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The Ural Mountains ( , Uralskiye gory) (also known as the Urals) are a mountain range that runs roughly north-south through western Russia. They are usually considered the natural boundary between Europe and Asia.

In Greco-Roman antiquity, Pliny the Elder thought that the Urals correspond to the Riphean Mountains mentioned by various authors. They are also known as the Great Stone Belt in Russian history and folklore.


The Urals extend 2,498 km from the Kazakh steppes along the northern border of Kazakhstanmarker to the coast of the Arctic oceanmarker. Vaygach Islandmarker and the island of Novaya Zemlyamarker form a further continuation of the chain. Geographically this range marks the northern part of the border between the continents of Europe and Asia. Its highest peak is Mount Narodnayamarker (Poznurr, 1,895 m). Erosion has exposed considerable mineral wealth in the Urals, including gems such as topaz and beryl. The Virgin Komi Forestsmarker in the northern Urals are recognized as a World Heritage site. 68% of the Ural Mountains are located in Russiamarker, while the remaining 32% are located in Kazakhstan. Geographers have divided the Urals into five regions: South, Middle, North, Subarctic and Arctic. The tree line drops from 1,400 metres to sea level as one progresses north. Sections of the south and middle regions are completely forested.


The Village of Kolchedan in the Ural Mountains in 1912
The Urals were named after the Uralian tribe that was once native to the northern region of Asia. The Uralians were hunter-gatherers; however the lack of plentiful resources in the area forced them to relocate, spreading throughout the Asian region. According to another explanation, the word Ural is of Turkic origin and means a stone belt.


The Urals are among the world's oldest extant mountain ranges. For its age of 250 to 300 million years, the elevation of the mountains is unusually high. They were formed during the late Carboniferous period, when western Siberia collided with eastern Baltica (connected to Laurentia (North America) to form the minor supercontinent of Euramerica) and Kazakhstania to form the supercontinent of Laurasia. Later Laurasia and Gondwana collided to form the supercontinent of Pangaea, which subsequently broke itself apart into the seven continents known today. Europe and Siberiamarker have remained joined together ever since.

The Urals were first studied in a systematic way by Russian mineralogist Ernst Karlovich Hofmann (1801-1871) of St. Petersburgmarker University. During his tireless research, which began in 1828, Hofmann travelled thousands of miles in the Urals and gathered a vast collection of minerals, like gold, platinum, magnetite, ilmenite, perovskite, rutile, chromite, chrysoberyl, quartz, zircon, uvarovite, phenakite, topaz and beryl, among others.

The Urals have large deposits of gold, platinum, coal, iron, nickel, silver, oil and other minerals.

Flora and Fauna

The Urals are considered the backbone of Russian wilderness, with a diverse plant and wildlife population.


  1. Ural Mountains -
  2. Ural Mountains - MSN Encarta
  3. The Urals and Western Siberia in the Bronze and Iron Ages - Cambridge University Press

See also

External links

Image:Maksimovsky rock Chusovaya river.jpg|Chusovaya Rivermarker in the Ural Mountains.Image:Polar Urals.jpg.jpg|Polar Urals, Vorkutamarker, KomiImage:Gorskii_04428u.jpg|A mine in the Ural Mountains, 1910

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