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What You Need To Know about Moscow

Moscow is the capital and the largest city of Russia, with 12.2 million residents within the city limits and 16.8 million within the urban area. Moscow has the status of a federal city in Russia. Moscow is a major political, economic, cultural, and scientific center of Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as the largest city entirely on the European continent. By broader definitions Moscow is among the world’s largest cities, being the 14th largest metro area, the 18th largest agglomeration, the 15th largest urban area, and the 11th largest by population within city limits worldwide. According to Forbes 2013, Moscow has been ranked as the ninth most expensive city in the world by Mercer and has one of the world’s largest urban economies, being ranked as an alpha global city according to the Globalization and World Cities Research Network, and is also one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the world according to the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index. Moscow is the northernmost and coldest mega city and metropolis on Earth. It is home to the Ostankino Tower, the tallest free standing structure in Europe; the Federation Tower, the tallest skyscraper in Europe; and the Moscow International Business Center. By its territorial expansion on July 1, 2012 southwest into the Moscow Oblast, the area of the capital more than doubled, going from 1,091 to 2,511 square kilometers (421 to 970 sq mi), and it gained an additional population of 233,000 people. Moscow is situated on the Moskva River in the Central Federal District of European Russia, making it the world’s most populated inland city. The city is well known for its architecture, particularly its historic buildings such as Saint Basil’s Cathedral with its brightly colored domes. With over 40 percent of its territory covered by greenery, it is one of the greenest capitals and major cities in Europe and the world, having the largest forest in an urban area within its borders—more than any other major city—even before its expansion in 2012. The city has served as the capital of a progression of states, from the medieval Grand Duchy of Moscow and the subsequent Tsardom of Russia to the Russian Empire to the Soviet Union and the contemporary Russian Federation. Moscow is considered the center of Russian culture, having served as the home of Russian artists, scientists and sports figures and because of the presence of museums, academic and political institutions and theaters. Moscow is the seat of power of the Government of Russia, being the site of the Moscow Kremlin, a medieval city-fortress that is today the residence of the President of Russia. The Moscow Kremlin and Red Square are also one of several World Heritage Sites in the city. Both chambers of the Russian parliament (the State Duma and the Federation Council) also sit in the city. The city is served by a transit network, which includes four international airports, nine railway terminals, numerous trams, a monorail system and one of the deepest underground rapid transit systems in the world, the Moscow Metro, the fourth-largest in the world and largest outside of Asia in terms of passenger numbers, and the busiest in Europe. It is recognized as one of the city’s landmarks due to the rich architecture of its 200 stations.

 

Area: 2,511 km²
Population: 12, 054 200

Currency

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  • Currency of Russia and Moscow – is the Russian Ruble (RUR).

 

Language

Russian is the official language of Moscow, and the majority of citizens of this city speak this language. However, English is more widely spoken here than in any other city in Russia, and is the second language of 80 percent of the bilingual citizens of the city.

 

Health and security

  • The Healthcare Constitution of the Russian Federation has provided all citizens the right to free healthcare under Mandatory Medical Insurance since 1996. In 2008, 621,000 doctors and 1.3 million nurses were employed in Russian healthcare. The number of doctors per 10,000 people was 43.8, but only 12.1 in rural areas. The number of general practitioners as a share of the total number of doctors was 1.26 percent. There are about 9.3 beds per thousand population – nearly double the OECD average. Expenditure on healthcare was 6.5% of Gross Domestic Product, US$957 per person in 2013. About 48% comes from government sources. About 5% of the population, mostly in major cities, have health insurance.
  • The Main Department of Internal Affairs of the city of Moscow, established in 1722, is the largest municipal police force in Russia, with primary responsibilities in law enforcement and investigation in Moscow. The Moscow Police is one of the oldest police departments in Russia. Its headquarters are located at Petrovka 38 in Tverskoy District, Moscow. The Moscow Police is part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD); the police is also subordinate to the Moscow government. The main responsibilities are the detection of crime and protection of the public orderThe police is headed by the chief, who is appointed and removed from office by Presidential decree on the recommendation of the Minister of Internal Affairs. Before he suggests a nomination, the president consults the mayor of Moscow. The police is overseen by the MVD and the government of Moscow. Currently, the acting police chief is Anatoly Yakunin, who was appointed June 2, 2012.

