Ural Mountains
Overview
 
The Ural Mountains or simply the Urals, are a mountain range
Mountain range
A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

 that runs approximately from north to south through western Russia, from the coast of the Arctic Ocean
Arctic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean, located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Arctic north polar region, is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceanic divisions...

 to the Ural River
Ural River
The Ural or Jayıq/Zhayyq , known as Yaik before 1775, is a river flowing through Russia and Kazakhstan. It arises in the southern Ural Mountains and ends at the Caspian Sea. Its total length is 1,511 mi making it the third longest river in Europe after the Volga and the Danube...

 and northwestern Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

. Their eastern side is usually considered the natural boundary between Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

. Vaygach Island
Vaygach Island
Vaygach Island is an island in the Arctic Sea between the Pechora Sea and the Kara Sea.Vaygach Island is separated from the Yugorsky Peninsula in the mainland by the Yugorsky Strait and from Novaya Zemlya by the Kara Strait...

 and the islands of Novaya Zemlya
Novaya Zemlya
Novaya Zemlya , also known in Dutch as Nova Zembla and in Norwegian as , is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean in the north of Russia and the extreme northeast of Europe, the easternmost point of Europe lying at Cape Flissingsky on the northern island...

 form a further continuation of the chain to the north into the Arctic.

The mountain
Mountain
Image:Himalaya_annotated.jpg|thumb|right|The Himalayan mountain range with Mount Everestrect 58 14 160 49 Chomo Lonzorect 200 28 335 52 Makalurect 378 24 566 45 Mount Everestrect 188 581 920 656 Tibetan Plateaurect 250 406 340 427 Rong River...

s lie within the Ural
Ural (region)
Ural is a geographical region located around the Ural Mountains, between the East European and West Siberian plains. It extends approximately from north to south, from the Arctic Ocean to the bend of Ural River near Orsk city. The boundary between Europe and Asia runs along the eastern side of...

 geographical region and significantly overlap with the Ural Federal District and Ural economic region.
Encyclopedia
The Ural Mountains or simply the Urals, are a mountain range
Mountain range
A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

 that runs approximately from north to south through western Russia, from the coast of the Arctic Ocean
Arctic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean, located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Arctic north polar region, is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceanic divisions...

 to the Ural River
Ural River
The Ural or Jayıq/Zhayyq , known as Yaik before 1775, is a river flowing through Russia and Kazakhstan. It arises in the southern Ural Mountains and ends at the Caspian Sea. Its total length is 1,511 mi making it the third longest river in Europe after the Volga and the Danube...

 and northwestern Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

. Their eastern side is usually considered the natural boundary between Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

. Vaygach Island
Vaygach Island
Vaygach Island is an island in the Arctic Sea between the Pechora Sea and the Kara Sea.Vaygach Island is separated from the Yugorsky Peninsula in the mainland by the Yugorsky Strait and from Novaya Zemlya by the Kara Strait...

 and the islands of Novaya Zemlya
Novaya Zemlya
Novaya Zemlya , also known in Dutch as Nova Zembla and in Norwegian as , is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean in the north of Russia and the extreme northeast of Europe, the easternmost point of Europe lying at Cape Flissingsky on the northern island...

 form a further continuation of the chain to the north into the Arctic.

The mountain
Mountain
Image:Himalaya_annotated.jpg|thumb|right|The Himalayan mountain range with Mount Everestrect 58 14 160 49 Chomo Lonzorect 200 28 335 52 Makalurect 378 24 566 45 Mount Everestrect 188 581 920 656 Tibetan Plateaurect 250 406 340 427 Rong River...

s lie within the Ural
Ural (region)
Ural is a geographical region located around the Ural Mountains, between the East European and West Siberian plains. It extends approximately from north to south, from the Arctic Ocean to the bend of Ural River near Orsk city. The boundary between Europe and Asia runs along the eastern side of...

 geographical region and significantly overlap with the Ural Federal District and Ural economic region. They are rich in various deposits, including metal ores, coal, precious and semi-precious stones, and since the 18th century have been the major mineral base of Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

.

Etymology

As attested by Sigismund von Herberstein
Sigismund von Herberstein
Siegmund Freiherr von Herberstein, , was an Carniolan diplomat, writer, historian and member of the Holy Roman Empire Imperial Council...

, in the 16th century Russians called the range by a variety of names derived from the Russian words for rock (stone) and belt. The modern Russian name for the Urals (Урал, Ural), first appearing in the 16th-17th century when the Russian expansion into Siberia was in its heroic phase, was initially applied to its southern parts and gained currency as the name of the entire range during the 18th century. It might be a borrowing from either Turkic
Turkic languages
The Turkic languages constitute a language family of at least thirty five languages, spoken by Turkic peoples across a vast area from Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean to Siberia and Western China, and are considered to be part of the proposed Altaic language family.Turkic languages are spoken...

 (Bashkir
Bashkir language
The Bashkir language is a Turkic language, and is the language of the Bashkirs. It is co-official with Russian in the Republic of Bashkortostan.-Speakers:...

, where the same name is used for the range), or Ob-Ugric
Ob-Ugric languages
The Ob-Ugric languages are a hypothetical branch of the Uralic languages, specifically referring to the Khanty and Mansi languages. Both are split in numerous and highly divergent dialects...

. From the 13th century, in Bashkortostan
Bashkortostan
The Republic of Bashkortostan , also known as Bashkiria is a federal subject of Russia . It is located between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains. Its capital is the city of Ufa...

 there has been a legend about a hero named Ural
Ural-batyr
Ural-batır or Ural-batyr is the most famous kubair of the Bashkirs narrating, like many similar epics about heroic deeds and legendary creatures, formation of natural phenomena, etc...

. He sacrificed his life for the sake of his people and they poured a stone pile over his grave which later turned into the Ural Mountains.

History

As Middle-eastern merchants traded with the Bashkirs
Bashkirs
The Bashkirs are a Turkic people indigenous to Bashkortostan extending on both parts of the Ural mountains, on the place where Europe meets Asia. Groups of Bashkirs also live in the republic of Tatarstan, Perm Krai, Chelyabinsk, Orenburg, Tyumen, Sverdlovsk, Kurgan, Samara and Saratov Oblasts of...

 and other people living on the western slopes of the Urals as far north as Great Perm
Great Perm
Great Perm or simply Perm, Latinized Permia, was a medieval Komi state in what is now the Perm Krai of the Russian Federation.Cherdyn is said to have been its capital....

, since at least the 10th century medieval mideastern geographers had been aware of the existence of the mountain range in its entirety, stretching as far as to the Arctic Ocean in the north. The first Russian mention of the mountains to the east of the East European Plain is provided by the Primary Chronicle
Primary Chronicle
The Primary Chronicle , Ruthenian Primary Chronicle or Russian Primary Chronicle, is a history of Kievan Rus' from about 850 to 1110, originally compiled in Kiev about 1113.- Three editions :...

, when it describes the Novgorodian
Novgorod Republic
The Novgorod Republic was a large medieval Russian state which stretched from the Baltic Sea to the Ural Mountains between the 12th and 15th centuries, centred on the city of Novgorod...

 expedition to the upper reaches of the Pechora
Pechora River
The Pechora River is a river in northwest Russia which flows north into the Arctic Ocean on the west side of the Ural Mountains. It lies mostly in the Komi Republic but the northernmost part crosses the Nenets Autonomous Okrug. It is 1,809 km long and its basin is 322,000 square kilometers...

 in 1096. During the next few centuries Novgorodians engaged in fur trading with the local population and collected tribute from Yugra
Yugra
Yugra was the name of the lands between the Pechora River and Northern Urals in the Russian annals of the 12th–17th centuries, as well as the name of the Khanty and partly Mansi tribes inhabiting these territories, later known as VogulsThe Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug of Russia is also...

 and Great Perm, slowly expanding southwards. The rivers Chusovaya and Belaya were first mentioned in the chronicles of 1396 and 1468, respectively. In 1430 the town of Solikamsk
Solikamsk
Solikamsk is a town in Perm Krai, Russia. It is the third-largest town in Perm Krai, with a population of It was founded in 1430. The name of the town is derived from the Russian words "" and "" .It is famous for its production of salt, in particular, potassium chloride, which is used as a...

