St Petersburg


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GUM Trading and St Basils, Moscow
GUM and St Basils © Can Stock Photo / gina_sanders

Russia is also known as the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic or the Russian Federation. Russia is the largest country in the world in size, yet has a population of only 140 million.  Due in large part to its size, Russia has borders with an amazingly large number of countries, including Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, and North Korea.  More than 90% of the population is Russian Orthodox.  The state of Rus came into existence in the 9th century, but the height of Russian influence likely occurred with the formation of the Russian Empire in the 18th century when it was ruled by csars (tsars).  The communist era of Lenin and Stalin came to an end in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the formation of the Russian Federation. 

Russia’s capital is Moscow, which is famous for the Kremlin overlooking Saint Basil's Cathedral and Red Square.  St Petersburg is the other well known and frequently visited city.  With its northerly location, winters are severe in Russia and tourism is concentrated on the summer months.  Electricity is provided by the standard European plug type.


A tourist visa is a requirement for many nationalities entering Russia.  Normally this is obtained through the company making travel arrangements or by using a visa service.  Express to Russia advertises visa invitations for $18US and after they issue the invitation, you are then responsible for submitting your invitation, original passport, application and passport-size photos to an embassy or consulate to obtain the actual visa.  Our favorite Russian visa application question is to about whether you know how to detonate a nuclear device.  Also check your specific country at VisaHQ.   For a list of exempt countries, visit Project Visa.


Upon entry to Russia, visitors are supplied with an immigration document.  One copy is retained at immigration and one copy must be carried with you during your stay.  Your copy must be shown in order to exit the country and to register at hotels, so keep this document in a safe and easily accessible place.


The currency is the Ruble, but US dollars are widely accepted.  St Petersburg and Moscow now have ATMs and credit cards are becoming more widely accepted.

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