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The Diomede Islands ( , ostrová Diomída), also known in Russiamarker as Gvozdev Islands ( , ostrová Gvozdjova), consist of two rocky, tuya-like islands:

The Diomede Islands are located in the middle of the Bering Straitmarker between mainland Alaskamarker and Siberiamarker, with the Chukchi Seamarker to the north and the Bering Seamarker to the south. 9.3 mi (15 km) to the southeast is Fairway Rockmarker, which is generally not considered part of the Diomede Islands. The islands are sometimes called Tomorrow Island (Big Diomede) and Yesterday Isle (Little Diomede) because the Big Diomede is 21 hours ahead of Little Diomede.


Diomede (Inalik) village on the west coast of Little Diomede

The islands are separated by an international border as well as the International Date Linemarker which is approximately from each island. At the closest distance between Little Diomede and Big Diomede, the two islands are about apart. The small habitation on Little Diomede Island is centered to the west side of the island at the village of Diomedemarker.

The Big Diomede Island is considered the easternmost point of Russia.

In April 2007 students on Little Diomede made a QuickTime VR Panorama. The QTVR files show both the US and Russian islands quite clearly, with the International Date Linemarker tracing an invisible line on the ice between them.

The Diomede Islands are often mentioned as likely intermediate stops for a bridge or tunnel (Bering Strait bridgemarker) spanning the Bering Straitmarker.


The first European to reach the Bering Strait was the Russian explorer Semyon Dezhnev in 1648. He reported two islands whose natives had bone lip ornaments, but it is not certain that these were the Diomedes. A Danish navigator (in Russian service) Vitus Bering re-discovered the Diomede Islands on August 16, 1728, the day when the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the memory of the martyr St. Diomede (hence, the name of the islands). In 1732, a Russian geodesist, Mikhail Gvozdev, plotted the islands on the map (hence, another name).

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."

Because the International Date Line runs down the 2.5 mi (4 km) gap between the two islands, one can look from Alaska into "tomorrow" in Russia.

During the Cold War, that gap constituted the border between the USA and the USSR, and became known as the "Ice Curtain". In 1987, however, Lynne Cox swam from one island to the other, and was congratulated by Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan.

In summer 1995, British television actor and documentary presenter Michael Palin started his clockwise circumnavigation of the Pacific Rim, encompassing 18 different countries, on Little Diomede Island, as part of the BBC series Full Circle. He intended to set foot on it again at the very end of his journey lasting nearly eight months, but was unable to do so because he was returning during the following winter (on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro), and the sea became too rough to allow him and his film crew to land on the island.

Big Diomede Island was traditionally the easternmost landmass before the IDLmarker, and the first landmass to enter new years, if using local solar time. When using official time, a large area in eastern Russia, as well as New Zealandmarker, has the same time zone. New Zealand also has Daylight Saving time in December, but not Russia (see time in New Zealand and time in Russia). After 1995 however, parts of Kiribatimarker count as being further east since the IDL is now going east of them, and also on a higher timezone (GMT+14).

The native population of Big Diomede Island was relocated by the Soviet government to mainland Russia and the island is currently home to a small Russian military presence. Little Diomedemarker has an Inupiat inuit population of 170, mostly in the City of Diomedemarker. This village there has a school, and a local store. Some inuit people there are famous for their ivory carving. Passenger travel and mail delivery is by helicopter, weather permitting.

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