Fun Facts about Russia

The view from one of the many mountains surrounding the bay of Nakhodka.
The view from one of the many mountains surrounding the bay of Nakhodka.

Since I’m living here for the summer, I thought I’d compile a few facts about Russia that you might find interesting.

  • The (former) planet Pluto is smaller than Russia. It’s total area is 17,075,400 square kilometers and it covers more than a ninth of the Earth’s land area. The area of the land in Russia is 1.8 times larger than the total size of the United States.  Russia is located across 9 time zones, more than any other country.
  • Stray dogs in Moscow have learned to use the subway. I’m spending a few precious days in Moscow soon and I’ll check it out.
  • There’s a radioactive lake in Russia that can kill you in a matter of hours. Standing on the shore of Russia’s Lake Karachay would give you 600 roentgens of radiation per hour, enough to kill a human. The lake is located in one of Russia’s largest nuclear facilities, which was kept a secret until 1990. “The Techa river, which provided water to nearby villages, was so contaminated that up to 65 percent of locals fell ill with radiation sickness — which the doctors termed “special disease,” because as long as the facility was secret, they weren’t allowed to mention radiation in their diagnoses,” writes Jess Zimmerman at the Grist.
  • Each Russian consumes 18 liters (4.8 US gallons) of beer a year.  There are half a million alcohol related deaths a year here. And until 2013, beer wasn’t even considered an alcoholic beverage.
  • At one point, Russia and the US are only 4km apart. Maybe Sarah Palin can see Russia?
  • The word “vodka” comes from the Russian word for water, “voda.” 25% of all Russians die before the age of 55, compared to only 1% of US Americans. Vodka may be the reason.
  • Russians drink nearly twice as many shots of alcohol a week as Americans. On average, Russians drink 6.3 shots of liquor a week, compared with 3.3 in the U.S. But South Korea tops the list with 13.7 shots of liquor per week.
  • It’s a criminal offence to drive a dirty car. Really.
  • 20% of the world unfrozen, fresh water is in a single lake, located here in Russia: Lake Baikal. It reaches 1642 meters (5,387 feet) in depth.
  • Russia is a major producer of oil. Russia’s pipelines could loop around Earth more than six times.
  • Russia has 695 tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU), the most of any country in the world, approximately half the word’s supply. The US has the world’s second-largest stockpile at 604 tons. This does not make me feel safer.
  • Russia’s population has fallen by 6.6 million since 1993. That’s the equivalent of Massachusetts. The population was 141.9 million in 2010 and is projected to fall 10.7% to 126.6 million by 2050.
  • Nine million commuters are said to ride the Moscow Metro every day. That’s more than London and New York combined.
  • Russia’s homicide rate is twice as bad as America’s. It has a homicide rate of 9.7 per 100,000, compared with 4.7 per 100,000 in the U.S. Russia’s total count of 13,826 is however lower than 14,612 in the U.S. This doesn’t make me feel safer, either.
  • Fifty-six journalists have been killed in Russia since 1992, and 64% of those were murdered. Russia is the fifth-deadliest place to be a journalist.
  • Russia sold Alaska to the U.S. for $7.2 million in 1867. The U.S. paid less than 2 cents an acre for almost 600,000 square miles.