Population: 149 909 089 people
Area: 17 075200 square km.
Religion: Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism
Official language: Russian
National currency: rouble
Dialing code: 007
Time Zone: 2 hours ahead of Central European time
Electricity: 220 V
Russia with its area of 17 million sq km., is really vast In the Far East, on the Chukotskiy Peninsular, a new day breaks 9 hours earlier than in Moscow. It takes a week by train or 10 hours by air to cross the country from its western frontier to the Pacific Ocean. During this 10 hour flight, the airplane will fly over the tundra, taiga, steppes and deserts. The nature of Russia is striking and unique in many aspects. It is not mere chance that 24 national parks and 84 nature reserves are situated here. More than a half of the territory is covered by forests.
The population of Russia is about 142 million people. There are 13 cities with the population of more than a million citizens in Russia; the largest ones are Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. The Russians (the Slavs) account for 80 percent of the population of Russia. More than a hundred nationalities live in Russia, speak their own language and speak fluent Russian as well. About 30 percent of the citizens of Russia profess atheism; the majority of believers adhere to the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Volga, the most full-flowing river in Europe, is situated in Russia. However, many Siberian rivers, for example, the Lena, the Amur, the Yenisei and the Ob' considerably surpass it in length. The largest lake in the world is located in Russia; because of its size and due to the fact that its water is salty, it is more frequently called a sea, namely the Caspian Sea. The deepest fresh water lake, the famous Baikal, as well as the highest peak Elbrus in the Caucasus is also situated in Russia.
Russia is the coldest country in the world. In the majority of regions, winter lasts for 4-5 months, in the North it lasts for 9 months. Even in Moscow, which is situated in a temperate climatic zone, a temperature of minus 30° Celsius is not rare. That is why, the Russians wear famous fur-caps, which tourists like to buy as souvenirs. The majority of foreigners regard high snowdrifts in the streets of Russian cities as something exotic, as they could see so much snow only at mountain resorts before.
The Russians are real book lovers. One can see a lot of passengers reading in the underground and in buses. There are always many people in bookshops and in front of newsstands. It is true, that they are still not eager to learn foreign languages in Russia - the isolation of the Soviet society under the totalitarian regime is to blame. The young people, of course, diligently study foreign languages, mainly English, but it is quite difficult to communicate with representatives of the elder generation in other languages except for Russian. The Russians are slow in harnessing but fast in riding. These words, which precisely characterize the Russian reality, were uttered by Otto von Bismarck. The Russians are gifted people. We are proud of our famous fellow countrymen. The world is indebted to Russia for such writers as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Chekhov. The five Russians - Bunin, Sholokhov, Pasternak, Solzhenitsyn and Brodsky - were awarded Noble prize in literature. Pieces of music by Russian composers Tchaikovsky, Rakhmaninov, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Shnitke are performed all over the world. Malevich and Kandinsky, representatives of so-called Russian Avant-Garde, won fame owing to their innovation in the art of painting. Russian classical ballet is famous all over the world. Such names as Anna Pavlova, Galina Ulanova, Maya Plesetskaya, Rudolf Nuriev and Mikhail Baryshnikov are familiar to every educated person.
Discoveries and achievements of Russian scientists in the field of chemistry, nuclear physics and aeronautics are generally known. Speaking as for inventions, when the authorship is concerned, in Russia they hold a different opinion from the one held in the rest of the world. Foreigners are really surprised when they hear that the Russians consider themselves the inventors of the steam locomotive, the filament lamp and the radio. There are, of course, a lot of spheres in which the priority of the Russians is not disputed. In 1961, Russia (then the U.S.S.R.) launched the spaceship with the man on board into the space. Successes achieved by the Russians in sports are generally known: the outstanding results at the Olympic Games, the world records of swimmers and weightlifters, the international achievements of gymnasts and figure skaters, the wins of the national hockey team. The majority of the world champions in chess are Russian.