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Much of that experience is being rejected by Russians and non-Russians who are reclaiming or reinventing their ethnic or traditional pasts; many communities are asserting a specific local identity in terms of language and culture.
There is a broad cultural continuity throughout the federation and among the millions of Russians in the newly independent republics of Central Asia, the Baltic region, and the Caucasus. In addition to being the largest, the Russian Federation is one of the world's northernmost countries.
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"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 climate of much of European Russia is continental, with long, cold winters and short, hot summers.
However, despite repression of their cultural autonomy, minority cultures have survived within the Russian Federation; including the peoples of the North Caucasus, numerous indigenous groups in Siberia, the Tatars in the Volga region, and the East Slavic Ukrainians and Belorusians.
It encompasses 6,592,658 square miles (17,075,000 square kilometers), from its borders with Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, and Ukraine on the west to the Bering Strait in the far northeast and from its borders with Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and China in the south to the Arctic Ocean in the north.
European Russia, the most densely populated, urbanized, and industrialized region, lies between the Ukraine-Belarus border and the Ural Mountains.
The last three groups are widely dispersed throughout the federation.
All but the youngest citizens share a Soviet cultural experience, since under Communist Party rule the state shaped and controlled daily life and social practice.
A line of mixed forest and prairie with more arable soil characterizes the central areas, followed by Russia's "breadbasket," the black earth belt that constitutes less than a tenth of the national territory.