Although “Russian North” as a name is more about culture and history than geography, it also describes a huge area spreading from the Russia-Finland border in the east to the Ural Mountains in the west. The area's population is mostly of Russian-Finnish origin and now represents an ethnic group called “Pomory”; or, “the sea people”. For centuries the Northern Seaway was the only path that connected ancient Russia with Europe. Once Russia established routes to the Baltic and Black seas, the importance of the Pomory region dwindled and with the passing of time, the entire area became the preserve of old and diminishing Russian cultures. The Soviet period added more drama to the history of the Pomory region, as many gulag prisons were located here.