Russia, or the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country located in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the largest country in the world and is bigger than Pluto. With 6,601,668 square miles of land mass, Russia beats Pluto's 6,427,805 square miles of surface area, and dwarfs the world's second biggest country, Canada, which has a land mass of 3,855,103 square miles. The area of the land in Russia is 1.8 times larger than the total size of the United States.

Russia spans more than one-eighth of the earth's inhabited land area, stretching so far around the globe that it has eleven time zones, and borders 16 sovereign nations. The territory of Russia extends from the Baltic Sea in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east, and from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Black Sea and the Caucasus in the south. Siberia makes up 77 percent of Russia.

With approximately 147 million people, Russia is the most populous nation in Europe and the ninth-most populous nation in the world. However, it only has a little more people than twice the UK population. Approximately 74 percent of Russian people live in urban centers. Russia's capital and largest city is Moscow.

The Russian Soviet Republic was proclaimed on November 7, 1917 (October Revolution) as a sovereign state and the world's first constitutionally socialist state with the ideology of Communism. The first Constitution was adopted in 1918.

From 1923 to 1991, it used to be the main part of the Soviet Union. It was a country based on Communism, but today its government is a federal semi-presidential republic. It has elements of democracy.

During Vladimir Putin's first term as president, Freedom House rated Russia as "partially free" with poor scores of five on both political rights and civil liberties (one being most free, and seven least free). During the 2012 election (when Putin was elected for a third term), one region registered a voting turnout of 146 percent. Putin has served three terms and is currently in his fourth term as president.

Languages: Russian is one of the five most spoken languages in the world. The official language in Russia is Russian. It is the first and only language of over 80 percent of the population. There are more than 100 minority languages, the main one being Tatar, which is spoken by about three percent of the population. Other languages include Armenian, Azerbaijani, Bashir, Belarusian, Chechen, Chuvash, Circassian, Dolgang, Estonian, Georgian, German, Moldovan, Mordvin, and Ukrainian. Most people who speak a minority language also speak Russian. English is not widely spoken or written in Russia.

Rare Language: The Ter Sámi language is on the brink of extinction. It is the easternmost of the Sámi languages. It was traditionally spoken in the northeastern part of the Kola Peninsula. In 2004, only ten speakers were left. In 2010, the number decreased to two. The earliest known documentation of Sámi languages is a short Ter Sámi vocabulary collected by British explorer Stephen Burrough in 1557. Richard Hakluyt published the vocabulary.

Literacy: Russia has a high literacy rate with 99.7 percent of the population able to read and write. Russians use the Cryillic alphabet instead of the Latin alphabet. Many Russian people are avid readers. In 2012, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) gave the first rating by the number of people with degrees to Russia (54 percent) - Canada (51 percent) - Israel (46 percent). America was in fourth position with 42 percent. OECD is an international organization that works to build better policies for better lives.

There are many unique Russian words. Pochemuchka refers to someone who asks too many questions. Nedoperepil refers to someone who drank more than they should have.

Nuclear Arsenal: America is often thought to be the main superpower when it comes to nuclear weapons, but the U.S. has the second largest nuclear arsenal. Russian has the most number of nuclear weapons, about 8,400, which is more than any other country in the world. Russia has just under half of all the nuclear weapons in existence.

Industry: Russia's industry consists of mining and extractive industries, shipbuilding, machine building and road, rail, and communications equipment. Russia exports petroleum and petroleum products, wood, wood products, natural gas, metals and fur. Russia grows grain, sunflower seeds, vegetables, and sugar beets. They also raise cattle.

Cold: Russia is home to one of the coldest inhabited places on the planet. Oymyakon, in the Yakutia region, Siberia, is considered to be one of the coldest inhabited towns on earth. On February 6, 1933, a temperature of -67.7℃ was recorded at Oymyakon's weather station. The coldest temperature ever recorded was in 1938 at -77.8℃ (-108℉). The average temperature in December and January is -50℃ (-58℉).

Russia has different types of forests, but the most important is the Taiga that is also known as the boreal forest. Russia and Canada have the largest Taiga forest in the world. Forests cover approximately 60 percent of Russia. About half are uninhabited by humans.

