Current Population: 129 (2003 State Demographer est.)
Incorporation Type: 2nd Class City
Borough Located In: Unorganized
School District: Bering Straits Schools
Regional Native Corporation: Bering Straits Native Corp.
Diomede is located on the west coast of Little Diomede Island in the Bering Straits, 135 miles northwest of Nome. It is only 2.5 miles from Big Diomede Island, Russia, and the international boundary lies between the two islands. It lies at approximately 65.758611° North Latitude and -168.953056° West Longitude. (Sec. 08, T004N, R049W, Kateel River Meridian.) Diomede is located in the Cape Nome Recording District. The area encompasses 2.8 sq. miles of land and 0.0 sq. miles of water. Summer temperatures average 40 to 50; winter temperatures average from -10 to 6. Annual precipitation is 10 inches, with 30 inches of snowfall. During summer months, cloudy skies and fog prevail. Winds blow consistently from the north, averaging 15 knots, with gusts to 60 or 80 MPH. The Bering Strait is generally frozen between mid-December and mid-June.
Diomede is a traditional Ingalikmiut Eskimo village with a subsistence lifestyle. Seal, polar bear, blue crab and whale meat are the preferred foods. Mainland Natives come to Diomede to hunt polar bears. Seal and walrus hides are used to make individual clothing items, parkas, hats, mukluks, and furs and skins for trade. The sale or importation of alcohol is banned in the village.
Little Diomede villagers depend almost entirely upon a subsistence economy for their livelihood. Employment is limited to the City and school. Seasonal mining, construction and commercial fishing positions have been on the decline. The Diomede people are excellent ivory carvers; the City serves as a wholesale agent for the ivory. Villagers travel to Wales by boat for supplies. Mail is delivered once per week.
Water drawn from a mountain spring is treated and stored in a 434,000 steel tank, and families haul water from this source. The tank is filled for winter use, but the water supply typically runs out around March. The washeteria is then closed and residents are required to melt snow and ice for drinking water. The City has requested funds for a 600,000-gal. steel tank and to improve the water catchment system. The school has requested funding for a 500,000-gal. water storage tank to alleviate demands on the City water supply, and as a community back-up. All households use privies and honey buckets. The washeteria/clinic is served by a septic system and seepage pit. Due to the soil condition, lack of ground cover and steep terrain, PHS has found limited waste disposal methods. Refuse is disposed on the pack ice in winter; combustibles are burned. The City has requested funding to implement refuse collection and purchase an incinerator.
Due to constant winds from the north, accessibility is often limited. A State-owned heliport allows for weekly mail delivery. There is no airstrip due to the steep slopes and rocky terrain, so skiplanes must land on an ice strip in winter. Few float plane pilots attempt to land on the rough, often foggy open sea during summer. Regular flights are scheduled from Nome, weather permitting. There is a breakwater and small boat harbor. Skin boats are still a popular method of sea travel, 28 miles to Wales. Cargo barge stops are irregular, due to sea or ice conditions, but deliver at least annually. Lighterage services are available from Nome.
Summer temperatures average 40 to 50; winter temperatures average from -10 to 6. Annual precipitation is 10 inches, with 30 inches of snowfall. During summer months, cloudy skies and fog prevail. Winds blow consistently from the north, averaging 15 knots, with gusts to 60 or 80 MPH. The Bering Strait is generally frozen between mid-December and mid-June.
*Source: Alaska Department of Community & Economic Development
This information was made possible in part by a grant from the Technology Opportunities Program, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.