Russia

Capital city: Moscow

Language: Russian is the official language,English is widely spoken 

Temperature: from -30°C to 37°C

Best time of year to visit: Summer for the cities and Winter for skiing

Currency: Rouble (RUB; symbol руб)

Exchange rate: 1 RUB=0.0996 RMB

Plug converter: Standard European plug with two round pins.220 volts AC, 50Hz.

Country code: + 7

Flight:Plenty of flights operated from three major airports

Highlights

Russia is a country with plenty of social, political and geographic heritage. It is considered as one of the great undiscovered destinations of the 21st Century. It includes a wide variety of customs, a rich culture and wildlife from the Gulf of Finland to the Kamchatka peninsula along the Pacific Coast. Russia is the biggest country in the world, covering an eighth of the Earth’s land area. Travelling 9,200 kilometers overland from west to east takes six days on the Moscow – Vladivostok train, a route that crosses a fascinating landscape and eight time zones.

Nature

The world’s largest forest is in Russia. With over eight million square kilometers of mixed woodlands, the forest is home to precious carnivores such as tigers, bears and leopards. The rest of Russia ranges from semi-desert to cold tundra, from snowy mountain peaks to open grasslands. The Himalayas and other mountain ranges have cut Russia off from the warmer southern climate, leaving most of the country temperate to subarctic and thus covered in snow in winter, though summers can be surprisingly hot. Russia's most eastern parts are also the most bio diverse, though they experience the harshest winters.

History

Russia has had quite an eventful History. It is believed that the establishment of Russia dated back to 862 A.D. when the Novgorod has formed. After one century, the powerful Vladimir I from Kyivan Rus controlled the area of current Russia.

In the 16th century, under Ivan IV (the Terrible), Russia turned into onestate and the triumph of Siberia started. Three centuries of Romanov governance started in 1613 when Michael Romanov was chosen as Tsar. Diminish the Great thereafter changed the nation's capital from Moscow to his recently created St. Petersburg in 1703. Tsar Peter looked to the nations of the west for motivation and starting working on building a nation which would be their equivalent.

From 1815, after the end of Napoleonic Wars, Russia saw the progression of ideologies during the reign of Nicholas II, who would become the last Emperor of Russia. The October Revolution and demise of the Tsar and his family occurred in 1917 and lead to the development of the Soviet Union, the world's first Socialist state.

Lenin followed by Joseph Stalin took the lead of the Communist Party and the country itself A high priority was given to collectivisation and fast  industrialisation,. During the years before World War II Stalin led the Soviet Union to the position of worldwide superpower,, though he did so at great human expense. The post war years saw the passing of Stalin and the start of the Cold War, a time of strong tensions between the Soviet Union and the West lead by the USA. This period ended with the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and of the Soviet Union in 1991.

After Yeltsin's administration in the 1990s, current president Vladimir Putin has kept up a firm hold over the Kremlin since taking power in 1999. Russia’s economy has since then developed thanks to its rich natural resources though it has now recently experienced yet another crisis. On the geopolitical side, the actions of the Russian government have generated some strong controversies in the world.

Culture

Religion in Russia is mainly Christian and Russian Orthodox. Muslim, Buddhist and Jewish minorities also exist. When it comes to social conventions, it is formal to greet someone by shaking hands. If you are a guest at someone’s home, please do not clear your whole plate because leaving some food is considered as a good sign.

As for what to wear in Russia, conservative clothes are recommended in most places. Women will need to cover their shoulders and wear long skirts in order to enter in orthodox churches. Smoking and drinking is widely acceptable.

Russian society is still highly hierarchical. Be careful with some gestures and body language. For example, in Russia, the ‘thumbs up’ sign is an insult.

Food

The traditions of modern Russian cuisines are closely connected with the food that peasants cooked already in the Russian Empire. Basic dishes haven't changed. Certainly, nowadays, when people are in hurry and don't have enough time to cook at home, they prefer fast food, cafe food, etc. Nevertheless, food and beverages that are served at home are almost the same as they were several hundred years ago.

In Russia, people drink tea and coffee with pleasure as other nations do. When talking about traditional alcoholic free beverages are prostokvasha, kvas, kompot (stewed fruit). As for the alcoholic drinks, vodka and samogon are always the top choices. Traditional beer is a bit sour but worthy to try.

Shopping

Russia is used to be Soviet-style counter service but now is considered as a shopping heaven. No matter you are trying to find something expensive or cheap, you definitely can find what you look for.

A diversity of goods can be bought at outdoor markets, shopping centres, local shops and markets. Please don’t forget to buy famous Russian caviar and vodka at very reasonable prices.

 

Shops accept payment in rubles and also credit card, but it should be noted that it’s not always very easy to find English speaking assistance. And please remember always shop around as prices vary significantly.

The traditional Matryoshka dolls (wooden dolls within dolls) are one of the most popular souvenirs but again greatly vary in price. Wooden cups, pottery figurines, engraved amber and lace are also popular options.

What to pack?

Those visiting over summer should pack a mixture of lightweight and mediumweight clothing which includes natural fibres such as cotton and linen are best. As for the winter visitor, remember wools and cashmeres are great material for keeping in the warmth. Sturdy shoes are always a good idea, no matter what time of year.