As the World Cup draws nearer, many people will be taking a closer look at Russia, and perhaps asking some questions about the country the England team will be travelling to.
One thing we do know: Russia is rather intriguing and more than a little mysterious. So, to further picque that Russian curiosity ahead of the World Cup games, here’s 15 facts about Russia that I just bet you didn’t know.
1. Europes largest McDonald's
Searching for the perfect place for a Maccy D's burger? Providing for the fast-food masses, Russia has the largest McDonald’s restaurant in the Europe. It was estimated that 30,000 people were served here during its opening day.
2. Way more women than men
There are 9 million more women than men in Russia. Some believe this dates back to the great losses of men during World War II. Either way, it seems the balance favors the girls.
3. Longest railway line - anywhere!
The Trans-Siberian railway is a network of railway lines connecting Moscow with the Russian Far-East. It stretches 5,772 miles, making it the longest railway anywhere in the line. Began in 1891, construction was finished in 1916 - it is still being expanded on today.
4. One too many Billionaires
After New York City, Moscow has the most billionaires in one place in the world. (In previous years it has often been the billionaire capital of the world). That’s 85 billionaires in Moscow.
5. 77% of Russia is actually made up of Siberia
Yep. Siberia makes up roughly 10% of the world’s land mass.
6. Beer was not considered an alcoholic beverage in Russia until 2013
When beers cheaper than water, it’s not hard to imagine how this was the case. But really, until 2013, anything with less than 10% of alcohol in it was classified as foodstuff.
7. There was a Beard Tax in Russia during Peter the Great’s Reign
He may have been Peter the Great, but it doesn’t sound like it was all that great for the beardy peoples.
8. The word vodka comes from the Russian word “voda” which means water
Strangely, not that surprising.
9. On the topic of vodka - 25% of Russians die before the age of 55, compared to just 1% in the UK - and the drinks all to blame
A bit more of a sobering fact. No pun intended.
10. No Dirty Driving
It’s a finable offence to have a dirty car…
11. Fake Ambulances
Reportedly, wealthy Russians hire fake ambulances so that they can beat the road traffic. These pseudo “ambulance-taxis” can cost over $200 an hour and are found on the internet. The inside of the cars are fitted out like VIP limousines, with the exterior appearing much like the regular ambulance vehicle.
12. No excuses (seriously)
The Russian Mayor of Megion, West Siberia, banned certain excuses from being made by civil servants. Phrases such as “I don’t know” and “It’s lunchtime.” Crikey indeed. The list contained 27 such forbidden phrases, including “there’s no money.”
13. Cats are hired to guard the artwork in Russia’s biggest museum
The Hermitage, in St Petersburg, has been employing cats as far back as anyone can remember. The cats - around 70 of them - protect the paintings from rodents. This tradition dates back to 1745 when the Empress Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, made it a royal decree.
14. Even flowers are unlucky
Russian superstition prevents giving or receiving flowers in even numbers. Even numbered flowers are only given during funerals. For everything else, it’s odd all the way.
15. The Russian underground is beautiful