30 Crazy Things You Didn’t Know About Russia

Vladimir Putin

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.

[slideshow]
[slide
permalink=”beer-wasnt-considered-an-alcoholic-drink-in-russia-until-2011-1″
title=”Beer wasn’t considered an alcoholic drink in Russia until 2011.”
content=”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
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/54626d8ceab8eadf69bca638″
caption=””
credit_href=”http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Starij_melnik_pivo.JPG”
]
[slide
permalink=”one-out-of-four-russian-men-die-before-their-55th-birthday-2″
title=”One out of four Russian men die before their 55th birthday.”
content=”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
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/53b7f660ecad04c023a6ba30″
caption=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”there-is-no-word-for-fun-in-russian-3″
title=”There is no word for ‘fun’ in Russian.”
content=”There is the word ‘веселье,’ which translates to ‘joy’ or ‘merriment,’ and there’s also the verb form ‘веселиться.’ One huge difference between the words ‘веселье’ and ‘fun’ is that you can have fun at work, but you can’t ‘веселиться’ at work.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5462102aecad04622cbca638″
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/angermann/2240505992/sizes/l”
]
[slide
permalink=”or-privacy-4″
title=”Or ‘privacy.'”
content=”The closest thing is ‘конфиденциальность,’ but that means confidentiality. And there’s ‘уединение,’ which translates to ‘staying alone.'”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/54621227ecad04d933bca638″
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/belarusian/5092585181/sizes/l”
]
[slide
permalink=”you-can-find-mcshrimp-only-in-russia-5″
title=”You can find McShrimp only in Russia.”
content=”Next time you find yourself in Moscow, take a bite — if you dare.

Source: The Huffington Post
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/54613d0769beddcb7af1fb9e”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://www.apimages.com/metadata/Index/Associated-Press-International-News-Russian-Fed-/268c48f988e6da11af9f0014c2589dfb/8/0″
]
[slide
permalink=”some-bears-in-russia-are-hooked-to-jet-fuel-due-to-the-leftover-kerosene-and-gasoline-containers-in-far-east-regions-6″
title=”Some bears in Russia are hooked to jet fuel due to the leftover kerosene and gasoline containers in far-east regions.”
content=”One photographer observed that the bears would crawl into and ‘sniff’ the leftover containers.

Source: The Daily Mail
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5461433069beddc417f1fb9c”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://pictures.reuters.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&VBID=2C04WNMMDH861&SMLS=1&RW=1395&RH=852″
]
[slide
permalink=”during-the-2012-election-when-putin-was-elected-for-a-third-term-one-region-registered-a-voting-turnout-of-146-7″
title=”During the 2012 election (when Putin was elected for a third term), one region registered a voting turnout of 146%.”
content=”Critics believe that there was electoral fraud in Russia’s 2012 election, especially after one region registered a 146% turnout.

According to official results, Putin won nearly 64% of the vote.

Source: Gawker
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/54622808ecad048007bca63c”
caption=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”moscows-uber-rich-sometimes-drive-in-ambulances-so-they-can-go-around-traffic-8″
title=”Moscow’s uber-rich sometimes drive in ambulances so they can go around traffic.”
content=”Moscow traffic is horrendous. So some wealthy Muscovites have bought ambulances so that they can drive around freely during rush hour.

Source: The Daily Beast
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5461385e69bedd0d6ac81c45″
caption=””
credit_href=”http://pictures.reuters.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&VBID=2C04WNMMIKGZ5&SMLS=1&RW=1395&RH=852″
]
[slide
permalink=”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-9″
title=”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.”
content=”Most goods and services from the West were forbidden, so people came up with creative ways to get their hands on things.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/54613d1f69beddce7ef1fb9e”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://pictures.reuters.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&VBID=2C04WNMMDZ5NK&SMLS=1&RW=1395&RH=852″
]
[slide
permalink=”recently-some-russian-restaurants-have-stopped-using-the-word-borscht–instead-opting-to-say-beet-root-soup–because-the-word-borscht-is-ukrainian-10″
title=”Recently, some Russian restaurants have stopped using the word ‘borscht’ — instead opting to say ‘beet root soup’ — because the word ‘borscht’ is Ukrainian.”
content=”This is kind of like when Americans started saying ‘freedom fries’ in lieu of ‘french fries.'”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/54620ec7ecad041e1ebca63c”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Borscht_served.jpg”
]
[slide
permalink=”russians-sit-quietly-for-a-few-seconds-before-traveling-11″
title=”Russians sit quietly for a few seconds before travelling.”
content=”Before heading out on a journey, they say ‘Присядем на дорожку,’ which means ‘let’s sit down for the road.’

