How well do you know the Russians? This mix of informative and interesting facts will prepare you for living in Russia, or test your Russian knowledge!
1. Russia is the largest country in the world and bigger than Pluto.
Russia covers an area of 17 million square kilometers, of which Siberia makes up 77%. It stretches so far around the globe that Russia has 11 different time zones. Russia has a population of around 144 million people.
2. The name of Russia’s famous Red Square has nothing to do with communism
But comes from the word krasnyi which originally meant beautiful.
3. Russia used the Julian calendar until 1918.
This calendar is 12 days behind the Gregorian calendar. As a result, the Russian Olympic Team arrived 12 days late to the 1908 Olympic Games held in London. The Russian Orthodox Church still uses the old Julian calendar.
4. Russia and the US are just 4km apart at the nearest point.
This is the distance between two islands Little Diomede (United States) and Big Diomede (Russia) that lie in the middle of the Bering Strait, the channel between Russia and Alaska. In the middle of winter, an ice bridge forms between the two places but walking across it is illegal. Alaska itself was once part of Russia; the Russians sold it to the Americans for USD 7.2mn in 1867.
5. Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first human in space
When he orbited the earth in a 108-minute flight in 1961. In 1967 Russia also launched the world’s first satellite, Sputnik.
6. Two Russian cosmonauts have spent more time in space than any other person
Gennady Padalka broke the record in 2015 with a total of 879 days in space over five space flights, taking the record previously held by Sergei Krikalev with 803 days, 9 hours and 39 minutes over six space flights.
7. Russia is home to some 20 percent of the world’s trees, and one-fifth of the world’s freshwater is in Lake Baikal.
Lake Baikal is the largest and deepest freshwater lake in the world, and situated north of the Mongolian border in south-eastern Siberia; the lakes stretches 644km (400 miles) and is around 1,637m (5,000ft) deep. Russia is also home to 640 billion trees; almost half of the country is forest. These last wild forests of Europe include vast swathes of Siberia, home to the endangered Siberian tiger.
8. The word tsar comes from the Latin word ‘caesar
The first Tsar or emperor of Russia, Ivan IV, better known now as Ivan the Terrible, was crowned in 1547. The last was Tsar Nicholas II who was executed in 1918.
9. The Russian Revolution wasn’t one but two revolutions.
In the 1917 February Revolution, there were violent demonstrations and riots in Petrograd (now St Petersburg) and a provisional government replaced Tsar Nicholas. The October Revolution (effectively a coup d’etat) in 1917 marked the beginning of Soviet Russia, when Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks (from the Russian bolshinstvo meaning ‘majority’) took control. Following the revolution, Saint Petersburg ceased being the capital of the Russian Empire in 1918 after holding the title for more than 200 years.
10. A clock in St Petersburg marks the exact moment that Russia became communist.
The clock on the mantelpiece in the White Dining Room in the Hermitage Palace stopped at 2:10am on the night of 25 October 1917. this was when the provisional government, in power since the February revolution, were arrested by the Bolsheviks.
11. There are over 100 languages in Russia.
The official language is Russian and it’s the first and only language of just over 80 percent of the population. There are more than 100 minority languages, the main one being Tatar; 3% of the country speaks Tatar. Other minority languages include Bashir, Circassian, Chechen, Chuvash, Dolgang, German, Mordvin, and Ukrainian. Most people who speak a minority language also speak Russian.
12. Russia has domesticated a species of fox.
Russian scientists led by Geneticist Dmitry Belyaevat the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk, showed that a species could be tamed by breeding on behaviour alone in just over 50 years. The domesticated Siberian foxes are friendly and trainable – and extremely expensive.
13. During the 45 years of the Cold War the Soviet Union and the USA never fought each other directly.
Instead, each side funded wars around the world, built up nuclear weapons (the arms race) and vied for supremacy in space. The Cold War ended in 1991 with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s Glasnost and Perestroika reforms, the collapse of the USSR, and the founding of 15 independent republics.
14. Over 70 cats roam the 14 miles of marbled corridors of The Hermitage in St Petersburg
On the lookout for marauding mice there were cats there since the time of Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great, who decreed the cats come to court in 1745. Today, three volunteers look after the cats. They even have their own kitchen and small hospital.
15. Russia has the biggest nuclear arsenal in the world
With an estimated 7,700 warheads, it holds just under half of all the nuclear weapons in existence (the US has the second biggest store).
16. Russians scientists have brought back to life a plant that became extinct 32,000 years ago.
The fruit of a tiny arctic flower, the narrow-leafed campion, was stored away in the burrow of an arctic ground squirrel, and lay frozen hard in the Siberian tundra until a recent excavation. Scientists thawed cells from the placenta (the part of the fruit that produces seeds) and grew them into whole plants.
17. The radiation emanating from Russia’s Lake Karachay would kill you in an hour
Lake Karachay, in the southern Ural Mountains in eastern Russia, was a dumping ground for radioactive waste for years. It’s possibly the most polluted place on earth.ountry in the world and bigger than Pluto. It covers an area of 17 million square kilometers, of which Siberia makes up 77%. It stretches so far around the globe that Russia has 11 different time zones. Russia has a population of around 144 million people.