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Christensen C.S. The search for the Northeast Passage: the First and the Second Kamchatka expeditions in the years 1725-1743

In the beginning of the 1700s Tsar Peter the Great ordered the First Kamchatka expedition to take place. Russia was going through a period where changes both economical connections and geographical discoveries took place. Peter the Great was organizing a new imperial Russian Navy. However, why was this First Kamchatka expedition undertaken? Economic, scientific or political reasons? The expedition, which was headed by Vitus Bering, proved the separation of Asia and America (Alaska). Furthermore, Bering's map showed northeast Asia in its true dimensions, both in longitude and latitude. On his return to St. Petersburg, Bering was met with much scepticism, which, after his own proposals, led to the Second Kamchatka expedition, better known as the Great Northern expedition of 1733-1743. Why such scepticism, and why is it still being shown? This article tries to give answers on abovementioned questions and to put the work of Vitus Bering into a broader perspective, to show how important these expeditions were for modern Russia.