In 2019, more than 5 million people visited Russia. While that seems a lot, for a massive country like Russia, it is nothing. Most people in the world have no idea about anything in Russia and with the new war against Ukraine, even less travelers will dare to visit Russia. We got your back though! In this post we tell you about the 10 Shocking Facts about Russia.
1- Dogs Ride the Subway
Subway-riding dogs are well-known in Moscow. Yes, they are capable of navigating and riding the metro without assistance. These animals have found out how to get on and off the train in order to receive food and other necessities. Over 35,000 stray dogs live in the city, but only a few of the more intelligent ones have discovered and mastered this form of transit in order to survive. They estimate that roughly two dozen of these sophisticated dogs use their sense of smell to navigate the subway on a daily basis. These dogs appear to have figured out how to recognise and respond to human signals. On the subway, dogs receive positive reinforcement and attention from humans, which encourages them to return. They also start to smell the different stations and figure out which ones are related with receiving food.
2- Russians Do Not Smile
One of the most fascinating Russian truths is that Russians learn not to grin as they grow older. While smiling is a symbol of happiness and friendliness in many cultures, it is not so in Russia. Smiling is seen as a sign of weakness and not expressing one’s actual feelings among Russians. Russians grin when they see people they know and care about, but not when they see strangers, as many other cultures do.
If you grin at a Russian on the street, don’t expect them to reciprocate; however, while driving around Russia, we noticed that many Russians smiled and waved back.
3- Russians Have More Superstitions than the Brits
The majority of people are unaware of how strangely superstitious Russians may be. Russians don’t believe in shaking hands in a doorway, sitting at the corner table (or else you’ll be single forever), or wishing someone a happy birthday before their birthday. Do not do these things if you want to avoid enraged Russians when visiting. Even stranger, Russians believe you are not permitted to whistle inside. In this country, it’s better to refrain from humming your favourite melody. According to superstition, if you do, you will have negative financial luck in the future.
4- United States and Russia are Only 4 Km (2.4 Miles) away
When looking at a world map, Russia and the United States of America appear to be on opposing sides of the globe. We’ve seen the global map below in our textbooks and on the internet.
Russia and the United States, on the other hand, are not that far away. They are, in fact, considerably closer than you believe.
The Bering Strait in the Pacific Ocean is the closest geographical point between the US and Russian borders. The Bering Strait contains two small islands, Big Diomede and Little Diomede, which are only 2.4 miles apart.
While Russia owns Big Diomede, the United States owns Little Diomede.
Interested to know more? Read our post about Diomede islands and the fact that Russia and United States are neighbors!
5- The Coldest Village in the World is in Russia
Russia is home to the world’s coldest settlement. The average temperature in Oymyakon, Russia, during the winter is -50°C (-58°F). Oymyakon has had temperatures as low as -71°C (-96°F).
The downsides of living in such extreme temperatures are numerous. If someone tries to wear glasses outside, for example, the glasses will freeze on their face. Automobiles must also be kept in heated garages or they will not start.
It won’t be easy to travel to the world’s coldest town. To get there, you must first travel to Yakutsk, after which you must drive to Oymyakon for two days. If you plan on visiting Oymyakon, make sure to bring warm clothing.
6- You Might Get Jailed for Being Gay
Putin began cracking down on the gay community’s right to express themselves in 2013. The Russian government enacted a “gay propaganda” ban, declaring same-sex partnerships to be socially unacceptable and potentially illegal under Russian law. The homosexual community in Russia and around the world was outraged by the ban. The majority of people have not heard in the media that Russian officials are genuinely putting LGBT individuals to prison or worse, work camps. These LGBT people who were jailed and tortured have come forward to claim that they were electrocuted and beaten to the point of exposing the identities of other gay people.
However, these heinous deeds have not gone undetected. Since the persecution began, activists have been assisting people in fleeing the region. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has also labelled the persecutions as a serious breach of human rights, and is taking steps to prevent them from occurring again.
7- There is a Russian City with Sub-Tropical Weather
It’s difficult to believe, but it’s true. Sochi is located along the same latitude line as popular tourist destinations such as Cannes and Nice. Palm trees, warm summers, and mild winters characterize this city (called the “Russian Riviera”).
8- Russia has had Mafia Gangs
Local mafiosos formed the infamous Uralmash gang in search of financial gain. They began by owning minor businesses in Yekaterinburg but climbed to prominence swiftly when the USSR disintegrated, causing widespread chaos. The city was soon engulfed in bloody turf conflicts. The Central Gang was the Uralmash gang’s main adversary. Each gang buried their dead in different cemeteries on opposite sides of town. You may now pay a visit to the gravesites of once-famous mafia figures, whose gravestones are etched with hyper-realistic portraits and inscribed with their distinguishing characteristics. One was a ‘knife-throwing expert,’ while the other boasted ‘deadly fist-fighting abilities.’ Today, former gang members still own certain retail malls, motels, and juice bars.
9- The Bloodiest Siege in WWII Happened in Russia
While St Petersburg was still known as Leningrad during WWII, German forces encircled the city, cutting off all access and exit options. After conquering the city, Hitler planned to have a celebratory banquet at the Astoria Hotel. Despite all difficulties, he was never able to achieve. For nearly 900 days, people were starving and surviving in subzero conditions with no access to water or electricity. Despite the fact that millions of residents died, they were resolute to defend their city till the end. The sound of a ticking metronome was broadcast on local radio stations to remind residents that their city’s heart was still beating. The city’s pulsing heart may still be heard beneath The Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad.
10- A Russian City is more Luxurious than Versailles
Petergof was built on Peter the Great’s orders in the first part of the eighteenth century, and was meant to rival the opulence of Versailles. On-site, four massive waterfalls with over 150 fountains were built. Bolshoy Cascade is the most impressive of them all, with 64 fountains and 225 bronze statues.
Looking for more strange facts about Russia? In our list of 10 Shocking Facts about Russia, we got you covered with one more fact!
11- Russia Sold Alaska to USA for 7.2 Million Dollars
Alaska was sold to the United States for only 7.2 million dollars in 1897. With today’s inflation, that would be roughly 120 million dollars. Russia needed the money at the time, and there weren’t many Russian settlers in Alaska.
Aside from the money, Russia believed that surrendering the land to the US would help counterbalance Europe’s dominance.
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