About Russia

Russia also officially known as the Russian Federation is a country in Eurasia. At 17,125,200 square kilometers (6,612,100 sq mi), Russia is the largest country in the world by surface area, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area, and the ninth most populous, with over 144 million people at the end of March 2016. The European western part of the country is much more populated and urbanized than the eastern; about 77% of the population live in European Russia. Russia's capital Moscow is one of the largest cities in the world; other major urban centers include Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, and Kazan.

Extending across the entirety of Northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe, Russia spans eleven time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares land borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland (both with Kaliningrad Oblast), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, and North Korea. It shares maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and the U.S. state of Alaska across the Bering Strait.

The East Slavs emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. Founded and ruled by a Varangian warrior elite and their descendants, the medieval state of Rus arose in the 9th century. In 988 it adopted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. Rus' ultimately disintegrated into a number of smaller states; most of the Rus' lands were overrun by the Mongol invasion and became tributaries of the nomadic Golden Horde in the 13th century. The Grand Duchy of Moscow gradually reunified the surrounding Russian principalities, achieved independence from the Golden Horde, and came to dominate the cultural and political legacy of Kievan Rus'. By the 18th century, the nation had greatly expanded through conquest, annexation, and exploration to become the Russian Empire, which was the third largest empire in history, stretching from Poland on the west to Alaska on the east.

Capital Moscow
Largest city Moscow
Official language and national language Russian
Area 17,075,200 km2 (6,592,800 sq mi)
Total Water (%) 13/td>
Population 144,463,451
Currency Russian ruble
Time zone (UTC+2 to +12)
Country Code +7

The Do’s and Don’ts of Traveling to Russia

To enjoy an embarrassment free visit to Russia, it's really important to know some dos and don'ts when visiting Russia. Russian society is deeply rooted with their traditions. You will also see lot of appealing habits of these people. Since they are themselves very cultured, so they generally see the habits of people coming from different countries. Sometimes even get offended by their careless behaviors.

So, you should also know well about Russian people like their table manners, understanding Russian gestures, their customs and tradition to meet and greet. This will let you avoid unpleasant stuff in Russia.

DO’s

• Do apply for a visa early and register on arrival

• Do check the events calendar

• Do dress up for a night on the town

• Do learn the Cyrillic alphabet

• Do expect to spend

DON’T

• Don’t ask for a mixer with your vodka

• Don’t be disrespectful in a church

• Don’t take photos of government buildings

• Don’t forget to check the train timetable

• Don’t be surprised if you’re stopped by the police

Demographics

Ethnic Russians comprise 81% of the country's population. The Russian Federation is also home to several sizeable minorities. In all, 160 different other ethnic groups and indigenous peoples live within its borders. Though Russia's population is comparatively large, its density is low because of the country's enormous size. Population is densest in European Russia, near the Ural Mountains, and in southwest Siberia. 73% of the population lives in urban areas while 27% in rural ones. The results of the 2010 Census show a total population of 142,856,536.

Russia's population peaked at 148,689,000 in 1991, just before the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It began to experience a rapid decline starting in the mid-1990s. The decline has slowed to near stagnation in recent years because of reduced death rates, increased birth rates and increased immigration. In 2009, Russia recorded annual population growth for the first time in fifteen years, with total growth of 10,500.279,906 migrants arrived to the Russian Federation the same year, of which 93% came from CIS countries. The number of Russian emigrants steadily declined from 359,000 in 2000 to 32,000 in 2009. There are also an estimated 10 million illegal immigrants from the ex-Soviet states in Russia. Russia is home to approximately 116 million ethnic Russians and about 20 million ethnic Russians live outside Russia in the former republics of the Soviet Union, mostly in Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

The 2010 census recorded 81% of the population as ethnically Russian, and 19% as other ethnicities: 3.7% Tatars; 1.4% Ukrainians; 1.1% Bashkirs; 1% Chuvashes; 11.8% others and unspecified. According to the Census, 84.93% of the Russian population belongs to European ethnic groups (Slavic, Germanic, Finnic other than Ugric, Greek, and others). This is a decline from the 2002, when they constituted for more than 86% of the population.

Russia's birth rate is higher than that of most European countries (13.3 births per 1000 people in 2014 compared to the European Union average of 10.1 per 1000), but its death rate is also substantially higher (in 2014, Russia's death rate was 13.1 per 1000 people compared to the EU average of 9.7 per 1000). The Russian Ministry of Health and Social Affairs predicted that by 2011 the death rate would equal the birth rate because of increase in fertility and decline in mortality. The government is implementing a number of programs designed to increase the birth rate and attract more migrants. Monthly government child-assistance payments were doubled to US$55, and a one-time payment of US$9,200 was offered to women who had a second child since 2007.

In 2006, in a bid to compensate for the country's demographic decline, the Russian government started simplifying immigration laws and launched a state program "for providing assistance to voluntary immigration of ethnic Russians from former Soviet republics". In 2009 Russia experienced its highest birth rate since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In 2012, the birth rate increased again. Russia recorded 1,896,263 births, the highest number since 1990, and even exceeding annual births during the period 1967–1969, with a TFR of about 1.7, the highest since 1991. (Source: Vital statistics table below) In August 2012, as the country saw its first demographic growth since the 1990s, President Putin declared that Russia's population could reach 146 million by 2025, mainly as a result of immigration.

