Russia is one of the most fascinating countries on the planet. Ruled by one of the most controversial leaders in the world, Vladimir Putin, there are always stories coming from the country that make your jaw drop in awe. Russia is massive, spanning across 11 total time zones, and it is incredibly cold. Today, we are going to take a closer look at one of the most important and secretive nations in the world. Today, we are going to learn about 40 jaw-dropping facts about Russia that are almost impossible to believe!
The Land of Women
While Russia has a very macho reputation, the country is notoriously imbalanced when it comes to gender reputation. No amount of shirtless Vladimir Putin pictures will obfuscate the fact that there are nearly 11 million more women in Russian than there are men. These numbers were accumulated by Russia’s state-sanctioned statistics committee.
Bodybuilding Center of the World
Russia is also notorious for its love of masculine athletics, though both genders ply their trade in equal measure. While wrestling and weightlifting are dominant activities in the country, it is Olympic powerlifting that has put Russia on the map. Both genders embrace these macho sports in equal measure with Maryana Naumova setting the stage for women’s powerlifting in Russia.
Love Your Vodka
Vodka to Russia is the same as Apple Pie to Americans. Simply put, Russians love their vodka. This powerful alcoholic drink can be found in basically every home in the country. During the holidays, each family will spend roughly $400 on vodka per household. That much alcohol will definitely make for a Christmas to be remembered. Or forgotten.
Thank Nixon for Pepsi
Did you know that Russia is Pepsi’s second largest demographic for soda sales? It’s true, but why? Well, back in 1959 Vice President Richard Nixon went to Russia in order to debate with Nikita Khrushchev. During their televised back-and-forth, Nixon shared a glass of Pepsi with his Russian counterpart. At the time, soft drinks were basically non-existent in Russia. Since then, Pepsi has been embraced by the Russian people.
The Beard Tax
Russia has its fair share of obscure laws, just like any other country. In 1698, Emperor Peter I set sights on transforming Russia. His goal was to make the male populace look more like the traditional European male. His idea was to implement a beard tax for all facial hair! If you couldn’t afford to pay the tax, your facial hair was shaved off by Russian police!
The Moon Landing is as important a piece of history as there has ever been recorded. While America celebrates the occasion, Russians look at the Space Race with a more somber attitude. According to historians, Russia’s government has a dark history of covering up their failed space launches. if you’re interested in learning more, start researching the Lost Cosmonauts of Russia.
Russia’s Secret Cities
While we are on the subject of potential conspiracy theories, you have to learn about Russia’s secret cities! Apparently, there are at least 15 cities in Russia that have been completely obfuscated and hidden from maps. Visiting these cities can result in apprehension by the Russian military. For research purposes, consider looking into the term ZATO.
The Red Square
The Red Square was erected in the 16th century. Built with the intention of inspiring commerce, the Red Square has routinely been conflated with communism due to the prevalent color scheme. Fortunately, the red has little to do with communism. Instead, the Red Square roughly translates to the ‘Beautiful Square’ in Russian.
Quirks of the Russian Language
Russian is the eighth most frequently spoken language in the entire world. According to statistics, more than 260 million people on the planet are fluent in Russian. What makes the Russian language particularly interesting is their complete lack of the words ‘a’ or ‘the’.
Look Out Below
Russia is famously known for being cold. In fact, the deep freeze of Russia’s winter has been formative in defending the land from invaders like Hitler and Napoleon. Unfortunately, Russia’s wintry bite can lead to the accumulation of deadly icicles. If you were to wander around the streets of Moscow during the winter, you’d run into sections of sidewalk that are completely sectioned off in order to protect the people below.
Mystery of the Amber Room
To say that World War II led to the destruction of priceless artifacts would be an understatement. The Amber Room was an incredible chamber located in the Catherine Palace of Tsarskoye Selo, near Saint Petersburg. During the war, the room was looted by Nazis and the treasure inside was never seen again. What you see above is a reconstruction of the room.
