Can you really see Russia from Alaska?

Can you really see Russia from Alaska? – By Nina Shen Rastogi – Slate Magazine

Thanks, Nina, for a great geography article!

At the beginning of each semester, I have students do an exercise, to help them refresh their knowledge of the world. Name the continents, name five most populous countries, name the five largest countries – that sort of thing.

One question that I like to ask is the distance between the United States and Russia. As one might expect, answers tend to be in the thousands of miles-range. The majority of students are surprised to discover that the distance is about the same as the distance between the east-west limits of the municipal boundaries of the town in which my university is located. And then I tell them that on a clear day you can stand on US soil and see Russian soil. And then we talk about Seward’s Folly, which is why we have Alaska to begin with. At some point during the Cold War, a woman swam the distance between the islands of Big Diomede and Little Diomede. She had to get Khruschev’s permission to set foot on the shores of Big Diomede, though. He did, and then she did.

What would life be like if we returned our purchase and got our money back …

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