Let’s get back to the second part of the geography puzzle originally posed by loyal reader Matthias as we continue to explore the current northernmost reaches of Google Street View. It’s still Deadhorse, Alaska at the very moment I draft this article. That will change as Google’s adventurous drivers reach new extremes. The European contender is a close second and actually held title to the northernmost claim until a few days ago, when Matthias set out originally to explore the area vicariously.
I found that magical spot in the extreme reaches of Finland at 70.089704 degrees north latitude. Bear in mind that this location is only about 17.2 kilometres (10.7 miles) further south than the Alaskan site, assuming I’ve figured my math correctly. Behold, the northernmost Street View image in Europe in February 2010:
Näytä suurempi kartta
It looks like a nice place, with a little house overlooking a pleasant river at the base of a hill along the outer fringe of Finland. It would only take the Google drivers a few moments to push a little way into Norway to recapture that crown for Europe. I imagine the footage already exists and they’re simply negotiating the privacy issues with Norwegian authorities. That’s often the case. One day no Street View footage exists for a country and the next it’s covered from one end to the other.
Next I figured I’d try to see what might be interesting to see in this area of the world. Two things came to mind rather quickly. Let’s examine the map.
Näytä suurempi kartta
The first thing I noticed is that Street View comes to within about 40 km of where Finland, Norway and Russia join together, the FINORU Tripoint. This is a remarkable spot that serves not only as the place where three nations converge, but three different time zones as well.
- Norway – Central European Time (UTC +1)
- Finland – Eastern European Time (UTC +2)
- Russia – Moscow Time (UTC +3)
This isn’t unique but it still pretty noteworthy, happening in only a handful of other places on our planet. The tripoint may not be the friendliest frontier — Norway is a NATO country directly on Russia’s doorstep — so it may be a tough accomplishment much of the year. However, there’s at least one good opportunity to hit all three countries in rapid succession: a casual 12 km cross-country ski event held annually (see English translation if, like myself, you don’t speak Norwegian).
The second interesting facet is what I would call "counterintuitive geography," or things that seem out of place at first glance but soon reveal themselves to be true. For example, travel due south from Detroit, Michigan in the United States and the first international border you would cross would take you into Canada. Also, part of the U.S. state of Virginia is further west than any place in West Virginia. You know, things like that.
Thus, counterintuitively, this part of Norway at the tripoint is further east than any part of Sweden. It sounds odd until one looks at the map and observes exactly how far east Norway cuts as it wraps around the northern edges of Sweden and Finland extending to the Russian border.