Respecting the Hare
In the 19th century, a series of deadly floods haunted St. Petersburg and the surrounding areas. As a result, nearly all of the hares that lived in the area were killed. This statue commemorates the story of one hare that managed to save itself. How did this hare survive? It hid for shelter in Peter the Great’s own boot.
The Communist Clock
Inside the Hermitage Palace, there is a clock that has been set at 2:10 am for nearly 100 years. On October 25th, 1917, Russia’s government was seized by the Bolsheviks. In doing so, the Bolsheviks turned Russia into a communist country. History says that the provisional government was seized exactly at 2:10 A.M.
If you are taking a trip to Russia, you should understand that you are going to spend more than the locals! Moscow and St. Petersburg are the two largest tourist hotspots in the country. Tourists in the country end up spending more to do the same things as their local counterparts. A visit to the Hermitage Museum, for example, costs a tourist 400 Rubles compared to the local rate of 350 Rubles.
Pipelines Larger Than Earth
The natural gas industry is absolutely vital to Russia’s economy. As a result, Russia is one of the largest petroleum exporters in the world. There are more than 160,000 miles of pipelines in Russia. For reference, the Earth is roughly 25,000 miles in circumference. You could wrap the Earth with Russia’s pipelines several times over.
Home of the Billionaire
In the United States, New York City is popular with billionaires. In Russia, that honor belongs to Moscow. Moscow currently houses 84 of the richest people on the planet. If you were to combine the wealth of those 84 individuals, you would total more than 366 billion dollars. Wow, just wow.
Beer Isn’t Alcoholic
While beer is alcoholic, Russia certainly didn’t’ see it that way. In fact, the Russian government didn’t consider beer to be an alcoholic drink until 2011. That’s right, 2011! What does that mean? Any beer with alcoholic content under 10% was considered to be a common grocery item.
Everyone Has A Dash Cam
Automobile fraud is so rampant in Russia that nearly everyone has their own dash cam. If you want to protect yourself from being defrauded while in Russia, make sure to install a dash cam. As a result of their dash cam population, Russia almost always has the wildest stuff caught on camera.
Different Kinds of Conversations
In the United States, our conversations are plagued by short and vague generalities. In Russia, conversations are very different. If you ask a Russian citizen ‘How are you’, they are expected to fill you in with a long, detailed explanation. Short responses, such as ‘I’m fine!’, are considered to be the height of rudeness.
Wintertime Walrus Dives
Beaches in Russia stay popular year round, despite the frigid winters that plague the nation. While Russia’s beaches are a haven for actual walruses, they are also popular with another type of walrus. Russian divers who believe in the therapeutic nature of freezing water head to Russia’s cold beaches in order to submerge themselves in the water.
Large Land Features
Russia is the largest country in the world, comprising 10% of all land on the planet. As a result, Russia features some pretty large land features. The Volga River, for example, is the biggest river in Europe. Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world and it contains nearly 20% of the freshwater supply in the world. That actually sounds pretty important, doesn’t it?
Dogs Love The Subway
Russia’s major cities have something of a homeless dog problem, but don’t worry — they’re being taken care of. The Russian metro is notorious for having homeless dogs setting up shop. The homeless dog population apparently takes the Russian metro to the city for food during the day before returning to the outskirts of town at night.
Eclectic Animal Population
Thanks to Russia’s sprawling landmass, a wide variety of incredible animals call the continent home. From Siberian tigers to Russian bears, there is always another fascinating animal to see. Russia takes particular pride in their bear population as the animal is frequently touted as a symbol of power.
Leaders of the Chess World
Russia has fully embraced the sport/game of chess. Czar Ivan IV loved playing chess so much so that he died during a match! The first ever state-sponsored chess event happened in the year 291. Now, half of the top 20 chess players on the planet come from Russia. It’s pretty clear to see that chess represents something deeply important to the Russian people.
World Leaders in Murdered Journalists
Russia may have a freedom-of-speech problem. Russia leads the world in journalists that have been murdered. Unsurprisingly, many journalists have been murdered under the direct guidance of the Russian government. We’d advise not speaking out about Putin or his allies while visiting the country.
