Russia is internationally renowned for caviar, ballet, babushka, vodka, communism, the trans-siberian railway, composers, chess, the ruble, Red Square and … borscht.

Russia is a fascinating place – it still feels mysterious, dark and powerful …. Although some might feel that learning Russian is no longer relevant in the global marketplace here are some compelling reasons to learn Russian:

1. Russian is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia and the most widely spoken of the Slavic languages. It is also the largest native language in Europe, with 144 million native speakers in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Russian is the 8th most spoken language in the world by number of native speakers and the 5th by total number of speakers. Russian is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

2. Russian is the 2nd most used language on the internet

3. Literature: Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn, Tolstoy, Pasternak – need I say more? Learning Russian would enable you to read the original words written by these World famous writers.

4. Ballet – The Bolshoi Ballet of Moscow and the Kirov Ballet of St. Petersburg are two of the most famous ballet companies in the world, should you want to visit and make the most

5. Business: Despite the Russian economy being labeled a developing one by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank the country has an abundance of natural resources and raw materials including timber, fossil fuels: 1st largest producer of natural gas, oil – 2nd only to Saudi Arabia, 3rd largest mining coal and Russia has an estimated 40% of the world total reserves of natural gas… plus precious metals incl. diamonds, gold, copper, manganese, uranium, silver, graphite, and platinum. All of which makes for many business opportunities now and in the future.

6. Travel – Russia is BIG, it is the largest country in the World, at 10,610,037 square miles of land it is twice the size of the U.S.A or Canada.  Now you can freely travel across this enormous country, see Lake Baikal – the oldest and deepest lake on the planet, gaze out of the windows of the Trans-Siberian Railway which connects Moscow with Vladivostock a mere 9,300 kilometres away. Without a doubt an ability to speak Russian would enhance a trip travelling in Russia…see point no.1!

7. Music –Some of the World’s most famous composers are Russian.. Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff and more and understanding of Russian can only further help in understanding these composers and their music.

8. History & Politics –If you want to find out about some of the World’s most influential political people throughout time Russia is a good place to start from Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Rasputin, Lenin, Stalin, Gorbachev, Yeltsin and now Putin – you will not be short of material!

9. Food & Drink – Maybe to truly understand Russia, the Russian language and the Russian people we need to indulge in some of the food and drink they are most famous for… Let’s go for caviar blinis and borscht to start followed by Goulash (*eek not Russian but Hungarian! Thanks to Nathan for correcting – see comments below)  or Stroganoff washed down with vodka..luckily, I really like beetroot 🙂

10. Russian ladies – Fortunately I’m female so I hope this won’t smack of sexism! Russian women are well known for their beauty but in my mind they are also known for their strength of character whether it’s Catherine the Great – the longest ruling female leader of Russia, Valentina Tereshkova – the first woman in space, the poet Anna Akhmatova – much loved by the Russian people, Anna Pavlova – the ballerina, Anastasia Romanov – assasinated in 1918,  Sofia Kovalevskaya – the first female professor of mathematics in the world,  Alexandra Kosteniuk – a Russian chess Grandmaster and a former Women’s World Chess Champion,  Anna Kournikova – (retired) international tennis player or more recently Anna Kushchenko – arrested for spying in the U.S. in 2010 .. all of these women display admirable determination and many succeeded in what is thought of as primarily “men’s work”.

So, what do you think.. fancy learning Russian now?