 (Kama Salt) was founded on the Kama
Kama River
Kama is a major river in Russia, the longest left tributary of the Volga and the largest one in discharge; in fact, it is larger than the Volga before junction....

 at the foothills of the Urals, where salt
Salt
In chemistry, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. They are composed of cations and anions so that the product is electrically neutral...

 was produced in open pans
Open pan salt making
In Europe virtually all domestic salt is obtained by solution mining of underground salt formations although some is still obtained by the solar evaporation of sea water. Salt is extracted from the Brine using vacuum pans, where brine is heated in a partial vacuum in order to lower the boiling...

. Ivan III of Moscow captured Perm, Pechora and Yugra from the declining Novgorod Republic in 1472. With the excursions of 1483 and 1499-1500 across the Urals Moscow managed to subjugate Yugra completely.

Nevertheless, around that time early 16th century Polish geographer Maciej of Miechów in his influential Tractatus de duabus Sarmatiis (1517) argued that there were no mountains in Eastern Europe at all, challenging the point of view of some authors of Classical antiquity, popular during the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

. Only after Sigismund von Herberstein
Sigismund von Herberstein
Siegmund Freiherr von Herberstein, , was an Carniolan diplomat, writer, historian and member of the Holy Roman Empire Imperial Council...

 in his Notes on Muscovite Affairs
Notes on Muscovite Affairs
Notes on Muscovite Affairs was a Latin book by Baron Sigismund von Herberstein on the geography, history and customs of Muscovy...

 (1549) had reported, following Russian sources, that there are mountains behind the Pechora and identified them with the Ripheans and Hyperboreans of ancient authors, did the existence of the Urals, or at least of its northern part, become firmly established in the Western geography
Age of Discovery
The Age of Discovery, also known as the Age of Exploration and the Great Navigations , was a period in history starting in the early 15th century and continuing into the early 17th century during which Europeans engaged in intensive exploration of the world, establishing direct contacts with...

. The Middle and Southern Urals were still largely unavailable and unknown to the Russian or Western European geographers.
In the 1550s, after the Tsardom of Russia
Tsardom of Russia
The Tsardom of Russia was the name of the centralized Russian state from Ivan IV's assumption of the title of Tsar in 1547 till Peter the Great's foundation of the Russian Empire in 1721.From 1550 to 1700, Russia grew 35,000 km2 a year...

 had defeated the Khanate of Kazan
Khanate of Kazan
The Khanate of Kazan was a medieval Tatar state which occupied the territory of former Volga Bulgaria between 1438 and 1552. Its khans were the patrilineal descendants of Toqa Temür, the thirteenth son of Jochi and grandson of Genghis Khan. The khanate covered contemporary Tatarstan, Mari El,...

 and proceeded to gradually annex the lands of the Bashkirs, the Russians finally reached the southern part of the mountain chain. In 1574 they founded Ufa
Ufa
-Demographics:Nationally, dominated by Russian , Bashkirs and Tatars . In addition, numerous are Ukrainians , Chuvash , Mari , Belarusians , Mordovians , Armenian , Germans , Jews , Azeris .-Government and administration:Local...

. The upper reaches of the Kama and Chusovaya in the Middle Urals, still unexplored, as well as parts of Transuralia still held by the hostile Siberian Khanate, were granted to the Stroganovs
Stroganovs
The Stroganovs or Strogonovs , also spelled in French manner as Stroganoffs, were a family of highly successful Russian merchants, industrialists, landowners, and statesmen of the 16th – 20th centuries who eventually earned nobility.-Origins:...

 by several decrees of the tsar in 1558-1574. The Stroganovs' land provided the staging ground for Yermak
Yermak Timofeyevich
Yermak Timofeyevich , Cossack leader, Russian folk hero and explorer of Siberia. His exploration of Siberia marked the beginning of the expansion of Russia towards this region and its colonization...

's incursion into Siberia
Conquest of the Khanate of Sibir
The Khanate of Sibir was a Muslim state located just east of the middle Ural Mountains. Its conquest by Ermak in 1582 was the first event in the Russian conquest of Siberia.-Russia:...

. Yermak crossed the Urals from the Chusovaya to the Tagil
Tagil River
Tagil is a river in Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia. It is 414 km long, with a drainage basin of 10 100 km². The average discharge is 40 m³/s. The river has its sources on the eastern slopes of the Ural Mountains, east of Verkhny Tagil...

 around 1581. In 1597 Babinov's road was built across the Urals from Solikamsk to the valley of the Tura
Tura River
Tura River , also known as Dolgaya River ) is a historically important Siberian river which flows eastward from the central Ural Mountains into the Tobol River, a part of the Ob River basin. The main town is Tyumen....

, where the town of Verkhoturye
Verkhoturye
Verkhoturye is a historic town and the administrative center of Verkhotursky District of Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia, located in the middle Ural Mountains on the left bank of the Tura River north of Yekaterinburg. Population: 7,815 Verkhoturye is a historic town and the administrative center of...

 (Upper Tura) was founded in 1598. Customs was established in Verkhoturye shortly thereafter and the road was made the only legal connection between European Russia and Siberia for a long time. In 1648 the town of Kungur
Kungur
Kungur is a town in the southeast of Perm Krai, Russia, located in the Ural Mountains at the inflowing of the Iren and Shakhva Rivers into the Sylva River . Kungur was founded in 1663 and granted town status in 1781. It serves as the administrative center of Kungursky District, although it is not...

 was founded at the western foothills of the Middle Urals. During the 17th century the first deposits of iron and copper ores, mica
Mica
The mica group of sheet silicate minerals includes several closely related materials having highly perfect basal cleavage. All are monoclinic, with a tendency towards pseudohexagonal crystals, and are similar in chemical composition...

, gemstone
Gemstone
A gemstone or gem is a piece of mineral, which, in cut and polished form, is used to make jewelry or other adornments...

s and other minerals were discovered in the Urals.

Iron and copper smelting
Smelting
Smelting is a form of extractive metallurgy; its main use is to produce a metal from its ore. This includes iron extraction from iron ore, and copper extraction and other base metals from their ores...

 works emerged. They multiplied particularly quickly during the reign of Peter I of Russia
Peter I of Russia
Peter the Great, Peter I or Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov Dates indicated by the letters "O.S." are Old Style. All other dates in this article are New Style. ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire from until his death, jointly ruling before 1696 with his half-brother, Ivan V...

. In 1720-1722 he commissioned Vasily Tatishchev
Vasily Tatishchev
Vasily Nikitich Tatishchev was a prominent Russian statesman, and ethnographer, best remembered as the author of the first full-scale Russian history...

 to oversee and develop the mining and smelting works in the Urals. Tatishchev proposed a new copper smelting factory in Yegoshikha
Yegoshikha
Yegoshikha , formerly Yagoshikha , was a village on the Yegoshikha River in the 17th–18th centuries. It is famous for its historical significance as oldest mentioned settlement at the place of the foundation of the city of Perm....

, which would eventually become the core of the city of Perm
Perm
Perm is a city and the administrative center of Perm Krai, Russia, located on the banks of the Kama River, in the European part of Russia near the Ural Mountains. From 1940 to 1957 it was named Molotov ....

 and a new iron smelting factory on the Iset
Iset River
Iset River is a river in Sverdlovsk, Kurgan, and Tyumen Oblasts in Russia. It rises in the Ural Mountains 25km northwest of Yekaterinburg and flows east into the Tobol River. To the north of its basin is that of Tura River and to the south, the Uy River. The length of the Iset River is...

