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Top 10 Facts People from Russia Want You to Know

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Spencer sher
There’s more to this country than meets the eye. Welcome to MojoTravels, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Facts People from Russia Want You to Know. For this list, we’re looking at some of the most interesting and important facts about Russia, one of the largest and most culturally diverse countries on earth.

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Top 10 Facts People from Russia Want You to Know

There’s more to this country than meets the eye. Welcome to MojoTravels, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Facts People from Russia Want You to Know.

For this list, we’re looking at some of the most interesting and important facts about Russia, one of the largest and most culturally diverse countries on earth.

#10: Tetris Came from Russia

Even if you’ve never played this puzzle-based video game you’ve probably heard its iconic theme song, which is based on the 19th century Russian folk song “Korobeiniki”. This makes perfect sense seeing as how Tetris was invented by Russian video game designer and computer engineer Alexey Pajitnov. Pajitnov completed the game in 1984 while working at Moscow’s Academy of Science of the Soviet Union, but it wouldn’t be made available to Western audiences until 1986. Pajitnov moved to the United States in 1991 and founded The Tetris Company.

#9: Russia Accounts for 20% of the World's Forest Area

Russia is the largest country on the planet and as such holds a number of geographical records. For starters, the country is home to 1/5th of the earth’s forested area, with about 60% of the country covered in trees. If that doesn’t impress you then Lake Baikal certainly will. With a depth of 1,642m Lake Baikal, which is located in southern Siberia, is the deepest lake on the planet; and contains more fresh water than all of the Great Lakes combined! Embodying the expression “go big or go home” even further are the Volga and the Trans-Siberian Railroad. The former is the longest river in Europe and the latter is the longest railroad on earth, stretching for 9,289km’s and taking a week to complete.

#8: They Have a Day of Volunteering Called Subbotnik

Due to the sheer immensity of its size it takes a herculean effort to keep Russia looking spick and span. Thankfully they have Subbotnik, a countrywide day of volunteering, in which residents take to the streets with brooms and rakes in order to clean up unsightly garbage. Subbotnik sprung up in the aftermath of the October Revolution of 1917 and quickly grew to become a countrywide tradition. While originally conceived as a voluntary act, Subbotnik became mandatory under Soviet rule. Voluntary once again, Subbotnik remains a fixture in Russia society.

#7: Beer Wasn't Considered an Alcoholic Drink in Russia Until 2011

Yes, you heard that correctly. While Russia has long been synonymous with Vodka, with the alcoholic beverage once costing consumers less than bottled water, beer often fell to the wayside. In fact, it wasn’t even considered an alcoholic drink until 2011! Prior to 2011 beer, as with any drink that contained less than 10% alcohol, was simply categorized as “foodstuff”. However, in 2011 Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a bill that officially made beer an alcoholic beverage throughout the country. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that beer sales had “risen more than 40%” between 2001 and 2011.

#6: Russians Don't Put Eyes on Smileys When Typing

In today’s day and age most people communicate through text, emoticons and emojis. In fact, emojis have become so ubiquitous that Sony made a freaking movie about them in 2017. However, much like human speech emoticons vary based on region. For example, in Russiathey don’t put eyes on their smiley faces when typing. Instead they simply put parentheses. The more parenthesis added, the happier the person typing them is. Russians are also much more likely to use romantic emojis than their western counterparts, whereas Canada and the United States prefer the cash, birthday cake and fire emojis.

#5: One Russian Region Experiences Sub-Tropical Weather

Quick picture Russia in your head. What do you see? St. Basil’s Cathedral? Frozen tundra? How about a swanky beach town covered in palm trees? Well, if you ever visit the city of Sochi that’s exactly what you will find. While the city is perhaps most famous for hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics, it is a veritable paradise in the summer, as it sits on the same latitude line as the French city of Cannes. The popular vacation spot boasts a sub-tropical climate, with an average annual temperature of 18.4 degrees Celsius. Of course, this is in stark contrast to the rest of the country, particularly the city of Oymyakon, which holds the dubious distinction of being the coldest permanently inhabited town on earth!

#4: The Country Is a Hotbed for Art, Literature and Architecture

If you believe Russians are a bunch of drunk potato farmers with no sense or appreciation of culture then prepare for a cold, hard smack of reality. The country is responsible for some of the most important and influential works of art, literature and architecture in history. Writers like Leon Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky elevated Russian literature to new heights in the 19th century, while composers such as Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky created masterworks that can still be heard during performances at the renowned Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. As for architecture one must simply open their eyes while walking the streets of Saint Petersburg, one of the most beautiful cities on earth. Case closed.

#3: The Hermitage Museum is So Huge, It Would Take You Six Years to See All of It

The State Hermitage Museum, located in Saint Petersburg, opened its doors to the public in 1852 and today is the second largest museum in the world. How large is it you ask? Well, according to one source “If you spent 2 minutes looking at each exhibit in the Hermitage, it would take you 6 years to see everything.” So yeah, it’s pretty big. The museum is made up of six different buildings, each housing a different collection of paintings, sculptures and artifacts. The museum is said to house more than three million works as well as 70 cats. Yes, cats. The museum keeps them around to help guard its valuables from pesky rodents, with the tradition dating back three centuries.

#2: In Russia, New Years Is Bigger Than Christmas

Unlike their western counterparts, many Russians celebrate Christmas not on the 25th of December but instead on the 7th of January. This is because they use the Julian calendar instead of the more widely used Gregorian calendar. However, most Russians recognize both calendars, which means that they celebrate two New Years. The first celebration takes place between December 31st and January 1st much like the rest of the world. However, per the Julian calendar they also celebrate on the 14th of January. The New Year’s double whammy is by far the country’s biggest celebration, with citizens celebrating and exchanging gifts with friends and family.

#1: Russia Has More Time Zones Than Any Other Country

As previously mentioned, Russia is huge. So huge in fact that it covers 11 different time zones, more than any other country on earth. Since 2011 it has only used nine of them, which is still three more than the second largest country in the world, Canada. With a total area of 17,125,181km squared it stands to reason that the country is home to a large population of people. And you’re right, Russia has a population of 144.5 million people, ninth most in the world. And while the two biggest languages are Russian and English, the country’s 190 ethnic groups speak more than 100 different languages! Now that’s what we call a melting pot!


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