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In the northern areas, winter days are dark and long; in the summer, the days are long and the sun barely sets.
With the exception of the black earth belt, Russia has fairly poor soil, a short growing season, low precipitation, and large arid steppe regions unfit for agriculture except with extensive irrigation.
The last three groups are widely dispersed throughout the federation.
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.
"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.
Some scholars believe this to have been a Varangian (Viking) clan from Scandinavia, and others hold that it was a Slavic tribe.
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Average life expectancy for both men and women has declined since the 1980s.