, which would become the largest in the world at the time of construction and give birth to the city of Yekaterinburg
Yekaterinburg
Yekaterinburg is a major city in the central part of Russia, the administrative center of Sverdlovsk Oblast. Situated on the eastern side of the Ural mountain range, it is the main industrial and cultural center of the Urals Federal District with a population of 1,350,136 , making it Russia's...

. Both factories were actually founded by Tatishchev's successor, Georg Wilhelm de Gennin
Georg Wilhelm de Gennin
Georg Wilhelm de Gennin or Vilim Ivanovich de Gennin was a German-born Russian military officer and engineer who specialized in mining and metallurgy....

, in 1723. Tatishchev returned to the Urals on the order of Empress Anna
Anna of Russia
Anna of Russia or Anna Ivanovna reigned as Duchess of Courland from 1711 to 1730 and as Empress of Russia from 1730 to 1740.-Accession to the throne:Anna was the daughter of Ivan V of Russia, as well as the niece of Peter the Great...

 to succeed de Gennin in 1734-1737. Transportation of the output of the smelting works to the markets of European Russia necessitated the construction of the Siberian Route
Siberian Route
The Siberian Route , also known as the Moscow Route and Great Route , was a historic route that connected European Russia to Siberia and China. Previously Siberian transport had been mostly by river via Siberian River Routes...

 from Yekaterinburg across the Urals to Kungur and Yegoshikha (Perm) and further to Moscow, which was completed in 1763 and rendered Babinov's road obsolete. In 1745 gold was discovered in the Urals at Beryozovskoye
Beryozovskoye deposit
Beryozovskoye deposit, Berezovskoe gold deposit, Berezovsky deposit, Berezovsk Mines, and some other names is the first known primary deposit of gold in Russia. It is located 13 km northwest of Yekaterinburg in the central Urals Federal District. It was discovered in 1745 by a raskolnik Yerofey...

 and later at other deposits. It has been mined since 1747.

The first railway across the Urals had been built by 1878 and linked Perm to Yekaterinburg via Chusovoy
Chusovoy
Chusovoy is a town in Perm Krai, Russia, located east of Perm, at the confluence of the Usva and Vilva Rivers with the Chusovaya River. Population: -History and economy:...

, Kushva
Kushva
Kushva is a town in Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia, situated in the Ural Mountains near Yekaterinburg. Population: -History:Originally a mining town founded in 1735 at the Blagodat Mountain to explore its iron ore deposits, it was granted town status in 1926 and was then renamed from Kushvinsky Zavod ...

 and Nizhny Tagil
Nizhny Tagil
Nizhny Tagil is a city in Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia, situated east of the virtual border between Europe and Asia. Population: -History:...

. In 1890 a railway linked Ufa and Chelyabinsk
Chelyabinsk
Chelyabinsk is a city and the administrative center of Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia, located in the northwestern side of the oblast, south of Yekaterinburg, just to the east of the Ural Mountains, on the Miass River. Population: -History:...

 via Zlatoust
Zlatoust
Zlatoust is a city in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia, located on the Ay River , west of Chelyabinsk. Population: 181,000 ; 161,000 ; 99,000 ; 48,000 ; 21,000 ....

. In 1896 this section became a part of the Trans-Siberian Railway
Trans-Siberian Railway
The Trans-Siberian Railway is a network of railways connecting Moscow with the Russian Far East and the Sea of Japan. It is the longest railway in the world...

. In 1909 yet another railway connecting Perm and Yekaterinburg passed through Kungur
Kungur
Kungur is a town in the southeast of Perm Krai, Russia, located in the Ural Mountains at the inflowing of the Iren and Shakhva Rivers into the Sylva River . Kungur was founded in 1663 and granted town status in 1781. It serves as the administrative center of Kungursky District, although it is not...

 by the way of the Siberian Route. It has eventually replaced the Ufa – Chelyabinsk section as the main trunk of the Trans-Siberian railway.

The highest peak of the Urals, Mount Narodnaya
Mount Narodnaya
Mount Narodnaya , located in the Research Range, is the highest peak of the Urals in Russia. Its elevation is...

, was discovered in 1927.

During the Soviet industrialization in the 1930s the city of Magnitogorsk
Magnitogorsk
Magnitogorsk is a mining and industrial city in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia, located on the eastern side of the extreme southern extent of the Ural Mountains by the Ural River. Population: 418,545 ;...

 was founded in the southeastern Urals as a center of iron smelting and steelmaking
Steelmaking
Steelmaking is the second step in producing steel from iron ore. In this stage, impurities such as sulfur, phosphorus, and excess carbon are removed from the raw iron, and alloying elements such as manganese, nickel, chromium and vanadium are added to produce the exact steel required.-Older...

. During the German invasion of the Soviet Union
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

 in 1941-1942, the mountains became a key element in Nazi planning
The Ural mountains in Nazi planning
The Ural mountains played a prominent role in Nazi planning. Adolf Hitler and the rest of the Nazi German leadership made many references to them as a strategic objective of the Third Reich, in the event that it decisively won the battle on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union.-As a...

 for the territories which they expected to conquer in the USSR. Faced with the threat of having a significant part of the Soviet territories occupied by the enemy, the government evacuated many of the industrial enterprises of European Russia and Ukraine to the eastern foothills of the Urals, considered a safe place out of reach of the German bombers and troops. Three giant tank factories were established at the Uralmash
Uralmash
Uralmash is a heavy machine production facility of the Russian engineering corporation OMZ. The facility is located in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The surrounding residential area where workers live is also called Uralmash....

 in Sverdlovsk (as Yekaterinburg used to be known), Uralvagonzavod
Uralvagonzavod
Uralvagonzavod is a Russian machine building company located in Nizhny Tagil, Russia. It is one of the largest scientific and industrial complexes in Russia and the largest main battle tank manufacturer in the world....

 in Nizhny Tagil, and Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant
Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant
Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant also known as CTZ-Uraltrak is a tractor plant in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk.-History:The plant was founded in 1933; the first product was a 60 hp tracked tractor С-60 fueled by petroleum ether . In 1937 the factory produced its first diesel-powered vehicle C-65...

 in Chelyabinsk. After the war, in 1947-1948, Chum – Labytnangi
Labytnangi
Labytnangi is a town in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Russia, located on the left bank of the Ob River, northwest of Salekhard. Population:...

 railway, built with the forced labor of Gulag
Gulag
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...

 inmates, crossed the Polar Urals.

The first ample geographic survey of the Ural Mountains was completed in the early 18th century by the Russian historian and geographer Vasily Tatishchev
Vasily Tatishchev
Vasily Nikitich Tatishchev was a prominent Russian statesman, and ethnographer, best remembered as the author of the first full-scale Russian history...

 under the orders of Peter I
Peter I of Russia
Peter the Great, Peter I or Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov Dates indicated by the letters "O.S." are Old Style. All other dates in this article are New Style. ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire from until his death, jointly ruling before 1696 with his half-brother, Ivan V...

. Earlier, in the 17th century, rich ore deposits were discovered in the mountains and their systematic extraction began in the early 18th century, eventually turning the region into the largest mineral base of Russia.

One of the first scientific descriptions of the mountains was published in 1770–71. Over the next century, the region was studied by scientists from a number of countries, including Russia (geologist Alexander Karpinsky, botanist P.N. Krylov and zoologist L.P. Sabaneev), England (geologist Sir Roderick Murchison
Roderick Murchison
Sir Roderick Impey Murchison, 1st Baronet KCB DCL FRS FRSE FLS PRGS PBA MRIA was a Scottish geologist who first described and investigated the Silurian system.-Early life and work:...

), France (paleontologist Edouard de Verneuil
Edouard de Verneuil
Phillippe Edouard Poulletier de Verneuil was a French paleontologist.He was born in Paris and educated in law, but being of independent means he was free to follow his own inclinations, and having attended lectures on geology by Jean-Baptiste Elie de Beaumont he was so attracted to the subject...

), and Germany (naturalist Alexander von Humboldt
Alexander von Humboldt
Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt was a German naturalist and explorer, and the younger brother of the Prussian minister, philosopher and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt...

