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Russia

It is apparent on every corner of the country’s staggeringly awesome cities, such as Moscow and St Petersburg, with their architectural marvels. But it also dwells in huge and remote expanses such as Siberia, filled with ancient forests and the world’s deepest lake. Everything exists here on a mammoth level. Since the 15th century, when the Grand Prince of Moscow, Ivan III (the Great), annexed the rival principalities of Russia, Russia’s ambitions have been as great as this first national sovereign’s appellation. After Lenin’s death in 1924, his successor Josef Stalin instituted a crash programme of industrialisation and the forced collectivisation of agriculture, an indiscriminately brutal process that caused mass starvation.

Practical Information

Area: 17 075 400 km² (6 592 850 miles²)

Capital: Moscow. Population: 8.3 million

Population: 141.5 million

Currency: Rouble (RUB) = 100 kopeks

Government: Republic since 1991.

Tipping: Hotels in Moscow and other large cities include a 10 to 15% service charge. Otherwise 10% is customary.

Time zone: The Russian Federation is divided into 11 time zonesKaliningrad: GMT + 2 (GMT +3 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October)Moscow, St Petersburg, Astrakhan: GMT + 3 (GMT +3 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October)Izhevsk and Samara: GMT + 4 (GMT +5 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October)Perm’, Ekaterinburg, Surgut: GMT + 5 (GMT +6 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October)Omsk and Novosibirsk: GMT + 6 (GMT + 7 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October Abakan, Norilsk, Tura: GMT + 7 (GMT +8 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October)Bratsk, Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude: GMT + 8 (GMT +9 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October) Mirnyy, Tynda, Yakutsk: GMT + 9 (GMT +10 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October)Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, Yuzhno- Sakhalinsk: GMT + 10 (GMT +11 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October)Magadan, Chirskiy: GMT + 11 (GMT + 12 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October)Anadyr, Kamchatskiy, Petropavlosk: GMT + 12 (GMT +13 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October)

Languages: Russian

Additional descriptions

Russia: Social customs

It is customary to shake hands when greeting someone. Company or business gifts are well received. Each region has its own characteristic mode of dress. Conservative wear is suitable for most places andRead more the seasonal weather should always be borne in mind. Smoking is acceptable unless stated otherwise. Avoid ostentatious displays of wealth; it is advisable to keep expensive jewellery, watches and cameras out of sight and take precautions against pickpocketing.Photography: It is prohibited to take photographs of any military installation and/or establishments or sites of strategic importance. Failure to abide by this could result in police arrest.

Russia: Food and local specialties

The kind of food visitors will eat from day to day depends on which city they are visiting and the time of year. Breakfast is often similar to that eaten in Scandinavian countries, with cold meats, boiledRead more eggs and bread served with Russian tea. For the midday and evening meal the food is often more traditional, again depending on the region. Things to know: City-centre bars close around midnight. The national specialties are: Kasha (porridge) is a staple breakfast dish, made with milk and oats, buckwheat or semolina. Blini (small pancakes filled with caviar, fish, melted butter or sour cream). Ponchiki (hot sugared doughnuts). Pirozhky (fried rolls with different fillings, usually meat). Borshch, a beetroot soup served hot with sour cream. Pelmeni (meat dumplings). Chai (sweet tea served without milk). Vodka (often flavoured and coloured with herbs and spices such as zubrovka (a kind of grass), ryabinovka (steeped with rowan-tree berries), starka (dark, smooth, aged vodka) and pertsovka (with hot pepper). Posolskaya, Stolichnaya and Rossiskaya are popular brands. Krushon (cold ‘punch’, champagne, brandy and summer fruit are poured into a hollowed watermelon and chilled for several hours). Nalivka (sweet liqueur made with fruit or berries). Nastoika is a fortified wine made of herbs, leaves, flowers, fruit and roots of plants with medicinal properties.

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