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Bizarre facts about Russia

Welcome to this week’s edition of Matryoshka’s Diary.  This week our author Elena will share a few facts about Russia that are not commonly known to foreigners (and maybe some Russian people, too).

Russia’s greatest museum – The Hermitage, also in St Petersburg – is home to around 70 cats, which guard its treasures against rodents. The tradition dates back to a 1745 decree of Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great, founder of St. Petersburg. The museum also has almost 14 miles of marbled corridors.

The name Red Square has nothing to do with communism, but derives from the word “krasnyi”, which traditionally means “beautiful”.

There are around 10 million more women than men. As of 2019, there are 67,6 million males and 78,2 million females.

Around 10,000 British tourists visit the country each year, and over 90 per cent of them go only to Moscow and/or St Petersburg.

It is home to the coldest inhabited place on the planet – Oymyakon. On February 6, 1933, a temperature of −67.7 °C was recorded at its weather station.

Moscow is home to more billionaires than anywhere else in the world. The latest count is 74.

There as a “Beard Tax” in Russia, during Peter the Great’s Reign, paid by anyone who had a beard.

Russia and America are less than 4 km apart (at the nearest point).

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