Largest cities or towns

1. Moscow Alexandria 2. Saint Petersburg
3. Novosibirsk 4. Yekaterinburg
5. Nizhny Novgorod 6. Kazan
7. Chelyabinsk 8. Omsk
9. Samara 10. Ufa

Languages

Russia's 160 ethnic groups speak some 100 languages. According to the 2002 Census, 142.6 million people speak Russian, followed by Tatar with 5.3 million and Ukrainian with 1.8 million speakers. Russian is the only official state language, but the Constitution gives the individual republics the right to establish their own state languages in addition to Russian.

Despite its wide distribution, the Russian language is homogeneous throughout the country. Russian is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia, as well as the most widely spoken Slavic language. It belongs to the Indo-European language family and is one of the living members of the East Slavic languages, the others being Belarusian and Ukrainian (and possibly Rusyn). Written examples of Old East Slavic (Old Russian) are attested from the 10th century onwards.

Russian is the second-most used language on the Internet after English, one of two official languages aboard the International Space Station[303] and is one of the six official languages of the UN.

Religion

• Orthodox Christianity 75%

• Islam 5%

• Catholicism 1%

• Protestantism 1%

• Judaism 1%

• Buddhism 1%

• Other religious 1%

• Atheists 8 %

• Others 7 %

Culture

Folk culture and cuisine

The Merchant's Wife by Boris Kustodiev, showcasing the Russian tea culture

There are over 160 different ethnic groups and indigenous peoples in Russia. The country's vast cultural diversity spans ethnic Russians with their Slavic Orthodox traditions, Tatars and Bashkirs with their Turkic Muslim culture, Buddhist nomadic Buryats and Kalmyks, Shamanistic peoples of the Extreme North and Siberia, highlanders of the Northern Caucasus, and Finno-Ugric peoples of the Russian North West and Volga Region.
Handicraft, like Dymkovo toy, khokhloma, gzhel and palekh miniature represent an important aspect of Russian folk culture. Ethnic Russian clothes include kaftan, kosovorotka and ushanka for men, sarafan and kokoshnik for women, with lapti and valenki as common shoes. The clothes of Cossacks from Southern Russia include burka and papaha, which they share with the peoples of the Northern Caucasus.

Russian cuisine widely uses fish, poultry, mushrooms, berries, and honey. Crops of rye, wheat, barley, and millet provide the ingredients for various breads, pancakes and cereals, as well as for kvass, beer and vodka drinks. Black bread is rather popular in Russia, compared to the rest of the world. Flavorful soups and stews include shchi, borsch, ukha, solyanka and okroshka. Smetana (a heavy sour cream) is often added to soups and salads. Pirozhki, blini and syrniki are native types of pancakes. Chicken Kiev, pelmeni and shashlyk are popular meat dishes, the last two being of Tatar and Caucasus origin respectively. Other meat dishes include stuffed cabbage rolls (golubtsy) usually filled with meat. Salads include Olivier salad, vinegret and dressed herring.

Russia's large number of ethnic groups have distinctive traditions regarding folk music. Typical ethnic Russian musical instruments are gusli, balalaika, zhaleika, and garmoshka. Folk music had a significant influence on Russian classical composers, and in modern times it is a source of inspiration for a number of popular folk bands, like Melnitsa. Russian folk songs, as well as patriotic Soviet songs, constitute the bulk of the repertoire of the world-renowned Red Army choir and other popular ensembles.

Russians have many traditions, including the washing in banya, a hot steam bath somewhat similar to sauna. Old Russian folklore takes its roots in the pagan Slavic religion. Many Russian fairy tales and epic bylinas were adapted for animation films, or for feature movies by the prominent directors like Aleksandr Ptushko (Ilya Muromets, Sadko) and Aleksandr Rou (Morozko, Vasilisa the Beautiful). Russian poets, including Pyotr Yershov and Leonid Filatov, made a number of well-known poetical interpretations of the classical fairy tales, and in some cases, like that of Alexander Pushkin, also created fully original fairy tale poems of great popularity.

Festivals

Russia holidays are mostly based around religion, music, dance, or food and drink, with a few recalling ancient pagan rituals almost lost in the clamor of the modern world. Favorites are Orthodox Christmas, Easter, and the pre-Lenten Carnival.

Russian Orthodox Christmas
A different calendar is used in the Orthodox religion, with Christmas falling on January 7 and celebrated with joy in churches and homes across the huge country. Families gather to worship, midnight masses glow with hundreds of candles, and the snow glitters with the reflection of Christmas lights.

Maslenitsa Festival
February’s Maslenitsa Festival is the pre-Lenten carnival, lasting a week. Full of traditional fun and games; enjoy parades, live music, Russian dances, nighttime fireworks, and endless eating and drinking in preparation for the fast during Lent.

