One of the largest countries in the world, Russia has many different sites to offer. It is one of the only countries that is divided in between the two continents of Asia and Europe, and consequently has some very unique cultural aspects. A visit to St. Petersburg will make you see just how unique Russian culture and architecture is. It is like visiting a world from fairytale or fantasy; you will find yourself always wanting to come back for more. Besides sites, they also have their own incredible cuisine, which is definitely a must-try if anyone wants the full cultural experience.
Important and Interesting Facts about Russia
- It’s a country in northern Eurasia. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares land borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland (both with Kaliningrad Oblast), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, and North Korea. It shares maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and the US state of Alaska across the Bering Strait.
- Russia is the largest country in the world, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth’s inhabited land area. Russia is also the world’s ninth most populous nation.
- Extending across the entirety of northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe, Russia spans nine time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms.
- Russia’s extensive mineral and energy resources, the largest reserves in the world,have made it one of the largest producers of oil and natural gas globally.
- The country is one of the five recognized nuclear weapons states and possesses the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.
- The Moscow Kremlin, usually referred to as simply the Kremlin, is a historic fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River to the south, Saint Basil’s Cathedral and Red Square.
- In contrast to St Petersburg, Moscow is a city of wide avenues and massive Soviet buildings – from the Lenin Russian State Library which has 275 km of shelves, to Stalin skyscrapers representing Stalin’s Empire style.
- Kazan is officially called “the third capital of Russia”.In 2005, the city turned 1000 years old. Despite its impressive age, the oldest Annunciation Cathedral, Kazan Kremlin, and the core of the old city, the Old Tatar Settlement and iconic buildings of the century-before-last, are still preserved in the centre of the city.
- The Golden Ring – onion-domed churches.Fans of Russian Orthodoxy who wish to experience the calm and profundity of the Russian faith often go on tours around cities which are famous for their unique monasteries and churches of the 12th-17th centuries.
- Novgorod Veliky – its own architect.The history of the city is closely connected with the history of Russian statehood, of which one of the pillars is Orthodoxy. For this reason, you can find lots of churches, monasteries and other places of worship in Novgorod Veliky.
- Volga cruise – music playing on board.The music plays almost constantly on the top decks.Events and discos are held here.At night, the motorboat travels quickly, whereas during the day, it stops in cities along the way.In Volgograd you can visit Mamayev Kurgan and see the giant statue of the Motherland. In Astrakhan you can buy fish and watermelons if you go during the season. And in the warmer months, you can swim in the Volga.
- Sochi – from all-Union health resort to the Olympic capital.Besides the Olympic complex, you can enjoy the remains of what several generations of ordinary Soviet workers have enjoyed for many years.
Cool and Funny Facts about Russia
- There’s a theater in Russia where all the actors are cats! The Moscow Cat Theater is a traveling circus that showcases cats. Creative director Vladimir and his daughter, Maria, train the cats from birth. They have one cat who continually has litters, yielding them an abundant amount of cats to work with. The circus travels around Russia showcasing cats walking on tightropes, walking across the stage balancing on balls, and walking upside down.
- There’s a city in Russia where 20% of its population is addicted to heroin! Russia is the biggest consumer of heroin in the world. It started in 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and started a 10 year war. The war kick started the Afghan opium trade to fund the Afghani’s in the war. Though it was sold all over the world, the Russians became the main consumers.
- Russia and Japan have still not signed a peace treaty to end World War II.Nearly 70 years on, two countries that never fought each other on the level that the Soviet Union did with Germany, or the level that Japan did with the United States continue to have a dispute over four islands. Though today, Germany and Russia as well as Japan and the US have fairly good relationships, the four Southern Kurile islands remain an issue of conflict between Japan and Russia.
- In 2010, a heat wave in Russia led to over 1,000 deaths, the majority of which died from drowning while swimming drunk!Russians were panicked by the heat wave and flocked to nearby bodies of water for some relief from the heat. Hundreds of people drowned each week, because they were drinking while swimming.
- When Germany surrendered after WWII, people in Russia celebrated long enough that they ran out of Vodka! It’s one of the landmarks events in modern history. Germany surrendering sparked massive celebrations around the world, including one in Times Square where they took the now famous picture of the sailor kissing a nurse. However, none may have been as wild as the one in Moscow.
- There’s an annual Sex Doll boat race in Russia! It’s called the Bubble Baba Challenge. It got started in 2003, when a group of friends (who happened to be drunk, big surprise) thought it would be HILARIOUS to ride blow-up sex dolls as rafts and race them on a river in Losevo, a town near St. Petersburg in Russia.
