Russia is truly an incredible country - it spreads across 11 time zones and it's the largest country in the world. Few things known about Russia include vodka, it’s a freezing country and the cold war, just to name a few. Although there are lots of tightly held secrets around Russia, there is still a lot to learn about this country. Now, it’s time to dive in and discover some mind-blowing facts about the biggest nation in the world.
1. Women Power
Although this country is ruled by a man, the men remain outnumbered. There is a published report in the year 2014 by Russia’s State Statistic Committee that showed the number of women living in Russia was 10.5 million more than that of the men.
Tatyana Moskalkova, who is a member of parliament mentioned that although, there is an equal number of boys and girls at birth but from the age of 30 upwards, males start passing away due to unfortunate incidents like war, car accidents, industrial trauma among other things.
2. Bodybuilding And Russia
Some very popular sports in the former Soviet Union include weightlifting and wrestling. Quite a number of Olympic champions have originated from this region. Powerlifting is also viewed as a popular sport, chose whether to believe it or not, these sports are not just for men.
Bodybuilders such as Julia Vins and Nadezhda Alexandrovna Yevstyukhina are some of the best-known names and Nadezhda Alexandrovna Yevstyukhina won gold medals in the 69kg category when she was only 17. Maryana Naumova was given the title of the youngest powerlifting world champion with 15 world records to her name and powerlifter, there is also Russian fitness icon Julia Vins.
3. The Lethal Icicles
Russia is renowned for its cold and freezing winters. Several historians often credit the unforgiving climatic condition for helping to make the jobs of invaders easier, especially those carried out by Napoleon's armies and later by Hitler.
The freezing temperatures tend to result in remarkably massive icicles. These icicles mostly hang from Moscow gutters, and they are so dangerously massive that even the pavements below are blocked off. If these icicles fall on a member of the public, they would presumably injure them. More than 150 individuals were wounded in St. Petersburg in 2010 owing to falling icicles.
4. Smile For A Reason
There is a Russian proverb that says that "Laughter for no reason is a sign of foolishness," which implies that if the occasion is not worth it, Russians will not smile.
When a Russian smiles, it is more or less for formality sake and out of sincerity.
5. Up Until 2011, Beer Was Not Regarded As An Alcoholic Beverage
At the moment, we’re all aware of Russians love for alcohol, so it's not really surprising that beer was not regarded an alcoholic drink for years and years. Legally, this did not change until 2011.
Up until the moment before the change in the law occurred, anything that had an alcohol content of less than 10 percent was regarded as a foodstuff. Even with all the new alcohol laws hitting the nation, beer sales are still up a whopping 30 percent! It looks like taking alcohol away from the Russians is going to be an uphill task.
6. If You Have A Beard, You Need To Pay Beard Tax
There is a bit of history to this and it’s pretty weird! In 1698, a few centuries ago, Emperor Peter 1 implemented a beard tax in Russia with the aim of enforcing a ban on the spotty look of long and hairy facial hair that many Russia wore.
To wear a beard, Russia men will have to pay a tax and if these payments cannot be made by these men, the police in Russia will apply force and publicly shave all the men’s beard off. You might ask the reason for these? Well, the Emperor wanted Russia men to have a look more similar to those of western European models.
7. Former Planet Pluto Is Smaller Than Russia
There used to be a planet called Pluto once. Well, no longer! It's still a fairly large mass of object out in space, though, but it is not as big as Russia! Okay, this ex planet is actually smaller than one of the countries of our world.
Russia, measured by land mass, is the biggest nation on Earth, reaching 17,098,322 square kilometers. That's pretty big! By contrast, Pluto is only 16,647,940 square kilometers. That implies that Russia is more than 400,000 square kilometers larger than the solar system's 10th largest mass. Awesome, huh?
8. There Are At Least 15 'Secret Cities' In Russia
Russia is speculated to have at least 42 secret cities; there are several of such across the world. No one really knows the names of these cities or where they are located; they are officially confidential and kept as a secret by the Russia government.
Visiting these cities are not allowed and you won’t find them on the maps either, a large number of these cities were previous places of chemical, metallurgy, and military industry and are called ZATO which means closed administrative-territorial entities. Try not to venture to these places.
