The Ural Mountains are famous for the fact that they serve as a natural divider between the two continents: Europe and Asia.
The Ural Mountains begin where the East European Plain ends. Immediately east of the Urals begins Siberia. The western slopes of the mountains are still in Europe, but from the foot of the eastern slopes of the Urals starts Asia. The length of this mountain range is about 2000 km and the width is in the range of 150 kilometers.
The Ural Mountains were formed simultaneously with the Altai, around 350 million years ago, in the place of collision of two continental plates. But the forces that raised the Altai Mountains to a considerable height, in the case with the Ural Mountains were weaker and that is why the Ural Mountains are twice as low as the Altai Mountains. But there is also a positive aspect of these weak forces: there are fewer earthquakes in the Urals.
The Ural Mountains do not simply divide Europe and Asia, but they also act as a border between the different climatic zones: a milder continental climate of the East European Plain in the west of the Ural Mountains and a continental climate of the Western Siberia from the eastern side of the mountains with temperatures down to minus 40 degree Celsius or even minus 50 degrees.
People came to inhabit these places much later than other regions of the earth: during the early Paleolithic period, about 75,000 years ago. The Ural Mountains, for most of their length are still today not the most accessible place to visit.
One of the most famous and highest peaks of the Ural Mountains – Mount Manaraga
Mystical Ural Mountains
Ancient people considered the Ural Mountains to be a mystical, mythical place. It is a place of legends, a place where the world ends and there the land of gods begins.
Somewhere among the peaks of the Urals the Kama River begins, which flows into the Caspian Sea. Ptolemy put the river on the map, and nearby depicted mountains. Maybe this was the first look of the ancient people at the Ural Mountains? Or maybe the Urals are famous Hyperborean mountains?
Today, we can speculate together with scholars of antiquity, who were wondering whether there was any truth in the stories of travelers, based on which scientists created their maps. .
Arab travelers a millennium later managed to describe the “land of darkness” in a little more detail, as a land where you should bring with you not only supplies but also firewood for cooking food and keeping warm. This description is very similar to the Ural Mountains.
But only Russian merchants and adventurers in the 11th century sent caravans to the Ural Mountains. The goal of the merchants in this harsh land was to obtain the most valuable fur. Russian merchants resold fur to Europe at a great profit.
For several centuries all expeditions were “private.” Starting from 14th-15th centuries Russia moved to the east. Soon the Ural Mountains were explored pretty well, and Russians continued exploring Siberia towards the Bering Strait and the Americas…
Priceless treasure trove
The Ural Mountains are lower than most of the famous mountains such as the Himalayas, for example. But they have a distinct advantage: they are extremely rich in minerals (over 200) and commercial deposits (48 types). Among them there are deposits containing iron, copper, titanium, nickel, chromium, gold, platinum, asbestos and others. The Urals are rich in coal, oil, gas and a variety of other commercial deposits.
Furthermore, the Ural Mountains are abounding with precious and semiprecious stones. It is believed that the best Russian diamonds are mined in the Ural Mountains.