Kids from Russia

  • Continent: Eastern Europe and Central Asia
  • Climate: Varies; includes Arctic tundra in the north, sub-Arctic forestland in eastern Asia, desert in central Asia and a temperate and humid region in Europe
  • School:
    • Russian children have nine years of elementary education. The school day usually runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; lunch is eaten at school.
    • School uniforms were abolished in the 1990s. For attire, the emphasis is on warmth-children may even wear fur coats.
    Play:
    • Chess is a national obsession. Other pastimes include the card game Durak (Russian Fool) and the computer game Tetris, which was invented in Russia.
    • Soccer is the top sport in Russia. Ice hockey and ice skating are also popular in this chilly country.
    Family:
    • About three-quarters of Russian families live in small city apartments. Some families also have a country cottage, which is called a dacha.
    • In Russia, grandmothers—babushkas—are famous for the strong role they play in families, public life and fairy tales.
    Signature foods:
    • Borscht, a beet soup served hot or cold, topped with sour cream and sprinkled with dill or chopped green scallions
    • Pelmeni, small, moist dumplings filled with chopped meat. They are often served with butter, sour cream and vinegar.
    Interesting animals:
    • The European mink, a small, solitary animal famed for its beautiful coat; its feet are semi-webbed
    • The polar bear, whose three- to four-inch layer of fat keeps it warm in northern Russia; its oily fur is transparent, but looks white when it reflects light
  • Unique holiday: On Defenders of the Motherland Day, February 23, families honor men and boys with cards, gifts and other special treats. (Women and girls are not neglected—International Women's Day, March 8, is a big holiday in Russia.)
  • Did you know? Russia is the largest country in the world. It covers 6.6 million square miles (17 million sq km), eleven time zones and two continents—Europe and Asia.

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