Russia isn’t easy to travel around in. This is one reason we decided to join G Adventures on their 8 days Golden Ring of Russia trip. The first time we encountered an actual language barrier and some cultural shock.
The world is different in Russia. For every harrowing moment we’ve had, we were rewarded with three amazing experiences that left us wondering what we had been resentful about initially. Travelling with G Adventures CEO (Chief Experience Officer) Daria made things much easier.
In addition to acting as translator, Daria was a storyteller who told stories after stories about the experiences of being a child in Russia. In the absence of the recording device, I’d probably never remember everything she said.
Interesting Facts About Russia
1. Russia is the biggest country in the world. It is also larger than Pluto.
It encompasses seventeen million square kilometres, of which Siberia is 77%. It extends so far across all over the world it Russia has 11 time zones. Russia is home to about 144 million.
2. The name given to Russia’s famed Red Square has nothing to be related to communism.
The word comes from”Krasnyi,” which initially references beauty.
3. Russia utilized the Julian calendar until 1918.
This calendar is twelve days behind the Gregorian calendar. In the end, Russia’s Russian Olympic Team arrived 12 days behind the 1908 Olympic Games held in London. It is believed that the Russian Orthodox Church still uses the traditional Julian calendar.
4. Russia and the US, are only 4km away at the closest point.
It is the difference between the two islands Little Diomede (United States) and Big Diomede (Russia), that sit in the Bering Strait, which is the channel that connects Russia as well as Alaska. Thee ice bridge is formed between the two island in the winter months; however,r, crossing it isn’t legal. Alaska was once part of Russia, but the Russians sold it to Americans at USD 7.2mn in 1867.
5. Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first human to orbit the earth.
As he circled the earth for 108 minutes in the year 1961. In 1967, Russia also created the first satellite globally, Sputnik.
6. Two Russian Cosmonauts are more space-based than anyone else
Gennady Padalka broke records in 2015 by logging an average of 879 days in space, spread across five space flights. She broke the previous record established by Sergei Krikalev with 803 days, 9 hours and 39 minutes, spread over six space missions.
7. Russia has about 20 % of all the planet’s forests and one-fifth of all freshwater in the world comes located in Lake Baikal.
Lake Baikal is the largest and deepest freshwater lake in the world. It’s located just north along the Mongolian border in the south-eastern part of Siberia. The lake’s length is 644 km (400 miles) and is approximately 1632.7m (5,000ft) and deep. Russia has a forest of 640 million trees. More than 50% of the country is covered in forest. The last remaining wild forests of Europe comprise vast areas of Siberia where the threatened Siberian Tiger.
8. The word”tsar” comes in the Latin word “caesar”.
The first Tsar or Emperor from Russia, Ivan IV, more popularly known by Ivan the Terrible, was named emperor in 1547. The last Tsar was Nicholas II, who was executed in 1918.
9. The Russian Revolution wasn’t one but two revolutions.
In 1917, during the February Revolution, some protests and riots were violent in Petrograd (now St Petersburg) and a temporary government was appointed to replace Tsar Nicholas. In 1917, the October Revolution (effectively a coup of etat) 1917 was the year of the birth of Soviet Russia and the time that Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks (from the Russian bolshinstvo, which means a majority) assumed control. After this revolution, Saint Petersburg ceased being the capital city of the Russian Empire in 1918 after having held the title for over 200 years.
10. An hourly clock situated in St Petersburg marks the exact moment when Russia was made communist.
The mantelpiece clock within the White Dining Room in the Hermitage Palace stopped at 2.10 am on the night of October 25, 1917. This was when the government of the interim, which had been still in power following the Revolution of February, was detained in the hands of Bolsheviks.
11. There are more than 100 languages spoken in Russia.
The language of the state is Russian, which is the primary and only language spoken by more than 90% of all the people. There are over 100 minor languages, with the primary one being Tatar 3.3% of the population speaks Tatar. Other languages spoken by minorities comprise Bashir, Circassian, Chechen, Chuvash, Dolgang, German, Mordvin, and Ukrainian. The majority of minority speakers can also be found speaking Russian.
12. Russia is the only country to have domesticated one breed of fox.
Russian researchers, led by geneticist Dmitry Belyaevat at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk,, discovered that a species could be controlled by breeding a single animal’s behaviourl in less than 50 years. The domesticated Siberian foxes are well-behaved and easily trainable, but they are also costly.
13. In 45 years during the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the USA did not fight in a confrontation.
Instead, each side financed conflicts around the globe and accumulated nuclear arsenals (the arms race) and competed with each other in the space arena for dominance. The Cold War ended in 1991 with Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev’s Glasnost and Perestroika reforms, the disintegration of the USSR, and the establishment of 15 independent republics.
14. More than 70 cats wander through the marbled corridors that make up The Hermitage situated in St Petersburg
Be on the lookout for aggressive mouse swarms. The cats were there from the period of Empress Elizabeth, her daughter Peter the Great, who decreed that the cats went to court in 1745. Three volunteers are currently looking for the cats. The cats even own their kitchen as well as a small hospital.
