TEMPLE, Texas — With all the news about Russia invading Ukraine, as well as talks about NATO and its eastern European countries that neighbor them, many people in the United States may think all that turmoil is happening on the other side of the world; and that Vladimir Putin's country is way too far from home.
As it turns out, Russia is a lot closer than you think.
We are familiar with the map below. We've seen it in schools, in books, online. However, the map is distorted and it doesn't accurately depict the distance between the continental United States and Russia. In fact, it makes it feel like they are on completely opposite sides from one another. Let's not forget about the 49th state of the Union, Alaska, which is cut off in this map.
When we look at Alaska -- which was land the U.S. bought from Russia for $7.2 million in 1867, according to the Library of Congress -- we are next door neighbors to the Kremlin's homeland.
To help put that into perspective, that is a shorter drive from Temple to Austin. The distance between these two Texas cities is 67.8 miles.
Alaska and Russia are separated by a body of water called the Bering Strait, according to alaskacenters.gov. However, smackdab in the middle of the Asian country and the North American country, you'll find two islands called Big Diomede and Little Diomede.
Known as "Yesterday" and "Tomorrow" islands (more explained below), Big Diomede is an island that belongs to Russia; Little Diomede belongs to the U.S. The distance between the two? About 2.5 miles.
Yep, 2.5 miles.
Last year, a TikTok user, andrew_laub, went viral after he claimed in a video that you can actually walk this tiny distance, meaning you can actually walk from the United States to Russia... in only about 20 minutes.
"To make matters even crazier, Big Diomede Island is 21 hours ahead of Little Diomede Island, which means that if you were to walk from the United States to Russia, you'd literally be walking into the next day. This is why they call Little Diomede 'Yesterdayland' and Big Diomede 'Tomorrowland,'" said the TikTok user.
Read more about "Yesterday" and "Tomorrow" Islands here.
Of course, andrew_laub didn't actually achieve this feat. But alaskacenters.gov did confirm this to be technically possible, but during the winter when the water freezes over.