It is a widely known fact that the United States and Russia have been rivals for decades. The tensions between these two superpowers were at their highest during the era known as The Cold War, in which it felt like the world was split into the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc.
The two countries seem far apart, ideologically and geographically, but at least in the actual distance, that is not the case. In the Bering Strait, there are two islands. The island of Big Diomede belongs to Russia, while the Little Diomede Island belongs to the United States. The gap between these two islands is a measly two miles. The time difference, however, is an incredible 21 hours!
Where Are The Cosmonauts?
Back in the day, the whole world was watching the space race between Russia and the United States. In the 1950s, everyone was wondering who would be the first country to reach the moon. In 1959, Russia took the lead with Sputnik, and in 1969, they launched the first manned flight with cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.
The race to the moon took a heavy toll on Russia, and some of the people involved even paid with their lives. Due to the Russian's extreme secrecy, there have been allegations that they covered up those deaths. The men who allegedly lost their lives during the test launches are known today as the Lost Cosmonauts.
Tunnels to Alaska
The distance between Alaska and Russian is not that great, and for years the Russians have been planning to connect the two by building a 64-mile tunnel under the Bering Strait and train tracks leading up to the tunnel. The project is titled TKM-World Link, and it has earned the support of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Such a massive undertaking, believed by many to be the greatest engineering feat in history, will cost a whopping $65 billion and take 10 to 15 years to complete. The project is being funded not only by Russia but also by the United States, China, and Canada. The passage will transfer not only goods but also oil, natural gas, electricity, and passengers.
If you’ve ever wondered, the common practice of shaking someone’s hand is the proper way to greet someone new in Russia, but be careful; Russians will never shake your hand if you are standing beneath a doorway.
This is due to a local superstition that shaking hands under a doorway is bad luck that will lead to bad blood between both parties. Keep that in mind before you head off to Russia on your next vacation or business trip.
They Used to Have a Beard Tax
This may seem like a joke, but just a few centuries ago, men who wanted to grow hair on their faces had to pay a special tax. Turns out, Emperor Peter I did not like the fashion trend in which Russian men wore long beards, so in 1689 he implemented a beard tax. The amount of the tax varied according to position and social status, and those that paid carried around a beard token they could show to authorities when questioned.
And what about those that couldn’t afford to pay the tax? The police would forcibly shave them out in public. That seems pretty crazy, right? But the reason behind the tax is just as weird. Historians claim that the reason for the tax is that the Emperor wanted Russians to look more like the Western Europeans.