I first started learning about the culture through the classical music I listened to. From the yearning, harsh strings and loud, military brass instruments, I gathered that Russia (at the time the music was written) was a suppressed country, longing for freedom and a better life.
After watching the movie Doctor Zhivago with my grandmother, I began to better understand the rough history of the Russian people.
When we read George Orwell's Animal Farm in school, which just happens to be an exact allegory to the Russian Revolution, I was absolutely enthralled. I found Russia's history sad, tragic, and intriguing.
You can only imagine how I started lapping up Russian culture, music, art, and history when I found out we were adopting Evan. Over the next few weeks or so, I will be posting little tidbits of what I learn. For now, most of this is coming from Culture Smart! Russia. So, here's some general background info about Russia, about where Evan lives:
The Russian Federation (Rossiyskaya Federatsiya)
Russia is negotiating membership of the World Trade Organization.
Population 10.4 million
St. Petersburg (second city); population approx. 4 million
Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Kazan, Perm, Ufa, Rostov-on-Don, Volgograd, and Novosibirsk.
6,592,800 sq. miles (17,075,400 sq. km)
The biggest country in the world; about one-ninth of the world's total area.
Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, and North Korea.
Several former members of the USSR are no longer contiguous.
Varies enormously across the huge land area, from the Arctic north to the southerly latitudes of the Black Sea and the moderating maritime influences of the west.
Broadly speaking there is a long cold winter with snow and ice from November to April, a spring thaw from April and May, and a hot summer from June till September.
Russia covers 11 time zones.
Moscow and St. Petersburg are 3 hours ahead of GMT and 8 hours ahead of New York.
Ruble = 100 kopeks
Recent estimates give around 142 million, 75% of whom live in cities.
Three quarters of the population live in European Russia.
81% of the population is Slav, but there are significant minorities.
Minorities include incl. Tatars, Ukrainians, Chuvash, Belarussians, Bashkirs, Chechens.
Other languages are also spoken in the autonomous republics.
Russian Orthodox Christianity
Other religions: Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and non-Orthodox Christianity.
Multiparty democracy with an elected executive president and a bicameral legislature.
There are 89 administrative areas, with varying degrees of local autonomy.
The main newspapers are Komsomolyskaya Pravda and Kommersant. The news agencies are Itar-Tass and RIA-Novosti (state-owned) and Interfax (private).
Media: English Language
Moscow Times and St. Petersburg Times. Many hotels have international satellite services.
220 volts, 50 Hz. Two-prong plugs.
Adaptors needed for US appliances
NTSC TV does not work in Russia.
The code for Russia is +7. Moscow's code is 495; St. Petersburg's is 812.
To dial out of Russia, dial 8 (for outside the city), then 10, followed by the country code.