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Some historians believe that "Rus" derives from an ancient name for the Volga River.
People ethnically identified as Russians have been politically and culturally dominant in a vast area for five hundred years of tsarist and Soviet imperial expansion.
"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.
It is largely the result of the economic and social upheavals of the postsocialist period, which have impoverished the population and caused a decay of social services.
Growing unemployment, long-term nonpayment of wages and pensions, paid wages that are below the poverty line, unsafe working and road conditions, the spread of infectious diseases, and the impoverishment of public health care systems have caused stress, depression, family breakdown, and rising rates of alcoholism, suicide, homicide, and domestic violence.
Equally important is the ability of rural and urban dwellers to survive challenging conditions of land, climate, and politics.
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.Average life expectancy for both men and women has declined since the 1980s.This population decline is expected to worsen in the next decade.European Russia, the most densely populated, urbanized, and industrialized region, lies between the Ukraine-Belarus border and the Ural Mountains.
Seventy-eight percent of the population lives in this area.The capital, Moscow, is in the center of this region, where much agriculture has been located despite the thin, poor soil.