Interesting facts about Russia
- Bureaucracy: With more government officials in Russia than anywhere else in the world, navigating bureaucracy consumes significant overhead for local businesses. The level of red tape has a counter-intuitive effect, discouraging compliance by making it impractical and burdensome;
- Language: Being conversant or even fluent in Russian will make things easier when doing business in Russia, particularly as locals will view your effort as a sign of respect and commitment. It is therefore useful to have a Russian speaker on your team. Many Russians speak English to a decent standard, as it is taught in schools from a young age and people recognise that it increases international opportunities;
- Nationalism: Russia has a strong sense of national pride, meaning that Russians and the “Russian way” are better-received in the country. One such example of this translating into policy is the requirement for a local director;
- Expect delays: The authorities are not the only Russian parties likely to make you wait – late arrival is often used as a negotiating tactic in business, and Russians like to test each other’s patience;
- Uncompromising: Machismo and uncompromising attitudes are virtues in some Russian circles, so be prepared to encounter people who won’t back down from their stated positions in an attempt to assert dominance.
- Although Russian winters can be bitterly cold, remove your gloves before shaking hands. Taking your gloves off to greet another is viewed as a sign of respect and humility, as it requires a nominal sacrifice in the form of exposure to the cold;
- Patience is more important than punctuality when it comes to meetings. Russians will think more highly of you if you can withstand their attempts to frustrate you, which can include arriving hours later than arranged. However, foreigners are expected to arrive on time, particularly to restaurants;
- Attire is formal, with dark, well-cut suits the norm. Special attention is paid to shoes, which should be shiny and in good condition. Another point to consider relating to shoes is that exposing their soles is considered rude;
- Women are usually expected to dress in skirts rather than trousers in formal or business settings;
- Gift-giving is normal, particularly for foreigners. In the face of a relatively inward-looking community, thoughtful gifts can help to curry favour.
- Thanks to tax on domestic sales and the size of the export market, ten percent of the Russian government’s income comes from the sale of vodka. This figure may be inflated somewhat due to low levels of tax compliance in some areas distorting tax takings;
- A Moscow company should be considered when starting a business in Russia, as most of the wealth, infrastructure and skilled labor are concentrated there;
- Russian GDP in 2013 was US$2.097 trillion, with the per-capita more than twice China’s at US$14,612. However, sanctions over the occupation of Crimea coupled with the recent drop in the price of oil have the Russian economy and its currency, while China’s has continued to improve. As a result, market opportunities in Russia are limited at present;
- Natural resources are the main driver of the Russian economy, particularly when it comes to exports. However, services continue to make up more than half of Russia’s GDP;
- With a dependency ratio of 38.6%, the majority of Russia’s population is of working age. Businesses therefore have a large pool of potential workers from which to draw employees.
- Russia is the world’s largest country by land mass, occupying a seventh of the world’s land. However, its population is concentrated in urban centres like Moscow and St. Petersburg, lessening the effect of the country’s span across 11 time zones;
- The country is referred to as the “Lungs of Europe”, as much of the country’s land mass is covered by forests. Indeed, Russia’s forests are the world’s largest and it is a major exporter of lumber.
- Russia is the only country in the world surrounded by 12 seas;
- There are nearly 600 universities in Russia;
- Until 2011, no license was required to sell beer in Russia, as the beverage was not legally considered to be alcoholic;
- Women outnumber men in Russia by more than 15%, with that figure increasing to 18% in cities.