The Ural Mountains
The Ural Mountains are probably the richest mountain range of their size in the world. These mountains are remarkable in the variety and amount of mineral wealth which they contain. Salt, silver and gold have been mined here since the 1500s. By the 1800s, the Ural region was famous for its gems and semiprecioius stones, which include emerald, beryl, amethyst, topaz and sapphire. Today, mining activities produce coal, iron, copper, gold, platinum, silver, nickel, aluminum, manganese, lead, zinc, magnesium, chromium, potash, salt, building stone, talc, diamonds, and soapstone. Oil is found west of the Ural area.
The Ural Mountains extend for 1,500 miles in a north-south direction, from the Arctic Ocean to near the Aral Sea. Old map makers used this range to mark the continental boundary between Europe and Asia. Many maps continue to show the Urals as the natural division of the two continents, although not all geographers accept the mountains as the boundary mark.
These mountains are geologically old and have been worn down to rounded hills which are from 1,000 feet (305 m.) to 6,000 feet (1,829 m.) above sea level. The highest peak of the Ural Range is Mount Narodnaya at 6,214 feet (1,894 m.) in the northern part of the range.
The Ural River rises on the eastern slopes of the southern Ural Mountains in Russia. The Ural flows generally south for about 1,570 miles and enters the Caspian Sea.
The Urals are inhabited by animals typical of Siberia, such as elk, brown bear, wolf, wolverine and lynx. Some of the tree species to be found here are Siberian fir, Siberian pine, Scots pine, Siberian spruce, Norway spruce and Siberian larch, as well as Silver and Downy birches.