- A Russian word of Finno-Ugric origin describing arctic hills, the tundra, which dominated Russia’s Far North, is the world’s northernmost terrestrial biome, abutting the Arctic Ocean coast on both the North American and Eurasian continents. The tundra is characterized by treeless plains and low hills; the subsoil is permanently frozen (permafrost), resulting in an ecosystem that can only support mosses, lichens, and seasonal flowers. The climate is extremely cold, making life difficult for both fauna and human populations. The indigenous peoples of the region include Nenets, Nganasan, Evens, Sakha, and Chukchi; historically, they maintained a nomadic lifestyle, herding reindeer and hunting whales, seals, and other Arctic animals. Poor transportation links and the harsh climate, combined with the cessation of Soviet-era subsidies, have resulted in a rapid drop in living standards among the peoples of the taiga. Environmentalists have undertaken efforts to protect the fragile ecosystem through the Biodiversity Action Plan and other global initiatives. However, Moscow’s plans to develop the Arctic’s oil and natural gas potential in the coming decades threaten such measures. Climate change is resulting in increasing amounts of greenhouse gases being released from the region. Pollution from aluminum smelting is also a major concern.See also Indigenous peoples of the North.
Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. Robert A. Saunders and Vlad Strukov. 2010.