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Equally important is the ability of rural and urban dwellers to survive challenging conditions of land, climate, and politics.Tens of millions of families depend on food they grow for themselves. In July 1999, the population was estimated at 146,393,000, a decline of more than two million since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991.Two large industrial cities are located above the Arctic Circle: Murmansk on the Kola Peninsula and Norilsk in Siberia.The great plains are divided by six ecological bands.In the northeast, above the Arctic Circle, lies a huge expanse of frigid, occasionally marshy tundra, a nearly unpopulated region where much of the land is permanently frozen and little grows but moss and shrubs.Below that is the taiga, a vast expanse of coniferous forest, which gradually blends with a band of mixed coniferous and deciduous forest to cover half the country. "Rus" may derive from the name of a tribe that gained political ascendancy in Kiev and other Slavic towns and lent its name to the language, culture, and state.

The last three groups are widely dispersed throughout the federation.European Russia, the most densely populated, urbanized, and industrialized region, lies between the Ukraine-Belarus border and the Ural Mountains.