15. Russia is home to the largest arsenal of nuclear technology globally.
With around 7,700 warheads, it is home to about half nuclear weapons currently in use (the US has the second-largest arsenal).
16. RussianRussian researchers have restored a plant’s life that went extinct around 32,000 years ago.
The tiny fruit of an archipelago flower, the campion with a narrow leaf, was buried within the caves of an Arctic ground squirrel and then froze hard on the Siberian tundra until the discovery of new excavation. Scientists have thawed cells of the placenta (the portion of the fruit responsible for the production of seeds) and then grew the cells into complete plants.
17. The radiation coming from the Russian Lake Karachay would kill you within one hour.
Lake Karachay, in the southern Ural Mountains in eastern Russia, was a dump site to dispose of radioactive waste for many years. It’s probably the most polluted spot on the planet.
18. The largest collection of items relating to squirrels is attributed to Russian Pavel Gerasimov.
There are more than 1,100 items, including an actual gold statuette of a squirrel.
19. Russians are the fourth-largest drinkers and drinkers, drinking 15.1 Liters per person each year.
Only Belarus, Moldova and Lithuania only Lithuania, Moldova and Belarus beat Russia. Vodka has been the single most loved drink (the word vodka comes from the word “voda,” which is a water word), and beer (the second most loved) was first officially recognized as an alcoholic drink in the year 2013. Before that, any drink that contained less than 10% alcohol was thought to be a food item.
20. Russian women have a longer life span of 12 years than Russian males.
The average life expectancy of Russian males is 64.7 years, and 76.57 years for Russian women (2015 estimation). Women are also more numerous than males: about 10 million more females than males in Russia.
21. The well-known Trans-Siberian railroad is considered the longest single railroad in the world.
That covers 9,200 km (5 700 miles) between Moscow from European Russia to Vladivostok on the Pacific coast of Asia. The non-stop journey is about 152,27 minutes.
22. Peter the Great wanted to change the Russian lifestyle, so the tax on beards was imposed in 1698.
He instructed all men who had moustaches (except clergymen) to be clean-shaven or pay a fine that was 100 rubles. The ones who paid the tax were presented with the token in copper, which featured a moustache and beard, as well as the words “the beard is an unnecessary burden’.
23. More billionaires reside in Moscow more than any other city in the world, after New York.
Based on the Huran Global Rich List 2015, Russia has a total of 93 billionaires (those who have assets worth greater than USD 1,000,000,000). This is the fourth-highest number of billionaires around the globe, following those of the US, China and India. Many Russian billionaires’ fortunes have decreased over the last few years due to many factors, not just the fall in global oil prices. A few wealthy Russians use fake ambulances to ensure that other drivers allow them to navigate the city’s notorious traffic congestion.
24. The Volga is Europe’s longest river with 3,690 km (2,293 miles), and it has more than 200 branches.
All of this adds to an astounding total of 357,000km (221,800 miles).
25. The Russian village of Oymyakon is considered the coldest town on earth.
The Siberian community of Oymyakon was a victim of a temperature drop down to -68 C on February 6, 1933. It’s the only place in Antarctica that is warmer! It’s cold in Russia as well. The icicles hanging from several of the structures in Moscow are so large that people have to enclose the streets below to stop the icicles from striking pedestrians below.
26. A Russian peasant woman holds the record in the world for the birth of a child. Based on the Guinness Book of World Records, numerous accounts from the present day reveal that a Mrs Vassilyev (1707–c.1782) was the mother of 16 sets of twins. She also had seven couples of triplets and a quadruplet set of four. The majority of them didn’t make it through infancy.
27. The revenue from exports and oil production is more than 50% of the federal budget’s revenue.
Russia is the largest manufacturer of crude oil and the second-largest supplier of natural gas (after the US). The state-run gas monopoly Gazprom (GazovayaPromyshlennost) is the largest producer and exporter of natural gas globally.
28. The body of Lenin can be seen inside Lenin’s Mausoleum. Lenin Mausoleum is located in Moscow’s Red Square.
In the wake of Lenin’s death on January 21 1924, Russian experts experimented with embalming techniques to preserve his body; they’ve been adjusting the methods ever since. Scientists have re-embalmed Lenin’s corpse every at least once every year.
29. Everybody was an atheist during the Soviet Union
However, today about 15% of Russians declare themselves to be Russian Orthodox, 10-15 per cent declare they are Muslim, and 2 per cent are of other Christian faiths. The actual numbers are likely to be greater as there are some non-practising Christians which is a reminder of Soviet rule when those who adhered to religion were subjected to persecutory and discrimination.
30. Russian mathematics professor Christian Goldbach posed the world’s longest-running, current maths puzzle in 1742.
There has never been any attempt to verify or disprove Goldbach’s Conjecture that “every even positive integer larger than 3 is the sum of 2 (not necessarily different) Primes’. Answers on a postcard do not hesitate to send them.