Back in the day, people would sit in silence for a few seconds and then say a quick prayer for the journey ahead.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/504e545769bedd121d000002″
caption=””
credit_href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Aeroflot_Il-96-300_RA-96008_SVO_2011-3-10.png”
]
[slide
permalink=”one-odd-russian-superstition-is-to-avoid-whistling-indoors-12″
title=”One odd Russian superstition is to avoid whistling indoors.”
content=”‘If you whistle in the house, then all the money will fly out of the window.'”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5461080f6bb3f77b5c266338″
caption=””
credit_href=”http://pictures.reuters.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&VBID=2C04WNMMVCYH6&SMLS=1&RW=1395&RH=852″
]
[slide
permalink=”legend-has-it-that-russians-chose-christianity-over-islam-back-in-988-ad-in-part-because-they-didnt-want-to-give-up-alcohol-13″
title=”Legend has it that Russians chose Christianity over Islam back in 988 AD in part because they didn’t want to give up alcohol.”
content=”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.”

Source: Mapping Islamic Studies: Geneology, Continuity, and Change
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/54621f71ecad04c767bca639″
caption=””
credit_href=”http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vladimir_Svyatoslavovich.jpg”
]
[slide
permalink=”even-though-russia-has-a-large-christian-population-new-years-is-a-way-bigger-deal-than-christmas-14″
title=”Even though Russia has a large Christian population, New Year’s is a way bigger deal than Christmas.”
content=”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.
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/54621337ecad04a434bca638″
caption=””
credit_href=”http://www.apimages.com/metadata/Index/Russia-New-Year/db750b0abaf1409da3f69c58969052d5/37/0″
]
[slide
permalink=”in-fact-russians-like-nye-so-much-they-celebrate-it-twice-old-new-years-takes-place-jan-13-14-15″
title=”In fact, Russians like NYE so much they celebrate it twice: ‘Old New Year’s’ takes place Jan. 13-14.”
content=”‘Old New Year’s’ is on the Julian calendar. Although secular Russia is now on the same calendar as the rest of the world, it never gave up ‘Old New Year’s.’

While regular New Year’s is party-focused, ‘Old New Year’s’ is more of a family, cultural event.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/54622befecad048b14bca642″
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/ozmark17/8292135539/sizes/l”
]
[slide
permalink=”its-bad-luck-to-return-to-your-house-after-you-already-left-16″
title=”It’s bad luck to return to your house after you already left.”
content=”People will go to great lengths to avoid stepping back into the house when they forgot something, like asking a relative to bring whatever they forgot outside to them.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/54622d7eecad049f1ebca63e”
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/1277004498/sizes/o/”
]
[slide
permalink=”in-russia-there-are-1159-women-for-every-1000-men-17″
title=”In Russia, there are 1,159 women for every 1,000 men.”
content=”And in urban areas, the imbalance is even greater: there are 1,183 women per 1,000 men.

Source: Pravda
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/54621cdeecad04945fbca638″
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/rmonty119/9188090049/sizes/l”
]
[slide
permalink=”russians-dont-put-eyes-on-smileys-when-typing-18″
title=”Russians don’t put eyes on smileys when typing.”
content=”They are ) or ))))) but never 🙂

The more parentheses you add, the more you like something.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/54613c8469bedd787af1fb9c”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nuvola_emoticon_-_appalled.svg”
]
[slide
permalink=”one-super-popular-russian-meal–called-holodets–contains-meat-suspended-in-salted-gelatin-19″
title=”One super-popular Russian meal — called ‘holodets’ — contains meat suspended in salted gelatin.”
content=”Russians also love cow tongue, pelmeni (Siberian meat dumplings), and kotleti (fried meat patties).”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/546223eeecad048877bca639″
caption=””
credit_href=”http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aspic-with-eggs.jpg”
]
[slide
permalink=”russians-use-the-same-word-to-say-get-healthier-and-get-fatter-20″
title=”Russians use the same word to say ‘get healthier’ and ‘get fatter.'”
content=”The word ‘поправиться’ means both ‘to get healthier’ (or ‘to recover’) and ‘to get fatter.'”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/54621875ecad041c4dbca638″
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/stuart_spivack/4205719474/sizes/l”
]
[slide
permalink=”75-of-russian-territory-is-located-in-asia-21″
title=”75% of Russian territory is located in Asia.”
content=”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
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/54613ca969bedd507cf1fb9c”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://pictures.reuters.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&VBID=2C04WNMMKFE8I&SMLS=1&RW=1395&RH=852″
]
[slide
permalink=”russia-accounts-for-20-of-the-worlds-forest-area-22″
title=”Russia accounts for 20% of the world’s forest area.”
content=”Plus, Russia has the deepest lake in the world, Lake Baikal.

