Russia is the largest country in the world when it comes to landmass, and it has a rich history that reaches all the way back to the 9th century. Unfortunately, most of the world doesn’t know much about Russia, unless you include stereotypes and nasty politics, of course. The following images give you a peek into the daily life of Russians, and you might just be surprised.

They Do It All

They Do It All

SwimRun / YouTube

Even though soccer is the most popular sport in Russia, the country has incredible athletes for every sport. If you’re a fan of tennis you may have heard of Anna Kournikova and Maria Sharapova. Darya Klishina is known for her track and field abilities. Even their president, Vladimir Putin, is skilled in martial arts, trained in karate, sambo, and judo.

You’ve probably heard that Russians love their alcohol, well here’s how they build up their tolerance.

Drinks For All

Drinks For All

RIA Novosti

If you’re ever in Russian, partying with friends, it would help you to remember to never have an empty glass, unless you want to get really drunk. In Russian culture, having an empty glass means that you’re ready for another drink, and Russian hosts have no problem helping you out with that.

The fashion accessory is vital when you’re in Russia.

Russian Winter Fashion

Russian Winter Fashion

LOVEBYN

The most popular hat in Russia is the Ushanka. Unless it’s extremely cold outside, most Russians take the ear flaps, which were meant to keep ears warm, and tie them behind their heads. Since the early 20th century, the Russian military has used Ushankas for their uniforms, but the new and improved Ushanka has opening in the ear flaps for headphones.

If your Russian friends seem a bit grumpy, you’ll soon understand why.

Never Smile Without A Reason

Never Smile Without A Reason

Inna Zaytseva

There’s a stereotype about Russians that they seem unfriendly or cold. This probably started because they don’t smile a whole lot, but there’s actually a reason behind it. A saying in Russia goes “Laughter for no reason is a sign of foolishness.” So unless they really mean it, they usually don’t smile.

A Russian’s strength should never be underestimated.

Russians Are Strong

Russians Are Strong

Julia Vins / Instagram

It’s safe to say that Russians are really into powerlifting, bodybuilding, and wrestling. Especially since a lot of their athletes are decorated Olympians. But don’t think that sport is all about the Russian men. The first under-18 woman ever to participate in professional powerlifting tournaments was Maryana Naumova. Julia Vins was only 15 when she became a bodybuilder, and now she’s a huge star on social media.

Keep far away from this place if you go hiking in the mountains in Russia.

The Killing Ground

The Killing Ground

Gizmodo

Lake Karachay, located in the southern Ural mountains, is the most polluted place in the whole world. Since the 1950s the land has been used as a dumping site for radioactive waste. Sadly, the radiation is so high now that you can die after standing near the shore for only an hour.

If you love the furry felines, this show was meant for you.

Furry Fun

Furry Fun

Julie Hrudova

We’re willing to bet that you’ve never seen anything like the Moscow Cats Theater. But if you’d like to see over 150 cats climbing poles, rolling barrels, and walking tight-ropes, than this place is for you. The founders, the Kuklachyovs, are considered some of the most popular children’s entertainers in Russia.

Going to Russia in September is a good time to meet happy couples.

Day For Making Babies

Day For Making Babies

Olga Saliy

Because of high death rates and low birth rates, Russia is going through a population decline. In 2005, the governor of Ulyanovsk declared September 12 the “Day of Conception.” Couples are given a half-day off from work to “procreate.” Since then, the June birth rates have been three times higher than any other month.

If you plan on becoming a journalist in Russia, then you better like Putin.

Not Exactly Free Press

Not Exactly Free Press

Antti Jauhiainen

President Putin is well known for his authoritarian ways and the little tolerance he has for critics. Ever since Putin took over, Russia has become the deadliest place for journalists. Many critics of the regime have gone missing or found dead. In 2006, the heinous murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya made headlines all around the world.

If you have a fear of dogs the Russian subway is not a place for you.

Climb Aboard

Climb Aboard

Aart van Bezooyen

There are an extremely large amount of homeless dogs in Russia. The subway stations have become home to over 500 homeless dogs, especially in the winter. Some of the smarter ones have learned to use the subway system to go where they need to go. They tend to like the quieter cars better.

If you’re a fan of games that require intellect, you might find some competition in Russia.

Calling All Intellectuals

Calling All Intellectuals

ruchess.ru

Russians have been playing chess for centuries. Once the Soviets took over, state-sponsored chess schools were opened by the army to promote the game. During most of the USSR’s reign, Soviet players dominated international tournaments. More than half of the world’s top 20 chess players are from Russia!

Unless you have one of these, don’t bother driving in Russia.

Fraud Alert

Fraud Alert

RussianDashcams2013 / YouTube

We’ve all seen crazy accidents that were caught on film by dashcams. What many people don’t realize is that most of those videos were filmed by Russians. It’s extremely common for people in Russia to stage car accidents to try to extort money, so in order to protect themselves from fraud, drivers started installing dashboard cameras.

Moscow’s a good place to look for a rich man.

Where The Money’s At

Where The Money's At

kremlin.ru

Hong Kong and New York are the cities with the most billionaires, but Moscow is pretty close, too. 73 billionaires, with a combined net worth of $297 billion, call Moscow home. Chairman of the Russian gas company Novatek, Leonid Mikhelson, is the richest man in Moscow. Others among the billionaire group include Vladimir Lisin and Mikhail Prokhorov.

Stay away from overhangs in Russia.

An Icy Death

An Icy Death

Lyudmila Izmaylova

Russian cities have a hazard that most cities would know absolutely nothing about: deadly icicles. Because the winters are so unbelievably cold, icicles tend to grow pretty big. Ones that form off of awnings, or gutters, become a huge safety concern for the public. Even though city officials use steam and lasers to remove them, accidents and some deaths occur.

Secrets hide all around Russia.

Hidden Away

Hidden Away

Wikimedia Commons

While the Soviets were ruling, they closed down quite a few cities and denied access, and even knowledge of them, to citizens. The “closed cities” were used for research, industrial, and military purposes. Not only were they kept from the public, they weren’t allowed on maps, either. Most of the cities are known about today, but not just anyone can walk in, especially not foreigners.

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