Russia isn’t always the first place that comes to mind when you decide to plan a summer holiday or trip, but it offers a vast country rich in history, culture, amazing people, big scenery and an breathtakingly different experience of life.
Russia has an area of 10, 672,000 sq. miles and a population of almost 150 million people, that’s about 30 times as many people as Ireland! And while Ireland may have all four seasons in one day, Russia is so large a landmass that it is spread over all climate zones except the tropical zone. It takes over 8 hours by plane to get from Moscow to Vladivostok on the Pacific coast and contains 23 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
West of the Ural Mountains from the Black Sea in the South to the Arctic Ocean is a broad plain with low hills and East of the Urals, from the border with Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia to the Arctic coast lies Siberia – a scarcely populated area covered by coniferous forest, swamps and tundra in the North and mountainous terrain in the South.
The most popular tourist destinations are Saint Petersburg and Moscow, the current and formal capitals. In 2010, St. Petersburg was listed on the top 5 cities of Europe to visit and offering classical architecture along with many rivers, channels and bridges is sometimes nicknames ‘Venice of the North’. Moscow has a number of impressive Soviet era buildings, juxtaposed against modern skyscrapers and conetmeporary Russian life.
Love books and literature? Russia has over 50,000 state public libraries containing over a billion books and still growing. All schools, and the majority of offices and large factories, have their own library. There are also nearly 1,500 museums covering everything from history and folk crafts to fine art, science and technology. You can find a list of Russian museums here if you want to find the perfect ones to suit your interests and passions.
Important Russian Holidays You might want to take national holidays into account both to check out local celebrations or to schedule visits accordingly if places are closed. New Years is for many a bigger holiday than Christmas in Russia and holidays are from the first to the fifth of January. Summer sees a few important dates too, with Spring and Labor day celebrated on May 1st, Victory Day on May 9th and ‘Day of Russia’ on June 12th.
Communicating in Russia Of the many languages of Russia, Russian is the only official language but 27 different languages are considered official languages in various regions of and there are over 100 minority languages spoken! If you’d like to enlist the services of an interpreter or translator for help with booking your trip or for corporate communication with Russian businesses if it’s for work, visit instantranslation.ie.
For more information and advice on visas etc. contact the Russian embassy in Ireland.