, geologist Alexander Keyserling
Alexander Keyserling
Alexander Friedrich Michael Lebrecht Nikolaus Arthur, Graf von Keyserling was a Baltic German geologist and paleontologist...

). In 1845, Murchison, who had according to Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
The Encyclopædia Britannica , published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia that is available in print, as a DVD, and on the Internet. It is written and continuously updated by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 expert...

"compiled the first geologic map of the Urals in 1841", published The Geology of Russia in Europe and the Ural Mountains with de Verneuil and Keyserling.

Geography and topography

The Ural Mountains extend about 2500 km (1,553.4 mi) from the Kara Sea
Kara Sea
The Kara Sea is part of the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia. It is separated from the Barents Sea to the west by the Kara Strait and Novaya Zemlya, and the Laptev Sea to the east by the Severnaya Zemlya....

 to the Kazakh steppe
Kazakh Steppe
The Kazakh Steppe or Kirghiz Steppe ecoregion, of the Palearctic Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands Biome, is a vast region of open grassland in northern Kazakhstan and adjacent portions of Russia, extending to the east of the Pontic steppe and to the west of the Emin Valley steppe,...

s along the northern border of Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

. Vaygach Island
Vaygach Island
Vaygach Island is an island in the Arctic Sea between the Pechora Sea and the Kara Sea.Vaygach Island is separated from the Yugorsky Peninsula in the mainland by the Yugorsky Strait and from Novaya Zemlya by the Kara Strait...

 and the island of Novaya Zemlya
Novaya Zemlya
Novaya Zemlya , also known in Dutch as Nova Zembla and in Norwegian as , is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean in the north of Russia and the extreme northeast of Europe, the easternmost point of Europe lying at Cape Flissingsky on the northern island...

 form a further continuation of the chain on the north. Geographically this range marks the northern part of the border between the continents of Europe and Asia. Its highest peak is Mount Narodnaya
Mount Narodnaya
Mount Narodnaya , located in the Research Range, is the highest peak of the Urals in Russia. Its elevation is...

 (1,895 m or 6,213 ft).

By topography and other natural features, Ural is divided, from north to south, into the Polar (or Arctic), Nether-Polar (or Sub-Arctic), Northern, Central and Southern parts. The Polar Ural extends for about 385 kilometres (239.2 mi) from the Mount Konstantinov Kamen in the north to the Khulga River in the south; it has an area of about 25,000 km² and a strongly dissected relief. The maximum height is 1,499 meters (4,915 feet) at the Payer Mountain and the average height is 1,000–1,100 meters (3,280–3,605 feet). The mountains of Polar Ural sometimes have exposed rock with sharp ridges but there are also flattened or rounded tops.

The Nether-Polar Ural is wider (up to 150 km) and higher than the Polar Ural, with the highest peaks of 1,895 m (6,213 feet, Mount Narodnaya
Mount Narodnaya
Mount Narodnaya , located in the Research Range, is the highest peak of the Urals in Russia. Its elevation is...

), 1,878 m (6,157 feet, Mount Karpinsky (Urals)
Mount Karpinsky (Urals)
Mount Karpinsky, or Karpinsky Mountain, is a peak in the circumpolar part of the Ural Mountains. It is part of the Research Range, and lies on the boundary between the Komi Republic and the Tyumen Oblast. Rising to a height of 1878 m, it is composed of quartzites and crystalline schists. The...

) and 1,662 m (5,450 feet, Manaraga
Manaraga
Manaraga is a peak in the northern part of Ural mountains in Russia, with the elevation of . It is located 15 km west of Mount Narodnaya, the highest peak in Ural mountains. The slopes of the peak are gentle and grassy, but the summit is jagged and rocky....

). It extends for more than 225 kilometres (139.8 mi) south to the Shchugor River. Its many ridges have sawtooth shape and are dissected by river valleys. Both Polar and Nether-Polar Urals are typically Alpine; they bear traces of Pleistocene
Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....

 glaciation and permafrost and have a rather developed modern glaciation that includes 143 glaciers.

The Northern Ural consists of a series of parallel ridges with the height up to 1,000–1,200 m and longitudinal depressions. They are elongated from north to south and stretch for about 560 km (348 mi) from the Usa River. Most of the tops are flattened, but those of the highest mountains, such as Telposiz (1,617 m or 5,300 ft) and Konzhakovsky Stone (1,569 m or 5,144 ft) have dissected topography. Intensive weathering has produced vast areas of eroded stones on the mountain slopes and summits of the northern areas.

The Central Ural is the lowest part of Urals, with the highest mountain of 994 m (Basegi) and smooth mountain tops; it extends south from the Ufa River
Ufa River
Ufa River is a river in the Urals, Chelyabinsk Oblast, Sverdlovsk Oblast, and the Republic of Bashkortostan; a tributary of the Belaya River. It is 918 km in length. The area of the basin is 53,100 km². It freezes up between late October and early December and stays under the ice until...

.

The relief of Southern Ural is more complex, with numerous valleys and parallel ridges directed south-west and meridionally. Its maximum height is 1,640 m (5,377 ft, Mount Yamantau) and the widths reaches 250 km. Other notable peaks lie along the Iremel
Iremel
Iremel is a compact mountain ridge in the Southern Ural Mountains in the republic of Bashkortostan, Russian Federation . The highest peak, Bolshoy Iremel, or simply Iremel, stands at 1589 metres high. Maly Iremel, 6 kilometers north-east, stands at 1449 meters...

 mountain ridge (Bolshoy Iremel and Maly Iremel). The Southern Ural extends some 550 km (341.8 mi) up to the sharp westward bend of the Ural River
Ural River
The Ural or Jayıq/Zhayyq , known as Yaik before 1775, is a river flowing through Russia and Kazakhstan. It arises in the southern Ural Mountains and ends at the Caspian Sea. Its total length is 1,511 mi making it the third longest river in Europe after the Volga and the Danube...

 and terminates in the wide Mughalzhar Hills.

Mountain formation near Saranpaul, Nether-Polar Urals Rocks in a river, Nether-Polar Urals Mountain Big Iremel Entry to the Ignateva Cave, South Urals



Geology


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 Uralian orogeny
Uralian orogeny
The Uralian orogeny refers to the long series of mountain building events that raised the Ural Mountains, starting in the Late Carboniferous and Permian periods of the Palaeozoic Era, ca. 318-299 and 299-251 Mya, and ending with the last series of continental collisions in Triassic to early...

 due to the collision
Continental collision
Continental collision is a phenomenon of the plate tectonics of Earth that occurs at convergent boundaries. Continental collision is a variation on the fundamental process of subduction, whereby the subduction zone is destroyed, mountains produced, and two continents sutured together...

 of the eastern edge of the supercontinent Laurussia with the young and rheologically weak continent of Kazakhstania
Kazakhstania
Kazakhstania, also known as the Kazakhstan Block, is a small continental region in the interior of Asia. It consists of that area north and east of the Aral Sea, south of the Siberian craton and west of the Altai Mountains and Lake Balkhash. Politically, it comprises most of Kazakhstan and has a...

, which now underlies much of Kazakhstan and West Siberia west of the Irtysh
Irtysh
The Irtysh River is a river in Siberia and is the chief tributary of the Ob River. Its name means White River. Irtysh's main affluent is the Tobol River...

, and intervening island arc
Island arc
An island arc is a type of archipelago composed of a chain of volcanoes which alignment is arc-shaped, and which are situated parallel and close to a boundary between two converging tectonic plates....

s. The collision lasted nearly 90 million years in the late Carboniferous
Carboniferous
The Carboniferous is a geologic period and system that extends from the end of the Devonian Period, about 359.2 ± 2.5 Mya , to the beginning of the Permian Period, about 299.0 ± 0.8 Mya . The name is derived from the Latin word for coal, carbo. Carboniferous means "coal-bearing"...