Source: Global Forest Resources Assessment
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5461445c69beddc717f1fba6″
caption=””
credit_href=”http://pictures.reuters.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&VBID=2C04WNMMIBODW&SMLS=1&RW=1395&RH=852#/SearchResult&VBID=2C04WNMMIBODW&SMLS=1&RW=1395&RH=852&PN=2″
]
[slide
permalink=”russians-hang-their-rugs-on-walls-23″
title=”Russians hang their rugs on walls.”
content=”Russians do this mainly because back in the day, walls were so thin that you could hear everything your neighbours were saying and doing. The rugs were used to soundproof a room.

This habit was also influenced by cultures in the Caucuses and in nations like Uzbekistan.

To this day, Russians will hang rugs on walls.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/54621feaecad04c867bca63e”
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/carpetbeggers/15007619697/sizes/l”
]
[slide
permalink=”moscow-has-a-super-beautiful-subway-system-including-the-4th-deepest-station-in-the-world-24″
title=”Moscow has a super-beautiful subway system, including the 4th deepest station in the world.”
content=”In the 1930s when the metro system was being constructed, Russians were getting ready for another possible war. So the metro system was supposed to double as shelter during air raids.

The fourth deepest metro station in the world is at Park Pobedy and is 84 m deep (which is almost 1.7 times the length of an Olympic sized swimming pool.)

Source: Bridge to Moscow, and The Moscow News
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5462215eecad04416dbca639″
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/atkinson000/5281497125/sizes/l”
]
[slide
permalink=”russian-doesnt-need-a-subject-and-a-verb-to-complete-a-sentence-25″
title=”Russian doesn’t need a subject and a verb to complete a sentence.”
content=”Therefore ‘Dog.’ or ‘Was walking.’ are both complete sentences.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/54622314ecad04f470bca64c”
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/tm-tm/5502524777/sizes/l”
]
[slide
permalink=”russians-pick-mushrooms-for-fun-26″
title=”Russians pick mushrooms for fun.”
content=”Some Russians pick berries as well, but mushrooms are the clear favourite.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/54622270ecad043c6dbca639″
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelclarke/4124634079/sizes/l”
]
[slide
permalink=”russians-eat-their-pancakes-with-sour-cream-and-caviar-27″
title=”Russians eat their pancakes with sour cream and caviar.”
content=”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.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5461448a69bedd9b1cf1fb9e”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blini_with_sour_cream_and_red_caviar.jpg”
]
[slide
permalink=”roman-abramovich-a-russian-billionaire-installed-lasers-in-his-yacht-28″
title=”Roman Abramovich, a Russian billionaire, installed lasers in his yacht.”
content=”The lasers act as an ‘anti-paparazzi shield’ and they ‘sweep the surroundings and when they detect a CCD, they fire a bolt of light right at the camera to obliterate any photograph.’

Source: Wired
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/546226d6ecad049b7fbca63c”
caption=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”putin-once-saved-a-tv-crew-from-a-siberian-tiger–and-later-acknowledged-it-was-staged-29″
title=”Putin once saved a TV crew from a Siberian tiger — and later acknowledged it was staged.”
content=”Putin has done several well-documented publicity stunts, including saving a TV crew from a Siberian tiger. He later acknowledged they were all staged.

Source: BBC
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5462297becad04700cbca63d”
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/jedimentat/7557189110/sizes/l”
]
[slide
permalink=”there-is-an-online-comic-called-superputin-30″
title=”There is an online comic called ‘Superputin.'”
content=”You can check it out here.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/54622a10ecad046210bca641″
caption=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”and-now-another-relatively-mysterious-nation-check-out–31″
title=”And now another relatively mysterious nation. Check out …”
content=”

17 Mind-Blowing Facts About North Korea


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credit_href=””
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[/slideshow]