Back in 1939, Winston Churchill famously remarked that Russia was “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”
For most people, his words ring true to this day.
Although Russia is the largest country in the world and has the eighth-largest GDP, little is widely known about the nation and its culture.
Because Russia has increasingly made international headlines, it’s a good idea to know a few things about the country.
To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of some of the craziest facts about the Russian language, culture, politics, and statistics.
In 2011, then-President Dmitry Medvedev officially signed into law that beer was in fact an alcoholic beverage.
This law finally put limitations on where beer could be sold.
Source: Christian Science Monitor
The life expectancy for men in Russia is 64 years old, a total among that of the 50 lowest countries in the world.
Only 10% of men in the US die before their 55th birthday, and 7% of men in the UK do.
And the risk of dying before 55 is exacerbated by those 'who said they drank three or more half-liter bottles of vodka a week.'
Source: The Guardian
Some bears in Russia are hooked to jet fuel due to the leftover kerosene and gasoline containers in far-east regions.
During the 2012 election (when Putin was elected for a third term), one region registered a voting turnout of 146%.
Under the Soviet Union, the distribution of Beatles albums was forbidden by the government, so some medical students would burn Beatles songs onto old X-rays.
Recently, some Russian restaurants have stopped using the word 'borscht' -- instead opting to say 'beet root soup' -- because the word 'borscht' is Ukrainian.
Legend has it that Russians chose Christianity over Islam back in 988 AD in part because they didn't want to give up alcohol.
Prince Vladimir the Great ruled over Kievan Rus' (aka medieval Russia) from 980 to 1015. Kievan Rus' was originally Pagan, but Vladimir converted to Christianity and then converted all of Kievan Rus' in 988.
'Islam, it is said, was rejected because of its teachings prohibiting the use of alcohol. Prince Vladimir is reported to have said that 'the joy of Rus is in drinking.''
Even though Russia has a large Christian population, New Year's is a way bigger deal than Christmas.
In fact, gifts are exchanged at midnight on New Year's, rather than on Christmas Day.
Side note: Russians celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7 because they follow the Julian calendar. As a result, New Year's precedes Christmas for them.
That being said, only 22% of the population lives in the parts of Russia that are technically in Asia.
An overwhelming majority of Russians are concentrated in western Russia.
Source: The United Nations
The Russian version of the pancake is called a blin. While members of the younger Russian generation (especially those who were born outside of Russia) sometimes eat them with syrup or sugar, they are traditionally eaten with sour cream and caviar.
Some people also add eggs, dill, and smoked salmon.