9. Russians Love Their Athletics
If you need to talk about a country with a very rich history of competing in sports, most especially winter sports, look no further, Russia is that country. The most popular sport in Russia will have to be soccer. Some favorite sports also include Ice Hockey, tennis and athletics.
A large number of Russian athletics have become regular household names from professional tennis players like Anna Kournikova and Maria Sharapova who are now established international superstars to long jumper Darya Klishina and Ice Hockey player Sergei Fedprov.
10. The Walruses With The Heart Of Ice
Despite the cold climate, Russia has many famous beaches. Besides the fortress of Peter and Paul in St. Petersburg, there is a beach that is famous not only in the summer but also in the winter.
In the winter, Russians who have placed their trust in the therapeutic effects of freezing water throng to this beach. These Russians are commonly known as "walruses "— these animals that can be found in the Arctic and have the ability to slow down their heartbeat in order to withstand freezing water temperature degrees.
11. And The Beauty Pageant Winner Is…
The beauty contest called “Miss Russia” is known to showcase some of the most beautiful faces to the world; this contest has been running since 1992 with the winner ending up representing her country in both Miss World and Miss Universe.
But that’s not all there is to these Russian beauty queens, past winners have included a retired police officer, a power engineer, a global economic student and a cybernetic systems student and several ballroom dancers.
12. Quite A Number Of Cosmonauts Have Supposedly Been Lost
The story of the 150’s race to the moon which happened between Russia and the USA and the Cold War is known to many. Russia had quite a number of successes which spans across the first manned flight in 1961 with Yuri Gagarin and Sputnik in 1959.
Lots of sacrifices to reach the moon was made by both sides but there are also rumors flying around that suggests that Russia might have covered up lots of death that occurred during flights testing and accidents during launches. These people were called by a name: the lost cosmonauts. Their records have mostly been wiped off.
13. The Word “The” Is Absence In Russia
Russia is the eighth most spoken language in the world; it is also the largest native spoken language with an upward of 260 million people who are fluent in speaking this language across the globe.
A common unique feature of this language is the absence of “the” and “a”. You will not find a single person among its 260 million speakers who could say “Take me to the park” or construct a sentence to make a demand in Russia like, “I want an apple”.
14. There Is Never A Disagreement On One thing: Vodka
The love Russians have for Vodka is out of this world. They love alcohol all round but vodka is more of a national pride and favorite. Spending’s on alcohol alone during the holiday season can go as high as around $400.
There are around 23000 deaths from alcohol poisoning every year and this is not even counting alcohol-related homicides, assaults and suicides. The highest of these rates is found in Russia. Solutions such as prohibition have been proposed but this has not really worked.
15. Underground Sea Tunnels Linked To Alaska Are Being Built
Russia is pretty close to Alaska, a program is presently in full gear that would create 3 tunnels under the ocean linking the country of Russia and the state (Alaska). This project is known as the TKM-World Link.
The project, costing $65 billion, is regarded as one of the most incredible feats in engineering history ever. Several individuals question the practicality of building these tunnels, but others are of the opinion that it will eventually save billions in shipping expenses.
16. The Mystery Of The Amber Room
The Amber Room was a luxurious chamber with gold leaves and mirrors featuring amber panels. The room was once situated in "Tsarskoye Selo's" Catherine Palace close to Saint Petersburg.
The room was robbed by the invading Nazis during World War Two. Afterwards, it was moved to Königsberg which is a city in Germany where it will be rebuilt. Today, the Amber Room's fate remains a mystery.
17. Tourists Are Paying More
About 10,000 British travelers leave their nation each year to visit Russia. More than 90% of these foreign tourists mostly visit just two cities which are St. Petersburg and Moscow.
Russia charges both these tourists( from Britain) and other foreign visitors more than its residents. In order to tour the Hermitage Museum, for instance, tourists are charged 400 Rubles while Russians pay 350 Roubles. To visit the Peterhof Palace, an outsider will pay 550 Roubles while a Russian can see the same splendid palace for 400 Roubles.
18. A Simple Question
In America, it's all too prevalent to ask, "How are you?" The common response is really nothing more than a word which is often "great" or "good".
