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St. Lawrence Island facts for kids

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St. Lawrence
Txu-pclmaps-topo-us-saint lawrence-1970.jpg
Closeup map of St. Lawrence Island
St. Lawrence is located in Alaska
St. Lawrence
St. Lawrence
Location in Alaska
Location in Alaska
Location Bering Sea
Coordinates 63°21′44″N 170°16′02″W / 63.36222°N 170.26722°W / 63.36222; -170.26722
Area 1,791.56 sq mi (4,640.1 km2)
Length 90 mi (140 km)
Width 22 mi (35 km)
Highest point Atuk Mountain, 2,070 feet (630 m)
United States
State Alaska
Largest settlement Gambell/ Savoonga (pop. 701/705) (2016 estimate) (pop. 681/671) (2010 census)
Population 1,352 (2010)
Pop. density 0.28 /km2 (0.73 /sq mi)

St. Lawrence Island (Central Siberian Yupik: Sivuqaq, Russian: Остров Святого Лаврентия) is located west of mainland Alaska in the Bering Sea, just south of the Bering Strait. The village of Gambell, located on the northwest cape of the island, is 36 miles (58 kilometers) from the Chukchi Peninsula in the Russian Far East. The island is part of Alaska, but closer to Russia than to the Alaskan mainland. St. Lawrence Island is thought to be one of the last exposed portions of the land bridge that once joined Asia with North America during the Pleistocene period. It is the sixth largest island in the United States and the 113th largest island in the world. It is considered part of the Bering Sea Volcanic Province. The Saint Lawrence Island shrew (Sorex jacksoni) is a species of mammal in the family Soricidae found only on St. Lawrence Island.


The island is thought to have been home to several old natives, mostly by the Siberian Yupik around 2,500 years ago.

In 1878, a famine hit the island, causing over 1,000 people to die, and many others to leave.

During the Cold War, a P2V Neptune by the US Navy were shot down by the Soviet with two fighter planes, forcing it to fly down to Gambell Airport, where the plane crashed. None of the 11 onboard were killed, but 7 were injured.


The island has two main airports, one at Gambell and another at Savoonga. There is another old airport at the east end of the island, which used to be a part of an old military base. The island can be travelled to by boat as well.

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