Facts You Never Knew About Russia, Russian and Russians

Posted on November 18th, 2013

Привет! to all my readers. I am very excited about today’s guest post that is kindly provided by Listen & Learn. Here it goes.

Russia is a vast country so, naturally, it’s a goldmine of trivia. There is much to know about the largest country in the world and most people probably know a couple of titbits, but some would struggle to name any facts beyond “it’s cold” and “Russians like vodka”. With over 185 ethnic groups stretching over 17 million square kilometres, you could never run out of things to learn about Russia and its people. However, if you’d like to try, here are some facts about the country to start you off.

Geography

Russia borders fourteen countries – the length of the borders range from 6 846km along Kazakhstan, to just a 19km border with North Korea. Since Russia is so vast, it makes it possible to travel from Eastern Asia to Northern Europe by going through just one country. The only thing standing between North Korea and Norway is Russia!

There are 78 capital cities of other countries that are closer to parts of Russia than Moscow is. For example, there is one point in Russia where you can stand and be closer to Washington DC than to Moscow. Technically the shortest point between Russia and the USA is the 2.5 miles between Russia’s Big Diomede Island and Alaska’s Little Diomede Island – though there’s a distance of 55 miles from mainland Russia to mainland Alaska, across the Bering Strait.

Russia covers nine different time zones, so people on one side of the country are getting ready for work as others are coming home. Until 2010 there were eleven time zones, which were reduced to nine when the boundaries were changed. Time boundaries have been changed several times in the past couple of decades.

Language

Though most native Russian speakers obviously live in Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Kyrgystan also have large numbers of Russian speakers. After Russia, Kazakhstan has most Russian speakers, at nearly 17 800 000. There are also Russian speakers in other former Soviet Union countries and approximately 250 million people speak Russian as a native language worldwide.

Russian is one of the six official languages of the United Nations, though it wasn’t originally a working language. In 1945 the Charter of the United Nations was written in Russian, as well as four other languages (Chinese, French, English and Spanish) and in 1946 these were made official languages, with French and English as working languages. It wasn’t until 1968 that Russian became a working language for the United Nations.

Culture

While on a visit to Russia, you might want to spend some time relaxing in a tradition banya, or sauna. What you may not find so relaxing, however, is being hit with a bundle of twigs while you’re doing it! Some people believe that it’s good for your health to hit yourself with a bunch of sticks and that making them from different plants will help with different ailments.

27 Russians have won a Nobel Prize, 12 of them for Physics, 5 for Literature, 3 for Chemistry, 2 for Economics, 3 for Peace and 2 for Physiology or Medicine. Russia has produced many great writers, scientists, artists and more and is also responsible for many great inventions, from the periodic table to Tetris.

Hospitality is very important in Russian cultureImage by PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay

Hospitality is very important in Russian culture
Image by tpsdave on Pixabay

Hospitality is very important in Russian culture. While Russia as a country is cold, the people are certainly not. The people are extremely welcoming to their guests, even if they turn up uninvited, which would be a big no-no in some other countries. Being able to give guests somewhere to stay in your home is important to Russians, as is making sure they have everything they could need during their stay.

Record Breakers

Lakes: Russia has the world’s deepest lake, Baikal Lake, which is 1 642m deep, and also Europe’s largest, Ladoga Lake, which covers 400 square kilometres.

Trains: The world’s longest railway is in Russia! The Trans-Siberian Railway, which runs for 9 200km, and Moscow’s Metro is the world’s most used subway/underground system, with over 9 million people a day moving between its stations.

Buildings: The world’s tallest Orthodox church (the Moscow cathedral Khram Khrista Spasitelya, or Christ the Saviour) and the world’s largest McDonald’s restaurant (700 seats)!

Toys!: One of the most recognisable symbols of Russia is the Russian nesting doll, otherwise known as matroyshka or babushka dolls. But did you know that the largest set of Russian dolls consisted of a whopping 72 figures?

Weird and Whacky

Russia is home to the Moscow Cat Theatre – which claims to be the only cat circus in the world.

In 2003, lawyers in Russian threatened to sue Warner Brothers, because Harry Potter’s Dobby the house-elf supposedly resembles Putin.

When World War Two ended, Russians celebrated long enough to run out of vodka.

Some of the stray dogs around the Moscow Metro have figured out how to use it for themselves and have become commuting pooches.

Roman Abramovich, the billionaire who owns England’s Chelsea football club, owns a yacht that fires lasers at paparazzi. Don’t worry, it’s meant to disable the camera, not harm the photographer!

Now that you have everything you could possibly want to know about this fascinating country, perhaps it’s time for a visit?

Laura Ellis is currently a writer for Listen and Learn.

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