The birch tree is one of the most common trees. It has been the inspiration for numerous poems, songs, and paintings. There are 266 mammal species and 780 species of birds in Russia. A total of 415 animal species have been included in the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation as of 1997 and are now protected. The most famous animal in Russia is the Siberian tiger. They are endangered. Russia has 41 national parks and 101 wildlife reserves.

Lake Baikal is the largest and deepest freshwater lake in the world. It reaches 1642 metres (5,387 feet) in depth and contains approximately 20 percent of the world's unfrozen fresh water. About 1,700 species of plants and animals live in the lake, two thirds of which can be found nowhere else in the world.

Mount Elbrus is the highest mountain in Russia and Europe. It reaches a height of 5642 metres (18,510 feet). Russia's Volga River is the longest in Europe, with a length of approximately 3690 kilometres (2293 miles).


Russia's Sochi Skybridge is the world's longest pedestrian suspension bridge. It is terrifying to some people. It is 679 feet high (207 meters) with a 1,440-foot (439 meter) span. It is suspended above the Krasnaya Polyana Valley. It includes two observation platforms, which provide panoramic views of the mountains and the Black Sea coast.

The Sochi Skybridge is part of a Skypark created by famous bungee operator AJ Hackett. The main thrill sport opportunities include a 207-meter bungee jump, a 69-meter bungee jump, a 170-meter swing, the Megatroll zip line, the "Mowgli" rope park, and the Via Ferrata fixed tether mountain hiking trail.

The gargantuan span of Sochi Skybridge is composed of eight 52mm cables connected by I-beams spaced as much as five meters apart. Suspended below the cables is a walkway with step-downs designed to keep the deck relatively flat. The first of two large "pods" is located on the west end and has the 69-meter bungee jump, a gift shop, and other concessions. A smaller pod in the center of the bridge contains the 207-meter bungee drop.


Slaughtering of Marine Mammals: Seal hunting, or sealing, is the personal or commercial hunting of seals. Personal seal hunting is allowed in ten countries: Russia, Canada, the United States, Namibia, Denmark (in self-governing Greenland only), Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden. Most of the world's seal hunting takes place in Canada and Greenland. Commercial sealing is conducted by five nations: Russia, Canada, Greenland, Namibia, and Norway. The United States, which had been heavily involved in the sealing industry, now bans commercial hunting of marine mammals, with the exception of indigenous peoples who are allowed to hunt a small number of seals each year.


Healthcare in Russia is provided by the state through the Federal Compulsory Medical Insurance Fund, and regulated through the Ministry of Health. The Constitution of the Russian Federation has provided citizens free healthcare since 1996.


By the 1990s, 40 percent of Russia's territory had ecological stress, because of environmental issues, including deforestation, pollution, and nuclear waste. Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Volgograd, and other centers, have high levels of air pollution. Over 200 cities in Russia exceed pollution limits.


Russia has 12 active volcanoes. The Klyuchevskaya Sopka volcano in Kamchatka Territory has had 50 major eruptions in the last 270 years.


Created in 1934, Kronotsky Nature Reserve is an area reserved for the study of natural sciences in the remote Russian Far East, on the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula. Its current boundary is 10,990 km2 (4,240 miles). Its largest lake is Lake Kronotskoye, which covers 246 square kilometres (95 miles). The reserve has Russia's only geyser basin, several mountain ranges, and numerous volcanoes, both active and extinct. It is part of Volcanoes of Kamchatka, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is frequently described as the Land of Fire and Ice. Kronotsky Nature Reserve is mostly accessible only to scientists, plus approximately 3,000 tourists annually who pay a fee equivalent to U.S. $700 for a single day helicopter visit.

The reserve has more than 800 brown bears, some of the largest in the world that can grow to over 540 kg (1,200 pounds). It is Eurasia's largest protected brown bear population. The bears encounter each other at salmon streams in the reserve where they socialize with each other.

Some of these bears have developed an addiction to aviation fuel. They sniff discarded kerosene and gasoline barrels and canisters the reserve used to power generators and helicopters. After inhaling the fuel fumes they become intoxicated and lie down. They have been observed waiting for (or chasing) helicopters, hoping for more canisters of jet fuel.


Tamed Siberian Foxes: Russia domesticated a species of Siberian fox. A team of Russian scientists conducted an important biology experiment, first led by geneticist Dmitry Belyaev beginning in 1959 at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk, Siberia, and then led by Lyudmila Trut.

