Russia Facts
Russia Facts

56 Epic Facts about Russia

Tayja Kuligowski
By Tayja Kuligowski, Junior Writer
Published October 14, 2017
  • Russia is the largest country by land mass in the world. At 6.5 million square miles (17 million square km), Russia is 1.8 times larger than the United States and is slightly larger than Pluto, which is only 6.1 million square miles (16.6 square km).[3][12]
  • As of 2014, Russia's stock market is worth less than the company Apple. While Apple is worth US$652 billion, Russia's stock market is valued at only $513 billion.r[18]
  • Moscow, the capital city of Russia, is home to 78 billionaires, the most of any other city in the world.[8]
  • Russia is the 4th largest consumer of alcohol per capita in the world after Moldova, Czech Republic, and Hungary. Russians drink about 5 gallons (18 liters) of pure alcohol per year, which is twice the recommended limit. About 90% of alcohol consumption is by males.[4]
  • Russia is the leading exporter of oil and natural gas, and 60% of Russian export is oil. Russia's oil and gas pipelines could wrap around the Earth 6 times.[4][16]
  • Russian Poverty
    Beggars are common in the streets of Moscow
  • About 17 million people live below the poverty line in Russia, with more than 12% of the population making less than $220 per month.[8]
  • In 1957, the USSR launched the first satellite, dubbed Sputnik into space. In 1961, the USSR launched Yuri Gagarin (1934-1968) into space in the Vostok spacecraft, making him the first man to orbit the Earth.[1][13]
  • Alcohol poisoning kills 40,000 Russians per year. For Russian males, 1 out of 5 deaths is alcohol related.[8]
  • 11. Three times more Russians die from heart-related illnesses each year than Americans or Europeans.[8]
  • Vodka may be derived from the Russian word for water, voda, as is popular belief, but some question if it is actually derived from the Polish word wódka, as the alcoholic drink may have originated from Poland rather than Russia.[8]
  • Beer was not considered an alcoholic beverage in Russia until 2013.[3]
  • The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, is comprised of 6 buildings with 3 million exhibits. If you spent 2 minutes at each exhibit, it would take 6 years to see everything. The museum is also home to about 70 cats as part of a decree first instated in 1745 by Empress Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, to protect the priceless displays from rodents.[7][17]
  • At the end of the 17th century, Peter the Great instituted a tax on facial hair in an attempt to modernize Russian society. Anyone with facial hair was required to carry a copper or bronze token to prove that they had paid the tax.[5]
  • Shortly after World War II, the Soviet Union and the United States entered a period of democracy versus communism called the Cold War. In addition to a nuclear arms race, the Cold War spurred the Soviet Union to use anti-Westernism propaganda, including a charge by Stalin that the United States Pentagon caused the AIDs epidemic in Russia.[8][16]
  • Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

    - Winston Churchill

  • In 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill against "homosexual propaganda," making it illegal to tell a child that homosexuality is normal or not evil. Making a pro-gay statement to a minor can result in arrest or fines. Later that same year, Putin made detainment for a period of 14 days of any tourists or foreign nationals possible if they were suspected of being homosexual or pro-gay.[9]
  • In July of 2013, Putin banned adoption of Russian children to anyone who lives in a country where marriage equality exists in any way.[9]
  • The Russian State Library in Moscow is the largest library in Europe and the 2nd largest library in the world, after the Library of Congress.[1]
  • Lake Baikal at 25 million years and 5,315 feet deep is the oldest and deepest lake in the world. It is also the largest body of freshwater.[16]
  • Oymyakon, Russia, in Siberia is the coldest recorded spot on Earth, with a record low temperature of -160 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also the coldest inhabited spot on Earth.[16]
  • Brown bears in Kronotsky Nature Reserve in South Kanchatka, Russia, have an addiction to kerosene and gas barrels used for aviation fuel that powers generators and helicopters of nature reserve workers. Over 700 bears live in the reserve, and several have an addiction to getting high from the fuel, with some going as far to "stalk" helicopters that will leave drops of fuel on the soil for the bear to sniff.[11]
  • Russian Bears
    In Kronotsky Nature Reserve, there are bears who like to get high off jet fuel

