12 Surprising Facts About Russia

As the world’s largest country and making up over a seventh of the earth’s entire land mass, it’s no wonder Russia is so diverse! Spanning 11 time zones and with a climate that varies from the subtropical heat of Sochi in the south, to the freezing Artic terrain of Siberia, Russia is guaranteed to intrigue and amaze!

For such a huge country, it sure is mysterious, which makes it all the more enticing. From the diversity to the element of the unexpected, Russia appeals to adventurous travellers keen to explore this fascinating country rich in history and culture. Here are some surprising facts about Russia to get you started.

1. It boasts the largest city in Europe

Many people believe that London or Paris hold the title for being the largest city in Europe. In actual fact, the largest by population is Moscow, with 12 million citizens. It’s unsurprising that this city features on many Russia tours, as it’s an intoxicating blend of historic culture and lively modernity.

Aerial view of Moscow

2. Cats are employed at the Hermitage Museum

The Hermitage Museum is a museum of art and culture in Saint Petersburg and is a national treasure of Russia. And over 50 cats are actually a treasure of the Hermitage. The museum has employed cats since the 18th century and currently employs over 50 cats to protect the works of art in the museum from rats and mice. The group of cats reside at the museum with a full time carer and each even have their own personal passport with a photo.

Interior of Hermitage Museum

3. It would take you 6 years to see everything in the Hermitage Museum if you spent 2 minutes at each exhibit

It makes sense now why the Hermitage hires cats to do some of the work, the Hermitage is this huge, massive in fact. Comprised of six different buildings, you’ll find over 3 million exhibits inside! Not only is it one of the largest museums in the world, but it’s also one of the oldest and was founded in 1764. Yeah the Louvre may be incredible, but Russia’s Hermitage is simply just next level!

Exterior of Hermitage Museum

3. Vodka was actually first invented in Poland

The country’s most famous alcoholic beverage was, in fact, first created in Poland, not Russia. However, there’s no denying that the Russians took the formula and improved it to perfection, making it one of the most popular and widely consumed spirits in the world. If you want to discover more about this drink, be sure to check out Moscow’s Vodka Museum.

4. Most of Russia is actually forest

It’s no secret Russia is massive, but the majority of it is actually Siberia which means that basically 60% of Russia is forest! And half of that forest is completely uninhabited by humans.

5. 20% of the world’s trees are in Russia

As most of Russia is actually forest, you’ll be pleased to know actually around 20% of all trees in the world are in Russia with and estimated 640 billion. Most of the trees are of course in Siberia, in remote and untouched area. However, these untouched forests are home to the endangered Siberian Tigers.

Siberian forest

6. The world’s coldest inhabited town is in Russia

We know Russia is cold, but it’s hard to believe people actually live in these severely cold climates! The town of Oymyakon in Siberia is considered the coldest in the world. With an average winter temperature of -50°C and reaching it’s record coldest in 1938 at an unbelievable -78°C, only Antarctica is colder!

World’s coldest inhabited town, Oymyakon in Siberia.

7. Russia experiences sub-tropical weather

Believe it or not, the south of Russia actually experiences sub-tropical temperatures! Located on the on the Black Sea coast, the city Sochi, is on the same latitude line as Nice. During the summer Sochi has an average temperature of around 28 °C. Often known as the ‘Russian Riviera’, this city has humid summers, palm trees and experiences mild winters. Guess there’s a new summer hot spot calling, watch out Nice!

Sub-tropical city of Sochi

8. Russia is home to the longest railway in the world

The Trans-Siberian Railroad is the longest in the world and to travel the length of it you would need to spend about a week on the train! The railway is 9,289km long (5,772 miles) and crosses eight time zones!

Trans-Siberian railway

9. Russia is also home to the largest fortress in the world

Yup it seems to be a theme, everything is just simply bigger in Russia. Another is Moscow’s Kremlin, which is the biggest active medieval fortress in the world. The walls are over 2.5 km long, with twenty tours sprinkled across and the fortress spans more than 27 hectares.

Moscow Kremlin at sunset

10. Moscow has some of the most billionaire’s per capita in the world

This may or may not come as a surprise, but Russia’s capital city is in the top 5 of most billionaire residents in the word, over-taking Shanghai and London. According to Forbes, 79 billionaires to be exact. If you’re a luxury car fan, then Moscow is the place to go! Get ready to see more luxury cars than probably anywhere else on the road.

11. Russia is home to 12 active volcanoes

You can actually find 12 active volcanoes across the country, one of the most visited and accessible ones is Kamchatka. The landscapes surrounding the volcano are breath-taking. It’s the perfect place to go if you’re a bit of a nature lover and keen hiker as it’s home to over 1,000 species of plants and animals such as brown bears and wolves.

Kamchatka volcano and surrounding national park in Siberia

12. Lake Baikal has more water than any other lake

Lake Baikal is a stunning lake located in wild wild Siberia. It’s actually the largest freshwater lake in the world by water volume and contains 23% of the world’s freshwater! This is more than all the Great Lakes in North America combined!

Lake Baikal, Siberia

All these surprising facts have you feeling inspired to check out this endlessly surprising and intriguing country? Check out our Russia tours which encompass some of the most famous and interesting sights in the country – you won’t be disappointed.

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