LearnRussianwith Us!

Start Learning

Russian Language Blog

Readers, Mothers, and Chauvinists: 3 Facts About Russia Posted by on Dec 13, 2018 in Culture, General reference article

News from Russia tends to focus on internal troubles and geopolitical ambitions. That may leave learners wondering, beyond the obsession with Putin and vodka clichés, what do I really know about contemporary Russia? This post will explore some surprising, inspiring, and, yes, disturbing facts about Russia.

High Literacy Rates

adult literacy chart for Russia

Image created with Canva

According the the CIA World Factbook, over 99 percent of adult Russians were literate in 2015. This source defines the literacy rate (гра́мотность) as a percentage of adults 15 and older who can read and write. Other former USSR countries, such as Ukraine and Latvia, have similarly high literacy rates. The educational system is often credited for this high level of attainment in Russia. World Atlas reports that 53 percent of Russians get a higher education. Historically, a campaign to raise literacy in the USSR in the 1930s might have made a difference, too.

Young First-Time Mothers

first-time mothers' age

Image created with Canva

Compared to other countries, Russian women tend to have their first child (ребёнок) relatively young. Izvestia reports that in 2015-2017, the average age of a first-time mother was 26.1 However, that age has actually gone up compared to the 1995-1999 figure—20.9, reflecting the overall European trend.

What is the reason for having kids early? Part of it may be that Russian women are traditionally encouraged to have children in their early 20s for health reasons. Culturally, too, women are expected to have children to fulfill what’s seen by some as their “natural” role.

Attitudes to Minorities

attitudes to Jews and Muslims

Image created with Canva

A few unsettling but informative findings came out of a recent Pew Center study on religion, tolerance, and social attitudes in Eastern Europe. One of the results was that only 40 percent of Russians said they would welcome a Jew into their family, and only 34 percent would welcome a Muslim. Mind you, there are actually Jews (евре́и) and Muslims (мусульма́не) in Russia. In the context of the overall study, it appears that many people in Russia and several other countries in Eastern Europe see being Orthodox Christian as an important part of their national identity. This could explain some of the hostility.

What do you think about these figures? Are there any other facts about Russia that surprised or upset you?

Want to hear more? Sign up for one of our newsletters!

For more language learning advice, free resources, and information about how we can help you reach your language goals, select the most relevant newsletter(s) for you and sign up below.

Tags: , ,
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Maria

Maria is a Russian-born translator from Western New York. She is excited to share her fascination with all things Russian on this blog. Maria's professional updates are available on her translation site and on Twitter at @intorussian.



    Both my parents were born in Russia, in 1912 I was born in China, in 1938. We came to Australia, after a few years in the Philippines when I was eight years old. I spoke mainly Russian at home until about twelve years of age, but my education was entirely in English. I have learned very basic reading in relation to working as a scientist mostly in the 1980’s. I would like to connect with my roots by reading, and watching Russian movies.