2018 FIFA World Cup: 18 facts about Russia

  1. Russia is the largest country on Earth when measured by area. It’s 6.6 million square miles.
  2. The word vodka is derived from the word voda, which means water.
  3. Anything that had less than 10 percent alcohol was considered a “foodstuff” and not alcohol until 2011.
  4. A Moscow restaurant features only twin employees and is called the Twin Stars diner.
  5. The Cyrillic alphabet is used in the Russian language instead of the Latin alphabet.
  6. The 1908 Russian Summer Olympic team arrived 12 days late in London because Russia was using the Julian calendar.
  7. Legend states that Ivan the Terrible blinded the creator of the iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow so he couldn’t build anything like it elsewhere.
  8. There are more time zones in Russia than any other nation in the world.
  9. Moscow is the Russian capital and has the largest population of any city in the country.
  10. The Trans-Siberian railway is the longest in the world and is 5,700 miles long. It would take more than 152 hours to travel non-stop.
  11. Russia shares a border with an astonishing 14 nations – more than any other in the world: Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Georgia, Estonia, Finland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, North Korea, Norway, Poland and Ukraine.
  12. Russia and the United States are just 2.5 miles apart from each other at the closest point.
  13. Alaska was sold by Russia to the United States in 1867 for $7.2 million.
  14. Russia is a federation. Its head of state is the president (Vladimir Putin) and the prime minister (Dmitry Medvedev) is the head of government.
  15. Putin “won” re-election earlier this year with more than 76 percent of the vote. His biggest would-be challenger was barred from running.
  16. Since Vladimir Putin took over in 2000, dozens of journalists have lost their lives on the job.
  17. In 2013, Russia introduced a "gay propaganda" law, which bans the "promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships." Independent research indicates hate crimes against LGBT people have doubled since then.
  18. 25 percent of Russian males die before they turn 55. Alcohol-related deaths are a major issue in the country.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup starts June 14 on FOX.

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