Big Diomede Island (aka Ratmanov Island) is one of Russia's Diomede Islands located in the middle of Bering Strait. The island covers a total area of approx 29 km2 (11 mi2) and is currently uninhabited.
The island is a part of Russia's Chukotka Okrug (Chukotsky District). The island is located approx 45 km (28 ml) southeast of Cape Dezhnev on the Chukotka Peninsula. It is also Russia's easternmost point.
Big Diomede is also called and "Tomorrow Island" because of the International Date Line. The International Date Line is 1,3 km (0,8 ml) east of the island. The island's highest elevation point (Krysha) is 477 m / 1566 ft).
Ratmanov Island was originally inhabited by the Inupiat people (Alaskan natives). The island was discovered by Europeans in 1648 - by the Russian explorer Semyon Dezhnyov (1605-1673). The Danish navigator Vitus Bering (1681-1741) re-discovered Diomede Islands on August 16, 1728 - the very day on which the Orthodox Church celebrates the martyr St Diomede. The island was mapped in 1732 by the Russian geodesist Mikhail Gvozdev ((1700-1759). During the Alaska Purchase in 1867, a new border was drawn between Big Diomede and Little Diomede.
During WW2 (1939-1945), the island became a Russian military base. After the war, the locals were forced to abandon the island and relocated to mainland Russia (Chukotka) to avoid contacts across the border. Currently, unlike neighboring Little Diomede Island, Big Diomede has no permanent population but is the site of the Russian weather station and the base of Russian border patrol troops.
During the Cold War (1947-1991, the border's section between USSR and the USA (that separates Big and Little Diomede Islands) became popular as the "Ice Curtain". In 1987, Lynne Cox (US long-distance open-water swimmer) swam the distance between the islands (approx 3,5 km / 2,2 ml). Her achievement was congratulated by both country's presidents - Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) and Mikhail Gorbachev.
Big Diomede Island cruise terminal
Cruise ships to Big Diomede Island dock (anchor) near the weather station on the eastern coast.