Religion - 41% Russian Orthodox; 6.5% Islamic; 4% unaffiliated Christian; 1.5% other Orthodox; 0.5% Buddhist; 25% 'spiritual, but not religious'; 13% atheist
Time zones - Kaliningrad GMT + 3 hours; Moscow/St Petersburg GMT + 4 hours; Yekaterinburg GMT + 6 hours; Omsk GMT + 7 hours; Krasnoyarsk GMT + 8 hours; Irkutsk GMT + 9 hours; Yakutsk GMT + 10 hours; Vladivostock GMT + 11 hours; Magadan GMT + 12 hours
Flight time - London to Moscow 3 hours 45 minutes; London to St Petersburg (direct) 3 hours 35 minutes; London to Vladivostock (via Moscow) 16+ hours
The turn of the year is the main festive season, with a de facto ten day holiday centred around the Russian Orthodox Christmas on 07 January. The 'other' Christmas is also observed on 25 December by the Catholic and Protestant churches, but it is not a public holiday. If you plan a three-week break at this time you can grab an extra New Year celebration for good measure, as the Orthodox (or 'Old') New Year falls on 14 January.
Other festivals, cultural and sporting events include:
January to February - Vyugovey Ice Sculpture Festival, Moscow. Two-month exhibition of snow, ice and light sculptures at the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics.
23 February - Defender of the Fatherland Day, Moscow and countrywide. Wreaths are laid at Moscow's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and other monuments.
February/March - Maslenitsa Festival, Moscow, St Petersburg and countrywide. Sun festival dating back to pagan times. Carnival celebrations include live music, dancing, sleigh rides, fireworks and blinis galore
February/March - International Ballet Festival Mariinsky, St Petersburg. Two weeks of performances by stars of world ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre and Concert Hall.
March to April - Golden Mask Festival, Moscow. Drama, ballet, opera and musical theatre at various venues.
April - Festival of French Jazz, Moscow. A series of concerts with a Parisian feel at the 16 Tons Club and other venues.
April - Photoforum, Moscow. Photography and equipment in focus at the Crocus Expo International Exhibition Centre.
09 May - Victory Day, Moscow. Military parade, ceremonies and fireworks in Red Square commemorating the defeat of Nazi Germany in WWII.
17-18 May 2014 - Museum Night, Moscow, St Petersburg and countrywide. Museums and art galleries throw open their doors through the night accompanied by special events, street art and performances marking International Museum Day.
21 May to 21 July - The Stars of White Nights Festival, St Petersburg. International ballet and opera festival at the Mariinsky Theatre.
27 May - City Day, St Petersburg. The official birthday of the city is celebrated with special events, parties and fireworks around Palace Square.
June - Wild Mint Folk Festival, Moscow. A full day of music and dancing in Troparevo Park.
June to July - Palaces of St Petersburg Music Festival. Musicians from around the world play one-off concerts at the palaces of the Tsars.
June - St Petersburg Beer Festival: St Petersburg. An enthusiastic celebration of Russian ale kicks off with a parade down Nevsky Prospekt and ends with a fireworks display, with lots of drinking at street bars, pubs and cafes in between.
06-07 July - Ivan Kupala/St John the Baptist's Day, countrywide. Ancient pagan traditions mix with Christian traditions, featuring challenging water and fire games.
July - Afisha Picnic, Moscow. One-day outdoor indie music festival at the Tsar's former estate of Kolomenskoe.
July to August - Summer Seasons, Moscow. Performances by the Moscow City Ballet and Russian National Ballet in the Russian National Theatre opposite Red Square.
August - Singing World: International Festival of Choral Art, St Petersburg. Choirs from around the world perform in venues including the Kazan Cathedral.
August to December - Moscow International Folklore Festival: Moscow. Dancers and musicians from all over Europe perform in the Hermitage Gardens.
August - Sailing Week, St Petersburg. Hundreds of yachts sail from Vyborg to St Petersburg during this week-long regatta.
03 September - Den' Goroda (City Day), Moscow. The Russian capital's official birthday is marked by street parties and a free concert on Tverskaia Ulitsa.
September - Art Moscow: Moscow. Russia's largest and most influential contemporary art fair. International galleries display pieces at the Central House of Artists.
September - St Petersburg Open Tennis. ATP men's World Tour indoor event held annually at the Petersburg Sports and Concert Complex.
October - Kremlin Cup, Moscow. Russia's premier men's tennis event, held at the Olympic Stadium.
04 November - Day of Accord and Reconciliation, countrywide. The main commemoration of the Communist revolution of the early 20th century is a colourful parade and events around Red Square.
November - Russian Wine Festival, Moscow. The Crocus Expo International Exhibition Centre showcases wines from around the world.
November - Art November, Moscow. Month-long celebration of the arts, from painting to photography and music, featuring special exhibitions and performances across the city.
December/January - Christmas at the Kremlin, Moscow. Yuletide concerts.
December/January - Russian Winter Festival, Moscow, St Petersburg and countrywide. The Russian Winter is celebrated with troika rides, folk music and games.
31 December - New Year's Eve. The international New Year is celebrated with impromptu and centrally planned street parties, fireworks and revelling until dawn.
Please note that entry requirements and visa regulations can change often and at short notice. We can provide general information about the passport and visa requirements for your trip and this information may be included after the itinerary section of your quotation. Your specific passport and visa requirements and other immigration requirements are your responsibility and you should confirm these with the relevant Embassies and/or Consulates. Neither we nor the principal(s) or supplier(s) accept any responsibility if you cannot travel because you have not complied with any passport, visa or immigration requirements. Please call your WEXAS specialist if you wish to discuss entry requirements.
Passports must be valid for a minimum of three months after the expiry date of your visa.
The Rouble has been Russia's national currency for about 500 years. The present notes and coins were introduced in 1998 (though dated 1997). Any currency issued before that date is obsolete.
Coins are issued in 1, 5, 10, and 50 kopek and 1, 2, 5, and 10 rouble denominations. Banknotes come in 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000, and 5000 roubles. The 5-rouble note is no longer issued and rarely in circulation, and the 10 ceased being issued in 2010 and will soon be withdrawn, but for now both remain legal tender. Kopeks are generally useless, as most prices are given to the nearest rouble.
ATMs (bankomats) can be found in all cities and large towns, and international withdrawals are straightforward via an English-language interface. To avoid fraud or theft, use street ATMs where possible in favour of those in shopping malls or hotels.
Cash and EFTPOS
Credit and debit cards are widely accepted at hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and shops, especially around Moscow and St Petersburg. Museums and other attractions generally accept only cash, but most train stations accept card payments. Advise your issuer before you travel, as Russia is on banks' 'suspicious' list and your card may be blocked.
Average incomes are still low by Western standards and prices are generally reasonable for visitors from the UK - unless you opt for five-star treatment at every turn, in which case Russia can be as expensive as anywhere. Expect to pay around 1,500 roubles (about £30) for a meal for two in a mid-price restaurant, 50 roubles (£1) for a draft domestic beer, or double that for an imported bottle or a fancy coffee.