 

Economy

Moscow has one of the largest municipal economies in Europe and it accounts for approximately 22{c7c61c13168dc783a2be88122c814305d0f605ba89bd084b461e7ecea136295e} of Russian GDP. As of 2009, the GRP in Moscow reached 7.16 trillion roubles  ($225 bln). Moscow has the lowest unemployment rate of all federal subjects of Russia, standing at just 1% in 2010, compared to the national average of 7%. The average monthly wage in the city is 41,600 roubles (about 547 USD), which is almost twice the national average of 21,800 rubles (286.63 USD), and the fourth highest among the federal subjects of Russia. Moscow is the financial center of Russia and home to the country’s largest banks and many of its largest companies, such as natural gas giant Gazprom. Moscow accounts for 17% of retail sales in Russia and for 13% of all construction activity in the country. Since the 1998 Russian financial crisis, business sectors in Moscow have shown exponential rates of growth. Many new business centers and office buildings have been built in recent years, but Moscow still experiences shortages in office space. As a result, many former industrial and research facilities are being reconstructed to become suitable for office use. Overall, economic stability has improved in recent years; nonetheless, crime and corruption continue still hinder business development. The Cherkizovskiy marketplace was the largest marketplace in Europe, with a daily turnover of about thirty million dollars and about ten thousand venders  from different countries (including China, Turkey, Azerbaijan and India). It was administratively divided into twelve parts and covers a wide sector of the city. Since July 2009 it has been closed. In 2008, Moscow had 74 billionaires with an average wealth of $5.9 billion, which placed it above New York’s 71 billionaires. However, as of 2009, there were 27 billionaires in Moscow compared with New York’s 55 billionaires. Overall, Russia lost 52 billionaires during the recession. Topping the list of Russia’s billionaires in 2009 is Mikhail Prokhorov with $9.5 billion, ahead of the more famous Roman Abramovich with $8.5 billion, in 2nd place. Prokhorov’s holding company, “ОНЭКСИМ” (ONÈKSIM) group, owns huge assets in hydrogen energy, nanotechnology, traditional energy, precious metals sector, while Abramovich, since selling his oil company Sibneft to Russian state-controlled gas giant Gazprom in 2005, has bought up steel and mining assets. He also owns Chelsea F.C.. Russia’s richest woman remains Yelena Baturina, the 50-year-old second wife of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. Oleg Deripaska, the 1st on this list in 2008 with $28 billion, was only 10th in 2009 with $3.5 billion. Based on Forbes‘ 2011 list of the world’s billionaires, Moscow is the city with the most billionaires in the world, with 79 from 115 in all of Russia. The nouveau riche, also called the “New Russians”, often in a derogatory sense, have a reputation for flaunting their wealth; the avenues for doing so have also increased in recent times at the many haute couture and haute cuisine spots in Moscow.

 

Entertainment

The city is full of clubs, restaurants and bars. Tverskaya Street is also one of the busiest shopping streets in Moscow. The adjoining Tretyakovsky Proyezd, also south of Tverskaya Street, in Kitai-gorod, is host to upmarket boutique stores such as Bulgari, Tiffany & Co., Armani, Prada and Bentley. Nightlife in Moscow has moved on since Soviet times and today the city has many of the world’s largest nightclubs. Clubs, bars, creative spaces and restaurants-turned-into-dancefloors are flooding Moscow streets with new openings every year. The hottest area is located around the old chocolate factory, where bars, nightclubs, galleries, cafes and restaurants are placed.

 

Industry

Primary industries in Moscow include the chemical, metallurgy, food, textile, furniture, energy production, software development and machinery industries. The Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant is one of the leading producers of military and civil helicopters in the world. Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center produces various space equipment, including modules for space stations Mir, Salyut and the ISS as well as Proton launch vehicles and military ICBMs. Sukhoi, Ilyushin, Mikoyan, Tupolev and Yakovlev aircraft design bureaus also situated in Moscow. NPO Energomash, producing the rocket engines for Russian and American space programs, as well as Lavochkin design bureau, which built fighter planes during WWII, but switched to space probes since the Space Race, are in nearby Khimki, an independent city in Moscow Oblast that have largely been enclosed by Moscow from its sides. Automobile plants ZiL and AZLK, as well as the Voitovich Rail Vehicle plant, are situated in Moscow and Metrovagonmash metro wagon plant is located just outside the city limits. The Poljot Moscow watch factory produces military, professional and sport watches well known in Russia and abroad. Yuri Gagarin in his trip into space used “Shturmanskie” produced by this factory. The Electrozavod factory was the first transformer factory in Russia. The Kristall distillery is the oldest distillery in Russia producing vodka types, including “Stolichnaya” while wines are produced at Moscow wine plants, including the Moscow Interrepublican Vinery. The Moscow Jewelry Factory  and the Jeweller prom are producers of jewellery in Russia; Jewellerprom used to produce the exclusive Order of Victory, awarded to those aiding the Soviet Union’s Red Army during World War II. There are other industries located just outside the city of Moscow, as well as microelectronic industries in Zelenograd, includingRuselectronics companies. Gazprom, the largest extractor of natural gas in the world and the largest Russian company, has head offices also in Moscow, as well as other oil, gas and electricity companies.