Importance of a Smile
Smiling is a sure sign of friendliness, but that doesn’t mean you should throw them around casually in Russia. There is a famous Russian proverb that essentially argues against smiling. The proverb goes, ‘Laughing without reason is a sign of foolishness.’ Smiling is typically considered a formality, otherwise it is saved for sincere moments among friends and family.
Russia’s Serial Killer Problem
If you only read a few of these amazing facts, you might think that Russia has a violence problem. Russia is known for being one of the serial killer capitals of the world, trailing only the United States. From the Chessboard Killer to the Butcher of Rostov, the stories get increasingly depraved the more that you read.
Birth of the Nutcracker
Did you know that the ‘Nutcracker’ musical came directly from Russia? The first performance of the Nutcracker was deemed a failure, but the ballet would eventually become one of the most famous performances of all time. Tchaikovsky was the mastermind behind the adaptation and he would also go on to compose both ‘Swan Lake’ and ‘Sleeping Beauty’.
Etienne & The Helicopter
While France’s Etienne Oehmichen may have built the first functional helicopter back in 1924, Russia has a prior claim to fame! Igor Sikorsky began working on his helicopter in 1910. By 1940, Sikorsky’s work would form the foundation from which every other helicopter would be built. Sikorsky would even build the first military helicopter, which he would go on to give to the United States Army.
Russian Bears Have a Drug Problem
Well, not specifically a drug-drug problem, but the statement is true all the same. Bears in Russia are apparently addicted to sniffing jet fuel due to excessive pollution throughout the country. Bears in the country will apparently find helicopters or power generators in order to sniff at the kerosene until they are high from the inhalation.
War of the Fish Farts
Did you know that Sweden and Russia once nearly went to war over fish farts? The Swedish Navy had been monitoring bizarre sounds underwater when they came to the conclusion that it must have been the Russian Navy trying to attack them! Eventually, both sides came to the realization that fish farts were to blame. War avoided.
Moscow’s Cat Theatre
If you only have time to see one show in Moscow, head to the Moscow Cats Theatre. This adorable famous theater is known for employing over 200 cats in their performances. It takes years for the cats to learn the shows, so each performance is truly a masterpiece.
Biggest McDonald’s EVER
The largest McDonald’s in the world belongs to the city of Moscow! In 1988, Moscow reached an agreement with Russia in order to create the largest McDonald’s building in the world. This ornate restaurant still serves traditional McD’s fare, but boy does it look impressive. Apparently, nearly 30,000 customers were served the day the store opened in 1990.
Deadliest Drug Manufacturers
The most dangerous drug in the world is manufactured in Russia. Krokodil is ten times more potent than traditional morphine. The reason for Krokodil’s odd name is due to the side effect of frequent usage. Users begin to develop a sort of reptilian skin the longer they use the powerful drug. Eventually, the skin goes from scaly to gangrenous. Most users of the drug will die within two years of addiction.
A Day for Procreation
There is a National Day of Conception in Russia! Due to their dwindling population, Russia’s governor of Ulyanovsk decided to make a change. Once a year, couples are given half of a day off from work in order to procreate. Birth rates triple every year due to the ‘holiday’!
Famous Furry Hat
The Ushanka is one of Russia’s most iconic fashion statements. This furry cap has a pair of ear flaps that help you to stay warm throughout the frigid winter. Despite being a regular accessory, the Ushanka is still tied closely to the Russian government. With horrific temperatures during the winter, we’d definitely buy one of these furry bad boys.
Underground Sea Tunnels
Did you know that Russia is actually pretty close to Alaska? We feel sorry for giving Sarah Palin so much heat. Due to their proximity to Alaska, Russia has begun building tunnels beneath the sea in order to connect the two land masses. This project has been dubbed the TKM WORLD LINK. The project will cost nearly $65 billion and is already being considered as one of the most important and historic engineering feats in all of human history.
WWII’s Highest Casualty Count
World War II left every nation with scars, but it was particularly brutal for Russia. Russia had the highest casualty count in the war with more than 30 million people being reported to have died. If this number is accurate, and it has been contested, that means that 14% of Russia’s population had been killed.