In Russia, a long and thorough response is expected when responding to the question of "How are you?” Shorten responses are considered impolite by Russians, and they are known to get worked up at clipped answers.
19. The city Of Billionaire
Both Hong Kong and London have 43 billionaire, New York City has 62 billionaires with a combined total wealth of 280 billion. Even with all these, none of these rich cities can match Moscow's numbers in term of billionaires from the city.
Moscow has 84 of the wealthiest individuals in the world. Together, their wealth towers to over $366 billion. Some of these billionaires include the owner of the Brooklyn Nets and Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, Mikhail Prokhorov, another man that falls under this group is Leonid Mickelson. Mickelson is the world's richest guy. His $14.4 billion comes from his gas and petrochemical business Sibur and the gas company Novatek.
20. Pipelines That Are Larger Than Planets
Russia is home to one of the world's biggest oil industries. Russia has the largest natural gas reserves and is also the largest exporter of natural gas.
Since Russia supplies a massive amount of petroleum and gas, these will require an abundance of pipelines. Put together, Russian pipelines are 259,913 kilometers long. The earth itself is only 40,075 kilometers in circumference. These imply that Russia's pipelines are capable of wrapping around the earth six times due to its length.
21. Need Protection From Fraud? Use Dash Cams
If you go online to any video website, you will discover some fairly far-off dash cam footage, most are from police vehicles. The rest of it, are you ready to hear this? Comes from a different variety of vehicles in Russia.
There are quite a number of people who stage accidents and claim falsely that they have been injured in order to get money, this makes dash cams quite vital as using them protects the driver and help detect fraud while also serving as evidence of forgery.
22. Moscow Has The Biggest McDonald's Chain In The World
In the year 1988, Moscow was given permission to build a McDonald's chain in its region and wasted no time or spared any expense in kicking off the project which turned out to be a huge success.
More than 5,000 people were there at the opening of the chain in 1990, and by the end of the day, more than 30,000 people were served, setting a new record. Several people waited in the queue for more than six (6) hours to have a taste.
23. Chess Masters
Chess has always been widely played in Russia for centuries. It is reported that "Czar Ivan IV" died while playing a game in 1584. The Bolsheviks later took over power in 1917 and made chess a national pass-time from this period.
Moscow held the first state-sponsored chess tournament in 291. By 1934, the state chess program had enrolled 500,000 Russians. Russians viewed chess as a symbol of their thoughts. It was a game that needed thorough thinking and planning. Today, more than half of the world's top 20 chess players come from Russia or a nation that once belonged to the Soviet Union.
24. The Lake That Can Kill You Under An Hour
Russia, just like any other nation, has a pollution issue. It's manageable for the most part; an exception to these will be Lake Karachay. Ensure you stay very far away, as it can literally kill you within an hour.
Lake Karachay is regarded to be the most polluted location on the entire earth, badly contaminated by neighboring nuclear installations. Standing near the coast for just an hour will poison anyone with terrible radiation, to the point of causing death.
25. A Location Where The Time Is Always 2:10 am
There is a very unique clock on the mantelpiece in Hermitage Palace's White Dining Room. The clock has been halted for nearly 100 years at 2:10 am.
The provisional government of Russia was detained by the Bolsheviks during the evening of October 25, 1917. It was at this time, at 2:10 am, that Russia emerged as a communist country.
26. Big Land, Big Lakes, Large Rivers
In terms of landmass, Russia is the biggest country in the world. It takes up around one-tenth of all the land on earth.
The largest river in Europe can also be found in Russia, the Volga River, and also, the deepest lake in the world, Lake Baikal. The Volga River is approximated to be around 2,300 miles long. Lake Baikal consists of nearly 20 percent of the world's fresh water supply.
27. Inventing The Helicopter
In 1924, French inventor Etienne Oehmichen constructed and flew a helicopter. Oehmichen's helicopter, however, traveled for only one kilometer. There would not be a helicopter capable of flying for a continuous period of time until Russian aviation great Igor Sikorsky will come into the picture.
As early as 1910, Sikorsky started working on building helicopters. By 1940, the VS-300 from Sikorsky became the blueprint from which all other helicopters were constructed. Sikorsky also drafted and assembled the first military helicopter, this was later supplied to the U.S. army.