 

Living costs

During Soviet times, apartments were lent to people by the government according to the square meters-per-person norm (some groups, including people’s artists, heroes and prominent scientists had bonuses according to their honors). Private ownership of apartments was limited until the 1990s, when people were permitted to secure property rights to the places they inhabited. Since the Soviet era, estate owners have had to pay the service charge for their residences, a fixed amount based on persons per living area. The price of real estate in Moscow continues to rise. Today, one could expect to pay $4000 on average per square meter (11 sq ft) on the outskirts of the city or US$6,500–$8,000 per square meter in a prestigious district. The price sometimes may exceed US$40,000 per square meter in a flat. It costs about US$1200 per month to rent a 1-bedroom apartment and about US$1000 per month for a studio in the center of Moscow. A typical one-bedroom apartment is about thirty square meters (323 sq ft), a typical two-bedroom apartment is forty-five square meters (485 sq ft), and a typical three-bedroom apartment is seventy square meters (753 sq ft). Many cannot move out of their apartments, especially if a family lives in a two-room apartment originally granted by the state during the Soviet era. Some city residents have attempted to cope with the cost of living by renting their apartments while staying in dachas (country houses) outside the city. In 2006, Mercer Human Resources Consulting named Moscow the world’s most expensive city for expatriate employees, ahead of perennial winner Tokyo, due to the stable Russian ruble as well as increasing housing prices within the city. Moscow also ranked first in the 2007 edition and 2008 edition of the survey. However, Tokyo has overtaken Moscow as the most expensive city in the world, placing Moscow at third and behind Osaka at second. Critics of their methodology argue that this survey replicates the lifestyle that a senior executive would have in Washington DC, counting certain very expensive brand name foreign goods, but disregarding the many lines that are far cheaper in Russia, e.g. household staff, drivers, nannies, etc. In 2008, Moscow ranked top on the list of most expensive cities for the third year in a row. In 2014, according to Forbes, Moscow ranked the 9th most expensive city in the world. Forbes ranked Moscow the 2nd most expensive city the year prior.

 

Politics

Moscow is the seat of power for the Russian Federation. At the centre of the city, in the Central Administrative Okrug, is the Moscow Kremlin, which houses the home of the President of Russiaas well as national governmental facilities. This includes military headquarters and the headquarters of the Federal Security Service. Moscow, like with any national capital, is also the host of all the foreign embassies and diplomats representing a multitude of nations in Russia. Moscow is designated as one of three federal cities of Russia – the others being Saint Petersburg and Sevastopol (although the status of the latter is disputed due to the annexation of Crimea by Russia). Among the 85 federal subjects of Russia, Moscow represents the most populated one and the second-smallest one in terms of area. Moscow is located within the central economic region, one of twelve regions within Russia with similar economic goals. The basic law of the city is the Charter of Moscow that was adopted in 1995.

 

Transportation

By Air

There are four primary commercial airports serving Moscow:

  • Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO)
  • Domodedovo International Airport (DME)
  • Vnukovo International Airport (VKO)
  • Ostafyevo International Airport (OSF)

Sheremetyevo International Airport is the most common entry point for foreign visitors, handling 60% of all international flights.

Domodedovo International Airport is the leading airport in Russia in terms of passenger throughput, and is the primary gateway to long-haul domestic and CIS destinations and its international traffic rivals Sheremetyevo. 

 Vnukovo International Airport handles flights of Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, Wizz Air and others.

 Ostafyevo International Airport caters primarily to business aviation.

By Water

Moscow has two passenger terminals, (South River Terminal and North River Terminal or Rechnoy vokzal), on the river and regular ship routes and cruises along the Moskva and Oka rivers, which are used mostly for entertainment. The North River Terminal, built in 1937, is the main hub for long-range river routes. There are three freight ports serving Moscow.

By Railway

Train stations to serve the city. Moscow’s nine rail terminals are:

  • Belorussky Rail Terminal
  • Kazansky Rail Terminal
  • Kiyevsky Rail Terminal
  • Kursky Rail Terminal
  • Leningradsky Rail Terminal
  • Paveletsky Rail Terminal
  • Rizhsky Rail Terminal
  • Savyolovsky Rail Terminal
  • Yaroslavsky Rail Terminal

 

By Metro

Local transport includes the Moscow Metro, a metro system famous for its art, murals, mosaics, and ornate chandeliers. When it first opened in 1935, the system had two lines. Today, the Moscow Metro comprises twelve lines, mostly underground with a total of 199 stations. The Metro is one of the deepest subway systems in the world; for instance the Park Pobedy station, completed in 2003, at 84 metres (276 ft) underground, has the longest escalators in Europe. The Moscow Metro is one of the world’s busiest metro systems, serving about ten million passengers daily. (300,000,000 people every month) Facing serious transportation problems, Moscow has plans for expanding its Metro.