 - early Triassic
Triassic
The Triassic is a geologic period and system that extends from about 250 to 200 Mya . As the first period of the Mesozoic Era, the Triassic follows the Permian and is followed by the Jurassic. Both the start and end of the Triassic are marked by major extinction events...

. Unlike the other major orogens of the Paleozoic
Paleozoic
The Paleozoic era is the earliest of three geologic eras of the Phanerozoic eon, spanning from roughly...

 (Appalachians, Caledonides, Variscides), the Urals have not undergone post-orogenic extensional collapse
Extensional tectonics
Extensional tectonics is concerned with the structures formed, and the tectonic processes associated with, the stretching of the crust or lithosphere.-Deformation styles:...

 and are unusually well preserved for their age, being underlied by a pronounced crustal root. East and south of the Urals much of the orogen is buried beneath later Mesozoic
Mesozoic
The Mesozoic era is an interval of geological time from about 250 million years ago to about 65 million years ago. It is often referred to as the age of reptiles because reptiles, namely dinosaurs, were the dominant terrestrial and marine vertebrates of the time...

 and Cenozoic
Cenozoic
The Cenozoic era is the current and most recent of the three Phanerozoic geological eras and covers the period from 65.5 mya to the present. The era began in the wake of the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous that saw the demise of the last non-avian dinosaurs and...

 sediment
Sediment
Sediment is naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subsequently transported by the action of fluids such as wind, water, or ice, and/or by the force of gravity acting on the particle itself....

s. The adjacent Pay-Khoy to the north is not a part of the Uralian orogen and formed later.

Many deformed and metamorphosed rocks, mostly of Paleozoic period, surface within the Urals. The sedimentary and volcanic layers are folded and broken, and form meridional bands. The sediments to the west of the Ural Mountains are formed by limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

, dolomite
Dolomite
Dolomite is a carbonate mineral composed of calcium magnesium carbonate CaMg2. The term is also used to describe the sedimentary carbonate rock dolostone....

 and sandstone
Sandstone
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains.Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow,...

 left from ancient shallow seas. The eastern side is dominated by basalts similar to the rocks of the bottom of the modern oceans.

The western slope of the Ural Mountains has predominantly karst topography
Karst topography
Karst topography is a geologic formation shaped by the dissolution of a layer or layers of soluble bedrock, usually carbonate rock such as limestone or dolomite, but has also been documented for weathering resistant rocks like quartzite given the right conditions.Due to subterranean drainage, there...

, especially in the basin of the Sylva River
Sylva River
Sylva River is a river in Sverdlovsk Oblast and Perm Krai in Russia. It is in length. The area of the basin is . The Sylva River flows into the Chusovoy Cove of the Kama Reservoir. It freezes up in November and stays under the ice until April. Principal tributaries: Iren, Barda, Shakva...

, which is a tributary of the Chusovaya River. It is composed of severely eroded sedimentary rocks (sandstones and limestones) that are about 350 million years old. There are many caves, karst sinks and underground streams. The karst topography is much less developed on the eastern slopes. They are relatively flat, with some hills and rocky outcrops and contain alternating volcanic and sedimentary layers dated to the middle Paleozoic period. Most high mountains consist of weather-resistant rocks such as quartzite
Quartzite
Quartzite is a hard metamorphic rock which was originally sandstone. Sandstone is converted into quartzite through heating and pressure usually related to tectonic compression within orogenic belts. Pure quartzite is usually white to gray, though quartzites often occur in various shades of pink...

, schist
Schist
The schists constitute a group of medium-grade metamorphic rocks, chiefly notable for the preponderance of lamellar minerals such as micas, chlorite, talc, hornblende, graphite, and others. Quartz often occurs in drawn-out grains to such an extent that a particular form called quartz schist is...

 and gabbro
Gabbro
Gabbro refers to a large group of dark, coarse-grained, intrusive mafic igneous rocks chemically equivalent to basalt. The rocks are plutonic, formed when molten magma is trapped beneath the Earth's surface and cools into a crystalline mass....

 that are between 570 and 395 million years old. The river valleys are laid with limestone.

Ural Mountains contain about 48 species of economically valuable ores and minerals. Eastern regions are rich in chalcopyrite
Chalcopyrite
Chalcopyrite is a copper iron sulfide mineral that crystallizes in the tetragonal system. It has the chemical composition CuFeS2. It has a brassy to golden yellow color and a hardness of 3.5 to 4 on the Mohs scale. Its streak is diagnostic as green tinged black.On exposure to air, chalcopyrite...

, nickel oxide
Nickel oxide
Nickel oxide may refer to:* Nickel oxide, NiO, green, well-characterised oxide* Nickel oxide, Ni2O3, black, not well-characterised oxide...

, gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

, platinum
Platinum
Platinum is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pt and an atomic number of 78. Its name is derived from the Spanish term platina del Pinto, which is literally translated into "little silver of the Pinto River." It is a dense, malleable, ductile, precious, gray-white transition metal...

, chromite
Chromite
Chromite is an iron chromium oxide: FeCr2O4. It is an oxide mineral belonging to the spinel group. Magnesium can substitute for iron in variable amounts as it forms a solid solution with magnesiochromite ; substitution of aluminium occurs leading to hercynite .-Occurrence:Chromite is found in...

 and magnetite
Magnetite
Magnetite is a ferrimagnetic mineral with chemical formula Fe3O4, one of several iron oxides and a member of the spinel group. The chemical IUPAC name is iron oxide and the common chemical name is ferrous-ferric oxide. The formula for magnetite may also be written as FeO·Fe2O3, which is one part...

 ores, as well as in coal (Chelyabinsk Oblast
Chelyabinsk Oblast
-External links:*...

), bauxite
Bauxite
Bauxite is an aluminium ore and is the main source of aluminium. This form of rock consists mostly of the minerals gibbsite Al3, boehmite γ-AlO, and diaspore α-AlO, in a mixture with the two iron oxides goethite and hematite, the clay mineral kaolinite, and small amounts of anatase TiO2...

, talc, fireclay and abrasives. Western Ural contains deposits of coal, oil, natural gas (Ishimbay and Krasnokamsk areas) and potassium
Potassium
Potassium is the chemical element with the symbol K and atomic number 19. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the hydrogen emitted in the reaction.Potassium and sodium are...

 salts. Both slopes are rich in bituminous coal and lignite
Lignite
Lignite, often referred to as brown coal, or Rosebud coal by Northern Pacific Railroad,is a soft brown fuel with characteristics that put it somewhere between coal and peat...

, and the largest deposit of bituminous coal is in the north (Pechora field). The specialty of Urals is precious and semi-precious stones, such as emerald
Emerald
Emerald is a variety of the mineral beryl colored green by trace amounts of chromium and sometimes vanadium. Beryl has a hardness of 7.5–8 on the 10 point Mohs scale of mineral hardness...

, amethyst
Amethyst
Amethyst is a violet variety of quartz often used in jewelry. The name comes from the Ancient Greek ἀ a- and μέθυστος methustos , a reference to the belief that the stone protected its owner from drunkenness; the ancient Greeks and Romans wore amethyst and made drinking vessels of it in the belief...

, aquamarine
Aquamarine
Aquamarine may mean:* Aquamarine , a color, a shade between green and blue and clear* Aquamarine , a gemstone-quality blue berylAquamarine may also refer to:...

, jasper
Jasper
Jasper, a form of chalcedony, is an opaque, impure variety of silica, usually red, yellow, brown or green in color; and rarely blue. This mineral breaks with a smooth surface, and is used for ornamentation or as a gemstone. It can be highly polished and is used for vases, seals, and at one time for...

, rhodonite
Rhodonite
Rhodonite is a manganese inosilicate, SiO3 and member of the pyroxenoid group of minerals, crystallizing in the triclinic system...

