Russia is the largest country in the world, spanning two continents and 11 time zones. It is located in northern Eurasia and shares borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, North Korea, and Mongolia. Its capital is Moscow and its official language is Russian. Russia has a rich and complex history that includes centuries of monarchy, communism, and more recently, a transition to democracy. Its economy is one of the largest in the world, with a diverse mix of industries including oil and gas, mining, agriculture, and manufacturing.
Russia has a unique culture that is characterized by its literature, music, dance, art, and architecture. Its cultural heritage includes world-renowned writers like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, composers like Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, and artists like Kandinsky and Malevich.
Russia’s political system is a federal semi-presidential republic, which means that power is shared between the president and the parliament. However, in recent years, the country has become increasingly authoritarian under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin. Overall, Russia is a fascinating and complex country with a rich history, unique culture, and diverse economy.
Whenever it comes to travel destinations, people would mostly have their list full of places from Europe or Asia. These continents are vast and full of amazing countries, there is no doubt about that, but did you know that last 2019, Russia was visited by over five million tourists? Yes, it has officially become part of the list of underrated countries to visit. Yes, if you want to experience a cool trip (literally), good food and drinks, rich culture, and amazing architecture, then you might consider visiting Russia. But, before you visit there, you might want to read this article as a fun guide for all the interesting facts you will anticipate in Russia if ever you will visit!
Hidden and Interesting Facts About Russia
#1. Russia’s popular souvenir is Matryoshka (Russian Doll)
If ever you will travel to Russia, you do not want to miss buying the Matryoshka as a souvenir! This doll is a whole representation of Russian culture and if ever you want something to remember Russia with, then this doll is the most and considered to be the most bought souvenir by tourists.
The Matryoshka Doll is not just a typical doll that is shaped like a mini girl with beautiful dresses and all, no. It is not only one doll in number, sure you will see it at first as only one doll but if you open the doll in the middle you will find another doll that is smaller in size, and this will go on until the smallest door came. This Russian Doll is also known as a stocking doll or nesting doll. It is basically a representation of mothers in different generations in one family line, it is a chain starting from the Matriarch up to the latest descendant. This also makes a lot of sense as Matryoshka means “mother”.
These dolls are amazingly designed to be stacked up from inside of one another doll and are no doubt, unlike any other dolls. It was invented by Vasily Zvyozdochkin (the manufacturer), and Sergey Malyutin (the designer of the doll).
#2. Russian’s love for Vodka
Do not get the Russians wrong. They do not drink most of the time and are not heavy drinkers. They only drink when there are occasions to celebrate or important gatherings to attend. And the drink that gets to be the star of the celebration is Vodka.
Vodka is really cheap in Russia, it is like the equivalent of spirit drinks or sodas in other countries. You can buy it in the streets of Russia for as low as 0.18 USD. Mainly, the reason why Russians love Vodka is because of its cheap price.
Some Vodka brands in Russia:
- Mamont Siberian
- Russian Standard
#3. Tea is as loved as Vodka in Russia
As vodka is loved in Russia whenever there are occasions and celebrations, tea is their drink whenever possible. Well, for starters, Russians originally was not a fan of Tea, but in recent years it has become loved and given importance as Vodka.
Almost 80% of Russians say that they drink a cup of tea every day. So you can really say that Russians are more tea enjoyers than coffee drinkers.
Popular teas in Russia:
- Black tea
- Genmaicha tea
- Oolong tea
- Keemum tea
- Green tea
#4. Siberia occupies most of the Land in Russia
Siberia occupies 77% of Russia. But, even though it scopes the majority of Russia, this territory is only occupied by at least less than 30% of Russia’s population. Over 40 million people live in Siberia even though it is a vast land.
In the 1580s, Russia claimed the territory of Siberia which was almost a part of northern Asia (in Mongolia), and made it an official land territory of Russia. Tho we can say that Siberia’s continent is in Asia, but its country is Russia.
#5. Russia sold Alaska to the United States
Have you ever watched Stranger Things? If yes, then you may have noticed that in Season 4, Joyce and Murray would like to save Hopper in a detention camp in Russia, and in order to do that they wanted to be smuggled from Alaska to Russia. Why is that? Even though Alaska is in US territories then why? Simply because Alaska was part of Russia first.
