One of the world’s largest countries, Russia is both diverse and mysterious. From world-class cities such as Moscow to its Arctic north regions, Russian culture offers something for everyone.
Are you curious to learn more about Russia? Read on and discover some of its most interesting facts!
1. It has a lot of trees
Russia offers more than nesting dolls and vodka; take the time to discover its culture! Extending across both Europe and Asia, Russia boasts an extraordinary past that will amaze any traveller.
Russia boasts the world’s highest density of trees. According to FAO figures, Russia holds more than one fifth of global forest coverage–including Siberia covered with Boreal Forest or “taiga.” Experts estimate there are around 640 billion trees throughout Russia.
Permafrost–an area of permanently frozen ground–in Russia makes settlement difficult in many areas and contributes to extreme winter temperatures, though not without some advantages: Russian forests are known as the “lungs of Europe” due to their production of oxygen; only second only to Amazon rainforests for oxygen production.
However, Russia’s forests are rapidly disappearing despite their size. Last year alone, wildfires destroyed more than one million acres annually and as such the government launched an initiative with the goal of planting 3 billion trees by 2024.
Russian forestry industry is one of the oldest sectors in its economy and accounts for about one quarter of total industrial output. Timber sales alone contribute an estimated annual revenue of $20 billion; more importantly though, this forestry sector plays a vital role in shaping national cultural identity – even the Kremlin is famous for its tree-themed monument; stretching 2.5 kilometers with 20 towers bearing individual names.
2. It has a lot of canines
Russia is home to many dogs. Sled dogs have been an integral part of Russia’s culture for over four millennia, with Siberian Huskies becoming particularly beloved since around 1,800 BCE. Other breeds exist too – Siberian Huskies being one such breed – along with hunters and guard dogs such as Samoyeds which feature thick white fur with happy expressions making them great family companions.
Polar bears have long been considered national symbols of Russia. These magnificent beasts can be found throughout the Arctic Circle and especially Wrangel Island; their habitat relies heavily on sea ice for hunting seals and other food sources. Meanwhile, Eurasian brown bears also represent Russia, though their populations are shrinking due to habitat destruction and human development.
The Soviet Union disintegrated due to economic dislocation and political unrest. Although Mikhail Gorbachev attempted reformation with glasnost and perestroika reforms, economic decline still occurred, leading to nationalist movements and separatism growing across its territory. By 1989, however, the Union officially disbanded.
One of the most fascinating facts about Russia is that it boasts many famous writers. Two notable authors are Pushkin (romantic poems) and Leo Tolstoy (War and Peace); Tolstoy is considered one of the greatest authors ever.
Russia has much to offer its visitors, from natural beauty and diverse culture, to unique animals like the Amur leopard and polar bear. Additionally, Russia features 11 time zones and various environments and landscapes from forests to the Arctic tundra.
3. It has a lot of forests
Russia’s forests play an essential role, not only in maintaining biodiversity but also as vital sources of timber, fuel, food and medicine. Furthermore, forests help regulate climate conditions – particularly in Siberia where temperatures can drop as far as -78degC!
As such, Russia’s economy relies heavily on forest industries and products produced through logging, harvesting, mining, and processing timber. Forests also play a vital role in providing subsistence to many indigenous and local people in less developed regions who rely on timber harvesting or non-timber forest products (berries, mushrooms and medicinal plants) for survival.
Russia boasts a vast collection of protected forests. There are over 12,850 national, regional and local protected areas spread out across Russia – this includes over 100 strict nature reserves; 63 national parks; and 61 federal sanctuaries or wildlife refuges known as zakazniks; additionally there are also 84 forest monuments as well as other natural landmarks throughout its vast territory.
However, not all protected areas are created equally; 10% of America’s forests can be found on land previously or currently designated as agricultural land – this presents a serious issue as these forests don’t count toward official statistics and they may be illegally logged by farmers to increase carbon emissions and contribute to climate change.
Furthermore, these forests are mismanaged and exhibit high mortality. This may be partly attributable to being located next to areas with economically exploitable forests; but also speaks to poor management practices and an absence of financial incentives for owners to invest in their forests.
4. It has a lot of museums
Russia boasts an astonishingly vast collection of museums, not just within Moscow. Every mid-sized town features at least one or more local history museums; there are over 130 house and apartment museums commemorating writers, explorers, scientists and revolutionaries; many try to recreate an atmosphere from another era while serving as cultural centres in their towns or villages.
Russian museums largely focus on its rich history. For example, the State Historical Museum houses rare archaeological artifacts dating back to Stone Age as well as paintings used by Tsars and items produced by court jewelers – not forgetting some rare pieces that belong to court jewelers!
VDNKh’s Museum of Cosmonautics, opened to mark Yuri Gagarin’s inaugural space flight 20 years earlier, is also an engaging experience. Learn about space exploration history while seeing real astronaut suits and personal items displayed as exhibits at this remarkable institution.
The Museum of Religion is another popular attraction in Russia that explores various religious beliefs and practices that have emerged over time in Russia. Exhibits range from hand painted icons to Inquisition torture instruments – one of the few museums worldwide which represents all major world religions fully. There’s even an outpost located within former home of academic Sergei Korolev who was leading space designer of Soviet Union space program!
5. It has a lot of superstitions
Since Russian culture dates back centuries, its residents have developed many superstitions believed to ward off bad luck and bring good fortune. While some may seem strange or outdated today, their legacy remains part of Russian society today.
Russians believe that seeing a group of crows is an ominous sign, while breaking mirrors is believed to bring seven years of bad luck; to avoid this happening, broken mirrors are usually buried or placed in running water as soon as they break. Crosses or spitting over one shoulder is done if crows appear.
Superstitiously, when making wishes or expression gratitude to spirits and gods residing in trees, Russians believe knocking three times on wood will drive away bad luck and bring good fortune.
Russians are particularly superstitious about money and do not exchange or pass coins under any circumstances in the dark or count it after dark. Additionally, it is considered bad manners to visit friends’ newborn babies during the first month after they’ve been born as this can spread negative energies that might harm the infant.
Russia also believes it’s good luck to rub a dog’s paw with your left hand in order to bring good fortune, and some Russians do this at their Peterhof Palace near Tsar Peter the Great’s statue rubbing its legs, trying to place coins into its boot gap with their left hands. Furthermore, Russians believe it’s bad luck to greet someone over a threshold which was traditionally thought to mark the separation between human world and spirit world.