, malachite
Malachite
Malachite is a copper carbonate mineral, with the formula Cu2CO32. This green-colored mineral crystallizes in the monoclinic crystal system, and most often forms botryoidal, fibrous, or stalagmitic masses. Individual crystals are rare but do occur as slender to acicular prisms...

 and diamond
Diamond
In mineralogy, diamond is an allotrope of carbon, where the carbon atoms are arranged in a variation of the face-centered cubic crystal structure called a diamond lattice. Diamond is less stable than graphite, but the conversion rate from diamond to graphite is negligible at ambient conditions...

. Some of the deposits, such as the magnetite ores at Magnitogorsk are already nearly depleted.

Minerals from the Ural Mountains
Andradite
Andradite
Andradite is a species of the garnet group. It is a nesosilicate, with formula Ca3Fe2Si3O12.Andradite includes three varieties:* Melanite: Black in color, referred to as "titanian andradite"....

Beryl
Beryl
The mineral beryl is a beryllium aluminium cyclosilicate with the chemical formula Be3Al26. The hexagonal crystals of beryl may be very small or range to several meters in size. Terminated crystals are relatively rare...

Platinum
Platinum
Platinum is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pt and an atomic number of 78. Its name is derived from the Spanish term platina del Pinto, which is literally translated into "little silver of the Pinto River." It is a dense, malleable, ductile, precious, gray-white transition metal...

Quartz
Quartz
Quartz is the second-most-abundant mineral in the Earth's continental crust, after feldspar. It is made up of a continuous framework of SiO4 silicon–oxygen tetrahedra, with each oxygen being shared between two tetrahedra, giving an overall formula SiO2. There are many different varieties of quartz,...




Rivers and lakes

Many rivers originate in the Ural Mountains. The Western slope south of the border between the Komi Republic and Perm Krai and Eastern slope south of approximately 54º30'N drain into the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 via the Kama
Kama River
Kama is a major river in Russia, the longest left tributary of the Volga and the largest one in discharge; in fact, it is larger than the Volga before junction....

 and Ural
Ural River
The Ural or Jayıq/Zhayyq , known as Yaik before 1775, is a river flowing through Russia and Kazakhstan. It arises in the southern Ural Mountains and ends at the Caspian Sea. Its total length is 1,511 mi making it the third longest river in Europe after the Volga and the Danube...

 river basins. The tributaries of the Kama include the Vishera, Chusovaya, and Belaya and originate both in the eastern and western slopes. The rest of the Urals drains into the Arctic Ocean
Arctic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean, located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Arctic north polar region, is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceanic divisions...

, mainly via the Pechora
Pechora River
The Pechora River is a river in northwest Russia which flows north into the Arctic Ocean on the west side of the Ural Mountains. It lies mostly in the Komi Republic but the northernmost part crosses the Nenets Autonomous Okrug. It is 1,809 km long and its basin is 322,000 square kilometers...

 basin in the west, which includes the Ilych
Ilych River
Ilych River is a river in Komi Republic in northwest Russia. It drains part of the northern Ural Mountains westward into the upper Pechora River. The length of the river is 411 km. The area of its basin is 16,000 km². The Ilych freezes up in early November and stays icebound until late April. Its...

, Shchugor, and Usa
Usa River (Komi Republic)
Usa is a river in the northeast corner of European Russia which drains the Polar Urals southwest into the Pechora River. The Polar Urals tend to the northeast and the Usa runs parallel to them. It is in the Komi Republic of Russia and the largest tributary of the Pechora River, which it joins from...

, and via the Ob
Ob River
The Ob River , also Obi, is a major river in western Siberia, Russia and is the world's seventh longest river. It is the westernmost of the three great Siberian rivers that flow into the Arctic Ocean .The Gulf of Ob is the world's longest estuary.-Names:The Ob is known to the Khanty people as the...

 basin in the east, which includes the Tobol
Tobol River
Tobol is a river in Kurgan and Tyumen Oblasts in Russia and Kazakhstan, left tributary of the Irtysh. The length of the Tobol River is 1591 km. The area of its drainage basin is 426,000 km². Average discharge at mouth is 805 m³/s. The lower reaches of the river freeze up in late October -...

, Tavda
Tavda River
The Tavda River is a Siberian river that drains part of the central Ural mountains into the Tobol River. It is north of the Tura River and south of the Konda River. It is located in Sverdlovsk Oblast and Tyumen Oblast. It is formed by the confluence of the Lozva and Sosva Rivers. The length of...

, Iset
Iset River
Iset River is a river in Sverdlovsk, Kurgan, and Tyumen Oblasts in Russia. It rises in the Ural Mountains 25km northwest of Yekaterinburg and flows east into the Tobol River. To the north of its basin is that of Tura River and to the south, the Uy River. The length of the Iset River is...

, Tura
Tura River
Tura River , also known as Dolgaya River ) is a historically important Siberian river which flows eastward from the central Ural Mountains into the Tobol River, a part of the Ob River basin. The main town is Tyumen....

 and Severnaya Sosva
Northern Sosva River
The Severnaya Sosva is a river in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, Russia, which drains the northern Ural Mountains into the lower Ob River.-Geography:...

. The rivers freeze for more than half a year. Generally, the western rivers have higher flow volume than the eastern ones, especially in the Northern and Nether-Polar regions. Rivers are slower in the Southern Ural. This is because of low precipitation and relatively warm climate resulting in less snow and more evaporation.

The mountains are home to a number of deep lakes. The eastern slope of the Southern and Central Urals, which hosts among its largest lakes the Uvildy, Itkul, Turgoyak, and Tavatuy, is home to most of these. Less numerous, the lakes found on the western slope are also smaller. Lake Bolshoye Shchuchye, the deepest lake in the Polar Urals, is 136 metres (446.2 ft) deep. Other lakes, too, are found in this region, in its glacial valleys. Spas and sanatoriums have been built to take advantage of the medicinal muds found in some of the lakes in the mountains.

Climate

The climate of Urals is continental. The mountain ridges elongated from north to south, effectively absorb sunlight thereby increasing the temperature. The areas west to the Ural Mountains are 1–2 °C warmer in winter than the eastern regions because the former are warmed by the Atlantic winds whereas the eastern slopes are chilled by the Siberian air masses. The average January temperatures increase in the western areas from –20 °C in the Polar to –15 °C in the Southern Urals and the corresponding temperatures in July are 10 °C and 20 °C. The western areas also received more rainfall than the eastern ones by 150–300 mm per year. This is because the mountains trap the clouds brought from the Atlantic Ocean. The highest precipitation (1000 mm) is in the Northern Ural that causes the average height of snow up to 100 cm (3.3 ft). The eastern parts receive from 500–600 mm on the north to 300–400 mm on the south. Maximum precipitation occurs in the summer and the winter is dry because of the Siberian High
Siberian High
The Siberian High is a massive collection of cold or very cold dry air that accumulates on the Eurasian terrain for much of the year. It reaches its greatest size and strength in the winter, when the air temperature near the center of the high-pressure cell or anticyclone is often lower than...

.

Flora

The landscapes of Urals change both in the latitudinal and vertical directions and are dominated by forests and steppes. The southern area of the Mughalzhar Hills is a semidesert. Steppes lie mostly in the southern and especially south-eastern Urals. Meadow steppes have developed in the lower parts of mountain slopes and are covered with zigzag
Trifolium medium
Trifolium medium or Zigzag Clover is a plant species of the genus Trifolium.* quattrofolium...

 and mountain clover
Trifolium montanum
Trifolium montanum is a plant species of the genus Trifolium. It is the county flower of Oslo, Norway.-References:*...

s, Serratula
Serratula
Serratula is a genus of at least 17 species in the daisy family native to the old world. Serratula as traditionally defined contains at least two groups: one of which is basal within the subtribe Centaureinae and one of which is derived; the former group can be moved to the genus Klasea.Various...

 gmelinii
, dropwort
Dropwort
Dropwort , also known as Fern-leaf Dropwort, is a perennial herb of the family Rosaceae closely related to Meadowsweet...

, meadow-grass and Bromus inermis
Bromus inermis
Bromus inermis is a species of the true grass family . This bunchgrass is native to Europe- Common names :* Arctic brome – English [Bromus inermis subsp. pumpellianus]* Austrian bromegrass – English [Bromus inermis subsp. inermis]...