Russia is Larger Than Pluto
We won’t get into the Pluto-planet debate except to say this, Russia is larger than the frozen planet! Russia is nearly 400,000 square kilometers LARGER than Pluto. Whether you consider Pluto a planet or not, that is still pretty darn impressive. For our part, we still count Pluto as a planet!
Deadly Lake Karachay
We all know that Russia is a pretty wild place when it comes to pollution due to a number of contributing factors. However, Lake Karachay takes things to a new level. Lake Karachay is known to be the most polluted place on the entire planet thanks to nearby nuclear buildings. Standing on the shore for even an hour will lead to deadly radiation poisoning.
Homeless Man Who Helped a Woman Turned Out to be a Hoax
The story of the homeless man who helped out a woman needing gas for her car by donating his few dollars went viral on the Internet and had hundreds of people wanting to reach out and help. They did so through a GoFundMe site that ended up generating a sizable amount of charity and gifts. For those who gave money, it made them feel better instantly. There was only one problem. The story was made up. The man was not homeless, and the woman had never run out of gas.
Instead, the two were involved in an online scam that ended up defrauding folks out of approximately $400,000 in online money gifts. It was not only enough to trigger a serious crime, the pair got themselves charged with a federal conspiracy case and ultimately pled guilty in a New Jersey federal court. Johnny Bobbitt and Katelyn McClure both separately admitted their crime of wire fraud. Given their involvement and degree of actions, Bobbitt is looking at a potential 10 years in federal prison and $250,000 in fines. McClure for her part faces a bigger sentence of 20 years and a similar financial penalty. Both will find out for sure when they are sentenced. In addition to the federal charges, the pair also have a second round of trials to go through with state charges as well. It was a blunt, cold ending to a story and scam that started in 2017 and took off like wildfire, far better than Hobbitt and McClure thought it would.
The story was plausible and reasonable enough. A couple told their story online about how they wanted to help a homeless man who helped them. McClure and her partner posted that Bobbitt realized McClure was in trouble, stuck in Philadelphia without gas. She needed to get home, and Bobbitt, who was nearby, realized the problem. He then gave her his only $20 to buy gas so she could travel again. To show their gratitude, McClure and her boyfriend were trying to raise $10,000 to help Bobbitt out as a thank you. The story took off.
Unfortunately, the media got involved. Loving a story out of the norm with a good newsworthy ending, they showcased the story on TV, and it got big attention. All of a sudden, what was supposed to be a little scam turned into a big one, raising some $402,706 with the added attention in a short three weeks. While Bobbitt did get $25,000 set aside by McClure and her partner, the rest of it was burned like kerosene on fire via clothing, trips, a car, vacations, gambling and more. However, Bobbitt didn’t appreciate the small share, and sued the pair for more, arguing he should have gotten $75,000 at least. GoFundMe got involved by trying to avoid bad press and making sure Bobbitt, the alleged homeless person, got his fair shake.
All of the financial attention caught the eye of the Feds who started investigating McClure. They seized well over 60,000 digital messages between the couple, which included admissions that the whole story was made up – a smoking gun text in the fraud conspiracy. Interestingly, McClure’s partner, although he enjoyed the spending of the money with McClure, was not charged or seen as involved in the conspiracy. The Feds went after McClure and the alleged homeless partner, Bobbitt, for the fraud. And GoFundMe yet again found itself in the middle of a crazy criminal scheme gone public and bad, stealing money from people who wanted to help others online. It turned out to be an odd, miserable ending to what many had hoped would have been a story of human charity done right.
Drones, COVID-19, and Girl Scout Cookies: How One Virginia Troop Made It All Work
Nestled in the heart of Montgomery County is Christiansburg, VA. A small town with just over 20,000 within its city limits, Christiansburg was first founded in 1671. Hundreds of years later, the city continues to thrive despite the COVID-19 pandemic that has been wrecking so much of our day-to-day life.
One particular group of Christiansburg locals made it their goal to deliver Girl Scout Cookies no matter what during the pandemic and Google’s parental company, Alphabet Inc., decided to help them out.
