Before you begin working your way to foreign language fluency, it helps to understand the culture behind the language you’re learning. After all, language exists to help a group of people express their ideas and beliefs. Russia is a vast country with a rich history and culture. As you begin your Russian language program, gaining a strong grasp on this history, the values, and the etiquette will help you rapidly achieve success. In particular, Russia is an impressive country with interesting facts you should familiarize yourself with.
You probably already know that Russia is the largest nation in the world and is the ninth most populous with 143,437,912 people or about 1.95% of the world’s population. About 73% of the people in Russia live in urban areas.
When it comes to population growth, it decreased to -0.43 in 2002 from 1954’s 1.68%. It improved just a little bit to -0.01% in 2016. The median age in the country is 38 years old and the population percentage is made up of the following:
For the most populous places in the nation, the largest numbers are mostly in single cities, particularly Moscow with over 12 million residents. Here are the distributions of the rest of the inhabitants:
There are a total of 46 provinces with 1,100 cities and towns. The nation is considered a multi-ethnic community with about 100 ethnic groups living in it. Despite different cultures, most of the inhabitants speak Russian. As for religion, which is now flourishing again, 75% are Orthodox Christians, while five percent are Muslims. The other religions, namely Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Buddhism, each account for one percent of share.
“National character is nothing but a myth,” said the poet Gumilyovat the beginning of the 20th century. Yet, there have been many attempts to explain the enigmatic Russian soul.
The minds of the Russians have been set and broken so many times during all the reforms, wars, and social experiments in Russian history. Without having had enough time to become fully established, old values were overtaken by new value systems. These new systems were also destroyed.
“It can take several months, sometimes weeks, to change the political regime; decades to reform the national economy; but centuries to change the national culture,” writes Tatyana Zaslavskaya.
The social transformations in Russia have always come as bursts of drastic measures. Peter the Great’s “westernization” of the country and reform of the calendar, Lenin’s post-revolutionary industrialization plan and “перестройка” and the liberalization of the 1990s were all based on decisions from the top.
You cannot describe one rigid framework of Russian beliefs, morals, and attitudes because the Russian system of values has been changed so often.
The Russian mentality pie consists of slices of Orthodox Christian values, the moral code of communism and its anti-religious propaganda, the influx of Western culture during “перестройка” and the recent strengthening of the national ideal.
The philosopher Ivan Ilyin succinctly described the factors that influenced the Russian mentality: “For centuries, the Russian character was built by monasteries and armies, state governance, and the family unit. It created incredible role models of heroes, who would uniquely combine freedom and discipline.”
Consideration of each of those elements in more detail might help to shed light on the Russian national character.