Basic Russia Facts
Russia's Location: Russia is the largest country in the world and shares borders with 14 countries: Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, the China, Mongolia, and North Korea. View a map of Russia.
Capital: Moscow (Moskva), population = 10,126,424
Currency: Ruble (RUB)
Time Zone: Russia spans 9 time zones and uses Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) +2 hours through +11 hours, excluding the +4 time zone. In summer, Russian uses UTC +3 through +12 hours excluding +5 time zone.
Calling Code: 7
Internet TLD: .ru
Language and Alphabet: Approximately 100 languages are spoken throughout Russia, but Russian is the official language and is also one of the official languages of the United Nations. Tatar and Ukrainian make up the largest language minorities. Russia uses the Cyrillic alphabet.
Religion: The religious demographics for Russia vary depending on location. Ethnicity typically determines religion. Most ethnic Slavs are Russian Orthodox (a brand of Christianity) and make up roughly 70% of the population, while the Turks are Muslims and make up an estimated 5-14% of the population. The ethnic Mongols in the East are primarily Buddhists.
Russia's Major Attractions
Russia is so vast that narrowing down its attractions is difficult. Most first-time visitors to Russia concentrate their efforts on Moscow and St. Petersburg. More experienced travelers may want to explore other historic Russian cities. More information about some of Russia's top sights follows:
Russia Travel Facts
Visa Information: Russia has a strict visa program even for people who reside in the Russian Federation and want to visit other parts of Russia! Travelers should apply for a visa well in advance of their trip, have a copy of it and their passports with them at all times, and make sure to return from Russia before the visa expires. Passengers visiting Russia via cruise ship do not need a visa as long as they are staying for less than 72 hours.
Airport: Three main airports take international travelers into Moscow and one into St. Petersburg. The Moscow airports are Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO), Domodedovo International Airport (DME), and Vnukovo International Airport (VKO). The airport in St. Petersburg is Pulkovo Airport (LED).
Train Stations: Trains are considered safer, cheaper, and more comfortable than planes in Russia. Nine train stations serve Moscow. Which station travelers arrive at depends on the region they came from. From the Western TransSib terminal in Moscow, travelers canbegin their 5,800 mile trans-Siberian rail trip to the city of Vladivostok on the Pacific coast. International trains with sleeper cars are available to Moscow or St. Petersburg. However, getting to Russia via train can be difficult depending on where the point of departure is.
This is because travelers going to Russia from Europe (e.g. Berlin) typically have to go through Belarus first, which requires a transit visa - not a big deal, but it is an extra fee and obstacle to plan for. This extra hassle can be avoided by leaving from an EU city like Riga, Tallin, Kiev, or Helsinki and going to Russia directly from there. The trip from Berlin to Russia is 30+ hours, so a day trip has good potential to break up the journey.