The experiment was to prove that a species could be domesticated (tamed) by breeding being selected by behavior alone. The domesticated Siberian foxes look dog-like. They have a lapdog calmness and friendliness. They are trainable and extremely expensive.

In the late 1930s Dmitry Belyaev was a student at the Ivanova Agricultural Academy in Moscow. After he graduated he fought in World War II, and subsequently landed a job at the Institute for Fur Breeding Animals in Moscow. Dmitry Belyaev was Lyudmila Trut's mentor.


Important Cats: In 1745, Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great, ordered cats to be housed at The Hermitage Museum to protect its vast collection of treasures from mice. On average, 60 to 80 felines lived on the museum grounds, thereby ensuring the safekeeping of one of the world's most precious art collections from pesky rodents. Thanks to Empress Elizabeth's ingenuity, The Hermitage Museum is still home to Egyptian carvings, Impressionist masterpieces, and many other marvels. The Hermitage Museum located in St. Petersburg, is one of the most visited places in Russia. It is the second largest art museum in the world. In 2013, there were 74 cats residing at the museum, roaming its 14 miles of marbled corridors on the lookout for mice. The cats have their own kitchen, a small hospital, and a staff of volunteers to take care of them. Each cat has a personal passport with a photograph. If you spent two minutes looking at each exhibit in the museum, it would take you approximately six years to see everything.

Metro: Moscow's metro system is the fastest means of transport. During rush hour, trains are scheduled every 90 seconds. Approximately nine million passengers ride the Metro each day. The Metro of St. Petersburg is the deepest subway in the world, at 100m deep.

Smart Dogs: Moscow is famous for its subway-riding dogs. Each day they navigate and ride the subway without human assistance. They know where to get on and off to find food. Moscow is home to more than 35,000 stray dogs, but only about two dozen have mastered this mode of transportation in an effort to survive. They respond to human signals and receive attention and positive reinforcement from people. They distinguish different stations by smell and know which stops are most associated with receiving food.

The Trans-Siberian Railroad was built between 1891 and 1916. It is the longest and busied in the world. It spans almost all the way across the county. The 9200-kilometer (5700 mile) railway departs in Moscow (located in European Russia) and crosses into Asia. It then makes its way to the Pacific Ocean port of Vladivostok where it reaches the end of its journey. The Trans-Siberian Railway crosses eight time zones, goes through 87 cities and towns, and crosses 16 rivers including the Volga. The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes it as the longest single railway in the world. The entire journey non-stop takes 152 hours and 27 minutes. To travel the whole railroad, you would need to spend approximately a week in a train.

The name of Russia's famous Red Square has nothing to do with communism. It comes from the word krasnyi that originally meant beautiful.

Russian Dolls: The famous Russian wooden doll has a link to Japan. Russian artist Sergey Malyutin was working on a design for a Russian wooden doll, and was gifted a Japanese daruma doll, which had other dolls hidden inside. The first-ever Russian matryoshka wooden doll consisted of eight dolls. Wooden doll master Zvyozdochkin, who used Malyutin's drawings, made it in the 1890s.

Basketball, ice hockey, and football (soccer) are popular sports in Russia.

There are many traditional folk dances in Russia. Khorovod, Karelian, Tatar, and Chechotka are some of the most famous traditional Russian dances.

One of the most notable things about Russia is that it has been home to numerous extraordinary painters, dancers, musicians, writers, and other creative artists.

Russian literature is world-famous. Leo Tolstoy, Fjodor Dostojevskij, Aleksandr Pushkin, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Vladimir Nabokov, and Anton Chekhov are some of the most famous Russian authors. Some of the most famous Russian books include War and Peace, The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment, Eugene Onegin, and The Cherry Orchard.

Under the Soviet Union, the government forbade the distribution of Beatles albums. Some medical students would burn Beatles songs onto old X-rays.

In 1939, Winston Churchill famously remarked that Russia was "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma."

Russians eat pancakes with sour cream and caviar.

Russian food culture includes a lot of soups, beets, cabbages, potatoes, and meat dishes. Borscht is a popular Russian beet soup. Some Russian restaurants have stopped using the word "borscht" - instead opting to say "beetroot soup" because the word "borscht" is Ukrainian.

Aspic is a popular dish in Russia. It contains meat, eggs, and vegetables in a salted gelatin.