Russia sold Alaska to the United States in 1867 for $7.2 million, in a deal known as the Alaska Purchase. There were several reasons why Russia decided to sell Alaska:
- Financial Reasons: Russia was facing financial difficulties and needed to raise money quickly. The sale of Alaska provided a significant injection of cash into the Russian treasury.
- Strategic Reasons: Russia was concerned about the possibility of a conflict with Great Britain over Alaska, which would have been difficult to defend. Selling Alaska to the United States ensured that Russia would not have to face this risk.
- Geopolitical Reasons: Russia was also concerned about the expansion of the British Empire in the Pacific, and selling Alaska to the United States was a way to limit British influence in the region.
- Limited Resources: Alaska was sparsely populated and largely undeveloped at the time. Russia did not have the resources or the population to fully develop and exploit the territory, making it a liability rather than an asset.
Overall, the sale of Alaska was a strategic decision by Russia to raise money, reduce the risk of conflict, and limit British influence in the Pacific. For the United States, the acquisition of Alaska provided valuable natural resources, expanded its territory, and strengthened its position as a global power.
#6. Russia invented Tetris!
The famous game that every millennial, and some children in this generation knows—is Tetris. This game originated in Moscow, Russia. It was developed by the Russian scientist, Alexey Pajitnov in an Electronika 60. After that Tetris was transported to IBM PC/ Computer and spread to the Soviet Union as a fun and slightly challenging game.
After gaining popularity in the Soviet Union, it then launches PCs in Europe and North America. This game needs your good motor skills and good eyesight as this puzzle game is unlike any other. It requires intelligent thinking and sometimes high IQ thinking in order to win or pass.
#7. Ballet is a culture
Ballet did not originate from Russia, because it originated from France. But ever since Ballet came to Russia, Russians became a very big fan of Ballet and it has become among the cultures that they preserve and take care of.
Peter the Great brought ballet to Russia. After having to watch one in France, he thought that ballet can be a great part of their arts and culture and can be on par with Europe. Ever since that time, Russia has dominated the world of ballet and has produced legends in ballet and at the same time world-class and world-famous ballet companies.
Popular ballet plays in Russia:
- Don Quixote
- The Pharaoh’s Daughter
- The Nutcracker
- Swan Lake
8. Russians are intimidating…
It is the most natural thing in Russia to not look approachable. Yes, Russians are not that a big fan of smiling, or so they say. Russians are portrayed to be very intimidating, and this is because of the fact that they are not raised to smile as a sign of courtesy or even a small gesture given.
They look serious most of the time but don’t get them wrong, not all Russians are bad and not all are intimidating. Some tourists who have gone and stayed in Russia for months say that Russians only look intimidating but there are nice people.
9. Female population is dominant
In Russia almost 54% (over half) of the population is female. Men are only over 46%. This situation leads back to the wars, years ago. It is said that during World War II, many young men perished, and over 20 million of them died leading the number of women to up by numbers. And it is also said that women’s life expectancy rate in Russia is higher than men’s.
#10. Folk Dancing is an important culture
Russian Folk dance is an integral part of the culture of Russia. They are preserving the folk dances because it shows importance and celebration for many Russian ethnic groups and also this kind of dancing gives many artistic expressions and importance to the culture itself.
Three types of Russian Folk dancing:
- the competition dances
- the dances with special figures involved
- the Khorovod dances
#11. Trees of Russia
Over 20% of Earth’s trees are in Russia! Imagine 20% of the 100% of trees are in only one country. But, by technicality, Russia is the largest country, and is not that populated so the trees are growing freely and not expecting a danger of deforestation for commercial upgrades.
Maybe the fact that Russia is not an overpopulated country made the trees grow more because only some cities are inhabited and many more lush forests are untouched and will not be touched sooner or later Russia, the pregnancy rate is not that high, due to intensive family planning programs.
12. The coldest village in the whole world is in Russia
Oymyakon is the coldest village in the whole world. Although Antarctica records to be the coldest place on earth, this village actually has some villagers living in it despite the harsh cold.
The average temperature in this inhabited village is -50 degrees celsius! And even though it is that cold, there is still a community that lives within this remote village. They have houses, markets and all needed in a community in order to survive.
