Everybody knows that Russia is the biggest country on earth. It’s so big that even if you removed 7 million square kilometers from it, it’d still be number one.
Russia is also an exciting, diverse, and surprising place. Here are ten facts that are sure to blow your mind and have you booking a trip to this county in no time.
The U.S. and Russia Are Only 2.5 Miles From Each Other
Russia and the U.S. are enormous countries. And many tend to think they are very far apart. And while that is true for Moscow and Washington D.C., the two countries are only separated by 2.5 miles of water.
After the U.S. purchased Alaska from the Russians in 1867, the countries became neighbors in the north. Today, Russia owns the Big Diomedes island while the U.S. has the Little Diomedes. Though these islands are close to each other, their time zones are 21 hours apart!
Fascinating Trans-Siberian Railway
Russia spans nine time zones and borders fourteen different countries. So, if you want to see most of the country, there’s no better way than the Trans-Siberian Railroad.
Constructed between 1891 and 1916, the railroad connects Moscow to Vladivostok and is the longest in the world.
The cross-country journey takes about six days in total. You can get a bed in a second-class compartment for around $500. Most people recommend taking your time and getting off to explore the towns and stunning countryside along the way.
Russia Sent the First Person to Space
America gets all the credit for the first person to walk on the moon. But the first person in space was Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.
On April 12, 1961, his flight circled the earth for one orbit and lasted 108 minutes. Gagarin became a cultural icon and set the path to the stars for future space travelers around the world.
It’s a Hackers Paradise
Nearly 5% of all worldwide hacks originate in Russia. But considering that less than 2% of the world’s population lives in Russia, that’s a stunning statistic.
Everyone heard the stories of major hacks. They attacked the Whitehouse and the most secure websites in countries like France, Germany, and the U.K. What you might not be aware of is how frequent hacking happens inside the country as well.
So, if you decide to pack your bags and head to Russia, be sure to avoid public Wi-Fi networks in cafes and restaurants and protect your passwords with a browser (e.g., Chrome) password manager. Installing the latest antivirus software is not the worst idea, either. You can read more at nordpass.com.
Russia Has the Biggest Lake in the World
Although Russia can’t claim the tallest mountain or longest river, it does have the largest lake in the world.
Baikal Lake spans an area of 32,000 square kilometers. It contains more water than all the North American lakes together, which is 20% of the world’s total amount of freshwater, to be exact.
The stunning lake habitat is also home to almost 2,000 plant and animal species. Two-thirds of them can only be found there and nowhere else.
Moscow is the Billionaire Capital
Russia is a middle-income country with an average of $12,000 per capita. But it’s also home to more billionaires than anywhere else on earth. More than 74 of them live in Moscow.
Most derive the fortunes from Russia’s massive mineral and oil deposits. For example, businessman Ivan Savvdis has a net worth of $124 billion.
The Mysterious Amber Room
Most people associate metals like gold, platinum, and palladium with riches. These have always been a sign of wealth. But in the 18th century, one of the biggest testaments to the success of a nation was amber.
Many castles around Europe had small amber objects. But the Amber Room was a true testament to Russian power. It was a gift from the Prussians to Russia, but the room was expanded to become the most extensive collection of amber in the world.
During World War II, the room was looted and reconstructed in Germany. After the war, the room disappeared. It’s still a mystery what happened. But you can visit a reconstructed version of it when you head to Russia.
The First McDonald’s in Russia Was a Big Deal
The first McDonalds opened in Russia on January 31, 1990. It may not seem like a big deal, but for many Russians, it was the first taste of western food.
Thousands of people lined up to order their first Big Mac. To this day, the McDonald’s in Pushkin Square is still a popular tourist destination for Russians.
Russia Has a ‘Day of Conception’
Like many countries, Russia has had to battle a population decline in recent years. To help reverse these numbers, the Russian government created the ‘Day of Conception’ on September 12. Couples get the day off work to ‘work’ on creating a family.
Since 2003, there’s been an increase in June births. Also, young mothers often receive benefits like tax breaks or other gifts.
Russia Has the Most Northern City in the World
There’s some debate over where the exact northmost city is. But, in the end, Russia may have the world’s northmost town.
Norilsk is home to more than 150,000 people. The average temperature there is -10 degrees Celsius. But if you plan on visiting, the summers do get quite lovely. And the sun doesn’t even set between May 21 and July 24!
There’s a Lot to Discover About Russia
Stereotypes aside, Russia is a beautiful country. From the diverse cities to the vast plains of Siberia, there’s a lot to explore.
If you haven’t discovered the world’s largest country for yourself, perhaps now is the time to start planning a trip.