, reaching the height of 60–80 cm. Many lands are cultivated. Moving to the south, the meadow steppes become more sparse, dry and low. The steep gravelly slopes of mountains and hills of eastern slopes of the Southern Ural are mostly covered with rocky steppes. Valleys of the rivers contain willow
Willow
Willows, sallows, and osiers form the genus Salix, around 400 species of deciduous trees and shrubs, found primarily on moist soils in cold and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere...

, poplar
Poplar
Populus is a genus of 25–35 species of deciduous flowering plants in the family Salicaceae, native to most of the Northern Hemisphere. English names variously applied to different species include poplar , aspen, and cottonwood....

 and caragana
Caragana
Caragana is a genus of about 80 species of flowering plants in the family Fabaceae, native to Asia and eastern Europe.They are shrubs or small trees growing 1-6 m tall...

 shrubs.

Forest landscapes of Urals are diverse, especially the southern part. The western areas are dominated by dark coniferous taiga forests which change to mixed and deciduous forests on the south. The eastern mountain slopes have light coniferous taiga forests. The Northern Ural is dominated by conifers, namely Siberian fir
Siberian Fir
Abies sibirica, the Siberian Fir, is a coniferous evergreen tree native to the taiga east of the Volga River and south of 67°40' North latitude in Siberia through Turkestan, northeast Xinjiang, Mongolia and Heilongjiang.-Distribution:...

, Siberian pine
Siberian Pine
The Siberian Pine, Pinus sibirica, in the family Pinaceae is a species of pine tree that occurs in Siberia from 58°E in the Ural Mountains east to 126°E in the Stanovoy Range in southern Sakha Republic, and from Igarka at 68°N in the lower Yenisei valley, south to 45°N in central...

, Scots pine
Scots Pine
Pinus sylvestris, commonly known as the Scots Pine, is a species of pine native to Europe and Asia, ranging from Scotland, Ireland and Portugal in the west, east to eastern Siberia, south to the Caucasus Mountains, and as far north as well inside the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia...

, Siberian spruce
Siberian Spruce
Siberian Spruce is a spruce native to Siberia, from the Ural Mountains east to Magadan Oblast, and from the arctic tree line south to the Altay Mountains in northwestern Mongolia.-Description and uses:...

, Norway spruce
Norway Spruce
Norway Spruce is a species of spruce native to Europe. It is also commonly referred to as the European Spruce.- Description :...

 and Siberian larch
Siberian Larch
The Siberian Larch or Russian Larch is a frost-hardy tree native to western Russia, from close to the Finnish border east to the Yenisei valley in central Siberia, where it hybridises with the Dahurian Larch L...

, as well as by Silver
Silver Birch
Betula pendula is a widespread European birch, though in southern Europe it is only found at higher altitudes. Its range extends into southwest Asia in the mountains of northern Turkey and the Caucasus...

 and downy birch
Downy Birch
Betula pubescens is a species of birch, native and abundant throughout northern Europe, Iceland, northern Asia and also Greenland....

es. Forests are much more sparse in Polar Ural. Whereas in other Ural Mountains areas they grow up to the heights of 1 km, the tree line is at 250–400 m in the Polar Urals. The polar forests are low and are mixed with swamps, lichens, bogs and shrubs. Abundant are dwarf birch, mosses and berries (blueberry
Blueberry
Blueberries are flowering plants of the genus Vaccinium with dark-blue berries and are perennial...

, cloudberry, black crowberry
Empetrum nigrum
Empetrum nigrum is a species of crowberry known as black crowberry which is native to most northern areas of the northern hemisphere, as well as the Falkland Islands in the southern hemisphere....

, etc.). Southern Ural is most diverse in the forest composition; here together with coniferous forests also abundant are brodleaf tree species such as English oak, Norway maple
Norway Maple
Acer platanoides is a species of maple native to eastern and central Europe and southwest Asia, from France east to Russia, north to southern Scandinavia and southeast to northern Iran....

 and elm. The Virgin Komi Forests
Virgin Komi Forests
The Virgin Komi Forests is a natural UNESCO World Heritage site in the Northern Ural mountains of the Komi Republic, Russia. At 32,800 km² it is the largest virgin forest in Europe.The Virgin Komi Forests belong to the Ural Mountains taiga ecoregion...

 in the northern Urals are recognized as a World Heritage site.

Fauna

Ural forests are inhabited by animals typical of Siberia, such as elk, brown bear, fox, wolf, wolverine
Wolverine
The wolverine, pronounced , Gulo gulo , also referred to as glutton, carcajou, skunk bear, or quickhatch, is the largest land-dwelling species of the family Mustelidae . It is a stocky and muscular carnivore, more closely resembling a small bear than other mustelids...

, lynx
Lynx
A lynx is any of the four Lynx genus species of medium-sized wildcats. The name "lynx" originated in Middle English via Latin from Greek word "λύγξ", derived from the Indo-European root "*leuk-", meaning "light, brightness", in reference to the luminescence of its reflective eyes...

, squirrel and sable
Sable
The sable is a species of marten which inhabits forest environments, primarily in Russia from the Ural Mountains throughout Siberia, in northern Mongolia and China and on Hokkaidō in Japan. Its range in the wild originally extended through European Russia to Poland and Scandinavia...

 (north only). Because of the easy accessibility of the mountains there are no specifically mountanous species. In the Middle Ural, one can meet a rare mixture of sable and pine marten named kidus. In the Southern Ural, frequent are badger and black polecat
European polecat
The European polecat , also known as the black or forest polecat , is a species of Mustelid native to western Eurasia and North Africa, which is classed by the IUCN as Least Concern due to its wide range and large numbers. It is of a generally dark brown colour, with a pale underbelly and a dark...

. Reptiles and amphibians live mostly in the Southern and Central Ural and are represented by the common viper, lizards and grass snake
Natrix
Natrix is a genus of colubrid snakes. There are three or four species in the genus. They are collectively called grass snakes and water snakes...

s. Bird species are represented by capercaillie, black grouse
Black Grouse
The Black Grouse or Blackgame is a large bird in the grouse family. It is a sedentary species, breeding across northern Eurasia in moorland and bog areas near to woodland, mostly boreal...

, hazel grouse
Hazel Grouse
The Hazel Grouse or Hazel Hen is one of the smaller members of the grouse family of birds. It is a sedentary species, breeding across northern Eurasia and central and eastern Europe in dense, damp, mixed coniferous woodland, preferably with some spruce.The nest is on the ground, and 3–6 eggs is...

, Spotted Nutcracker
Spotted Nutcracker
The Spotted Nutcracker, Eurasian Nutcracker, or just Nutcracker, is a passerine bird slightly larger than the Eurasian Jay. It has a much larger bill and a slimmer looking head without any crest. The feathering over its body is predominantly a chocolate brown with distinct white spots and streaks...

 and cuckoos. In summers, South and Middle Urals are visited by songbirds, such as nightingale
Nightingale
The Nightingale , also known as Rufous and Common Nightingale, is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher, Muscicapidae...

 and redstart
Redstart
Redstarts are a group of small Old World birds. They were formerly classified in the thrush family , but are now known to be part of the Old World flycatcher family Muscicapidae...

.

Steppes of the Southern Urals are dominated by hares and rodents such as gophers
Gopher (animal)
The term gopher as it is commonly used does not relate to any one species, but is a generic term used to describe any of several small burrowing rodents endemic to North America, including the pocket gopher , also called true gophers, and the ground squirrel , including Richardson's ground squirrel...

, susliks
Spermophilus
Spermophilus is a genus of ground squirrels in the family Sciuridae. The majority of ground squirrel species, over 40 in total, are usually placed in this genus...

 and jerboa
Jerboa
The jerboa form the bulk of the membership of the family Dipodidae. Jerboas are hopping desert rodents found throughout Asia and Northern Africa. They tend to be found in hot deserts....

