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Vitus Jonassen Bering: Exploring for Russia

Vitus Jonassen Bering was a Danish born navigator and explorer, but in 1703 he enlisted in the newly formed Russian navy. He moved to Russia, where he married and had children.

In 1725, he was selected by Czar Peter I (Peter the Great) to explore far northeastern Siberia and seek a Northeast Passage through the Arctic to China. These were uncharted waters, and the eastern extent of Russia was unknown. Some thought that Asia and North American were connected and the Czar was also considering the possibility of Russian expansion into northern North America.

Bering is credited with discovering Alaska and the strait between it and Russia. The Bering Strait and the Bering Sea are both named for him.

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