28. Russia Has The Largest Number Of Casualties In The Second World War
World War II took an enormous toll on everyone who took part, but the war was especially brutal to Russia. The war's final death toll continues to be a topic of dispute everywhere and in every nation, but Russia definitely had the largest death toll of all.
During the war, Russia did some fairly amazing stuff – including facing and defending an entire front against the armies of the Germans. Unfortunately, they lost more than 30 million people, civilians included. This is almost 14 percent of their whole population.
29. A Half-Empty Glass
Russians are known to be quite good at holding their alcohol, so this is a pretty vital rule for those who go out for drinks with Russian friends – if you aren't that much of a drinker and you don't want to go back home walking with your head, do not let your cup run empty.
Generally, an empty cup indicates that you are prepared for the next drink in Russian culture, meaning your hosts can go ahead and fill it up again. You don't want to drink anything at all? Try to tell your drink mates that the doctor said you're not permitted to drink or even taste alcohol at all. It works perfectly and all the time.
30. The Country Where Bears Are Addicted To Sniffing Jet Fuel
Every location has its own share of environmental issues and Russia's is no exception. Several bears in this country have developed a powerful addiction to gasoline and kerosene present in jet fuel which is used by environmental employees and nature.
Many bears will go after power generators and helicopters with the hopes of searching for their fuel and sniffing them. They do these occasionally for minutes at a time. Once they are done, they lie down in the "nirvana" position and end up passing out from the inhaled fumes. For these brown bears, it's a sad life!
31. The Ushanka
The "ear flap hat" or better known as the Ushanka is a fur cap that was made in a way to safeguard the chin, ears and jaw of whoever wears it from wind and cold. This fuzzy, cozy hat is really common in colder climates, although it is mostly associated with Soviet Russia.
The Ushanka has become a feature of the winter uniform of many armed forces, including the Russian army. if you want people to believe you're hard? Keep the ear flaps of your Ushanka tied behind your head at all times, unless the temperature falls below 68 degrees. Without doing these, you would be perceived weak.
32. Russia Has A 'National Conception Day'
The population of Russia is dwindling quickly and this has not gone unnoticed. In 2005, Ulyanovsk's governor hatched a plan to deal with the decreasing population and proclaimed September 12 as the ”Day of Conception."
Couples are given half a day off from job to copulate on this day and it works. It was observed that during the month of June, birth rates largely triple every year, and couples who give birth closest to the date of June 12 – precisely nine (9) months later are celebrated with awards such as money, vehicles, and equipment.
33. The Theater Where Everyone Is A Cat
Welcome to the Moscow Cats Theater ladies and gentlemen where cats and dogs are not just pets or even the best friends of men, they are the actors and main attraction that make the theater run. More than 200 cats are working at the Moscow Cats Theater.
Just last year, with its distinctive productions, the theater celebrated its 25th anniversary of delighting theater-goers everywhere. It can take quite some time to put together the shows with these cats – one production was rehearsed for 2,5 years while another even took (7) years. However, many people consider it worth it!
34. The Purring Warden
This museum has artworks from the likes of Raphael, Michelangelo, and El Greco as well as a vast collection of antiques from across the globe, and you would expect their customers to pay unique attention to their prized exhibits.
It turns out that the custodial employees of the Hermitage Museum comprise not only of qualified personnel but also, a big amount of cats. These cats are well-cultured, they live inside the museum and even have their very own press secretary, including a number of caretakers whose job is to, well, keep the place free of mouse.
35. The Cathedral Of Saint Basil
In Moscow's Red Square, you will find a lovely, brightly colored church that literally looks like Candyland. This unusual architecture was constructed in the year 1561 and was originally designed to memorialize the capture of the cities of Astrakhan and Kazan.
The cathedral is built to look like roaring flames rising up into the sky. There is a legend behind the story of the church which states that after the church was completed by renowned architect Postnik Yakovlevhas, he was blinded by "Czar Ivan the Terrible", so he could never create anything as magnificent again.
36. A Conflict That Almost Resulted In A War Over Fish Farts
It is said that several scientific findings originate in strange ways, this undoubtedly should top the list. Russia and Sweden almost went to war with each other over some very childish fish noises and wound up making some intelligent discoveries.