  • In addition to being the 3rd largest consumer of alcohol in the world, Russia is also the leading importer of heroin and in tobacco smoking per capita.[6][8]
  • Russia has a homicide rate of 9.7 deaths per 100,000 people, which is higher than the United State's rate of 4.7 deaths per 100,000 people.[4]
  • Previously, Russia had a total of 11 time zones. In 2010, the government opted to drop the number to 9 time zones, which is still more than any other country in the world.[4]
  • HIV and AIDS has become an epidemic in Russia, largely spurred by high levels of heroin use. In 2012, Russia had over 700,000 cases, and AIDS is the 3rd leading cause of death in the country.[8]
  • Metro stations were often used as air-raid shelters during World War II. During that time, about 150 people were born in the stations.[1]
  • In the 1700s, a Russian woman gave birth to 16 sets of twins, 7 sets of triplets, and 4 sets of quadruplets all fathered by the same man in a period of 40 years.[3]
  • A 2010 census shows that a third of Russia's 153,000 villages have a population of fewer than 10 residents.[8]
  • Russian Demographics
    The difference in the average lifespan between genders in Russia is largest in the world
  • About 25% of Russians die before the age of 55, with many of the deaths attributed to alcohol. Male life expectancy in Russia is 64 years, which is 12 years below the United States and 166th in the world.[3][8]
  • A marriage tradition in Russia is for the groom to pay a ransom for his "kidnapped" bride to her friends and family before the ceremony. Ransom payments usually consist of champagne, chocolates, or money.[14]
  • Russia has the world's largest divorce rate, with 5 out of every 1,000 couples being divorced.[8]
  • On average, 14,000 Russian women die from domestic violence each year. Domestic violence is still not recognized as a crime by Russian law.[8]
  • Grigory Rasputin (1869-1916) was advisor to the last royal family of Russia, admired by the Empress for treating Prince Alexei Romanov for hemophilia. Distrusting Rasputin's motives, nobles killed Rasputin in 1916, and his frozen corpse was found in the river containing 3 bullet holes. Popular legend states that the nobles poisoned Rasputin with cyanide, shot him at close range, and beat him, but he would not die. Finally, they bound him and threw him in the river, finally successfully ending his life.[16]
  • Russian women, who have a lifespan of 74 years compared to 64 years for the average male, outnumber Russian men by 10 million.[8]
  • Russia is a transcontinental country, with the country taking up much of eastern and northeastern Europe and northern Asia. Russia is also home to the world's longest railway, the Trans-Siberian Railway, which almost spans the whole country from Moscow to Vladivostok, Russia. Taking a train across the railway nonstop would take about 152 hours and 27 minutes.[1][12]
  • During World War II, Russia lost as many as 30 million people, including civilians, equaling about 14% of the population. It is estimated that 40% of males between the ages of 20 and 49 lost their lives during the war.[6][8]
  • To combat low population, Governor Sergi Morozov in Ulyanovsk, Russia, declared September 12, 2003 the Day of Conception. Citizens are given part or all of the day off to try and conceive a child, with women who give birth closest to June 12, Russia's National Day, receiving prizes such as cars, cash, or home appliances. As a result, the region's birth rate often triples in the month of June.[6]
  • Russia Nuclear Weapons
    Russia has more nuclear weapons than any other country in the war (rusm / iStock)
  • Russia has over 8,400 nuclear weapons, which is more than any other country in the world. The country is also the second largest exporter of conventional arms, including battle tanks, fighter jets, and infantry fighting vehicles, after the United States.[3][16]
  • The last royal family of Russia, the Romanovs, was murdered in 1918. Their remains were missing until 1979 when they were round in the forest of Yekaterinburg. The bodies of the two children, however, were not in the forest, spurring the rumors that the daughter, Anastasia, had survived. Despite many women coming forward claiming to be the lost princess, the remains of Anastasia and Alexei were found in 2007, confirming their 1918 deaths.[16]
  • About 25,000 Russian women per year participate in Mail Order Bride programs in hope of bettering their situation by marrying a wealthy foreigner., the most popular mail order bride site, averages over 2.6 million visits per month and offers an average of 100,000 women at a time. In 2014, American men spent about US$45 million on the programs alone, and an average of 10,000 mail order bride marriages occur in the United States each year.[2]
  • In 1917, the monarchy system of Russia was overthrown and a civil war between monarchists and communists under the rule of Vladimir Lenin ensued. In 1922, Lenin succeeded in winning the civil war and established the Soviet Union, the first communist country in the world.[16]
  • 41. Under Stalin's communist rule, Russian children were taught in school that Vladimir Lenin, the founder of communism, was the grandfather of Russians, while Joseph Stalin was the father, and Russia the "Motherland."[8]
  • Under the 70 years of Russian communist rule, historians estimate anywhere from 12.5 to 20 million or more Russians died from execution, famine, and imprisonment.[8]
  • Under communist rule, Russia was the leading and the largest country in the USSR (Union of Soviet Social Republics). After communist rule dissolved in 1991, the USSR split into the 15 independent countries of the Russian Federation, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia.[16]
  • In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, replacing the communist rule in Russia with a democracy. Currently, Russia calls their political system a federal presidential republic, with three seats of power given to the president and prime minister, the Federal Assembly of Russia, and Ministry of Justice. The president is the dominant ruling figure.[16]
  • In 2013, Moscow was rated as having the world's worst traffic, with millions of travelers stuck in congestion for hours at a time. To avoid getting stuck in traffic, many wealthy Russians have been known to hire luxury taxis that look like ambulances for an average fee of US$171, complete with a siren that is used to force a path through traffic.[8][10]
  • Russian Traffic Fact
    Moscow and Los Angeles are the two most congested cities in the world