International Women’s Day
Moscow’s International Women’s Day in March is a major event on the festival calendar, with women’s groups from all over the city parading, campaigning, and rallying to make the world a better and more equal place for the female race.

Easter
As with Christmas, Orthodox Easter falls later than Easter on the regular Christian calendar, usually in early April. It’s a quieter celebration, but perhaps the loveliest religious festival of the year, taking place from Palm Sunday through the church services on Easter Sunday.

Stars of White Nights Festival
Held in St Petersburg’s Mariinski Theater, this festival kicks off in May and ends in July, highlighting the Russian love of opera, classical music, and ballet with top artists, orchestras, solo musicians, and conductors showing off their talent.

St Petersburg Beer Festival
The June Beer Festival is one of the all-time favorites in St Petersburg, featuring hundreds of brands laid out at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Thousands attend, and there’s live music and food to keep the party going.

St John the Baptist’s Day
This festival, held on the saint’s birthday in July, is in fact a pagan holiday when bonfires are lit in cities, towns, and villages across the country. Young couples gather to jump through the flames hand-in-hand as a demonstration of their undying love for each other.

International Moscow Film Festival
Held in June and running through early July, the International Film Festival is a truly international event. Celebrities and famous directors arrive for the screenings of Russian documentaries, short films, and the latest Hollywood blockbusters.

Den’ Goroda
September sees Den’ Goroda (City Day), the celebration of the founding of Moscow. Free street concerts, festivities, and parties bring many thousands of Muscovites into the parks and boulevards, and the pubs and bars do a roaring trade.

Russian Winter Festival
Moscow’s Russian Winter festival kicks off mid-December with a plethora of cold weather events taking place at Izmailovo Park. Troika (sleigh) rides, folk music and dance, skating on the lake and frozen pathways, warming street food, and lots of vodka make this one of the year’s favorite celebrations.

Climate

The main factor influencing Finland's climate is the country's geographical position between the 60th and 70th northern parallels in the Eurasian continent's coastal zone. In the Köppen climate classification, the whole of Finland lies in the boreal zone, characterized by warm summers and freezing winters. Within the country, the temperateness varies considerably between the southern coastal regions and the extreme north, showing characteristics of both a maritime and a continental climate. Finland is near enough to the Atlantic Ocean to be continuously warmed by the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream combines with the moderating effects of the Baltic Sea and numerous inland lakes to explain the unusually warm climate compared with other regions that share the same latitude, such as Alaska, Siberia, and southern Greenland.

Winters in southern Finland (when mean daily temperature remains below 0 °C or 32 °F) are usually about 100 days long, and in the inland the snow typically covers the land from about late November to April, and on the coastal areas such as Helsinki, snow often covers the land from late December to late March. Even in the south, the harshest winter nights can see the temperatures fall to −30 °C (−22 °F) although on coastal areas like Helsinki, temperatures below −30 °C (−22 °F) are very rare. Climatic summers (when mean daily temperature remains above 10 °C or 50 °F) in southern Finland last from about late May to mid-September, and in the inland, the warmest days of July can reach over 35 °C (95 °F). Although most of Finland lies on the taiga belt, the southernmost coastal regions are sometimes classified as hemiboreal.

In northern Finland, particularly in Lapland, the winters are long and cold, while the summers are relatively warm but short. The most severe winter days in Lapland can see the temperature fall down to −45 °C (−49 °F). The winter of the north lasts for about 200 days with permanent snow cover from about mid-October to early May. Summers in the north are quite short, only two to three months, but can still see maximum daily temperatures above 25 °C (77 °F) during heat waves. No part of Finland has Arctic tundra, but Alpine tundra can be found at the fells Lapland.

The Finnish climate is suitable for cereal farming only in the southernmost regions, while the northern regions are suitable for animal husbandry. A quarter of Finland's territory lies within the Arctic Circle and the midnight sun can be experienced for more days the farther north one travels. At Finland's northernmost point, the sun does not set for 73 consecutive days during summer, and does not rise at all for 51 days during winter.

Throughout much of the territory there are only two distinct seasons winter and summer as spring and autumn are usually brief periods of change between extremely low and extremely high temperatures. The coldest month is January (February on the coastline); the warmest is usually July. Great ranges of temperature are typical. In winter, temperatures get colder both from south to north and from west to east. Summers can be quite hot, even in Siberia. The continental interiors are the driest areas.

Climate data for Russia (records)

Month Record high °C (°F) Record low °C (°F)
Jan 22.2 (72) −71.2 (−96.2)
Feb 23.8 (74.8) −67.8 (−90)
Mar 30.3 (86.5) −60.6 (−77.1)
Apr 34.0 (93.2) −57.2 (−71)
May 37.7 (99.9) −34.2 (−29.6)
Jun 43.2 (109.8) −9.7 (14.5)
Jul 45.4 (113.7) −9.3 (15.3)
Aug 43.5 (110.3) −17.1 (1.2)
Sep 41.5 (106.7) −25.3 (−13.5)
Oct 33.7 (92.7) −48.7 (−55.7)
Nov 29.1 (84.4) −58.5 (−73.3)
Dec 25.0 (77) −64.5 (−84.1)

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