English Reading Practice



Russia is the largest country in the world. It stretches from Europe to the Pacific Ocean in Asia. Russia is so large that it has nine different time zones. A "time zone" is an area in which all the countries have the same time on their clocks.

The people in Russia are called Russians and the language they speak is called Russian.

Russian has its own special alphabet and symbols that it uses for each letter. This special alphabet is called Cyrillic. Unlike the English alphabet which has 26 letters, the Russian alphabet has 33.

The Russian language is the eighth most spoken language in the world. This is probably because of how large Russia is and how much Russia’s history influenced the countries around it.

Russian rulers (kings, queens, emperors, and empresses) spent a lot of time trying to expand (grow) Russia and make it a big country. Over time, they succeeded. One of the most successful empresses was Catherine the Great.


Catharine the Great, Russia's most famous ruler

Catherine the Great was born in Prussia in 1729. Prussia is an area that is now part of Germany. This means that Empress Catherine was actually German!

She married Peter the Third and became Empress when he became Emperor. After only a few months, Catherine was able to overthrow Peter and take power herself. "Overthrow" means to remove from power.

Catherine became Empress of Russia in 1762 and reigned (ruled) until 1796. She is the longest-ruling female leader of Russia.

During her rule, Empress Catherine worked to expand Russia. Through wars and political agreements, she was able to add 200,000 square miles to the land that already belonged to Russia. Most of this land was to the west and south of Russia. In addition to adding land, under Empress Catherine’s rule Russia’s first government currency (money) was printed. This money was called rubles.

Empress Catherine was very interested in art, literature, economics, and politics and spent a lot of her time making Russia a powerful country in these fields.


She wrote many books herself and invited many of the famous authors, artists, and scientists of her time to Russia.

Empress Catherine also changed the way that the government in Russia worked by creating many small provinces (states). Each province had its own government that reported to (worked under) the Empress. This model of government is what we see in many countries, such as the United States, today.

Education was also very important to Empress Catherine. During her rule, she worked with many experts to try to change the education system in Russia.

She developed different kinds of schools and began a school system in which everyone, not just nobility (people related to the royal family) could get an education. She opened a school for girls as well as schools for serfs (people who worked on the farms).

Russian people

Many of the changes that Empress Catherine made in Russia during her rule have already been changed. Despite this, Empress Catherine remains one of the most powerful and most famous rulers Russia has ever had.

And now, practice:

Russia - Exercises

Vocabulary Questions

1. What does "expand" mean?

a) grow

b) shrink

c) large

d) small

2. What does "reign" mean?

a) create money for a country

b) speak the language of a country

c) live in a country

d) rule a country

3. What does "serf" mean?

a) someone who works in a bank

b) someone who works on a farm

c) someone who works on a boat

d) someone who works in the government

Grammar Questions

1. Russia stretches ________ Europe ________ the Pacific Ocean in Asia.

a) in ... out

b) up .... under

c) from ... to

d) above .... below

2.    Education ________ also very important to Empress Catherine.

a) is

b) was

c) has been

d) will be

3. Empress Catherine remains one of ________ most powerful and most famous rulers Russia has ever had.

a) the

b) a

c) an

d) that

Comprehension Questions

1. What country was Empress Catherine actually born in?


2. What was one way that Empress Catherine made Russia bigger?


3. What were two topics that Empress Catherine was interested in?


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