Cookies From the Sky
During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, it seemed unlikely that there would ever be a time when the pandemic would end. As economies shuttered and businesses quarantined, people had to get creative to continue working their trade. A team of Girl Scouts in Virginia was determined to deliver their famous cookies this past year, but due to COVID restrictions, they knew that this would bed difficult.
Lia Reich is a global communications lead at Wing, a subsidiary of the company Alphabet Inc.. Wing develops drones for Google, and it was through their futuristic work that Thin Mints would rain down from the sky. Lia says of COVID restrictions impacting the Scouts, “Selling cookies outside (grocery stores or shops) is difficult this year.”
According to Lia, sales within the Girl Scouts have dropped more than 50%. Lia would go on to tell the team at USA TODAY during an interview, “It was a natural fit to partner with the Girl Scouts.”
Despite soaring vaccination rates and loosening COVID restrictions, the drone program would get launched through the Wing App and its corresponding website. According to Reich, the plan at Wing is to help deliver more than 3,000 total boxes of cookies via its drone delivery service, if not even more.
For the Girl Scouts, cookie season typically begins in January though flavor availability and onset will vary based upon the region. For the longest time, Girl Scouts have prioritized selling their goods in residential neighborhoods, outside of grocery stores, and even through company programs at local businesses.
Unfortunately for the Girl Scouts, the COVID-19 pandemic would put an end to convention. In March 2020, the Scouts would suspend all of their traditional cookie booths and door-to-door sales campaigns. To make up for this loss in action, the Girl Scouts of Virginia would prepare virtual cookie booths through their online social media campaigns to partner with their drone-delivery methods.
Considered one of the largest girl-led programs for entrepreneurs on the planet, the Girl Scout Cookie drive is immensely important for multiple reasons. Not just an important institution, the Girl Scouts are a defining one.
Take Flight With Wing
While the Girl Scouts of Virginia will enjoy drone flying assistance with their cookie deliveries, they won’t have to worry about running the controls themselves. As the first drone delivery company in the country to earn Air Operators Certification from the FAA in 2019, Wing has used the Scouts delivery service as a way to showcase just how far drone flights have come.
According to Reich, “COVID gave people who might not have a reason to try drone delivery, and we saw deliveries increase by more than 500% in 2020.”
Reich’s assertion was backed by a local survey released by Virginia Tech. The survey found that Christiansburg locals enjoyed the idea of a residential drone delivery company with support coming in at 87% in favor of the idea.
Are you ready to start ordering your Girl Scout Cookies through drone delivery services? How about your next grocery order? As it turns out, the sky might be the limit!
Shaq Goes On A Shopping Trip, Surprises Stranger By Paying For Engagement Ring!
Shaquille O’Neal is one of the most famous sports figures in history. Known for his dominance inside of the paint for the Los Angeles Lakers and his undeniable charisma, Shaq would go on to enjoy a Hall of Fame career within the NBA while simultaneously developing his brand into one of the most encompassing in all of the major sports. Now happily retired and ready to sell his smile on television during the big games, Shaq seemingly likes to spend his free time giving fits to those in need and making people smile along the way.
One such experience happened inside of a Zales jewelry shop between Shaq and an unsuspecting (but very grateful!) stranger.
A Gift For a Stranger
Do you remember the day that you got engaged? Do you remember all of the thought you put into the big moment, the care that went into selecting your engagement ring, and the nerves that went into the experience? For this stranger in Zales, the story he would share in the future would blow away even the most imaginative of engagement ring purchases.
Shaq had been shopping at a local Zales earlier this year while looking for new earrings. During his search, Shaq would bump into a kind man who had been shopping for his engagement ring. The two men would share a few words and the sweet moment would end up captured on camera, culminating in Shaq offering to pay for the man’s engagement ring!
Appearing on an airing of NBA on TNT, Shaq would talk about the viral video that had caused so many kind words of support. Shaq described the stranger in the store as “shy” when he overheard the man ask the counter, “How much do I owe to pay off my ring?”
