THREE things we did not know about Russia:
- The USA and Russia are just 4Kms apart – Despite spending much of the 20th century ideologically opposed, Russia and the United States are separated by just 4km of water. Indeed, in the middle of the Bering Strait are 2 islands: Little Diomede and Big Diomede. Little Diomede belongs to the US, while Big Diomede belongs to Russia. The islands straddle the International Date Line, which means Big Diomede is almost a day ahead.
- A clock in the St Petersburg’s iconic Winter Palace was stopped at 02:10 on 26 October 1917 to mark the exact moment that Russia became communist. However, a century later, in 2017, the Hermitage Museum (now housed in the Winter Palace) held an official ceremony re-start the clock.
- The coldest permanent settlement is in Russia: In Oymyakon in the Sakha Republic, the average winter temperature is – 50C. Not only is it cold, but it’s also remote. Nearer to the Arctic Circle than the nearest city, it takes two days to drive to the Sakha Capital, Yakutsk. Its lowest temperature was recorded in 1924 – a nippy -71.2°C.