40 Surprising Facts About Russia

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For many decades Russia was closed off from the world, and nobody really knew what was going on over there. Once the Soviet Union fell, the country opened back up. Despite this, the country is still cloaked in mystery and a lot of people in the West don’t know what to make of Russia. Today we’re going to shine a light on this mystery country and reveal some facts about Russia that keep you on the edge of your seat.

The Most Polluted Place On Earth

Place right by the largest nuclear factory in all of Russia is Lake Karachy, the most polluted location on earth. The nuclear factory suffers a lot of nuclear leaks and meltdowns a year. All that slips right into the Techa River which flows right into Lake Karachy. Furthermore, the lake was filled with concrete as a method to prevent any nuclear waste from touching the shore.

Shamanism In Siberia

While most would suspect that Shamanism doesn’t exist these days, it is still thriving on an island in Siberia. Olkhon Island is one of the world’s last hotbeds for Shamanism. You can even find Shaman’s Rock on the islands western coast. If you find yourself in Russia, this is definitely something special that you should see.

Russia’s First McDonald’s

January 31, 1990, is a day that will live in the hearts of every Russian. It was on that the day that they got their first Mcdonald’s. it was opened up in the heart of Moscow, right in Pushkin Square. Given that the country was still being called the Soviet Union at the time, such a structure attracted the masses like nothing before. Thousands upon thousands lined up to get their first taste of the West.

Bear Addicts

The brown bears that live on the Kronotsky Nature Reserve in South Kanchatka have a little problem. They are addicted to kerosene and gas barrels used for aviation fuel used for power generators and helicopters. It is said that some of the bears go as far as to stalk helicopters with the hopes that they’ll get a sniff of kerosene that they drop on the forest floor when they fly.

The Cats At The Hermitage Museum

The Hermitage, is probably one of the most unique museums in all of Russia and the world. The St. Petersburg museum is home to over 70 cats. They protect all the artifacts from rodents who sneak into the museum. This is a tradition that started back in the 1700’s at the hands of Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter The Great, the founder of St. Petersburg.

Saint Basil’s Cathedral

People search all over Europe for the most beautiful cathedrals in the world. You don’t really have to look much further than Saint Basil’s Cathedral. Postnik Yakovlev was the man responsible for building it back in 1561. It has been stated that Ivan The Terrible blinded Postnik upon completing the marvel. That way he could never construct anything that would rival the structure’s beauty.

Fighting Low Population

In an effort to combat Russia’s low populations, in 2003 the government issued a holiday dedicated to bringing new babies into the world. Its called Day of Conception and it comes yearly on September 12th. This holiday has resulted in birthrates souring during June. Women who have their babies during the month of June are often rewarded with prizes like cars, money and household appliances.

World’s Longest Railway

It should surprise no one that the largest railroad in the world is in the largest country in the world. Yes, we’re talking about the Trans-Siberian railway. It crosses the entire country and goes from the European side of Russia all the way into the Asian Pacific coast. The ride takes approximately 152 hours and 27 minutes to complete.

Truth Behind Red Square

Red Square is one of the most famous monuments in all of Russia. Its beauty and size of these majestic structures attract millions of tourist a year. While people who have never been to Russia probably associate the name with the country’s checkered past, it actually has little to do with the Soviet Union. The translated name actually comes from the word krasnyi which once meant beautiful.

Women Rule Russia

While Russian men do play up the macho role, it is the women that are really running things. There are approximately 11 million more women in Russia than there are men. The life expectancy for women in Russia is about 75. The male population’s expectancy is significantly lower. It is known that Russian women have more freedom than most girls around the world.

Subbotnik: The Day When Everyone Cleans

Imagine how clean the world would be if every once in a while the residents of a city or country would gather together and do a massive clean. Sounds crazy, right? While this idea isn’t as farfetched as you might think. In Russia, they have Subbotnik, a day when residents in every city and town gather together and clean up the city. This tradition started during the Russian Revolution and has carried on all the way until today.

Fallen Monument Park

Between 1922 and 1991 Russia was ruled by the Soviet Union. All over the country stood statues of Soviet heroes like Lenin and Stalin. When the Soviet Union fell, one has to wonder what happened to all those statues. While some were destroyed, a bulk of them are currently standing in Fallen Monument Park in Moscow. These relics from the past are quite the marvel.

The Amber Room

Catherine Palace of Tsarskoye Selo is located near St. Petersburg and it was once the home of the beloved Amber Room. This chamber was glamorous beyond belief with amber panels, gold leaf, and gold mirrors. During World War 2 the room fell into the hands of the Nazis. It was taken to Königsberg to be rebuilt. That was the last anyone ever heard of the Amber Room. Today nobody knows what happened to this amazing room.

