The largest country in the world, Russia covers one-eighth’s of the world’s inhabited land. Russian identity can be traced back to the middle ages and its history is as amazing as it is baffling. Russia is monumental in every aspect. Its where the imperial and the icy co-exists together and ruins or timeworn monuments are a backdrop to the new hip urban culture.
The Russian Federation emerged from the Soviet Union during the turbulence period of 1990-91 but couldn’t separate itself from the clutches of constant wars and conflict. However Russia saw a transformation in the early 2000. The inflation and poverty has decreased, economy became stable, and Russia emerged as a political and military power.
Travelling to Russia brings to mind the western cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg. The heart of “new Russia”, Moscow is truly regal in its modernity while St. Petersburg maintains its status quo of being the setting of film-like reality with its outrageously gorgeous setting. While Moscow is the king in its grandeur, St. Petersburg is the silent, complex character from your favorite movie.
But Russia is more than these cities. Stretched across two continents, Russia has an allure in the history that still stands today, a diversity of flora and fauna due to the varies climatic conditions across the country and a geography that still holds unknown mysteries for humans. And the further one ventures into the Eastern Russia, the vast Siberia has a subtle beauty and an allure in its secrecy. Russia has a culture that is stubborn in its existence, a history that is complex and a land that demands to be explored.
Russian is the lingua franca, people across the country use Russian in their day to day lives. It’s a very culturally diverse language, a member of the Slavic language family and has close ties with Ukrainian. It is not an easy language to learn, especially for a English speaking individual but it is advisable that one should focus on some popular words and phrases to help them read signs in the street. The script, Cyrillic has an origin in Latin alphabets but they have been given a different sound. Though youth in some of the major cities are making effort to learn some basic English, outside of these areas it is almost non-existent.
Since the 10th century AD, Russian have practiced Orthodox Christianity. Even today it is one of the most followed religions in the world. The Russian Orthodox church uses Old Church Slavonic which is quite different from modern Russian. The Church is very conservative and extreme respect has to be shown when visiting the Church. Men need to uncover their head while women need to cover their heads with a scarf.
Due to its huge stretch, the climate varies throughout the country. In the west, the summer can be sunny and green along the black sea while the winters can be cold. However, the Eastern parts of Russia are snow clad and cold for most of the months and some of the regions are scarcely occupied due to extreme cold temperatures.
Russia is extremely cold and a good cloth padding is always advisable. Layered and warm clothing are a must when traveling to Russia.