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A new user to TikTok has gone viral for saying there’s a way to walk to Russia from the U.S.
Laub Andrew made his TikTok debut with a “geography lesson” on Feb. 22, which shows the two Diomede Islands out in the Bering Strait.
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Big Diomede is an 11.2-square-mile island that is a part of Russia and Little Diomede is a 2.8-square-mile island that is a part of Alaska.
The Diomede Islands in the Bering Strait are separated by the International Date Line with Russia’s Big Diomede Island being 21 hours ahead of Alaska’s Little Diomede. (Orbital Horizon/Copernicus Sentinel Data 2018/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
“These islands are only two-and-a-half miles apart, which means that in the winter when the water freezes, you can walk from the United States to Russia in only 20 minutes,” Andrew explained.
“To make matters even crazier, Big Diomede Island is 21 hours ahead of Little Diomede Island,” he continued while he pulled up photos of the two islands. “Which means that if you were to walk from the United States to Russia, you’d literally be walking into the next day. This is why they call Little Diomede island ‘Yesterdayland’ and Big Diomede ‘Tomorrowland.”
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Anyone wanna walk to Russia with me?
Within two weeks, Andrew’s video has racked up more than 1.1 million likes, more than 39,700 shares and 7,900 comments.
However, people who were looking forward to traveling to Russia on foot will likely be disappointed to know the water between the two islands has not frozen in years due to climate change.
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According to an interview conducted by Science Magazine, environmental coordinator Opik Ahkinga at Little Diomede says the Bering Sea hasn’t really frozen since 2012.
“We haven’t seen a good freeze up since 2012. When I say ‘freeze up,’ I mean there was no open water to be seen around both islands for 2-plus miles,” Ahkinga told the magazine in 2019. “[Instead,] we saw areas of open water on both the north and south sides of Big Diomede.”
Likewise, a report from National Geographic says the temperature gone up in recent years at both islands.
This view of the Russian island of Big Diomede from Alaska shows the two islands are a short distance away. Big Diomede is 25 miles off the coast from Russia while Little Diomede is 16 miles off the coast of Alaska. (Jean-Erick PASQUIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
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Ice bridges between the two islands were more common during winter months decades and even centuries ago. Historical records show indigenous groups used these frozen routes to travel between the two islands.
For travelers who are intent on exploring the Diomede Islands, a private boat ride is your best bet if you have the appropriate travel visas and permits and can actually find someone who can legally transport you.
Military bases are stationed at each island, which is a factor that could add to already difficult travel arrangements.
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The current Native Village of Diomede in Little Diomede, Alaska is home to the Ingalikmiut Eskimo village. Its population is said to include 88 people and COVID-19 tests are available to anyone in the region, according to the Norton Sound Health Corporation. Vaccines are being administered on a priority basis.
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