• Vatican City!

    Vatican City: Vatican Museums. Go Now!

    Vatican City
    The smallest country in the world offers the heart of Catholicism and among the world's finest art collections, including the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms (ceiling pictured). Go to Vatican City!

  • Albania!

    Albania: Village of Theth! Go Now!

    Albania
    Albania is unique in Europe, starting with its Muslim heritage, but expanding to include food, culture, and even its natural beauty. Explore Albania!

  • Netherlands!

    Netherlands: Wooden shoes. Go Now!

    Netherlands
    This low country might be small, but it maintains a unique place in history and culture. Explore the Netherlands!

  • Ukraine!

    Ukraine: Traditional Village. Go Now!

    Ukraine
    Ukrainian culture is based on village life, particularly that found in the Carpathian Mountains (pictured). Begin Your Journey!

  • Latvia!

    Latvia: Art Nouveau in Riga. Go Now!

    Latvia
    Latvia is small, but has a diverse history, foods, and architecture (shown), which includes aspects from both Eastern and Western Europe. Begin Your Journey!

  • Germany!

    Germany: Town Hall. Go Now!

    Germany
    Food, beer, natural beauty, and more create a country that's known for its distinct culture and history. Go Now!

Ethnicity, Language, & Religion of Russia

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

Ethnicity

Most of Russia is ethnically Russian, but there are dozens of ethnic minorities in the country and some regions have a high percentage of these minorities than they have ethnic Russians. The Russian ethnicity is a part of the eastern Slavic ethnicities, making their closest relatives the Belarusians and Ukrainians. Of the minority ethnic groups, many are people of neighboring countries, such as Belarusians, Kazakhs, Chinese, etc., but others belong to more unique ethnic groups. The largest of these ethnic groups is the Tatars, who are an ethnically Turkic people who spread across the country with the Mongols. Many of the other minority groups are also Turkic people from the Central Asian or Ural Mountain regions.

Language

The official language of Russia is Russian, which is a member of the eastern Slavic linguistic group. Russian is written in the Cyrillic alphabet and is most similar to Belarusian and Ukrainian.

Like the various ethnic groups in Russia, many of them also have a unique language, many of which are either a Turkic language (related to many languages in Central Asia and in Turkey or a Uralic language (related to Hungarian, Finnish, and other minor languages in Scandinavia and Russia). Russian is the most commonly spoken language and nearly everyone learns Russian as the main means of communication between ethnic groups. English and other popular international languages have only recently begun being taught in mass numbers, but many young people have at least a working understanding of English today.

Religion

There is no official religion in Russia and, partially due to the intentional destruction of religion during time spans under the communists, the country is primarily atheist or does not adhere to a specific faith. The most popular religion is Russian Orthodox, but less than a quarter of the people actually adheres to this religion. There is also a significant Muslim population as many of the minority groups are, generally speaking, Muslim, although many others have converted to Orthodoxy or abandoned an attachment to any particular religion. Most people will claim to be religious or a believer of a Higher Being, but do not practice a particular religion nor do they prescribe to any individual faith.

Orthodoxy is a Christian religion that claims to be the most loyal to the Christian faith and religion as it was described by Jesus and the Gospels in the New Testament. Christianity, including Orthodoxy, was founded after the death of Jesus in about 30-33 AD; various branches of Orthodoxy were officially recognized by governments long before Catholicism was recognized in the Roman Empire.

Orthodoxy and Catholicism have many of the same beliefs; both believe that there is a single God who created everything and a savior, the son of God, Jesus Christ who is the forgiver of sins. However, Orthodoxy is decentralized so each bishop oversees their local country or region, giving each orthodox country a different leader. In this way, no bishop has more power than any other, meaning the tenants and interpretations of the faith remain relatively unchanged. These beliefs are based on the teachings of the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, in particular the life and teachings of Jesus, which is found in the gospels (in the New Testament).

This page was last updated: May, 2014