According to the great English statesman, Winston Churchill, Russia is “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” For most people, this is not a far-fetched idea. Although the country formerly known as Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is the world’s largest country and boasts the eighth-largest GDP all over the planet, very little is known about this mysterious nation and its equally baffling people.
To aid you in this predicament, we’ve put together a list of some of the craziest facts you didn’t know about Mother Russia. Enjoy!
1. It has been said that Russians picked Christianity over Islam as a religion in 988 AD because they didn’t want to give up alcohol.
2. There are 1,159 women for every 1,000 men in Russia.
3. 75% of Russian territory is located in Asia
4. Beer wasn’t considered an alcoholic drink in Russia until 2011.
5. Russians believe it’s bad luck to return to your house (like if you’ve forgotten something) once you’ve already stepped out.
6. Moscow has a very beautiful subway system. It also has the 4th deepest station in the world.
7. The super rich people in Moscow sometimes drive in ambulances so that they can drive around freely during rush hour.
8. One out of four Russian men die before their 55th birthday.
9. Recently, some Russian restaurants have stopped using the word borscht — instead opting to say beet root soup — because the word borscht is Ukrainian.
10. Roman Abramovich, a Russian billionaire, installed lasers in his yacht to act as “anti-paparazzi shield”. The lasers sweep the surroundings and when they detect a CCD, they fire a bolt of light right at the camera to obliterate any photograph.
11. Russia accounts for 20% of the world’s forest area.
12. Russian doesn’t need a subject and a verb to complete a sentence. Saying “Dog.” or “Was walking.” are both complete sentences.
13. Russians don’t put eyes on smileys when typing. They are ) or ))))) but never :). The more parentheses you add, the more you like something.
14. Russians eat their pancakes with sour cream and caviar.
15. Russians love dressing up. A nice dress and some heels are perfect attire for a casual walk.
16. Russians sit quietly for a few seconds before traveling. Before heading out on a journey, they say “Присядем на дорожку,” which means “let’s sit down for the road.”
17. Russians congratulate each other after getting out of a shower or sauna. They say, “S lyogkim parom!” (Basically, “Congratulations on a light steam.”)
18. Russians never smile at strangers. Russians believe smiles are supposed to be genuine, to be shared with friends.
19. 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.
20. Even though Russia has a large Christian population, New Year’s is a way bigger deal than Christmas.
21. In fact, Russians like NYE so much they celebrate it twice Old New Year’s takes place Jan. 13-14.
22. There are over 500,000 alcohol-related deaths in Russia each year.
23. Putin once saved a TV crew from a Siberian tiger — and later acknowledged it was staged.
24. One odd Russian superstition is to avoid whistling indoors.
25. McShrimp is only served in Russia.
26. A russian woman in the 1700s gave birth to 16 pairs of twins, 7 sets of triplets and 4 sets of quadruplets in just 40 years with the same man.
27. The U.S. purchased Alaska from Russia for just US$7.2 million in 1867.
28. Stalin didn’t start learning Russian until he was 8. His mother tongue was Georgian.
29. The oldest plant ever to be regenerated has been grown in Russia from 32,000-year-old seeds.