• Slovakia!

    Slovakia: Tatra Mountains. Go Now!

    Slovakia
    The Tatra Mountains (pictured) form the backdrop of this rural country, whose culture is rooted in this beautiful landscape. Go Now!

  • Bulgaria!

    Bulgaria: An old Turkish bridge. Go Now!

    Bulgaria
    The isolated mountains of Bulgaria hide cultural gems around every corner, including this old Turkish bridge in the Rhodopi Mountains. Explore Bulgaria!

  • Italy!

    Italy: Rome' historic buildings. Go Now!

    Italy
    Crumbling buildings in Rome (pictured) only add to the atmosphere in a country where old is redefined and western civilization begins. Explore Italy!

  • Portugal!

    Portugal: Palace of Pena. Go Now!

    Portugal
    Although next to the seas and made famous by trade, Portugal boasts dynamic landscapes and architecture, including the Palace of Pena (pictured) near the town of Sintra. Go to Portugal!

  • Denmark!

    Denmark: Landscape. Go Now!

    Denmark
    From cities like Copenhagen to islands, beaches, and vast fields (pictured), Denmark offers incredible history, architecture, scenery, and more. Begin Your Journey!

  • Armenia!

    Armenia: Noravank Monastery. Go Now!

    Armenia
    With a unique language, foods, architecture, and identity, Armenia is a fascinating country and culture unlike no other in the world. Begin Your Journey!

Culture & Identity of Russia

WARNING: Russia's border with Ukraine is unstable and tensions are high, read this travel warning before going!

Introduction

The way of life in Russia has incredible variations. Go to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and a village and in many ways they may appear to be different countries. St. Petersburg has a youthfulness and liberal aura as a student center, Moscow exudes power and wealth, Yekaterinburg feels like an industrial town allowing life in the desolate unknown, and villages seem to move slowly, but peacefully. The traditional Russian culture is heavily based on rural living and village life, but the Soviet heavily industrialized and urbanized the people, changing the daily way of life in the country.

Today nearly 75% of the people are urban and nearly a third work in industries, such as mining, oil, coal, metals, machinery, and military equipment. Only about 10% of the people still work in agriculture and the rest work in the services fields. Although the farmers tend to work from sun up to sun down, for most people the work day begins at about 8:00 or 9:00 am and continues to about 5:00 or 6:00 pm. The GDP per capita in Russia is about $18,000, but the wages differ greatly from urban to rural settings and some occupations, such as engineers in the oil industries and lawyers everywhere, make significantly more money than nearly any other occupation.

Russian Culture - New Year
New Year

Education is very important to the Russians and getting into some university programs can be very difficult (although bribery helps). Like workers, most students get to school via public transportation in the cities. School runs at about the same hours as most work schedules, but usually finish at about 3:00 pm.

Evening and weekend (Saturday-Sunday) life for young singles tends to be based on grabbing a drink with friends after work, checking out the local dance club, or perhaps going for a forest walk. Other forms of entertainment are prevalent in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but elsewhere the options are limited. For families the evening and weekends are more about spending time with family as most meals are eaten at home and during the school year homework occupies much of the evenings.

The way of life as mentioned above is typical, but Russia is anything but typical. Russia is diverse in every sense of the word and the way of life and culture is no different. Moscow has high end car dealerships for those looking to spend some of their excessive millions of dollars and high end shops for the unemployed spouses of the rich to shop, while village life is simple, filled with hard working couples trying to make ends meet, but often this comes with a simplicity that revolves around going to the neighbor's banya (similar to a sauna) to enjoy conversation and company.

Identity

Russians identify in multiple different ways, but most see themselves first as Russian. This term is one that is based heavily on ethnicity and language, while the culture attached to these people has little role in the identity and citizenship has no role in the identity. Much of the former Russian culture was destroyed or re-defined under Soviet rule and today the culture vastly differs from region to region and from rural settings to urban settings so the cultural similarities are strong, but not an important aspect in defining the Russian identity. Ethnic Russians and Russian speakers abroad are always considered a part of this identity, no matter where they were born or live.

Russia is home to dozens of ethnic minority groups and most of these people primarily identify with their ethnicity, but perhaps also with their language, culture, and religion. The way each group identifies varies drastically as some groups have abandoned their native language for Russian, while for others religion is very important and one of the most important parts of thei identity.

This page was last updated: May, 2014