A popular Russian meal, holodets, contains meat suspended in salted gelatin.

Russian cuisines include cow tongue, Siberian meat dumplings, and fried meat patties.

Until 2013 any alcoholic beverage under ten percent sold in Russia was not considered alcoholic. Beer sales dominated vodka sales in the decade leading to 2013. Since then, beer cannot be sold from unlicensed kiosks and shops.

Vodka comes from the word voda, which means, water. Vodka is not the most popular drink in Russia, tea is. Russians drink approximately six times more tea per year than Americans.

In Russia bejeweled golden Easter eggs can be priceless. The famous Fabergé Egg collection of the Imperial Russian Family once consisted of 50 eggs of which 43 are known to survive today. Each egg, intricately designed between 1885 and 1916 by the Fabergé Company, was passed from Tsar to Tsarina as valuable gifts of affection. Gold, enamel, and precious stones were used to craft each opulent egg. Emperor Alexander III commissioned the first imperial egg in 1885 for his wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna. It had an enamel shell and a golden yolk that held a pendant and a miniature crown. These eggs are so rare today that they are valued at millions of dollars each.

Smiling is a polite courtesy in many cultures, but that is not always true in Russia. There is an ancient Russian expression that translates to: Laughing for no reason is a sign of stupidity. On the other hand, some people say Russians are stereotyped for being stern and unsmiling people. Russian smiles mean different things in different situations.

Russia's capital, Moscow, has more billionaires than any other city in the world, totaling 74, with the majority of their fortunes coming from real estate, steel, oil, and banking. In 2019, these men were worth $421 billion dollars combined. They have 89 percent of Russia's wealth. Russian President, Vladimir Putin, is a part of the wealthy few.

The per capita income in Russia is approximately $14,000.

Since 2013 same-sex relationships are not socially acceptable and are labeled illegal under Russian law.

A Russian peasant woman retains the world record for giving birth to 69 children. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, a Mrs. Vassilyev (1707-1782) gave birth to sixteen sets of twins, seven sets of triplets, and four sets of quadruplets. Most of the children did not survive infancy.

The radiation emanating from Russia's Lake Karachay would kill a person in approximately one hour. Lake Karachay, in the southern Ural Mountains in eastern Russia, was used as a dumping ground for radioactive waste for years. It is possibly the most polluted place on earth.

Russian scientists brought a plant back to life that became extinct 32,000 years ago. The fruit of a tiny arctic flower, the narrow-leafed campion, was stored in the burrow of an arctic ground squirrel, and lay frozen in the Siberian tundra until a recent excavation. Scientists thawed cells from the placenta (the part of the fruit that produces seeds) and grew them into whole plants.

In 1961 Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first human in space, he orbited the earth in a 108-minute flight.

In Russia, there are 1,159 women for every 1,000 men. In urban areas there are 1,183 women per 1,000 men. There are approximately ten million more women in Russia than there are men. The imbalance was initially believed to be the result of so many men dying during World War II.

Legend claims that Russians chose Christianity over Islam in 988 AD, in part, because they didn't want to give up alcohol.

The village of Suzdal is only 15 square kilometers but it has 53 churches. Even though the population is over 10,000, it retains its small village feel and charm. There is a beautiful combination of Russian architecture and farmland.

St. Petersburg has three times as many bridges as Venice. Many cities: Bruges, Amsterdam, and Hamburg, to name a few, are called the Venice of the North. St. Petersburg is on that list.

Russia has the largest McDonald's restaurant in the world, with 700 seats. A larger building, seating 1,500, was constructed for the 2012 Olympics in London, England but it was a temporary location and was disassembled after the Olympics.

Many Russians wear their wedding rings on the ring finger of their right hand. Austria, Germany, Georgia, Greece, India, Poland, Spain, and Ukraine have a similar tradition.

Most Russians will not shake hands over a doorway. It is believed to be a bad omen and many Russians think the action will lead to an argument.

Although this video game gained world popularity, engineer-programmer and scientist Alexey Pazhitnov invented the first edition of Tetris in 1984 in the USSR.

In Russia it is popular to give flowers as gifts. It is important to give bouquets of flowers that have an odd number because bouquets that have even numbers of flowers are associated with funerals.

There is much more about Russia. Please research further on your own, if you wish to learn more.