Cloakroom Love

People in Russia love cloakrooms. Most respectable businesses will have cloakrooms within. Don’t expect to get far inside of a bar, restaurant, museum or gallery without being asked to put your coat and hat in one of these cloakrooms. The masterminds behind the cloakrooms are baboushkas. It’s actually pretty amazing to see these elderly women work so efficiently.

Whale Bone Alley

Yittygran Island is easily one of the most beautiful islands in all of Russia. Due to the large amass of whale bones on the island’s North Shore, it has garnered the name of Whale Bone Alley. The bones aren’t just laying around and collecting dust, they are decorated in an amazing fashion. The rib cage stands over a trail and creates this great tunnel effect and the skulls are unique in how they are positioned to look in certain directions. How the bones got there is a mystery, but many believe that old village people put them there as a shrine to the whales they’d catch and eat.

 

The World’s Most Beautiful Metro

Moscow’s Metro system is known for being the most beautiful in the world. The ceilings are often decorated in art and the ground is often squeaky clean. Each one shines as an individual artistic gem. What’s even more fascinating about the subways in Moscow is the mysterious Metro-2 which links to a number of secret military bunkers. It hasn’t been confirmed but in Russia anything is possible.

Russia’s Ice Swimming Craze

For over one hundred years, Russians have been diving into waters during minus 22-degree weather.  While most say its a tradition signaling the official start of winter, other say they do it because it rejuvinates the health. 76-year-old Jitka Tauferova has stated in her own worlds how ice swimming has changed her life. “The last time I had flu was 25 years ago and my back pain disappeared. Better blood circulation improves healing broken bones, and my heart is like a hammer. I feel great.”

Russia’s Creepy Underwater Creatures

Roman Fedortsov, a Russian deep sea fisher based in Northwest Russia has made quite the name for himself by posting on his twitter some of the strangest catches he had ever come across. These creatures have absolutely shocked the world. He has found new species of sharks, fish with razor sharp teeth and even sea spiders,

Fishing Culture In Russia

Russia is a country full of lakes, rivers, and seas. That said, they have always had a love for fishing and fish has always been a huge part of the Russian diet. While there are tons of ways to go about fishing Russia, the popular method is ice fishing. In weather that can sometimes be minus 20 degrees, a hole is cut in the ice via an ice saw, an auger or a chisel. The fish are then lured to the rods through bait that consists of fat heads, wax worms, and crappies. While in the United States fishing is predominately a man’s world, in Russia women love it just as much as men and it isn’t rare to see them on the ice,

Rabbit Populations

Once you cross the bridge from St. Petersburg to the Peter and Paul Fortress, you will see a number of rabbit statues. These rabbits are tributes to the high number of rabbits that used to populate the island throughout the 18th and 19th century. The island faced many floods during this time and the rabbits were constantly fighting for their lives. Today there aren’t many rabbits left, but the island is swamped with their statues.

Avoiding Icicles

While icicles are extremely beautiful, you won’t find any Russian citizens walking under them. In Russia, icicles reach record sizes and are a marvel, but people who get hit by them usually get seriously injured. That said, the pavements below them are usually blocked off in an attempt to keep people away from the icicles.

Beating Moscow Traffic

Given the harsh weather conditions that often plague Russia, big cities like Moscow often get a hopeless amount of traffic. Some will be stuck in their cars for hours, but not everyone has to be stuck waiting. The rich in Moscow often just call an ambulance to open the traffic for them. This way they can beat the traffic while everyone else has to just sit back in their cars and watch.

Laika The Space Dog

Going around Moscow, you will find two statues of dogs. One is a bronze dog with a shiny nose. You’ll find him at Ploshchad Revolutsii metro station and when you see him, you should touch his nose for good luck. Another dog monument is to Laika, the space dog. She was sent to space in 1957 and pretty much paved to the way for human space explorers. Unfortunately, Laika didn’t survive her mission, but she is highly respected in Russian society. 61 years after her passing and people still place flowers on her monument.

 

Flower Complications

If you find someone you fancy in Russia and decide to buy them some flowers, make sure you always give them an odd number of flowers. This is a very delicate matter in the former Soviet country. You’ll find that an even number of flowers is only acceptable at funerals. Make sure to always go odd.

 

No Doorway Hand Shakes

Like it any other country, upon meeting someone new a Russian will shake their hands. That said, they will never do so under a doorway. They believe that doing so is a bad omen and one that will likely lead to a fight between the two parties. This is definitely something to remember when you find yourself in Russia.