 

Bus and trolleybus

As Metro stations outside the city center are far apart in comparison to other cities, up to 4 kilometres (2.5 mi), a bus network radiates from each station to the surrounding residential zones. Moscow has a bus terminal for long-range and intercity passenger buses (Central Bus Terminal) with daily turnover of about 25 thousand passengers serving about 40% of long-range bus routes in Moscow. Every major street in the city is served by at least one bus route. Many of these routes are doubled by a trolleybus route and have trolley wires over them.

By Monorail

The Moscow Metro company operates a short monorail line. The line connects Timiryazevskaya metro station and Ulitsa Sergeya Eisensteina, passing close to VVTs. The line opened in 2004. No additional fare is needed (first metro-monorail transfer in 90 minutes does not charge).

By Tram

Moscow has an extensive tram system, which first opened in 1899. The newest line was built in 1984. Its daily usage by Muscovites is low, making up for approximately 5% of trips, because many vital connections in the network have been withdrawn. Trams still remain important in some districts as feeders to Metro stations. The trams also provide important cross links between metro lines, for example between Universitet station of Sokolnicheskaya Line (#1 red line) and Profsoyuznaya station of Kaluzhsko-Rizhskaya Line (#6 orange line) or between Voykovskaya and Strogino.

By Taxi

Taxi service market in Moscow has changed dramatically over the years 2014–2015. New technology and service platforms Yandex. Taxi, Uber and Get (ex-GetTaxi) displaced many private drivers and small service providers. By the beginning of 2015 newcomers were servicing more than 50% of all taxi orders in Moscow and are still rapidly growing.
A taxi can be called using a smartphone, tablet or PC in 5–15 minutes. Commercial taxi services are available. In addition, route taxis are in widespread use.

Roads

There are over 2.6 million cars in the city on a daily basis. Recent years have seen the growth in the number of cars, which have caused traffic jams and lack of parking space to become major problems. The MKAD, along with the Third Transport Ring and the future Fourth Transport Ring, is one of only three freeways that run within Moscow city limits. However, there are several other roadway systems that form concentric circles around the city.

 

Weather

Moscow has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb) with long, cold (although average by Russian standards) winters usually lasting from mid-November through the end of March, and warm summers. Weather can fluctuate widely with temperatures ranging from −25 °C (−13 °F) in the city and −30 °C (−22 °F) in suburbs to above 5 °C (41 °F) in the winter, and from 10 to 35 °C (50 to 95 °F) in the summer. Typical high temperatures in the warm months of June, July and August are around a comfortable 20 to 26 °C (68 to 79 °F), but during heat waves (which can occur between May and September), daytime high temperatures often exceed 30 °C (86 °F), sometimes for a week or two at a time. In the winter, average temperatures normally drop to approximately −10 °C (14 °F), though almost every winter there are periods of warmth with day temperatures rising above 0 °C (32 °F), and periods of cooling with night temperatures falling below −30 °C (−22 °F). These periods usually last about a week or two. The highest temperature ever recorded was 38.2 °C (100.8 °F) at the VVC weather station and 39.0 °C (102.2 °F) in the center of Moscow and Domodedovo airport on July 29, 2010 during the unusual 2010 Northern Hemisphere summer heat wave. Record high temperatures were recorded for January, March, April, May, July, August, November and December in 2007 – 2014. The average July temperature from 1981–2010 is 19.2 °C (66.6 °F). The lowest ever recorded temperature was −42.2 °C (−44.0 °F) in January 1940. Snow, which is present for about five months a year, often begins to fall at the mid of October, while snow cover lies in November and melts in the beginning of April. On average Moscow has 1731 hours of sunshine per year, varying from a low of 8% in December to 52% from May to August. Between 2004 and 2010, the average was between 1800 and 2000 hours with a tendency to more sunshine in summer months, up to record 411 hours in July 2014, 79% of possible sunshine. Temperatures in the centre of Moscow are often significantly higher than in the outskirts and nearby suburbs, especially in winter. For example, if the average February temperature in the north-east of Moscow is −6.7 °C (19.9 °F), in the suburbs it’s about −9 °C (16 °F). The temperature difference between the centre of Moscow and nearby areas of Moscow Oblast can sometimes be more than 10 C° (18 F°) at the frosty winter nights.