There is considerable distance between Alaska and the United States of America that many people are curious as to why it is even a state in the U.S. There are people who wonder why the territory is not controlled by either Canada or Russia.
In this article, we will discuss not only the distance between Russia and Alaska but also answer any other questions you might have about why Alaska is a part of the U.S.
Where Is Alaska?
Alaska which is the 49th state of U.S is located on the northwest region of North America. It stands as the largest state spanning over 663,000 square miles. If you don’t really understand the number just know that the state can comfortably fit Texas, California and Montana within its borders.
That notwithstanding, Alaska is the third least populous state in the U.S. Its population is just around 736,000, half of which reside in the Anchorage metropolitan area.
The state is also referred to as “The Last Frontier”. To the east, it shares border with British Columbia territories and Canada’s Yukon. To the west, it borders the Chukchi Sea, the Bering Sea and Bering Strait. Its northern border is with the Arctic Ocean and the southern border consists of the Gulf of Alaska and the Pacific Ocean.
Alaska has more shoreline than the whole contiguous United States.
History of America’s Largest State
By the time we are done discussing the history of Alaska, most of the questions you may have about why Alaska is a part of the U.S will be answered.
The Inuit peoples had been in the area for 15,000 years. They were also the first settlers in the Americas. By the mid-18th Century, Russia had a presence in the region.
However, Russia was not able to be self-sufficient and always required the help of the indigenous people as well as the trade of Americans and the British. After some time, Russia decided to sell the land.
The first discussions that were underway with the American government were paused due to the Civil war. After the war, Secretary of State William Seward commenced discussions. He was strongly of the opinion that buying such a large expanse of land would further expand America’s influence and reach.
A treaty to buy Alaska for $7 million was signed by Seward and Russia in 1897. Taking a look at the size of the land, you will agree with us that the price was very cheap.
However, the decision to buy the land was not embraced by all. The purchase was referred to as President Andrew Johnson’s “polar bear garden” and “Seward’s Folly”.
Politicians saw it as a waste of money and believed that it was not worth the stress.
However, they would later see that they were very wrong as oil and gold were discovered in the area. So eventually, the “folly” paid off and favored the U.S.
Why Did the United States Buy Alaska?
The United States most likely didn’t want Alaska. The move to purchase the area was championed by Secretary of State William Seward and after the deal went through, he got a lot of backlash for it. The deal was even dubbed “Seward’s Folly”. It was years later that the U.S got to see how profitable purchasing the land was.
Alaska was incorporated as a U.S territory in 1912 but did not officially become a state until Jan. 3, 1959.
How Close is Alaska to the United States?
Alaska is about 500 miles away from Washington.
If you are traveling to Alaska from the state of Washington, you will have to go through British Columbia, Canada.
But if you are driving from Seattle to Juneau, you’d have to take a non-direct route. This is as a result of the numerous islands along the Pacific Coast.
Driving from city to city will take you three times what would have been the normal distance.
When all is said and done, the distance between Alaska and the U.S depends on where you are traveling from and where you are headed for. It could be thousands of miles even.
If for instance, you are headed for Fairbanks that could take well over 2,100 miles of driving. The capital of the state, Juneau is located on the southern region.
How Far is Russia from Alaska? (Distance between them)
The closest distance between Russia and Alaska is just 55 miles. At this point, the two places are separated by only the Bering Strait.
This goes to say, that Alaska is closer to Russia, than it is to the United States.
Another fact you should also know is that in the Bering Strait, there are two small islands known as Big Diomede and Little Diomede. While Russia owns and controls Big Diomede, Little Diomede belongs to the United States.
There is not up to three miles of water dividing the two islands. That notwithstanding they are very distinct as they are in two different hemispheres, two different countries. Even when it comes to time, Big Diomede is 21 hours ahead of Little Diomede.
Can You See Alaska From Russia?
The answer to this is yes, but it very much depends on where you are standing. If you are standing on Little Diomede on a clear day, you will be able to see Big Diomede. This is not surprising as there is not much distance between the two islands.
Little Diomede is located around 16 miles off the west coast of mainland Alaska.
If you are in Wales which is a city on the westernmost part of mainland Alaska on a really clear day, you can catch glimpses of the Siberian Mountains in Russia.
But if you really want an amazing view of the largest country in the world, it should be from the neighboring islands.
Can You Drive From Russia to Alaska?
The answer is no. You cannot drive from Russia to Alaska. Although there have been talks about building bridges to the two Bering Strait islands and tunneling through them to create a connection, that plan is yet to see the light of day.
If it were 10,000 years ago, it would have been a different story as all you would have to do will be to walk across the land bridge that connected the two areas. But that is no more the case.
When it is winter time, it is possible to walk from Big Diomede to Little Diomede. However we strongly advise against this as it would mean that you are going into another country illegally. Besides, the freezing waters of the Bering Strait should deter you from such move.
However this means that technically, if you walk along the ice, you can actually walk from Russia to Alaska.
Can You Swim From Alaska to Russia?
Some people have tried and succeeded in swimming from Russia to Alaska. The first person to accomplish this was Lynne Cox and it took her two hours and five minutes. She undertook the task in a bid to reduce the Cold War tensions that was between President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev.
She was accompanied by local indigenous Inupiaq guides in their traditional skin boats. When she go to the Russian border, two soldiers assisted her in coming out of the chilly water.
Another person that has made that swim that we should talk about is Frenchman Philippe Croizon. Croizon had been in an electric shock accident which led to the amputation of his arms and legs.
In 2010, he used swimming the English Channel to create awareness regarding amputees and people with disabilities.
He decided to swim from Little Diomede to Big Diomede in 2012. Despite the fact that he was not allowed to get into Russian water, he still swam for an hour and 15 minutes.
Only Two Ways to Travel From Alaska to Russia
If you wish to travel from Alaska to Russia, there are only two options available for you. It is either you take a boat, or you get on a plane. It is either you go with these options, or you swim in the frigid waters of the Bering Strait which we do not in any way advice or recommend.
If you are taking a flight from Nome, Alaska, to the Chukotka region of Russia, it will take you about an hour. Ensure that you have all the required paperwork and documentation before getting into the country.
Want to Visit Alaska?
Alaska is without doubt a really beautiful place. It has islands, mountain peaks, forests and volcanoes within its borders. The state also boasts of amazing wildlife and breathtaking views that you can feast your eyes on.
We also won’t forget to mention the wonderful parks that you are sure to have a really fun time exploring.
If you have been wishing to visit Alaska, don’t procrastinate further. Start your planning immediately because you can be sure of an exciting and wonderful time in the state.
Now you also know that Alaska is closer to Russia than it is to the U.S.