  • Vladimir Putin served as the president of Russia from 1999 until 2008. After being denied the ability to run for a third term, the next president, Dmitri Mendenev, chose Putin as his Prime Minister. Putin then successfully ran for president again in 2012.[16]
  • Prior to 2008, a Russian president could only serve for 2 consecutive terms of 4 years. As of 2008, a president can now serve for 2 consecutive terms of 6 years.[16]
  • Despite being under the scrutiny of much of the Western world, a 2014 poll shows 87% of Russian citizens support President Putin and his policies, an approval rating that has never been matched or even close to being matched by a United States president. Many Russians believe that Putin is a "strong leader" that will "restore Russia to greatness."[16]
  • When President Putin took office in 1999, the average Russian company paid US$23,000 in bribes per year. In 2003, after he had been in office for 4 years, the average company paid $135,000 in bribes per year.[8]
  • Lake Karachy in Russia is the most polluted place in the world. The lake is near the largest nuclear facility in Russia, the Mayak Production Association, which has had many nuclear meltdowns and leaks into the Techa River that flows into Lake Karachy. The lake is full of concrete that is intended to keep radioactive sediment away from the shore.[19]
  • Lenin Fact
    Lenin's mummified body has been on display in Russia ever since his death, except for a 4-year period during WW II when it was moved to Siberia
  • The corpse of Vladimir Lenin, the founder of communism in Russia, is on display in a tomb in Moscow's Red Square. Embalming and injections of an unknown "balsam" keep Lenin looking amazingly well-preserved despite having died in 1924.[15]
  • Russian forests are second only to the Amazon Forest in carbon dioxide absorption, earning them the nickname of the "lungs of Europe."[17]
  • Over 30% of Russian children are born with pollution-linked diseases or physical defects caused by air pollution and contaminated drinking water due to heavy industry, weapon development, deforestation, and traffic emissions.[16]
  • Russia is home to over 200 nationalities and ethnicities, including Russians, Siberians, Cossacks, Turks, Ukrainians, Osstsans, Balkars, Nenets, Komis, Yakuts, and Atays.[16]
  • When giving flowers, Russians always buy an odd number. An even number of flowers is only given at a funeral.[17]
  • New Years is the biggest celebration in Russia, including a brightly decorated Christmas tree, gift exchanges, and a large dinner. The celebrations continue all week, ending with Christmas, which is celebrated on January 7th of the Orthodox Christian calendar. Christmas celebrations tend to be a quieter affair, spent with family and by attending church services.[16]
  • Russia Timeline[8][13][16]
    1200 BCCimmerians settle in present day Ukraine, forming Kievan Rus
    800 BCSlavic tribes settle throughout present day Russia
    988 ADGrand Prince Vladimir I joins the Eastern Orthodox Church, making Christianity the official religion of Kievan Rus
    1240Kievan Rus invaded by Mongols, establishing Tatar control and the fall of Kievan Rus
