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What country outside North America is closest to the United States?

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When thinking of the closest countries to the U.S., of course our minds go straight north to Canada or south to Mexico. This travel trivia question, however, goes further than that. I’m asking what country OUTSIDE North America is closest to the United States. Think you know the answer? Take a look at the options below, take a guess, and then scroll down for the answer and to learn more about some of America’s neighboring nations.

Map of the United State in North America

Map of the United State in North America (Photo credit: Frankljunior,

Outside of North America, which country is closest to the U.S.?

a) Cuba
b) French Polynesia
c) Colombia
d) Russia
e) Greenland

Old classic car on a beach in Cuba

Old classic car on a beach in Cuba (Photo credit: danmir12,

It isn’t Cuba.

Cuba is just 90 miles from the southernmost point of the U.S., a concrete buoy aptly named the Southernmost Point Buoy in Key West, Florida. That’s awfully close, but Cuba is considered part of North America. Plus, there’s a country that’s even closer to the U.S. In 2015, President Barack Obama eased travel restrictions to the country, making it legal for American citizens to travel to Cuba for the first time since 1960.

Otemanu Mountain on Bora Bora island in French Polynesia

Otemanu Mountain on Bora Bora island in French Polynesia (Photo credit: shalamov,

It isn’t French Polynesia.

French Polynesia’s closest U.S. neighbor is Hawaii. Still, these island grouping are a whopping 2,700 miles apart. French Polynesia is an overseas country belonging to France. It’s made up of 118 islands including Bora Bora and Tahiti. French Polynesia is best known for its gorgeous beaches and incredible surfing waves.

Cocora Valley, Colombia

Cocora Valley, Colombia (Photo credit: Toniflap,

It isn’t Colombia.

Located in northern South America, Colombia is about 1,400 nautical miles from Key West, Florida. Colombia has coastlines on both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The country is renowned for its beautiful landscapes including mountains, jungles and beaches. Colombia is also home to more terrestrial (land-dwelling) animals than any other planet on Earth.

Kulusuk Village, Greenland

Kulusuk Village, Greenland (Photo credit: icarmen13,

It isn’t Greenland.

From Maine in Northeastern U.S. to Greenland’s most southern town, Nanortalik, the distance is about 2,300 miles. Since it is a territory of Denmark, Greenland is sometimes considered part of Europe, but geographically it is considered part of North America. Greenland is the world’s largest island. Unfortunately, it is shrinking, as Greenland’s ice sheet is melting due to climate change.

Chukotka, Russia near the United States

Chukotka, Russia near the U.S. (Photo credit: avstraliavasin,

Russia is the closest country to the United States outside North America.

The answer is d) Russia. In fact, Russia is only about 58 miles away from the U.S. Maybe you got this travel trivia question right, thanks to Tina Fey’s impersonation of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live when Fey’s character claimed she could see Russia from her house in Alaska. That’s probably too dang far away to see with the naked eye. There is, however, a tiny Alaskan island in the Bering Strait called Little Diomede, whose 150 residents or so can see the Russian island of Big Diomede just two miles away.

Russia takes the title of the largest country in the world by landmass, comprising over 6.6 million square miles. That beats the runner up nation, Canada, by about 3.8 million square miles! What’s more, Russia includes nine different time zones and shares land borders with 14 neighboring countries.

Red square in Moscow, Russia

Red square in Moscow, Russia (Photo credit: Violin,

Test your travel trivia knowledge!

Do you love learning facts about the world? Then you’ll love our travel trivia questions! Test your global knowledge with the questions below.

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Take a look at additional travel trivia questions!

What country outside North America is closest to the United States?

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Did you get the right answer? Which country did you think was closest to the U.S.? Tell us in the comments below!

About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show,, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

  1. I was totally wrong. I had really thought that Cuba was the correct answer. I have been to Key West Florida and remember seeing the 90 miles to Cuba sign. I had no idea that Russia was even closer at 58 miles. That does sound strange when you say it out loud. Thanks for the brain teaser. Looking forward to more.

    • The answer is not Russia and Sarah Palin didn’t utter the nonsense. That was Tina Fey, playing Mrs. Palin. The answer is Bahamas. The town of West End, Grand Bahama Island is 55 miles from the West Palm Beach coastline.

      • In re-read the final explaination, I stand in error. My comment was not based on island to island distances. My statement was based on contagious land mass to another sovereign county. My apologies.

  2. Technically Guantamo on Cuba is US soil so basically I would say Cuba also although Russia is most correct. Did you know that you can travel from North Korea to Finland and only cross two countries. Russia and China.

    • You don’t need to cross TWO countries in order to travel from North Korea to Finland.
      Just one 🙂

      Same works for Norway, btw.

  3. Well this is pretty easy considering the question says “outside North America” and only one of the countries is outside North America

  4. Clark Westfield says

    Here’s a wild, crazy thought: LOOK AT A MAP!

  5. British Virgin Islands are how far from US Virgin Islands?

    • Less than a mile. This is the best answer to the question. The Virgin Islands are in a boundary zone between the North American continental plate and the Caribbean plate, which is to say, that are not actually part of either tectonic zone. So, outside of North America, even given the condition that Cuba is part of North America, the closest point of contact between US territory and foreign territory is the 1,125-yard-wide strait between St. John (part of the US Virgin Islands) and Great Thatch Island (part of the British Virgin Islands).

  6. All the answers are wrong. It’s the Bahamas.

  7. Isn’t Bimini (the Bahamas) much closer than Russia?

  8. It’s either France (St. Pierre and Miquelon, just off the coast of Newfoundland, is an overseas collective of France – it uses the Euro), or Denmark, (who owns Greenland and is currently in a border dispute over Hans Island, up in the Arctic).

  9. Siberia is visible from several points in Alaska, numerous web sites confirm this. Siberia is quite mountainous in its easternmost areas.

  10. Leyland Benson says

    I disagree that 58 miles is too far to see Russia from Alaska. From Auckland, New Zealand it is quite easy to see Great Barrier Island some 50 miles to the north east. Auckland has hills of 600 feet and further west 1400 feet. Great Barrier rises to 2000 feet. So if Russia and Alaska have suitably high hills near the coast it should be possible.

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