Alaska - Russian Facts
Alaska and Russia share a border.
The U.S.-Russian maritime boundary zigzags down the Bering Strait between the Asian and American land masses.
Alaska and Russia are less than 3 miles apart at their closest point in the Bering Strait where two islands, Russia's Big Diomede Island and Alaska's Little Diomede Island, are located.
In winter it is possible to walk across the frozen Bering Strait border between these two islands.
At its closest, the American mainland and the Russian mainland are 55 miles apart where Alaska's Seward Peninsula and Russia's Chukotka Peninsula reach out to each other.
Cities and towns in Alaska and the RFE are closer to each other than they are to their own national capitals.
Russia governed Alaska as a colony for almost as long as the United States has now governed Alaska as a territory and state.
Alaska has two official state holidays: Seward's Day, the last Monday in March, commemorates the 1867 signing of the treaty in which U.S. Secretary of State William Seward agreed to purchase Alaska from the czar; and Alaska Day, Oct. 18, which marks the formal transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States in the Russian capital of Sitka.
Alaska has many historic Russian buildings.
There are active Russian Orthodox Churches in some 80 Alaska communities, many of which still use the old-style Russian Orthodox calendar and celebrate Christmas on what is marked as Jan. 7 in Western calendars.
Many of Alaska's native peoples who lived in the regions colonized by Russia have Russian surnames, stemming from the days when they were colonial subjects of the czar and many intermarried.
Russian names mark Alaska's geographical landscape.
Russian Orthodox "Old Believers" who emigrated from the Soviet Union have their own old-style Russian villages in Alaska.
Except during the Cold War, Alaska and Russian natives on either side of the Bering Strait carried on with routine visits, seasonal festivals and subsistence trade.
During the Cold War, Alaskans referred to the closed border between Russia and Alaska as the "Ice Curtain." Their goal: to melt the Ice Curtain.
The University of Alaska has more Russian students at its campuses than any other university in the United States.
Much of the flora and fauna and geology in Alaska are similar to the Russian Far East and eastern Siberia.
Alaska serves as the U.S. gateway for all flights between the Russian Far East and the United States.