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Discover Russia (Россия) with Timothy Tye

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Kremlin Embankment, Moscow, RussiaKremlin Embankment, Moscow, Russia
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Russia (Russian: Россия), or the Russian Federation is a country in northern Eurasia. Covering an area of 17,075,400 square kilometers (6,592,800 sq miles), Russia is the biggest country in the world. With a population of 142 million people, it is also the 9th most populous nation.

Russia occupies the whole of northern Asia and 40% of Europe, spanning time zones and incorporating an enormously diverse spectrum of climates and landforms. It has the world's largest reserves of mineral and energy resources, the largest forest reserves and one quarter of the world's fresh water.

Russia was the largest and most powerful constituent of the Soviet Union. The establishment of the Russian Federation followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The country spans 8,000 km at its widest, from the boundary with Poland to the Kuril Islands off Hokkaido, Japan. It shares a border with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland (via the Kaliningrad Oblast), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. This makes Russia a monumental undertaking for anybody wishing to explore it from end to end. Except for the most hardy travelers, most people concentrate on the main cities of Russia, which I will describe in this guide.

Moscow City skyscrapers, Moscow, RussiaMoscow City skyscrapers, Moscow, Russia
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Cities of Russia

Fast Facts about Russia

  • Official Name: Russian Federation
  • Capital: Moscow (8,400,000)
  • Population of Russia: 145,934,000
  • Languages: Russian (official), others
  • Currency: Ruble
  • Religions: Russian Orthodox, others
  • Size: 17,075,400 sq km (6,592,812 sq miles)
  • Continents: Europe and Asia

Kamensk Cathedral, RussiaKamensk Cathedral, Russia
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Major Destinations in Russia

  1. Caucasus Mountains
    The tallest mountain range in Europe with spa resorts.
  2. Kaliningrad
    The small enclave of Russia on the Baltic Sea.
  3. Kamchatka
    Volcanic landscape on the extreme eastern end of Russia.
  4. Kizhi
    Village on an island in Lake Onega with the most beautiful collection of traditional wooden churches.
  5. Lake Baikal
    The world's deepest and biggest lake.
  6. Qolsharif Mosque
    One of the great mosques of Russia.
  7. Sochi
    Black Sea resort, host of the coming 2014 Winter Olympics.
  8. Tomsk
    Most beautiful city in Siberia.

Cathedral of the Assumption, MoscowCathedral of the Assumption, Moscow
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Planning your visit to Russia

Nationals who are not the citizens of the Commonwealth of Indepedent States need a visa before arriving in Russia. Let me warn you in advance that this may be a costly, time-consuming, not to mention often infuriating affair. Preparations should be made at least two months before your departure.

Arriving in Russia

Moscow and St Petersburg are the two main international gateways to Russia, with direct flights from all over the world. Delta, American Airlines and United Airlines are some of the airlines from the United States flying to Russia. The Russian flag carrier Aeroflot flies to New York City, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles from Moscow.

Dombay Mountains in the Caucasus, RussiaDombay Mountains in the Caucasus, Russia
photo source,_Russia_%28Dombay%29.jpg
authorshipPeter Shmelev
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Budget travelers can take NIKI ( from Vienna; Air Berlin from Berlin, Düsseldorf, Munich and Stuttgart; Germanwings ( from Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg and Stuttgart.

Alternatively, you can also take the train to Moscow or St Petersburg from many cities in Europe, and finally, the Trans-Siberian Railway connects Moscow with Beijing and Harbin, as well as with Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia.

Preparing Money for your trip to Russia

The currency used in Russia is the Russian Ruble (RUB).

Planning your travel within Russia

The best way to explore Russia is by train. The roads are pretty bad and driving in Russia can be considered a dangerous sport. There are train services connecting the major cities, and from there, to many of the smaller towns. The trains are surprisingly punctual, and the staff surprisingly courteous - the same cannot be said across Russia.

Baltic Pearl Centre, Saint PetersburgBaltic Pearl Centre, Saint Petersburg
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