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30 Fun, Weird & Interesting Facts About Russia

Between the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and all the problems occurring between Russia and the Ukraine, I wanted to learn more about the country. Here are 30 weird, fun and interesting facts about Russia.

Moscow is the capital and the largest city in Russia.

The total Russian population is estimated at 142,500,482.

Approximately 73.8% of the population lives in urban centers. The largest cities are Moscow (10.523 million), St. Petersburg (4.575 million), Novosibirsk (1.397 million), Yekaterinburg (1.344 million) and Nizhniy Novgorod (1.267 million.)

Canals of St. Petersburg, Russia
Canals of St. Petersburg, Russia – Photo credit: Peter H from Pixabay

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The land border of Russia is 20,241 kilometres long, the second longest of any country.

Russia is the largest country in the world – and is approximately 1.8 times the size of the US.

The world’s most polluted city, Norilsk in Russia not only has a harsh climate with an average temperature of 15.5°F, but is so heavily polluted by heavy metals that it is economically feasible to mine the surface soil.

Moscow's Red Square
Moscow’s Red Square – Photo credit: Michael Siebert on Pixabay

Borders and time zones in Russia

Russia shares a border with 14 countries including Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, China, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and North Korea. No other country in the world has as many borders.

There are nine time zones across Russia. Russia is permanently on daylight savings time.

The Metro in St. Petersburg
The Metro in St. Petersburg – Photo credit: Peter H from Pixabay

Lowest and highest points in Russia

The lowest point in Russia is the Caspian Sea – at 28 metres below sea level.

The highest point is Mt. Elbrus at 5,633 metres above sea level. It’s the highest mountain in Europe. A chairlift takes you to the 3000 metre mark so if you’re going to climb the mountain that’s where you start.

Mount Elbrus panorama
Mount Elbrus panorama – Photo credit: Kuster & Wildhaber Photo on Flickr

Active volcanoes in Russia

Russia has 12 active volcanoes. The Klyuchevskaya Sopka volcano in Kamchatka Territory has had 50 major eruptions in the last 270 years.

Russia is home to the deepest lake in the world

Lake Baikal contains about 20% of the world’s fresh water and is the deepest lake in the world. About 1,700 species of plants and animals live in the lake, two thirds of which can be found nowhere else in the world.

The Volga is the longest river in Russia at 3,530 kilometres long. It starts in the Valdai Hills to the northwest of Moscow and empties into the Caspian Sea. Over that distance it receives water from 200 tributaries.

Almost half of Russia is covered in forests.

Lake Baikal in winter
Lake Baikal in winter – Photo credit: Наталья Коллегова from Pixabay

Interesting facts about the people of Russia

Life expectancy at birth for males is 64.04 years, and 76.02 years for females.

The median age in Russia is 38.8 years. The population is declining at a rate of -0.02% per year.

An amazing 25% of Russian males die before they turn 55.

There are 46,812,553 million people between the ages of 16 and 49 that are fit for military service, and 22,304,718 million that are unfit for military service, principally because of health problems.

The Caucasus Mountains in Russia
The Caucasus Mountains in Russia – Photo credit: Image by Полина Андрееваfrom Pixabay

Males are registered for the draft at 17.

Russia has a very high literacy rate – with 99.7% of the population able to read and write by age 15.

Russian is one of the five most spoken languages in the world.

Russians use the Cryillic alphabet instead of the Latin alphabet.

Moscow's beautiful subways
Moscow’s beautiful subways – Photo credit: falco from Pixabay

Did you know Moscow is the billionaire capital?

Moscow is home to more billionaires than anywhere else in the world. The latest count is 74.

Russia has a per capita income of about $14,000.

Russia’s economy is the eighth largest in the world.

Russia is very corrupt. It is is ranked 127 out of 177 on Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perception Index.

One of the best reads on corruption and high finance in Russia that reads like a thriller is the book Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder and One man’s Fight for Justice. I couldn’t put it down.

Fabulous landscape in the Altai region
Fabulous landscape in the Altai region of Russia – Photo credit: step-svetlana from Pixabay

Random Russia facts

In 2011 Russia became the world’s leading oil producer. It is the second largest producer of natural gas. It boasts the second largest coal reserve. This makes the country very susceptible to boom and bust cycles.

Russia Day, a national holiday is June 12th.

The Russian Federation was created on December 25, 1991.

There are approximately 261.9 million cellphones in use and 42.9 million land lines.

There are 1,000 companies licensed to offer communication systems.

Russia is very close geographically to the United States. The countries separated by the Bering Sea are just 82 kilometres apart. 

The Trans-Siberian Railroad was built between 1891 and 1916. It connects Moscow to far eastern Russia. Its the longest railway line in the world with a length of 9,289 kilometres.

A colourful railway station in Russia
A colourful railway station in Russia – Photo credit: FOTOGRAFIN from Pixabay

Nature in Russia

A total of 780 species of birds have been recorded in Russia. 

The birch tree is one of the most common trees in Russia – and the inspiration behind many a poem, song and painting.

The most famous animal in Russia is the Siberian tiger. They are an endangered species. If you’re lucky enough to see one, it would be in the forests of eastern Russia. 

Read: The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival by John Vaillant

The Siberian tiger in snow
The endangered Siberian tiger – Photo credit: Marcel Langthim from Pixabay

Further reading about interesting facts

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 34 Comments

  1. We spent 2 days in St. Petersburg while on a cruise a few years ago. I’m not sure that I know any interesting facts but I would love to travel on the Trans-Siberian railway some day!

  2. We’ve been thinking of a Russian River cruise, since Lane has never been there and I have always wanted to return to St. Petersburg – which was still Lenningrad when I was last there! It’s such a beautiful city.

  3. ‘WoW’! Fantastic photo collection I love it too. Sharing information also be helpful for new travelers.

  4. Russia has been on my bucket list for ages and I feel so frustrated as it’s extremely difficult to get tourist visa for Poles. I hope to make it there soon. Love your photos!!!

  5. I used to think that Vladivostok seemed so exotic, only because it’s at the opposite part of the world for me. I’d still love to get there for no other particular reason. 🙂

  6. Interesting. We have always been taught that Mt. Blanc was the highest mountain in Europe, but that was during the Cold War. Wonder if it is different today.

  7. Amazing that it is still the biggest country despite losing a lot of land with the break up of the Soviet Union. Russia has one of the most interesting histories of all the countries in Europe. From it Czarist days to the overthrow of them in Bolshevism and the two World Wars and into the Cold War, there is no dearth of interesting historical subjects. Would love to visit someday.

    1. @Ted Any chance you were a history major. I have been so impressed by some of the countryside I have seen in photos of Russia – especially in the east that I too would really like to visit.

  8. I absolutely loved visiting Russia. The history there is amazing and I find it like taking a step back in time. Most people like St Petersburg but I preferred Moscow. I thought St Petersburg was pretty run down. We went in winter and I’d like to go back in summer.

  9. Hi Leigh, nice list! One fact that always surprises foreigners is that Russian Dolls aren’t even Russian. They actually have quite a fascinating history and trace their origins from various countries in Asia.

  10. Hi Leigh,

    Impressing list of facts! Have you traveled in Russia? It’s such a huge country with so many interesting things going on.

    Keep up the good work,

  11. Thanks for sharing these curious facts. I’m going to see St. Petersburg next summer—my cousin is getting married to a Russian woman. She says the city is stunning during the white nights season.

  12. Volga isn’t longest russian river. its longest in european part of Russia. But in whole Russia it is only 4th. Longest one is Lena (in Siberia)

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