. There are many birds of prey such as Lesser Kestrel
Lesser Kestrel
The Lesser Kestrel is a small falcon. This species breeds from the Mediterranean across southern central Asia to China and Mongolia. It is a summer migrant, wintering in Africa and Pakistan and sometimes even to India and Iraq. It is rare north of its breeding range, and declining in its European...

 and buzzard
Buzzard
A buzzard is one of several large birds, but there are a number of meanings as detailed below.-Old World:In the Old World Buzzard can mean:* One of several medium-sized, wide-ranging raptors with a robust body and broad wings....

s. The animals of the Polar Ural are few and are characteristic of the tundra
Tundra
In physical geography, tundra is a biome where the tree growth is hindered by low temperatures and short growing seasons. The term tundra comes through Russian тундра from the Kildin Sami word tūndâr "uplands," "treeless mountain tract." There are three types of tundra: Arctic tundra, alpine...

 and include Arctic Fox
Arctic fox
The arctic fox , also known as the white fox, polar fox or snow fox, is a small fox native to Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere and is common throughout the Arctic tundra biome. The Greek word alopex, means a fox and Vulpes is the Latin version...

, tundra partridge, lemming
Lemming
Lemmings are small rodents, usually found in or near the Arctic, in tundra biomes. They are subniveal animals, and together with voles and muskrats, they make up the subfamily Arvicolinae , which forms part of the largest mammal radiation by far, the superfamily Muroidea, which also includes rats,...

 and reindeer. The birds of those areas include rough-legged buzzard
Rough-legged Buzzard
The Rough-legged Buzzard , called the Rough-legged Hawk in North America, is a medium-large bird of prey. It is found in Arctic and Subarctic regions of North America and Eurasia during the breeding season and migrates south for the winter.The species exhibits a wide variety of plumage patterns...

, Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl
The Snowy Owl is a large owl of the typical owl family Strigidae. The Snowy Owl was first classified in 1758 by Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish naturalist who developed binomial nomenclature to classify and organize plants and animals. The bird is also known in North America as the Arctic Owl, Great...

 and Rock Ptarmigan.

Gopher
Gopher
- Animal kingdom :* Gopher , including:** Pocket gophers , about 40 species distributed from North America to Colombia** Several ground squirrels of North America, particularly those formerly classified as Spermophilus* Gopher tortoise , distributed in North America- Other uses :* Minnesota, the...

Wolverine
Wolverine
The wolverine, pronounced , Gulo gulo , also referred to as glutton, carcajou, skunk bear, or quickhatch, is the largest land-dwelling species of the family Mustelidae . It is a stocky and muscular carnivore, more closely resembling a small bear than other mustelids...

Polecat
European polecat
The European polecat , also known as the black or forest polecat , is a species of Mustelid native to western Eurasia and North Africa, which is classed by the IUCN as Least Concern due to its wide range and large numbers. It is of a generally dark brown colour, with a pale underbelly and a dark...




Ecology

The continuous and intensive economic development of the last centuries has affected the fauna, and wildlife is much diminished around all industrial centers. During World War II, hundreds of factories were evacuated from Western Russia before the German occupation, flooding the Urals with industry. The conservation measures include establishing national wildlife parks. There are nine strict nature reserves in the Urals: the Ilmen, the oldest one, mineralogical reserve founded in 1920 in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Pechora-Ilych
Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve
Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve is a nature reserve in the Komi Republic, Russia. It currently occupies 7,213 square kilometers and forms the core of the World Heritage Site Virgin Komi Forests.-Location:...

 in the Komi Republic, Bashkir and its former branch Shulgan-Tash in Bashkortostan, Visim in Sverdlovsk Oblast, South Urals in Bashkortostan, Basegi
Basegi Nature Reserve
Basegi – is a nature reserve in Perm Krai, Russia. It created 1 October 1982. In 1993 it was expanded.Current area is 379.35 km2 and a buffer zone is 213.45 km2....

 in Perm Krai, Vishera
Vishera Nature Reserve
Vishera – is a nature reserve in Perm Krai, Russia. Area is 2,412 sq. km, more than 75% of which covered by forest. Main river is Vishera, that flow through nature reserve about 130 km.- Geography :...

 in Perm Krai and Denezhkin Kamen in Sverdlovsk Oblast.

The area has also been severely damaged by the plutonium
Plutonium
Plutonium is a transuranic radioactive chemical element with the chemical symbol Pu and atomic number 94. It is an actinide metal of silvery-gray appearance that tarnishes when exposed to air, forming a dull coating when oxidized. The element normally exhibits six allotropes and four oxidation...

-producing facility Mayak
Mayak
Mayak Production Association refers to an industrial complex that is one of the biggest nuclear facilities in the Russian Federation. It housed plutonium production reactors and a reprocessing plant...

 opened in Chelyabinsk-40 (later called Chelyabinsk-65, Ozyorsk
Ozyorsk, Chelyabinsk Oblast
Ozyorsk or Ozersk is a closed town in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia. Population: It was founded on the shore of the Irtyash Lake in 1945...

), in the Southern Urals, after World War II. Its plants went into operation in 1948 and, for the first ten years, dumped unfiltered radioactive waste into the Techa River
Techa River
The Techa River is a river on the eastern flank of the southern Ural Mountains noted for its nuclear contamination. It is about 240 km long and its basin is 7,500 square kilometers. It begins at the formerly-secret nuclear-processing town of Ozyorsk, Chelyabinsk Oblast about 80 km northwest of...

 and Lake Karachay
Lake Karachay
Lake Karachay , sometimes spelled Karachai, is a small lake in the southern Ural mountains in western Russia. Starting in 1951 the Soviet Union used Karachay as a dumping site for radioactive waste from Mayak, the nearby nuclear waste storage and reprocessing facility, located near the town of...

. In 1990, efforts were underway to contain the radiation in one of the lakes, which was estimated at the time to expose visitors to 500 millirem
Röntgen equivalent man
Named after Wilhelm Röntgen , the roentgen equivalent in man or rem is a unit of radiation dose equivalent...

 per day. As of 2006, 500 mrem in the natural environment was the upper limit of exposure considered safe for a member of the general public in an entire year (though workplace exposure over a year could exceed that by a factor of 10). 9000 square miles (23,309.9 km²) of land were contaminated in 1957 from a storage tank explosion, only one of several serious accidents that further polluted the region. The 1957 accident
Kyshtym disaster
The Kyshtym disaster was a radiation contamination incident that occurred on 29 September 1957 at Mayak, a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Russia...

 expelled 20 million curies of radioactive material, 90% of which settled into the land immediately around the facility. Although some reactors of Mayak were shut down in 1987 and 1990, the facility keeps producing plutonium.

See also

  • Dyatlov Pass incident
  • Idel-Ural State
    Idel-Ural State
    The Idel-Ural State was a short-lived Tatar republic with its centre in Kazan that united Tatars, Bashkirs and the Chuvash in the turmoil of the Russian Civil War. Often viewed as an attempt to recreate the Khanate of Kazan, the republic was proclaimed on December 12, 1917, by a Congress of Muslims...

  • Pangaea
    Pangaea
    Pangaea, Pangæa, or Pangea is hypothesized as a supercontinent that existed during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras about 250 million years ago, before the component continents were separated into their current configuration....

  • Ural (region)
    Ural (region)
    Ural is a geographical region located around the Ural Mountains, between the East European and West Siberian plains. It extends approximately from north to south, from the Arctic Ocean to the bend of Ural River near Orsk city. The boundary between Europe and Asia runs along the eastern side of...

  • Pavel Bazhov
    Pavel Bazhov
    Pavel Petrovich Bazhov was a Russian writer.Bazhov is best known for his collection of fairy-tale stories The Malachite Casket , based on the Urals folklore and published in the Soviet Union in 1939. In 1944, the translation of the collection into English was published in New York and London...

    (1879–1950) is best known for his collection of fairy-tale stories, based on the Urals folklore

External links

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