- Lawyers in Russia threatened to sue Warner Bros because Dobby the house-elf bears such a resemblance to Russian president Vladmir Putin. These reports originally came to light back in 2003, a couple of months after Dobby’s film debut in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Putin himself has declined to comment, and it appears that no court action has come of this matter. This is probably because making the case that Dobby was intentionally modeled after Putin would have been extremely difficult. We think they would have had more luck suing the actor who plays Number Five in the James Bond film From Russia With Love, but maybe that’s just us.
- Peter the Great of Russia once issued a tax on beards.After an 18-month tour of Europe, Peter found himself extremely impressed with western traditions and customs. As a result, he decided to issue an annual tax of one hundred rubles for those who refused to shave their beards. This caused great unrest for many members of the aristocratic Boyar class, who tended to be very fond of their facial hair.
- The world’s most polluted city is so contaminated; you can mine the top soil for metals! The city of Norilsk, in Russia is considered to be the world’s most polluted city. It’s an industrial city of around 100,000 inhabitants. It has extremely harsh climate, the average temperature for the year is 15.5F.
- There are about 500 feral dogs in the Moscow Metro, and some of them have figured out how to commute through it.Moscow, Russia, has a very large population of homeless canines. A small minority of them hang out in its metro and have attracted international attention for using the trains to commute to areas they want to get to. A few theories are bouncing around about how they learned how to tell the difference between the trains to get where they want to go.
- A Russian billionaire has a yacht that fires lasers at paparazzi cameras.Roman Abramovich definitely takes his privacy seriously. He had his newest yacht, The Eclipse, equipped with an “anti-paparazzi shield”. It uses infrared lasers to detect the electric light sensors in cameras, then fires a focused beam of light at the camera to keep it from being able to record an image.
Historical and Cultural Facts about Russian Federation
- The nation’s history began with that of the East Slavs, who emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. Founded and ruled by a Varangian warrior elite and their descendants, the medieval state of Rus arose in the 9th century. In 988 it adopted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire,beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium.
- Rus’ ultimately disintegrated into a number of smaller states; most of the Rus’ lands were overrun by the Mongol invasion and became tributaries of the nomadic Golden Horde.The Grand Duchy of Moscow gradually reunified the surrounding Russian principalities, achieved independence from the Golden Horde, and came to dominate the cultural and political legacy of Kievan Rus’.
- By the 18th century, the nation had greatly expanded through conquest, annexation, and exploration to become the Russian Empire, which was the third largest empire in history, stretching from Poland in Europe to Alaska in North America.
- Following the Russian Revolution, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic became the largest and leading constituent of the Soviet Union, the world’s first constitutionally socialist state and a recognized superpower,which played a decisive role in the Allied victory in World War II.
- The Soviet era saw some of the most significant technological achievements of the 20th century, including the world’s first human-made satellite, and the first man in space. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian SFSR reconstituted itself as the Russian Federation and is recognized as the continuing legal personality of the Union state.
- The most common food is bread. Potatoes, cabbage, carrots, and beets are the standard vegetables; potatoes are a staple. Onions and garlic are used liberally, especially in soups, stews, and salads.Russians generally love meat. Starvation means having no bread, while poverty means going without hard sausage kolbasa.
- Fuel and energy products constitute the major exports. Imports of foodstuffs, machine equipment, computers and other electronics, and chemicals are substantial. Major trading partners are the countries of the CIS (former Soviet republics, especially Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan) as well as Germany, Italy, Poland, the United States, the Netherlands, Britain, and Japan.
- The most significant elements of etiquette are the verbal markers of social status. People use the second person plural pronoun when addressing elders except for parents and grandparents, persons of higher status, strangers, and acquaintances. The informal second person singular is used only among close friends, within the natal family, and among close coworkers of equal status
- Although Prince Vladimir converted the East Slavs to Orthodox Christianity in 988, pre-Christian polytheism persisted for hundreds of years among the people, alongside Christian practices and beliefs. Many animistic elements, rites, and feasts associated with the agricultural calendar have persisted. Christian practices such as the curative application of “holy water” from a church are structured along the lines of pre-Christian customs.
- International Women’s Day on 8 March, celebrating the contributions and role of women in social life, is a legal holiday and a day off from work; men bring flowers to the women in their lives, or call or send cards to congratulate female friends, wives, and relatives. Television features special shows dedicated to women, femininity, and the “female virtues.” May Day, or Labor Day (1 May), the day of international labor solidarity, previously marked with parades, is now an occasion to celebrate the coming of spring. The Day of Victory on 9 May commemorates the Soviet capture of Berlin and the end of World War II. This holiday is taken seriously by older people, who gather to remember family members, friends, and comrades lost in the war.
- Socialist realism became the only officially sanctioned and supported mode of artistic production. It was supposed to present a realistic picture of workers and peasants building a socialist utopia. Thousands of paintings, sculptures, novels, plays, poems, songs, and motion pictures were created to accord with socialist realist doctrine; the vast majority were stilted and didactic. Works of art that diverged from the socialist realist mold were frequently repressed.