked the border between the Soviet Union and the United States. The Diomede Islands — Big Diomede (Russia) and Little Diomede (USA) — are only Script error: No such module "convert". apart. 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.[17] The border became known as the "Ice Curtain".[18] It was completely closed, and there was no regular passenger air or boat traffic. In 1987, American swimmer Lynne Cox symbolically helped ease tensions between the two countries by swimming across the border[19] and was congratulated jointly by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. Since 1990, tourist air and boat traffic resumed, but is hampered by the need for visas and special military visit permits asked by US authorities and also by their Russian counterparts.[citation needed]

See also

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  1. ^ Forbes, Jack D. 2007. The American Discovery of Europe. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, pp. 84 ff., 198,
  2. ^ Stuckey, M., & J. Murphy. 2001. By Any Other Name: Rhetorical Colonialism in North America. American Indian Culture, Research Journal 25(4): 73–98, p. 80.
  3. ^ Beck, Roger B.; Linda Black, Larry S. Krieger, Phillip C. Naylor, Dahia Ibo Shabaka, (1999). World History: Patterns of Interaction. Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell. ISBN 0-395-87274-X. 
  4. ^ a b Andrew Roth (July 11, 2012). "Journey by Sea Takes Awkward Turn in Russia". The New York Times. Retrieved July 12, 2012. 
  5. ^ It is only Script error: No such module "convert". wide, and at its deepest point is only Script error: No such module "convert". in depth. [1]
  6. ^ The Victoria Advocate February 1 1938, additional text.
  7. ^ Watts, Simon. (2012-08-08) BBC News - Swim that did not break Cold War ice curtain. Retrieved on 2013-07-29.
  8. ^ "Epic explorer crosses frozen sea". BBC News. 3 April 2006. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  9. ^ "Epic explorer detained in Russia". BBC News. 4 April 2006. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  10. ^ "Cape to Cape Expedition". Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Bering Strait Swim - Russia to America
  13. ^ Halpin, Tony (2011-08-20). "Russia plans $65bn tunnel to America". The Sunday Times. 
  14. ^ [2]
  15. ^ Tharoor, Ishaan (2014-05-09). "China may build an undersea train to America". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-05-14. 
  16. ^ "Ocean Dams Would Thaw North" Popular Mechanics, June 1956, p. 135.
  17. ^ State of Alaska website
  18. ^ "Lifting the Ice Curtain", Peter A. Iseman, New York Times, October 23, 1988
  19. ^ "Swimming To Antarctica", CBS News, September 17, 2003

Further reading


External links

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