The entirety of the island is in the city of Diomede (Inupiat: Inalik). The island is not part of any organized borough, so some services are provided directly by the state. For census purposes, it is included in the Nome Census Area.
GeographyAccording to the United States Census Bureau, the island has a total area of 2.8 square miles (7.3 km2), all of it land. On the western shore of the island is the village of Diomede, also known as Inalik.
The highest point on Little Diomede Island is 494m (about halfway along the west coast, about 1.5 km southeast of the village, facing the southern tip of Big Diomede).
There is a heliport, the Diomede Heliport, with regular helicopter flights. During the winter, the town villagers carve a runway into the thick ice sheet so that bush planes can deliver vital products, such as medicine. Due to annual variations of the ice sheet, the runway changes position every year.
GeologyThe Little Diomede island is composed of Cretaceous age granite or quartz monzonite. The location of the city is the only area which does not have near-vertical cliffs to the water. Behind the city and around the entire island rocky slopes rise at about 40° up to the relatively flattened top in 1,148–1,191 feet (350–363 m). The island has very scant vegetation.
Flora and FaunaWhile there are thousands of birds in the fall (puffins, murres, hawks, Canadian geese, tayuks, fuzzies, etc.), there are also a number of other critters sharing the island with the scant human inhabitants. Year round there are arctic, red, and blue foxes along with arctic hares. From the spring to the fall, walruses, belugas, and other whales migrate through the tiny gap between the islands. Winter brings the ugruk (bearded seal) as well as a number of other seal species. And with the sea ice comes the majestic polar bear!
As far as vegetation, there are sour greens, Eskimo cabbage, Eskimo potatoes, cloud berries, stink weed (medicinal), and an abundance of sea weed. These can all be gathered in the fall and preserved in seal oil for the long winters.
TravelInterested in traveling to Little Diomede? We love visitors, but between contacting Pathfinder Aviation and the local tribal council, it can be quite difficult to get a hold of the correct people in a timely fashion. If you would like some help, hints, or tricks, please contact Rob Michaud (email@example.com) for more information.
Some general travel tips:
- Pathfinder only flies passengers to Diomede 3 times a month (at times they will fly passengers on Wednesdays depending on the mail load). You can charter a Pathfinder helicopter, but it is quite expensive. Boats only come to Diomede once or twice a year. Pathfinder can be reached by phone at (907) 443-5334.
- Although it is not required to get permission from the tribal council to travel to Diomede, it is highly recommended. Once here, you can secure a local guide. Contact Frances Ozenna at the tribal council: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- There are no hotels, hostels, motels, couch surfers (during the summer), or bed and breakfasts on the island, so either secure a place to stay with a local or with the school ($70.00 a night, bed, sheets, dishes, towels, and safe drinking water provided).
- The local store might not have the foods you're looking for or it might not be open, so make sure to bring some essential staples with you (especially if you have a restrictive diet).