January - North East Asia - Russia
Russia is the biggest country on our planet, and it you may wonder why we write about Russia when North-East Asia is the topic. Well, the biggest section of Russia is actually part of Asia, so in the following article, I will tell you more about Russia.
I will start with some basic facts about Russia, so if you were ever in a Pub quiz and there is a round about Russia you should definitely know this stuff. The countries full name is Russian Federation, it is being led by the President of Russia Vladimir Putin, from the Capital Moscow. The countries currency is the Russian Ruble, and 1 Euro equals 75.50 Russian Rubles. So to get your good old Russian vodka you have to put some Rubles on the table.
Officially Russian is the only language at the national level, but there are 35 different language considered official languages and in total there are over 100 minority languages spoken in Russia today. Russian is written using a Cyrillic alphabet, it consists of 33 letters. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991, so many countries across eastern Europe still are able to use Russian. So, it is the largest native language in Europe and the eight most spoken language in the world.
The history of the Russian language is long and difficult to summarise. The official language in Moscow and Novgorod, and later, in the growing Muscovy, was Church Slavonic, which evolved from Old Church Slavonic and remained the literary language for centuries. Russian developed under a strong influence of Church Slavonic until the close of the 17th century. By 1800, a significant portion of the gentry spoke French daily, and German sometimes. From the first third of the 19th century Alexander Pushkin revolutionized the Russian literature, and until today there are words shaped by him that can be frequently found in modern Russian colloquial speech.
Religion in Russia is diverse with Christianity, especially Orthodoxy, being the most widely professed faith, 62% of the Russian population are Orthodox Christians. To this day Russian Orthodox Church uses the old Julian calendar; therefore, its Christmas celebration falls on January 7th, 13 days behind the West. The whole of Russia used the old Julian calendar which was 2 weeks behind the rest of Europe up until the 19th century. One day the whole country woke up two weeks later, and New Year was still celebrated twice: 1st of January and Old New Year on January 14th. Around 10% are Muslims, 2 % are Christians of other denominations and 1% belonged to other religions. Around 155 of the population in Russian is not religious.
And not to forget one of the most important things in every country, food. I will tell about some of the most popular Russian dishes.
What’s different about Russian dumplings (pelmeni) are the tasty herbs added to the packed meat fillings of lamb, pork or beef and the thinness of the dough. You can also find fish (typically salmon) or creamy mushrooms as common fillers. When ordering them, you’ll be asked if you want to eat them solo (boiled) or served in a broth.
The intricate-looking cake medovik involves alternating ultra-thin layers of honey spongecake with sweetened (sour) cream. The thin layers are built up to form the cake, from anywhere between 5 and 15 layers, topped off with a sprinkling of crushed sponge or nuts and left overnight to soften and absorb the cream. Fluffy and light to eat, but full-on in flavour and sweetness.
Maybe your heard of stroganoff before, but it is definitely best out of Russia, the credit goes in part to Russian sour cream, but Russia is also home to some of the best and widest variation of mushrooms. Coupled with interesting variations of hunting/game meats, you’ll definitely want to try this dish.
Of course, in Russia you should not forget your drinks, the oldest alcoholic drink in Russia is the Medovukha, a sweet, low-alcohol drink, made with fermented-honey with the addition of various spices. Vodka is most well-known of Russia's alcoholic products and is produced, with some variation, throughout the country, it is produced either on a grain or potato base and is often flavoured with different ingredients.
Some facts to end with:
- Only in 2013 Beer became officially alcohol in Russia
- The Trans-Siberian railway crosses 8 time zones, goes through 87 cities and town and crosses 16 rivers.
- The lakes of Russia contain approximately ¼ of the worlds fresh water
- Russia is home to the world’s largest active volcano Klyuchevskaya Sopka, which has a height of 4750 m.
- Moscow McDonald's is largest in the world with over 700 seats.
- The most famous computer game, Tetris, was created by Russian programmer Alexei Pazhitnov in 1985.
- Women outnumber men by approximately 10 million in Russia.
- The Coldest Inhabited Place on Earth is in Russia called Oymyakon. Lowest recorded temperature in Oymyakon was −67.7 °C in 1933.
- Russia sold Alaska to the U.S. for $7.2 million in 1868.
- There are over 500,000 alcohol-related deaths in Russia every year.