Remote US town just two miles from Russia but with 23-hour time difference

A remote US town with killer polar bears lies just two miles from Russia, but has a 23-hour time difference.

Little Diomede is less than three square miles in size and is separated from the Russian island, Big Diomede, by a stretch of stormy sea.

The pair of islands are located in the middle of the Bering Strait off Alaska, with the American island home to just 77 residents, and were once both deeply intertwined.

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In the winter, an ice bridge would form between the islands, allowing residents to freely walk back and forth.

Islanders would marry, share traditions, and their cultures blurred into one.

But the Cold War changed relations between the two islands forever, and now there are further tensions between the two nations created by the Ukraine War.

Edward Soolook, a lifelong resident of the American island, said life hasn't changed dramatically since Russia invaded Ukraine.

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He told Insider: "We're safe, as long as we sleep good at night. We keep the eyes and ears.

"We're the back door of the country — or the front door, rather."

The Iñupiat communities have navigated the conditions in the Arctic Circle, facing a barrage of 90mph winds, for more than 3,000 years.

With summer temperatures only reaching 10C, then plunging to -14C in the winter, the Bering Straight is often frozen between December and June.

During the winter months, the community take part in the annual "polar bear watch" to keep everyone safe from attacks.

There are around 30 buildings – including a school, a library and a heliport – on the island, mostly built in the 1970s and 80s.

The vast rocky landscape doesn't allow for cemeteries, buried utilities, and roads, plus there is barely any space for more buildings.

A lack of roads mean residents have to get about on foot on the island where there is also no bank, restaurant or hotel, and the main shop has only limited food, clothing, firearms, and fuel – meaning anything else must be flown in.

The weekly mail delivery is made by helicopter and most supplies stocked in the store come from a barge delivery just once a year.

Costs of living are sky high, with a bottle of laundry detergent at the island store setting residents back nearly £40, National Geographic reports.

Although Little Diomede is one of the remotest places on the planet, the single school on the island turns its WiFi on for a couple of hours every afternoon and kids gather to catch the only signal in town.

Those wanting to visit the island have to take flight from Russia to Nome and then to the coastal Alaskan town of Wales by plane.

From there they head to the island via a helicopter – the only real link to the mainland and how supplies reach the community.


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