26 Fascinating Facts You Never Knew About Russia
From Moscow's bright lights to Siberia's ancient tribes, the world's biggest country is a glorious mishmash of modernism and traditionalism, yet the country often makes the news for all the wrong reasons.
This is incredibly unfortunate as Russia is home to an array of cultural delights and boasts a long and varied history that has inspired countless works of arts.
Here are 16 surprising facts about Russia you might not know.
1. The capital's famous Red Square did not get its name from communism
While media outlets like to associate Russia with all-things communist- despite the breakup of the Soviet Union occupying almost 30 years ago- the country's cities are like most others in Europe. Contrary to popular belief, even the naming of the famous Red Square isn't related to communism.
Red Square actually derives from the word "krasnyi", which once meant beautiful. It has nothing to do with the red budenovka hat that became an archetypal part of the Communist military uniforms during the civil war.
2. Russians are the world's fourth-heaviest drinkers
While we are by no means encouraging stereotypes, it isn't much of a surprise to know that Russians, according to information from the WHO, are the world's fourth-heaviest drinkers!
What's more, the country's national drink, vodka, derives from the word "voda", which means "water." No wonder they can drink most people under the table.
3. The sub-zero temperatures don't phase Russians
Due to its northern, geographical standing, Russia is one of the coldest countries in the world, and in rural parts of the country, temperatures have been known to be less than -40 degrees Celsius.
But Russians are used to the harsh conditions, and consider it wimpy if someone lowers the ear flaps on their Ushanka (fur hat) unless the temperature is below -20C.
4. A Russian traffic jam is like no other
Major metropolises have long suffered from traffic jams, and Russia's capital, Moscow is no exception.
So bad can it get that wealthy Russians have been known to hire ambulances so they can bypass the traffic!