Republic since the dissolution of the USSR in 1991.
Head of state:
President Vladimir Putin since 2012.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev since 2012.
220 volts AC, 50Hz; Russia uses a standard two-pin European plug.
From gold-leaf imperial glitz to icy Siberian tundra and from Soviet-era monuments to uber-hip urban culture, Russia has as many contrasting faces as its size would suggest. The country that Churchill famously described as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” is the largest in the world, and remains a destination that’s hard to fully grasp.
Visitor activity tends to be almost wholly concentrated on west Russia, where the big-name cities of St Petersburg and Moscow serve up sweeping postcard sights by the dozen. Those who look further afield, meanwhile, will find a little understood land with a whole host of under-the-radar travel secrets to discover. And bear in mind that there’s more local diversity than most imagine – under the vast Russia umbrella are in excess of 150 different ethnic groups.
It is perhaps the country's combination of diverse landscapes, stunning cities and mysterious nature that have begun to attract increasing numbers of tourists eager to discover modern Russia for themselves in recent years. Even more visitors are set to flood the country in 2018 when Russia will act as host for the World Cup games. Winning the bid over countries such as England, the Netherlands and Spain has further sealed its bid as an increasingly popular destination, and is set to give a major boost to the country's economy.
Travellers are advised against all travel to Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan because of the security situation in the North Caucasus.
Travellers are also advised against all travel to the regions which border Dagestan and Chechnya, namely Budyonnovsky, Levokumsy, Neftekumsky, Stepnovsky and Kurskoy in east and south Stavropol Krai, and all but essential travel to North Ossetia, Karachai-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria (including the Elbrus area) where terrorism and kidnapping remain a serious problem.
Most visits are trouble-free but there is a general threat from terrorism. Attacks cannot be ruled out and could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Attacks have occurred most frequently in Moscow and in the North Caucasus.
There has been an increase in racially motivated attacks: visitors of Asian or Afro-Caribbean descent should take extra care.
This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organisaions for the latest travel advice: