This chain of mountains forms the natural boundary between Europe and Asia.
In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about the Ural Mountains, one of the most famous mountain ranges in the world!
1. It stretches from the Kara Sea to the Kazach Steppe
The Ural Mountains run all across the western part of Russia, from north to south, and literally form the natural boundary Between Europe and Asia.
This mountain range extends about 2,500 kilometers (1,600 miles) from the Kara Sea in the north, which is part of the Arctic Ocean, to the Kazakh Steppe in the south, which runs across the Kazakh border.
2. The highest peak of the Ural Mountains isn’t that high
One of the most interesting facts about the Ural Mountains is that the highest peak isn’t all that high at all. Mount Narodnaya is located in one of the northern sections of the mountain range and reaches a height of about 1,895 meters (6,217 feet).
The Academy of Sciences of the USSR discovered the mountain in 1927 in an expedition referred to as the “Severouralsk expedition.”
3. The mountain range is divided into 5 different parts
Because of the fact that the mountain range is so large, it has been divided into 5 distinct separate regions. These parts are from north to south:
- Polar Ural – The utmost northern part of the Ural of about 385 kilometers (239 miles) long and with mostly sharp rocks and ridges.
- Nether-polar Ural – These are wider than the Polar Ural and extend for about 225 kilometers (140 miles) and contain the highest peaks.
- Northern Ural – The largest part of the Ural which extends about 560 kilometers (350 miles) and features a desolate landscape.
- Middle Ural – The lowest part of the Ural which features smooth mountain tops.
- Southern Ural – The utmost southern part of the mountain range which extends about 550 kilometers (340 miles) which featured a very varied landscape with numerous mountains, ridges, and valleys.
4. The Ural Mountains is one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world
One of the most intriguing facts about the Ural Mountains is that it’s one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world. It’s estimated that it was formed about 250 to 300 million years ago.
While the mountains aren’t really that high, they are considered to be extremely high for their age as well, meaning the mountains are remarkably well preserved.
5. It was formed by a collision that lasted 90 million years
The Ural Mountains were formed when the supercontinent Laurasia collided with the relatively young and weak continent of Kazakhstania.
This collision started in the late Carboniferous and early Triassic, the period preceding the more famous Jurassic period, and lasted for about 90 million years!
6. The Ural Mountains are extremely rich in natural resources
One of the most fascinating facts about the Ural Mountains is that because of their age, they are extremely rich in valuable ores and minerals. Especially the western part of the Urals contains a lot of coal, oil, potassium salts, and natural gas.
7. They are also very rich in precious stones
While natural resources are extremely valuable, nothing compares to the wealth stored in the Ural Mountains in the form of precious and semi-precious stones.
The Russians view the Urals as a “treasure box” because of the huge amount of gems the mountains contain such as emerald, amethyst, aquamarine, jasper, rhodonite, malachite, and diamond.
8. The Ural Mountain has a lot of rivers and lakes
A large number of rivers originate in the Ural Mountains and all of them drain in either the Arctic Ocean or the Caspian Sea, the world’s largest inland body of water. Many of the rivers in the northern parts of the Urals are frozen over half of the year.
Most of the lakes in the Urals can be found on the eastern slopes of the mountains in the central and southern regions of the mountain range.
9. The western part of the Ural Mountains is slightly warmer
One of the most remarkable facts about the Ural Mountains is that the western slope of the entire mountain range has a slightly higher average yearly temperature than the eastern slope.
The areas to the west of the mountains are about 1–2 °C (1.8–3.6 °F) warmer because warmed by Atlantic winds while the eastern parts are cooled down by the Siberian winds.
10. The landscape of the mountains consists of forests and steppes
The lower parts of the Ural Mountains are dominated by forests, and in the south and southeastern parts of the mountains range, there are several large steppes.
The more north you go, the sparser the forests are. While they grow up to an elevation of about 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) in the southern part, in the Polar Urals the tree line barely reaches between 250 and 400 meters (820 and 1,312 feet).
11. No endemic animal species live in the Urals
Because of the fact that the Ural Mountains are not that high, which makes them easily accessible for animals, no endemic species can be found here.
This means that the forests of the Urals are mostly inhabited by animals living in other regions such as Siberia or the steppes in the south. Some of these animals include elk, brown bear, fox, wolf, wolverine, Eurasian lynx, squirrel, and sable.
12. There are 9 protected areas in the mountains
The former Soviet Government has assigned 9 specific regions in the Urals referred to as “zapovednik.” These are strict nature reserves that are protected by the government and are “kept forever wild.”
These areas include:
- The Ilmen, a mineralogical reserve founded in 1920 in the Komi Republic
- Pechora-Ilych in the Komi Republic
- Bashkir in Bashkortostan
- Shulgan-Tash in Bashkortostan
- Visim in Sverdlovsk Oblast
- Southern Ural in Bashkortostan
- Basegi in Perm Krai
- Vishera in Perm Krai
- Denezhkin Kamen in Sverdlovsk Oblast.
The Ural Mountains are also famous for their numerous caves, sinkholes, and underground streams, especially in the western part of the mountains.
13. A lot of factories were established in the Urals
As World War II broke out, numerous factories were moved into the safe Ural Mountains. Hundreds of factories were moved here, flooding the mountain range with industry.
That’s one of the main reasons the wildlife parks have been established as they protect certain areas from industrial expansion.
14. Plutonium-producing facilities have caused a lot of damage
One of the biggest nuclear facilities in Russia has been established in the Ural Mountains. This is called the “Mayak” and has been responsible for several major nuclear disasters.
In 1957, a storage tank exploded and contaminated an area of over 23,000 square kilometers (8,900 square miles). These facilities still produce plutonium until today, even though the plant has been partially transformed into a facility to process nuclear waste.
15. Famous jeweled eggs were created with gems from the Urals
Some of the most famous Easter eggs in the world were ordered by the Russian Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II as Easter gifts for their wives and mothers. This has resulted in a production of about 69 Easter eggs (only 52 were imperial) of which 57 survive today.
These eggs are called “Fabergé eggs,” named after the jeweler who manufactured them between 1885 and 1917, Peter Carl Fabergé.
One of the most amazing facts about the Ural Mountains is that the gems used to decorate these eggs came directly from the Urals!