Russian is the official language in Russia, Belarus, Kazakstan, and Krygystan. It remains a principal language of administration in many of the former Soviet Union territories. Russian belongs to the family of Indo-European languages and is one of the three living members of the East Slavic languages.

Interesting Facts About the Russian Language and Russia

  • Russian language uses the Cyrillic alphabet
  • Russia is a transcontinental country, extending halfway around the northern hemisphere and covering much of eastern and north-eastern Europe and the whole of northern Asia
  • Russian language does not include a word for ‘the’ or ‘a’.
  • The Urals are the oldest mountains in the world and lake Baikal is the world’s deepest lake and the largest reservoir of fresh water on earth.

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Russian CultureWhere Is Russian Spoken?

Russian is an Eastern Slavonic language closely related to Ukrainian and Belarusian with about 277 million speakers mainly in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus. It is also spoken in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Finland, Mongolia, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Israel, Afghanistan, the USA, Canada and a number of countries.

It 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. The language is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

History of the Russian Language

The earliest known writing in Russia dates from the 10th century and was found at Novgorod. The main languages written on them in an early version of the Cyrillic alphabet were Old Russian and Old Church Slavonic. There are also some texts in Finnish, Latin and Greek.

Russian started appearing in writing regularly during the reign of Peter the Great (a.k.a. Peter I) (1672-1725) who introduced a revised alphabet and encouraged authors to use a literary style closer to their spoken language. The dialect of Moscow was used as the basis for written Russian.