The Lungs Of Europe

Russia’s forest is right up there with South America’s rain forest. This is due to them absorbing huge amounts of carbon dioxide. Thanks to the essential contributions they have been nicknamed the lungs of Europe. If anything were to happen to these forests, Europe would never be the same.

New Years

The biggest holiday in Russia is New Years. You won’t find anyone working on New Years because the whole country is celebrating. New years isn’t a one-day celebration either, they party for an entire week until Christmas on the 7th of January. While those initial six days are all about hardcore partying, gift exchanging and dining, Christmas is all about family.

Russia’s Stock Market

There is a great source of wealth in Russia. 78 billionaires live in Moscow. That is more than anywhere else in the entire world. That said, Russia’s entire stock market is worth less than Apple. While Russia’s entire stock market adds up to about $513 billion while Apple alone is worth $652 billion.

The Founders Of Tetris

When people think back to the game Tetris, they instantly think back to the 1980’s and the boom impact it made when it was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Little do most know, Tetris isn’t a Japanese creation, it’s actually the first piece of entertainment software to be imported from the Soviet Union to the United States. It was created by Alexey Pajitnov, a Russian scientist and game developer.

Japanese Origin Of Matryoshka Dolls

While these dolls are often associated heavily with Russia, they actually have quite the Japanese connection. While the creator of the Matryoshka doll,  Sergey Malyutin was looking for a design for a Russian doll, he was given a Japanese Daruma doll and inside of it were many other Daruma dolls. Taking inspiration from the Daruma doll, Sergey created the first ever Matryoshka doll in 1890.

Oymyakon: The Coldest Town On Earth

If you head to the Yakutia region in Siberia, you will uncover Oymyakon, the coldest town on earth. The people who live here are nothing short of strong. The average winter can see temperatures of -58°F. There coldest recorded winter came in 1938. Temperatures reached a stunning -108°F. How the Oymyakon residents made to the spring is beyond me.

Petergof: The World’s Most Luxurious City

Halfway through the 18th century Peter the Great wanted a city created that would make Versailles look like a slum. That said he had Petergof made. The city is alive with over four huge cascades and over 150 breathtaking fountains. You find anything more beautiful than the Bolshoy cascade. The cascade homes over 64 fountains and 225 bronze statues.

Helicopter Golf

Russia loves to do things bigger, so while America is playing golf with their arm strength, a stick and a golf cart, Russian’s are using helicopters. Players guide a three feet tall ball down a snowy route with a helicopter with a giant mallet that’s attached to the chopper. The player drives the chopper all around the course. Doesn’t this sound so much more fun than regular golf?

Russians And Their Superstitions

Russian’s are a very superstitious people. Walking under a ladder, breaking a mirror or removing anything from the house at night will startle any Russian. In ancient times, they used to send a cat into their newly built house before anyone else because they believed that the first person to enter a house would be the first to die. A cat has nine lives, so they wouldn’t be harming it by sending it in. If the cat refused to enter, they would take the house apart and build it somewhere else.

City With The Most Bridges

When one thinks about a city with an endless amount of waterways and bridges, their eyes usually turn to Venice, Italy. That said, Saint Petersburg actually has three times the amount of bridges. The city has often been deemed as the “Venice of the North”. Many are even quick to say that this massive city much more romantic than Venice.

Russian Families Are Very Close

If you get into a serious relationship with a Russian woman or man, you will be treated as if you are part of the family. It is a tradition for Russians to support their closest and dearest ones. Given the bumpy past, most Russians are used to putting their necks out for their loved ones and they still do so till this day. If in a serious relationship with a Russia, expect their parents tp treat you like a son or daughter.

Russia Vs Pluto

Russia is the biggest country in the world. No doubt the lands cover not 0nly a mass amount of landscapes and cities, but also a huge amount of secrets. One of the most shocking facts about this nation is that the country alone is almost as big a Pluto. Russia is 17 million sq km while Pluto is 17.6 million sq km.

The Struggle Is Real

Russia and the United States have always been in a kind of rivalry with one another. During the Cold War tensions were very heated between the two nations. Both are very different, yet also very close. For instance, Big Diomede Island is a part of Russia and Little Diomede Island is a part of America. The two islands stand only two miles away from each other.

The Struggle Is Real

While Russia is a country of immense riches and limitless beauty, there are a few people who never see this side of life. Studies have shown that 17 million people are currently living under the poverty line in Russia. That means over 12% of the country’s population is currently making below $220 dollars a month. While Moscow is beautiful, it is said to have a huge number of beggars on the streets.

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