30.04.2017 | Sochi - F1 Russia in Sochi
Location: Eastern Europe/Asia.
Area: 17,098,242 sq km (6,601,668 sq miles).
Population: 142,423,773 (2015).
Population Density: 8.3 per sq km.
Government: Federal republic.
Geography: The Russian Federation covers almost twice the area of the USA, and reaches from the enclave of Kaliningrad in the west over the Urals and the vast Siberian plains to the Sea of Okhotsk in the east. The border between European Russia and Siberia (Asia) is formed by the Ural Mountains, the Ural River and the Manych Depression. All in all Russia has 16 international borders with countries including Finland, Lithuania, USA, Japan, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and China. European Russia extends from the North Polar Sea across the Central Russian Uplands to the Black Sea, the Northern Caucasus and the Caspian Sea. Siberia stretches from the West Siberian Plain across the Central Siberian Plateau to the Lena River and takes in the Sayan and Yablonovy ranges in the south. East of Siberia stretches the Russian Far East, a region almost as big as Siberia itself, running to the Pacific coast and including the vast Chukotka and Kamchatka peninsulas. Given the vast size of the country, Russia’s terrain is hugely variable. From the Siberian tundra to the mountains of the Urals, the beaches on the Black Sea coast, and the plains of western Russia, such variable geography means one can experience many different Russias.
Language: Russian is the official language, although there are over 100 other languages. English is widely spoken by younger people as well as some educated older people.
Religion: Mainly Christian with the Russian Orthodox Church being the largest Christian denomination. Muslim, Buddhist and Jewish minorities also exist.
Time: The Russian Federation is divided into 11 time zones.
Kaliningrad: GMT + 2 (GMT + 3 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
Moscow, St Petersburg, Astrakhan: GMT + 3 (GMT + 3 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
Izhevsk and Samara: GMT + 4 (GMT + 5 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
Perm, Ekaterinburg, Surgut: GMT + 5 (GMT + 6 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
Omsk and Novosibirsk: GMT + 6 (GMT + 7 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
Abakan, Norilsk, Tura: GMT + 7 (GMT + 8 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
Bratsk, Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude: GMT + 8 (GMT + 9 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
Mirnyy,Tynda,Yakutsk: GMT + 9 (GMT + 10 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, Yuzhno- Sakhalinsk: GMT + 10 (GMT + 11 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
Magadan, Chirskiy: GMT + 11 (GMT + 12 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
Anadyr, Petropavlosk-Kamchatskiy: GMT + 12 (GMT + 13 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
Social Conventions: It is customary to shake hands when greeting someone, though never across a threshold. Company or business gifts are well received; if you’re invited to someone’s home do bring a token gift, but avoid clearing your plate when eating; leaving some food is considered as a good sign. Conservative wear is suitable for most places – women will need to cover shoulders and wear long skirts to enter an orthodox church – and the seasonal weather should always be borne in mind. Smoking and drinking is widely acceptable, but the former has been prohibited in restaurants and cafes since 2014. Russian society is still highly patriarchal and hierarchical; this may be reflected in chivalrous acts (men holding doors open for women for example) but it may also mean that women are taken less seriously, and engaging in ‘unfeminine’ behaviour may be interpreted wrongly, although being a visitor may get you some leeway. Be careful with gestures – in Russia, giving the ‘thumbs up’ sign is an insult not an ‘OK’.
It is prohibited to take photographs of any military installation and/or establishments or sites of strategic importance. Failure to abide by this could result in police arrest.
Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Russia uses a standard European plug with two round pins.
Head of Government: Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev since 2012.
Head of State: President Vladimir Putin since 2012.
Recent History: When former President Vladimir Putin stood down from the presidency in 2008 due to a constitutional limit on holding the office for more than two consecutive terms, his anointed successor and long-time protégé, Dmitry Medvedev won a landslide victory, becoming Russia's third president and appointing Putin as his Prime Minister shortly afterwards.
While many political commentators initially saw Medvedev as a loyal servant of Putin, expecting the Prime Minister to hold the presidency in all but name, the world financial crisis has rather upset the political applecart in Moscow, with Medvedev publicly criticising Putin's running of the economy as Prime Minister and the two men's rival power bases increasingly believed to be working against each other.
The economic crisis has exposed serious flaws in Russia's once-booming economy as oil and gas prices have dropped and the lack of infrastructure, investment and financial reform has become gruesomely exposed to the outside world. While the Russian government still has impressive financial reserves as a result of vast oil and gas revenue over the past few years, much of this has gone on propping up the weakening Rouble.