Longest rivers and deepest lakes, cold Siberian winters and hot Black Sea summers, mountains and steppes, Europe and Asia, long history and rich culture, best world novels and famous classical music pieces, Russians and 120 other ethnic groups, Orthodox Christianity and more than 20 other confessions – this is Russia, the largest country in the world that encompasses in itself so much in terms of nature, geography, history and culture. You are about to embark on a real journey through this unbelievably interesting, contrast and beautiful nation! Make sure to do it right! Best-of-Russia will assist you with that!
Russia: Geography and Nature
The largest country in the world with a total area of 17 million km2 covers one-tenth of all the land on Earth. It stretches along 11 time zones across Europe and Asia, and its landscape varies from desert to frozen coastline. Imagine how much is there to see! One-tenth of the planet – Best-of-Russia will make sure to help you choose the right destination from a great variety of travel types and regions.
Such a big country as Russia is, it is, of course, rich in nature: it has about 100 000 rivers, including the longest and most powerful on the planet – make the Volga river cruise and get acquainted with a number of towns that played an important role in Russian medieval history. Europe’s two largest lakes – Ladoga and Onega – offer a lot not only to nature lovers, active tourists and backpackers but also to history and culture lovers as the two lakes have a variety of architectural sights – wooden churches of Kizhi and Solovetsky Monastery. The world’s deepest lake and the biggest fresh water lake on Earth – Lake Baikal – is no doubt one of the most famous destinations in Russia.
As big as the country is, no wonder that it is home for a great number of ecosystems and species. Russia’s forests, steppes, taigas and tundra are a habitat for many rare animals such as Asiatic black bears, snow leopards, polar bears, and the endemic species of Lake Baikal. The largest cat in the world – the Siberian tiger – is Russia’s most famous animal species. Many nature reserves and parks give a chance to visitors to see animal species in their natural habitat.
Lake Baikal © shutterstock/ Best-of-Russia.net
The Altai Mountains © shutterstock/ Best-of-Russia.net
Russia: Population, Ethnic Groups and Religion
Russia with the population of 141 million people is a home to around 120 ethnic groups. Most of the population is of Russian descent while other big ethnic groups include the Tatars, the Ukranians, Bashkir, Chuvash and Chechen. With Russian being the official language, there are more than 100 minority languages. Even though minority ethnic groups account for a small percentage of population, their languages are prominent in their regional areas. For example, in Kazan, the beautiful capital of Tatarstan, you will hear the Tatar language as often as Russian. The Caucasus ethnic groups use their minority languages while, of course, speaking Russian as the official country language.
Being a multi-ethnic nation, Russia is also a multi-faith nation. More than half of the population belongs to Orthodox Christianity. Islam is the second largest religion. The third largest religion is a very interesting one – Tengrism, a pagan, animistic and shamanic religion that originates from Turk and Mongol populations of Central Asia – you will get get acquainted with Tengrism when travelling to Lake Baikal. Among other popular religions are Buddhism and other Christian confessions.
Russia has a long and rich cultural history which is rooted in literature, classical music, ballet and painting that have a large impact on the world’s culture.
Ballet is an art form that was born in Russia. Classic Russian ballet school developed by the Bolshoi Theatre is famous and known all over the world. The best time to see ballet in Moscow is August when the large festival called “Summer Ballet Seasons” takes place in the Russian Capital. In St Petersburg there is also a great ballet school of the Mariinsky Theatre which is among the must-does in the Northern capital.
Russian ballet school goes hand in hand with Russian classical music tradition. Beloved all over the world Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky is the author of “Swan Lake”, “The Nutcracker”, “1812 Overture” and many other pieces that is known everywhere. Other famous composers are Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov with his “The Flight of the Bumblebee”, Sergei Rachmaninoff with the famous “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” and Sergei Prokofiev with the well-known march from “The Love forThree Oranges”.
Russian literature has given the world its best writers such as Leo Tolstoy, the author of “Anna Karenina” and “War and Peace”, or Fyodor Dostoevsky who created the famous “Crime and Punishment”. Famous Russian poet, writer, novelist Alexander Pushkin is beloved by all the Russians and by many abroad.
Russian art has also left its impact on the world with the famous artists like Vasiliy Kandinski, Kazimir Malevich, Marc Chagall and many others whose works can be enjoyed in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, in the Hermitage and Russian Museum in St Petersburg.