St Lawrence Island (Alaska)
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St Lawrence Island is in Bering Sea, located south of Bering Strait and west of mainland Alaska (USA). The island has length 140 km (90 mi / east-west) and width 35 km (22 mi / north-south). By total area (4640 km2 / 1792 mi2), the island is ranked USA's 6th largest and world's 113th largest. Its total population is around 1,400. The other (in the "USA top 10") largest Alaskan islands are Kodiak, Prince of Wales, Chichagof, Admiralty, Nunivak, Unimak, and Baranof.
Saint Lawrence island is part of Alaska, but is actually closer to Russia (Siberia) than to mainland USA. Gambell is approx 60 km (37 mi) from Chukchi Peninsula (Russia's Far East). For thousands of years, the island has been inhabited by Eskimos. By the 19th century, it had numerous villages with total population around 4,000 - all Yupik people.
The island is now inhabited mostly by Siberian Yupik, engaged in hunting (bowhead whales, seals, walrus), fishing, reindeer herding. Yupik people are well known for their carving skill, using mostly marine mammal materials (walrus ivory, whalebone, also fossilized ivory).
Gambell (population around 700) is on the island's northwest cape, approx 65 km (40 mi) northwest of Savoonga. These are currently the only settlements - small villages with old wooden houses. Locally hand-made crafts are available for purchase. By the "Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act", in 1971 Gambell and Savoonga were given title to most of the island's land. This allows the locals to legally sell fossilized ivory and other artefacts found on the Island.
At Boxer Bay (on the southern coast), the Yupik people have seasonal hunting and fishing camps. Here tourists may walk on the tundra and see fish-drying racks, whalebones, circular depressions which served as food-storage caches, walrus-skin boats that natives use for transportation and hunting.
The island has no trees. The only woody plant here is Arctic willow (about 1 ft / 30 cm high). The abundance of seabirds and marine mammals is largely due to Anadyr Current, which brings nutrient-rich waters from Bering Sea.
St Lawrence Island cruise terminal
Cruise ships to St Lawrence Island dock (anchor) either at Gambell or Savoonga. Both port towns are located on island's northern coast.