Russia has a long history and can claim a long tradition dividend in many aspects of the arts, which had a big influence on the whole world's culture. Russian culture started from that of the East Slavs, with their specific way of life in the wooded areas of Eastern Europe. The Scandinavian Vikings also took part in the forming of Russian identity and Kievan Rus' state. Kievan Rus' had accepted Orthodox Christianity from the Eastern Roman Empire in 988, and this largely defined the Russian culture of next millennium as the mixture of Slavic and Byzantine cultures. At different points in its history, the country was also strongly influenced by the culture of Western Europe. The situation changed in the 20th century, when communism became a major factor in the culture of the Soviet Union, then Russia became and was the largest and the leading country.