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The Ural ( , Kazakh: Жайық, Jayıq or Zhayyq), known as Yaik ( ) before 1775, is a river flowing through Russiamarker and Kazakhstanmarker. It arises in the southern Ural Mountainsmarker and ends at the Caspian Seamarker. Its total length is 1,511 mi (2,428 km). It forms part of the traditional boundary between Europe and Asia.

The Ural arises on the eastern side of the Ural Mountains, flows south through Magnitogorskmarker, and around the southern end of the Urals, through Orskmarker where it turns west for about 300 km, to Orenburgmarker, when the Sakmara River joins. From Orenburg it continues west, passing into Kazakhstan, then turning south again at Oralmarker, and meandering through a broad flat plain until it reaches the Caspian a few miles below Atyraumarker, where it forms a fine digitate delta at ( ).


Tributaries, in order going upstream:


In the Middle Ages, the city of Saray-Jükmarker on the lower Ural was an important trade center on the Silk Road. It later became an important center for the Golden Horde and the Nogai Horde,

After the Russian conquest (late 16th century), the shores of the Ural became home to the Ural Cossacks, one of whose main activities was fishing for the sturgeon and related fishes (including the true sturgeon, starry sturgeon, and beluga) in the Ural River and the Caspian. A great variety of fishing techniques existed, the most famous of them was bagrenye (багренье): spearing hibernating sturgeons in their underwater lairs in December. Another fishing technique was constructing a weir, known as uchug (учуг) across the river, to catch fish going upstream to spawn. While the uchug weirs were also known in the Volga Deltamarker, the bagrenye was thought to be a uniquely Ural technique.

The cossacks, known originally as the Yaik Cossacks, disliked the central government's attempts to impose rules and regulations on them, and on occasions rose in rebellions. After the largest rebellion - the one led by Yemelyan Pugachev - Empress Catherine had them renamed to "Ural Cossacks", and the Yaik River, to the Ural River.

The famous Civil War commander Vasily Chapayev is thought to have drowned in the Ural, on September 5, 1919.


Image:Ural River Atyrau.JPG|The Ural river in the center of Atyraumarker, Kazakhstanmarker. The right side (on the picture) of the river is Asian, the left is EuropeanImage:Ural-delta-ISS009E18679 lrg.jpg|The "bird's-foot" ("digitate") delta of the Ural


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