    1380The city of Moscow, headed by Grand Duke Dmitiri Ivanovich, wins a battle against the Tatar
    1480Tatar power comes to an end, Ivan III establishes Russia's independence
    1547Ivan IV, a.k.a.Ivan the Terrible, crowned as first czar of Russia
    1613Zemsky sobor (state council) assembles and elects czar Mikhail Romanov, beginning the Romanov Dynasty
    1689Czar Peter the Great begins modernizing Russia
    1721Great Northern War gains Russia territory on eastern coast of the Baltic Sea
    1762Catherine the Great begins rule as czarina
    1772-1795Russia expands into Ukraine, Belorussian, Crimean Peninsula, the sea of Azov, and part of Poland
    1800sAlexander I establishes policy of serfdom, military drill, and censorship
    1812Napoleon Bonaparte invades Russia and is defeated
    1825Under the rule of czar Nicholas I, the Decembrists revolt to liberate Russia from autocracy unsuccessfully
    1850Czar Alexander II loses a war with Turkey in the Balkans
    1861Serfdom abolished
    1881Czar Alexander II assassinated
    1890Trans-Siberian railway completed
    1894Nicholas II rules as czar
    1903Vladimir Lenin forms the communist party
    1904-1905Japan defeats Russian army for control of Northern China
    1905Czar Nicholas II forced to create State of Duma (legislative assembly)
    1916Advisor to the throne Grigory Rasputin murdered by Russian Nobles
    1917Czar Nicholas II abdicates the thrown, provisional government established
    1918Romanov royal family executed
    1918-1922Civil War between the Russian monarchists (Whites) and the communists (Reds)
    1922Communists win the Civil War, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) is formed
    1924Joseph Stalin takes over the Soviet Union after the death of Vladimir Lenin, atheism established as state policy
    1941Nazi Germany attacks USSR and lays siege
    1944German forces driven from Soviet Land
    1945Soviet troops enter Berlin
    1948Soviet Union cuts off contact with the Western world, Cold War begins
    1953Nikita Khrushchev takes over the Soviet Union after the death of Joseph Stalin
    1957Soviet Union launches the first artificial satellite into orbit, the Sputnik I
    1961Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space
    1964Khrushchev removed from power, replaced by Leonid Brezhnev
    1982Mikhail S. Gorbachev begins Soviet rule after the death of Brezhnev
    1990Cold War ends
    1991Gorbachev removed from power, USSR disintegrates and Boris Yelstin is elected as the new Russian Federation president, religion is restored
    1996Boris Yelstin reelected for presidency
    1998International Space Station created
    2000Vladimir Putin replaces Yelstin as president
    2004Russia invades Georgia; Putin wins second term for presidency
    2008President Dmitry Medvdev elected as president, chooses Putin as Prime Minister
    2009Time zones reduced from 11 to 9
    2010Elections abolished in favor of Kremlin appointment
    2012Vladimir Putin elected for a third term of presidency
    2014Sochi Winter Olympics, Pro-Russian rebels revolt against Ukrainian government and take over Crimea
    2015Cease-fire agreement established in Eastern Ukraine

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