Upon hearing the request, Shaq would step in and ask the shopper how much he had left on the purchase. Shaq would say, “I’m not going to say the amount – but it’s not much for me.”
Man of the People
Shaq and the stranger would end up in a polite argument as the shopper continued to rebuff the offer saying, “I can’t do that sir” before describing the layaway plan he had put in place. Still, the Big Diesel was relentless with his kindness. Shaq told the shopper, “I’ll take care of it. Tell your girlfriend, I got it.”
O’Neal went on to describe how happy the man had been for the gift, admitting that he hadn’t intended for the moment to go viral. In fact, Shaq had hoped the video wouldn’t make it onto the internet. Shaq said on TNT, “I don’t do it for that — I try to do a good deed whenever I leave the house.”
While this moment of kindness may be unforgettable for the stranger at Zales, it is far from the only time that Shaq has stepped up to help an individual in need. Shaq has repeatedly made large and small donations to individuals and charities alike. Additionally, Shaq made headlines a year prior when he pulled over beside a car wreck to help folks who had crashed in Florida. A spokesperson for the Sheriff’s office in Gainesville said of the event, “He didn’t stand around for any accolades, he got in his vehicle and left.”
Dog Trapped For Four Days on Detroit River Adopted by Heroic Rescuer
Dogs are man’s best friend, so it stands to reason that we should look out for them wh never we can! A dog was found recently and rescued from the Detroit River after being stuck on the frozen, ice-covered surface for at least four days. Four days of exposure in the freezing cold could have left any pup sick, disabled, or potentially deceased. Fortunately for everyone involved in this story, the Miracle dog once named Alfonso would survive and find his forever home in the process!
Meet Miracle the Dog
Originally known to the world as Alfonso, Miracle would come into the public spotlight after his rescue from the Detroit River. Alfonso had been just over a year old when he ended up getting chased onto the waterway, then covered in ice, by what appeared to be a coyote. The poor puppy would spend the next four days on the frozen ice fighting against both the biting cold and the wild elements just to survive. Throughout the process, nearby citizens worked their hardest to rescue the little critter.
Thankfully, Jude Meade of J&J Marine would show up to the Detroit River with a plan, an airboat, and a team to help him save the animal. Jude owns a marine construction company based out of Windsor, Ontario, and his airboat would be used to approach the island where the dog was stranded, quickly capturing the puppy in the process. According to Dr. Lucretia Greear, a veterinarian at the nearby Woodhaven Animal Hospital, the pup had been hiding onto the island alone, thankfully unharmed by other wildlife.
Finding a Forever Home
Fortunately for Miracle the Dog, a trip on Jude’s airboat would lead to an invitation to a new forever home. Jude would take Miracle to the nearby Woodhaven Animal Hospital for treatment whereupon the puppy was rejuvenated and restored back to full health. The dog had been suffering from frostbite across the pads of his paws as well as his underbelly, with dehydration and pancreatitis also manifesting. Fortunately, these issues were put in the past.
The River Rouge Animal Shelter considered adopting the puppy before deciding that Jude should have the opportunity, should he want to take it. Sure enough, the story would culminate with Jude coming back to adopt the puppy. The shelter wrote on social media, “Miracle could not ask for a better more ideal family to love him!”
When Miracle had been discovered, they found that he was not wearing a tag or a collar, nor did he have a microchip showing ownership to another family. The River Rouge Animal Shelter would release several updates on the story through their social media page detailing Miracle’s adjustment period. The post read, “Today the story came full circle, as the Miracle Dog was placed into the hands of the hero who had saved his life.”
Couple’s Home Gets Quarantined After Finding Unusual Object On A Beach
Imagine going for a stroll on a typical beautiful evening then coming upon the strangest thing you’ve ever laid eyes on. A huge rock, but was it a rock?
Not only that, you end up being stuck outside your house because the authority figures you called in to deduce what it is came in droves and quarantined your home.
Yes, this is hard to fathom but one couple lived it after deciding to do more than look at the strange object but to seek help.
Here’s what happened next:
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