During the 1980s, the Swedish Navy uncovered some strange underwater noises that they immediately thought were the sounds of hostile Russian submarines. Sweden later accused Russia of attempting to sabotage them which eventually lead to a conflict until it was uncovered that the sounds were merely fish farts. LOL!
37. Russia And Its Animals
The large landmass of Russia makes it an appealing place for many animals such as the Siberian tiger, the Siberian roe deer, and the Russian bear.
The Siberian tiger is the world's largest cat. They establish their home in Russia, in the Siberian Alps. As for Russian bear, the bear has been used as a symbol of authority and power by Russia since the 16th century.
38. Sharing A Bottle Of Pepsi
In the year 1959, Vice President Richard Nixon travelled to Russia to visit Premier Nikita Khrushchev, a televised debate was held which became known as the kitchen debate. The two men discussed various issues concerning the direction their respective countries is heading and the issues they might co-operate and not co-operate on.
The two men also shared a bottle of Pepsi while tackling serious issues. Soft drinks were nonexistent at this point in time and Pepsi was not a top-selling company like Coca-Cola but at present, Russia is Pepsi’s second-largest market helping it to acquire around 8% of its sales.
39. The Twin Stars Restaurant
Do you like strangely themed restaurants? If you do, you will love this. The Twin Stars restaurant in Moscow has a rather unique set of employees. To work here, you need to be part of a duo (twosome). You heard right, this restaurant only features identical twins as their staff and they clearly have to wear identical outfits while waiting on tables and serving beverages.
The quirky notion was influenced by a 1964 surreal Soviet movie called Kingdom of Crooked Mirrors which was about a girl and her twin sister who live in alternative realities, this is according to the restaurant owner Alexei Khodorkovsky. How enticing?
40. The Birth Of The Nutcracker
In the year 1891, the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was contracted to compose music for Alexandre Dumas's adaptation of the story of E.T.A. Hoffman, "the Nutcracker and the Mouse King."
Although “Nutcracker’s” first performance was not considered a success, the ballet would end up becoming one of the most popular ballets of all time. Tchaikovsky equally composed music for ballet classics such as Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty.
41. The Odd Flower
Russian tradition has lots of superstitions and beliefs that would seem strange to outsiders. One of those superstitious beliefs is about something that most individuals do in terms of gifts and happy occasions, for instance, giving flowers. If you want to give a loved one flowers, always ensure they are in odd numbers.
The explanation for this bizarre rule is that giving out even numbers of flowers is only done at funerals. Breaking this traditional rule is considered very rude, and you don't want to be that individual caught breaking it.
42. What Does “Red” Mean?
In the 16th century, the Red Square was constructed. It was originally built with the expectation of becoming Moscow's primary marketplace. The square became the location for many public statements and public celebrations. It will also become a place where Russian czar’s would hold their coronation ceremony every once in a while.
There are lots of people who believe that this name has to do with communism, but this is not accurate. The truth is that this name came from the term "krasnyi," which is another way of saying "beautiful."
43. Rescue The Hares
In the city of St. Petersburg, close to the bridge linked to the fortress of Peter and Paul, there is a statue of a small hare with a thoughtful look on its face. The sculpture is a monument to the sizeable amount of hares that formerly lived on the island that is presently occupied by Peter and Paul Fortress.
A large number of the hares perished in the floods that caused a brutal destruction to St. Petersburg during the 18th century and 19th century. Based on one legend, one hare was able to save itself by seeking shelter in the boot of Peter the Great.
44. The First Tsar
Ivan IV (aka Ivan the Terrible) became the first Russian ruler to officially assume the title of the czar in 1547. During the reign of Ivan, Russia started trading with England and extended the country westward.
Ivan IV went to war with both Sweden and Poland in order to have access to the Baltic Sea. He was initially successful but later lost the war and was compelled to return back the lands he had previously gained.
45. Dogs Also Use The Subway System
About 500 homeless dogs view Russia's subway stations as their home. Quite a number of these dogs have been tagged as "metro dogs" because of their ability to use Russia's metro system as a mode of transport.
According to an acclaimed Russian biologist, Dr. Andrey Poyarkov, these dogs use the subway to travel to town to source for food during the day and afterwards, they return back to the suburbs at night.