Chukotka (Russian: Чуко́тка, choo-KOHT-kuh) is a region in the Russian Far East and is the northeasternmost region of Russia. Located along the Bering Strait, Chukotka is home to beautiful tundra scenery and the indigenous Chukchi people, but of many Russian anecdotes. Chukotka was until just recently governed by the extravagant Russian Oligarch (and owner of Chelsea's football club), Roman Abramovich. Never a province to fit in nicely, Chukotka is also the only region of Russia lying in the Western Hemisphere.
The Chukotka autonomous district is notable as being the closest point that both Eurasia and Russia gets to North America and the United States. In fact on a clear day you can even see across the Bering Sea which separates them into Alaska. While Chukotka is massive at about 285,000 square miles, it only has a population of 55,000. With fewer than 400 miles of road and no railroad infrastructure; the population is mostly employed in mining and subsistence hunting.
Chukotka is listed among border regions with special permission requirements for entry of Russians and foreigners alike, so please contact a tour agency with knowledge of this area to obtain a 'rasporyazheniye' invitation document. Passengers of cruise liners are allowed to land on Chukotka and stay for 72 hours without visa and special permission.
Although highly impractical, it is also possible to swim from the United States of America to Chukotka across the Bering Strait. To date only the legendary Lynne Cox has chosen this route, swimming 3 kilometers/2 miles from Little Diomede in Alaska to Big Diomede of the then Soviet Union. Reportedly, she requested a "babushka" for when she arrived, thinking she could take home a souvenir scarf. But babushka in Russian means "old lady"—so the Soviets made a babushka available at the site of her arrival, trained in medical care to revive the freezing traveler to health!
In July every year, the Beringia Arctic Games are held which is a celebration of culture and tradition by indigenous Arctic communities from a number of Arctic nations. Games include Baydara races (boats made from traditional walrus skin), tug of wars, and games that reflect their traditional culture. Opportunities for tourists to experience the Games are very limited, particularly as the games change from village to town each year, but expedition company Heritage Expeditions visits this festival every year on their 15-day expeditions to Chukotka and Wrangel Island.
Classic Chukchi literature of Yuri Rytkheu.