#13. The waters of Lake Baikal
Lake Baikal is often mistaken to be a sea but it is not. It is the deepest and has the most water than any lake could have had in the entire world. Also, it is believed to be the oldest lake in the whole world.
Lake Baikal is so deep because the lake is actually located in a continental rift. And as the rift zone grows wider, so is the water that connects the sea to the lake, making the lake deeper and wider in the future.
14. Russia has 12 active volcanoes
Russia has 12 active volcanoes but despite of this Russia only have at least 18 wide eruptions over the last less than 2,000 years.
- Koryakskaya Sopka
- Klyuchevskaya Sopka
- Avachinskaya Sopka
- Academy of Sciences
- Sarychev Peak
#15. They hate Immigrants
Russians may be intimidating but some are actually quite nice, but there is a thing in Russia that other wants to deny but the evidence shows otherwise. It is their hate for immigrants. Central Asians took up most of the numbers that migrate to Russia and are followed by people from Ukraine.
Russians tend to discriminate against some immigrants and some are being cold and heartless as a racist. Russians tend to have this upbringing with them that they are proud of their country and that outsiders should just stay outside.
#16. Laika, the space dog
Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space. This only shows that the Soviet Union is really remarkable in bringing ideas to life. But, before even a man has made it up to space and come back home alive, many innocent lives are sacrificed in order to have the test run completed and have the spacecraft designed to withstand space, gravity, and all.
Animal testing was notorious before, they put up animals in space in order to test how long can the vessel last and what complications may arise once in space. One of the famous Russian space experiments was putting Laika the dog up into space. Laika is a soviet space dog who was one of the first animals to make it into space—but did not return alive. She rode the Sputnik 2 and was sent 2,000 miles above into the Earth’s orbit. Russians made the dog involuntarily carry out a mission that also benefitted mankind.
#17. Rich literature culture
Russia has a rich culture in literature, as a matter of fact, many Russian authors have contributed greatly to their literary culture and are considered the country’s pride.
Russian authors even numerous Nobel prizes and brought honor to the country.
Famous Russian Literature:
- Day of the Oprichnik – written by Vladimir Sorokin
- War and Peace – written by Leo Tolstoy
- Fathers and Sons – written by Ivan Turgenev
#18. Russia has over 11 time zones!
Beware of Jetlags even though you are not traveling from one country to another, just different cities to another because Russia has 11 different time zones.
Time zones in Russia:
- Vladivostok: GMT 10:00, EST 15:00
- Srednekolymsk: GMT 11:00, EST 16:00
- Kamchatka: GMT 12:00, EST 17:00
- Kaliningrad: GMT 02:00, EST 07:00
- Moscow, St, Petersburg: GMT 03:00, EST 08:00
- Samara: GMT 04:00, EST 09:00
- Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk: GMT 07:00, EST 12:00
- Irkutsk: GMT 08:00, EST 13:00
- Yakutsk: GMT 09:00, EST 14:00
- Yekaterinburg: GMT 05:00, EST 10:00
- Omsk: GMT 06:00, EST 11:00
#19. Female Russian Figure Skaters are trained to perfection
One of the most anticipated Olympic games in Russia is the Women’s Figure Skating tournament. Russia is known to dominate the Ice rink for its amazingly beautiful and talented Figure Skaters. These ladies started off as kids and are trained hard in order to dominate Championships such as Grand Prix, and any other competition for skating in order to earn a ticket for the Olympics.
Rumors are said that the coaches of some female figure skaters are strict and always want to strive for perfection even though it means risking the health of the female figure skater. But some are still only rumors and were never proven to be true.
Some of the best Russian Female Figure Skater:
- Irina Slutskaya
- Alina Zagitove
- Evgenia Medvedeva
- Yekatarina Gordeeva
- Yulia Lipnitskaya
- Alexandra Trusova
- Alena Kostornaia
20. St. Petersburg is the heart of the cultural places in Russia
St. Petersburg is considered to be Russia’s heart or cultural heart. This city is more sophisticated looking rather than the famous Moscow. This city radiates the European vibe that’s why is it called the cultural center of arts and all in Russia. Also, it is called “northern Venice” because of the canals in the city, bridges, and many more.
This city has a lot of museums you can visit as well as libraries and theatres. If ever you will be going to this beautiful city, do not forget to visit the Hermitage museum wherein the rich and beautiful history and culture of Russia are shown.