10 Interesting Facts about Russia: Heating Up With Vodka

Russia may be cold or freezing in some parts, but this country makes up for it in being extremely fascinating! Find out what you can look forward to when you decide to visit.

Russia may be seen as the enemy for many people who live in the United States, but for a lot of folks, that only adds to the mystery. Of course, we know about a few great things that have come to us from there… vodka, space exploration and discovery, and of course, mail order brides.

But beyond that, there are much more facts about Russia which you may not know, but should find out. Check out just a few of the interesting facts you may not have heard about this amazing country!

1. 20% of the Earth’s unfrozen fresh water is located in one lake


Lake Baikal in Russia not only contains about 20% of the unfrozen surface fresh water on the planet, it also happens to be the deepest (at 5,387 feet) and among the clearest. On top of all those nifty statistics, it’s also believed that Lake Baikal is the oldest lake in the world at around 25 million years old.

While it’s only the seventh-largest lake in the world, it still contains more fresh water than all of the Great Lakes combined. The lake is home to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals, with most of those not able to find anywhere else in the world. It’s also home to the Buryat tribe where they raise goats, cattle, sheep and other farm animals.

If you’re thinking of taking a dip in this lake, however, beware that it is rather cold. In the winter, it reaches temperatures below zero, and in the summer, the maximum is still a chilly 57 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. There’s a museum that hires cats as guards

If you ever get to visit the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, there are a few guards working underground that you may never even see. These furry guards, also known as cats, are hidden to the public’s eye, but they’re there in the attics and basement of the museum, working away and protecting the artwork.

Protecting the artwork from what, you might ask? Obviously not thieves, unless of course you’re talking Siberian tigers or something like that. No, these employees protect the artwork from smaller and potentially more damaging threats. Yes, these furry felines are there to keep rodents from destroying the artwork.

And they’ve been doing their thing since the museum was founded in 1764. While there are chemical ways to exterminate the pests now, the museum still utilizes the help of cats because they’ve become a legend. So for now, the cats keep getting to do what cats do best, hunt mice and rats.

3. Russian scientists regenerated a 32,000-year-old plant

flower from the Ice Age

There is old, and then there is really freaking old. And when it comes to world records for the oldest plant to ever be regenerated, well, that honor goes to Russian scientists who unearthed seeds from a 32,000-year-old plant and regenerated it. The team found the seed cache of a flowering plant native to Siberia, likely buried by a squirrel back in the Ice Age.

The seeds were completely buried in the ice about 124 feet below the permafrost. Around them there were layers of mammoth and wooly rhinoceros bones. Once harvested, the scientists successfully germinated the plants and they grew, flowered and produced seeds of their own.

4. Russia is only 51 miles away from America at its narrowest point

No, Sarah Palin can’t see Russia from her house, but it is true that Russia and Alaska aren’t as far apart as one might think. At the narrowest parts of the Bering Strait, Cape Dezhnev, Chukchi Peninsula, Russia is separated from Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska by a mere 51 miles. Many people believe this is how humans migrated from Asia many, many years ago.

Perhaps there was a land bridge that allowed them to cross over into North America, but that isn’t the case today. In case you’re getting ideas of traveling the Strait and visiting Russia via Alaska, beware. The Russian coast of the Bering Strait is a closed military zone, and while there are some organized trips, all arrivals must come through the airport or a cruise port.

Anyone who is caught traveling any other way may be arrested, imprisoned, fined, deported and banned from future visas.

5. Speaking of Alaska, Russia sold it to the U.S in 1867

And you won’t believe the deal they got on it, either. The United States paid $7.2 million for the country, which is still more than you can spend on a plot of land. But get this, that’s less than 2 cents an acre for all 600,000 square miles of the cold- snow-covered state. Makes you wonder what’s so bad about it, considering Alaska probably still has better weather than Russia.

6. Russia is home to the coldest inhabited place on earth


Think you hate winter? Why not try living in Oymyakon, Russia, where the average winter temperature drops down to a bone-chilling -58 F. The lowest recorded temperature in history was on a frigid day in 1924 when it got down to -96.16 F. It’s hard to imagine temperatures that extreme, and the problems they must face.

Your saliva freezes on your lips, your glasses to your face, if you step outside unprotected. The frozen ground makes it impossible to grow crops, so the people rely heavily on meat such as the frozen raw Arctic fish, whitefish, and frozen raw horse liver along with soup.

You would think the locals would welcome the warmer temperatures of their brief summers, where it can reach 60-70 degrees, but instead, many complain about the warmer weather. They say they survive the cold by drinking “Russian tea,” otherwise known as vodka.

7. Vodka literally translates to “water”

Russian tea, Vodka, or whatever they want to call it, translates to a word that means water. And for many Russians, they drink it as if it was water. In fact, they’ve found that 25% of Russian men die before they ever reach the age of 55, and many of those deaths can be attributed to alcohol, most notably, vodka.

Some of the heavy drinkers in the study were known to consume a liter and a half of vodka a week, and the average Russian adult drank about 13 liters a year. Currently, the average life expectancy of adult males is only 64 years old, coming in at one of the lowest 50 countries in the world. And many feel that vodka is partially to blame.

8. There are drastically more women than men


Blame it on the vodka, maybe, but there are estimates that there are about 10.5 million more women in Russia than men. As to be expected, the birth rates are about equal amongst the sexes, but around the age of 30, they start to “disappear”. They may become victims of war, car accidents, trauma… You name it.

Fewer than half of them ever see the age of 65. And what about those men who do live to see a ripe, old age and end up having lots of money to boot? Well, they often follow the trend of their President, Vladimir Putin, divorcing their wife to marry a younger woman. After all, there are plenty of young, beautiful, and available women to choose from.

9. Marusia has become the place for rich women

What do you do when you’re young, beautiful, filthy rich and still single? Why, you might just head into central Moscow and check out Marusia. Women spend anywhere from $300 to $2000 to spend time with handsome men who shower them with attention. Think of it almost as a male strip club, with sexy barely dressed men gyrating on the dance floor.

But there’s something more here, or at least there better be for the price tag. Some of the customers say that the men make them feel wanted, and even loved. So much so that one woman in her forties dropped $30,000 for one night out with her friends at the club. Considering it costs about $1,000 to order up a man from the menu, it can add up very quickly.

10. There are “secret” cities hidden around Russia

Russia is suspected of having at least 15 “closed cities.” These are cities with their names and locations unknown, and you won’t find them on a road map or any sign. The government has officially classified them as top secret. Now, before you get any ideas about trying to find these cities, even if you could get around Russia’s harsh terrain easily, it’s strictly forbidden for foreigners to visit them.

So, like what we said above about venturing out into the Bering Strait for the Russian coast… It’s probably not the best idea, unless, of course, you want to find yourself in a Russian prison.

So much mystery and intrigue surrounds Russia, almost makes you want to check it out, doesn’t it? Of course, you’d have to be willing to handle the brutal cold and make sure you don’t break any laws. But hey, maybe you can grab some vodka while you’re there!

About the author

Kristen Duvall

Kristen is a writer of tales both real and make-believe. A Midwestern girl at heart, she currently resides in Southern California with her boyfriend, a Great Dane, and two rescued kitties, one of which is known simply as the KiKi Monster.

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