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Russia: Land of Superlatives

Russia is a land of superlatives. It is the largest country in the world, the country of the longest railroads in the world, and is home to one of the oldest, largest, and deepest lakes in the world—the Baikal Lake. 

Covering nearly twice the territory of Canada, there's no wonder that Russia is also the country with the most land borders. In fact, it borders 14 neighboring countries while occupying one-tenth of all the land on Earth. Here are some additional fun facts: 

  • It spans 11 time zones across two continents (Europe and Asia) and has coasts on three oceans (the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic).
  • The Russian landscape varies from desert to frozen coastline, tall mountains to giant marshes. Much of Russia is made up of rolling, treeless plains called steppes. Siberia, which occupies three-quarters of Russia, is dominated by sprawling pine forests called taigas.
  • Russia has about 100,000 rivers, including some of the longest and most powerful in the world. It also has many lakes, including Europe's two largest: Ladoga and Onega. 
  • There are about 120 ethnic groups in Russia who speak more than a hundred languages. Roughly 80 percent of Russians trace their ancestry to the Slavs who settled in the country 1,500 years ago. Other major groups include Tatars, who came with the Mongol invaders, and Ukrainians.
  • Russia's most famous animal species is the Siberian tiger, the largest cat in the world. Indigenous to the forests of eastern Russia, these endangered giants can be 10 feet long, (not including their tail), and weigh up to 600 pounds.
  • Russia is a federation of 86 republics, provinces, territories, and districts, all controlled by the government in Moscow. The head of state is a president elected by the people. The economy is based on a vast supply of natural resources, including oil, coal, iron ore, gold, and aluminum.
  • The Russian town of Oymyakon is considered to be the coldest inhabited place on our entire planet. 
  • The Moscow Metro is considered by some to be the most beautiful metro in the world with its elegant stations. 
  • Leo Tolstoy, Fjodor Dostojevskij, Aleksandr Pushkin, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Vladimir Nabokov, and Anton Chekhov are some of the most noted Russian authors, and their works have become famous worldwide. Famous Russian works include War and Peace, The Cherry Orchard, and The Brothers Karamazov. 
  • The Trans-Siberian Railway goes all the way from Moscow to Vladivostok. It covers a distance of 5,772 miles and has connecting branches in Mongolia and China.