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.
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. In many ways, you could say Russia is the most interesting country on Earth, and to prove this here are 10 surprising facts about Russia that will only make you want to visit this glorious country.
1. Communist? Not in our books!
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.
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. Cold? Russians don’t know the meaning of the word!
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.
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.
3. A Russian traffic jam is hell on Earth!
Major metropolises have long suffered from traffic jams, and Russia’s capital, Moscow is no exception.
So bad can it get that wealthy Russians have been known to hire ambulances so they can bypass the traffic!
4. While you may think it unfair, foreigners pay much higher entrance fees than Russians 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.
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.
5. 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.
A perfect substitute for fries, it can also be used as a side dish to accompany your scrumptious Big Mac.
6. The world’s most terrifying walkway?
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.
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.”
7. 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.
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.
8. Women galore
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!
While there are many good looking Russian men, it’s little wonder they aren’t held in the same esteem as their female counterparts!
9. 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.
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.
10. 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!
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.