Churchill's 'riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma' remains an apt description of Russia; most outsiders have only a hazy idea of its realities. A composite of the extravagant glories of old Russia and the drab legacies of the Soviet era, it's a country that both befuddles and beguiles.

This is a land of snow and deadly winters, but also of rivers that meander across meadows and a midsummer sun that never sets. Its people, in the words of a Russian proverb, 'love to suffer', yet they also love to party and can be disarmingly generous and hospitable.

Full Name: Russian Federation

Capital City: Moscow

Area: 17,075,200 sq km (6,592,735 sq miles)

Population: 144,530,000

Time Zone: GMT/UTC +2, +3, +4, +5, +8, +10, +12

Languages: Russian (official)

Religion: Russian Orthodox, Islam, Animist

Currency: Rouble (R)

Electricity: 220V 50HzHz

Country Dialing Code: 7

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