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16 Fascinating Facts About Russia That Will Blow Your Mind

FUN FACTS May 17, 2018 By Hugo

From Moscow's bright lights to Siberia's ancient tribes, the world's biggest country is a glorious mishmash of modernism and traditionalism, yet the country often makes the news for all the wrong reasons. 

Shutterstock/ spaxiax

This is incredibly unfortunate as Russia is home to an array of cultural delights and boasts a long and varied history that has inspired countless works of arts.

Here are 16 surprising facts about Russia you might not know. 


1. The capital's famous Red Square did not get its name from communism

While media outlets like to associate Russia with all-things communist- despite the breakup of the Soviet Union occupying almost 30 years ago- the country's cities are like most others in Europe. Contrary to popular belief, even the naming of the famous Red Square isn't related to communism.

Wikimedia

Red Square actually derives from the word "krasnyi", which once meant beautiful. It has nothing to do with the red budenovka hat that became an archetypal part of the Communist military uniforms during the civil war.


2. Russians are the world's fourth-heaviest drinkers

While we are by no means encouraging stereotypes, it isn't much of a surprise to know that Russians, according to information from the WHO, are the world's fourth-heaviest drinkers! 

Shutterstock/ grafvision

What's more, the country's national drink, vodka, derives from the word "voda", which means "water." No wonder they can drink most people under the table. 


3. The sub-zero temperatures don't phase Russians

Due to its northern, geographical standing, Russia is one of the coldest countries in the world, and in rural parts of the country, temperatures have been known to be less than -40 degrees Celsius.

Shutterstock/ Carlos Amarillio

But Russians are used to the harsh conditions, and consider it wimpy if someone lowers the ear flaps on their Ushanka (fur hat) unless the temperature is below -20C.


4. A Russian traffic jam is like no other 

Major metropolises have long suffered from traffic jams, and Russia's capital, Moscow is no exception.

Shutterstock/ lipskiy

So bad can it get that wealthy Russians have been known to hire ambulances so they can bypass the traffic!


5. Foreigners pay higher entrance fees for many attractions 

Under the "discounts for Russian citizens" scheme, natives and citizens can pay a significantly reduced fee, which is fair enough when you consider that most tourists who can afford a plane journey and a hotel, can also afford to pay a higher entry fee to famous attractions.

Shutterstock/ Ruslan Lytvyn

You may not think it fair, but if it allows more impoverished Russians to experience their culture and history, then you can't really argue with the scheme.


6. Russian McDonald's serve a dish you can't buy in America 

The McShrimp is served across the fast food retailer's various Russian outlets, and according to many Internet users, it is actually quite good.

YouTube/ McDonald's

A perfect substitute for fries, it can also be used as a side dish to accompany your scrumptious Big Mac.


7. The world's most terrifying walkway is located in Krasnaya Polyana valley

At 439-meters long, the Sky Bridge is one of the world's most spine-chilling walkways and is one of many attractions at Sochi's SkyPark.

YouTube/Biru Saraswati

Other rides that we recommend vertigo sufferers avoid include the "MegaTroll" zip-wire ride, which whisks you 700 meters in the air at speeds of 90mph. The park also boasts "the highest swing in the world."


8. Padlock trees are a regular feature in and around Moscow

Paris may be considered the City of Love, but Russians are just as soppy when it comes to dealing with their emotions, so much so that various padlock trees are found in the capital.

Shutterstock/ John Santoro

Couples place love-lock padlocks on trees to express their love, mimicking the tradition of Parisians and tourists who visited Paris's Pont des Arts bridge before the local council removed all of them. 


9. There are 11 million more women than men

Model scouts have long scoured Russia to find the next top female model, and with many possessing striking features, tall and slender bodies, and natural, platinum blonde hair, that isn't surprising. But their job is made a lot easier when you consider that the country boasts 11 million more women than men!

Shutterstock/ magicinfoto

While there are many good looking Russian men, it's little wonder they aren't held in the same esteem as their female counterparts!


10. A restaurant in Moscow is staffed entirely by twins

Twin Stars restaurant in Moscow claims to be the only one of its kind to employ identical twins. Each set of twins sports matching attire, and judging by the BBC report on the establishment, are often very good looking.

Shutterstock/ Lightfield Studios

The owner claims he was inspired by a 1960s Soviet-era film The Kingdom of Crooked Mirrors, which sees a girl cross into an alternate world and find her twin. 


11. Russia has more time zones than any other country

Being the largest country in the world means a whole host of time zones are going to exist across its 17.1m square kilometers, and in Russia's case,  11 different time zones exist- more than any other country!

Shutterstock/ New Africa

To put things in perspective, Moscow, which is situated in the east of the country, is 9 hours behind the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, which is closer to Japan than it is Moscow.


12. Russia is home to the coldest inhabited place on Earth

It should come as little surprise that a place as cold as Russia is home to the coldest populated place on Earth. Located along the Indigirka River, 19 miles northwest of the more populous rural locality of Tomtor, Oymyakon's 500 inhabitants regularly endure death-defying temperatures.

Wikimedia

Unbelievably, on February 6, 1933, a temperature as low −67.7 °C was recorded at its weather station. Waking up in the morning must be a real drag...


13. The famous museum The Hermitage is home to around 70 cats

The glitzy Saint Petersburg museum The Hermitage has kept up a longstanding reputation of housing over 70 cats to guard its treasures against rodents.

Shutterstock/ rianews

The tradition goes back to a 1745 decree of Empress Elizabeth (daughter of Peter the Great).


14. Adolf Hitler planned to mark his victory celebrations in the Astoria Hotel

The grandiose Astoria hotel in St Petersburg is where history's most evil tyrant, Adolf Hitler, intended to host a celebratory banquet once he'd conquered the city.

Shutterstock/Pukhov K

However, while the Germans conquered many European cities, they failed miserably when making inroads in Russia, and Hitler never did realize his dream of dining there.


15. Russia's literacy rate is among the highest in the world

Russia doesn't only boast a host of world-class academic institutions- it also one of the world's most impressive literacy rates.

Shutterstock/Chinnapong

A staggering 99.7% of the population can read and write by age 15, bettering the likes of America and Britain.


16. Russia's fashion industry is world-renowned 

While London, Paris, New York, and Milan are considered the fashion capitals of the world, Moscow is also a big player, and not just for the incredible amount of top female models it produces.

Pinterest

In fact, the designers are equally as lauded. From Syndicate of High Fashion member Valentin Yudashkin to Disney's favorite creative collaborator, Alexander Terekhov, their designs are ubiquitous throughout the country, from the well-dressed Moscovites to the uber-cool and trendy artists working in Saint Petersburg. 

As you can see from the photo above, even members of the military are dressed to impress!


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