In the 16th Century, many regions of the World were not yet fully explored. For instance, it was still unknown whether there is some type of land connection between America and Asia.
Although not yet discovered, the west end of Asia already had a name: The Strait of Anián. Some believed that there was a land connection between California and Asia, while others believed it was a narrow waterway and much further north. In 1648, a Russian explorer by the name of Semyon Dezhnev (c.1605-1673) led the first known expedition through the Bering Strait, which is pretty much where the Strait of Anián was supposed to be. It is a small 82 km (51 mi) waterway which connects Alaska with Russia. So why is it called Bering Strait and not Dezhnev Strait? It’s very likely that Dezhnev didn’t have a clue what he discovered. Additionally, the information about his discovery only reached Europe dozens of years later. The Danish explorer Vitus Bering (1681-1741), who visited the Strait in 1728, documented everything and henceforth the strait was named after him.
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Photo Credits / Sources:
By NASA/GSFC/JPL/MISR-Team (http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA02638) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons