Facts about the Ural Mountains, boundary between Europe and Asia

What are the Urals?
The Ural Mountains are an ancient mountain range located at the extreme eastern limit of Europe. They are notably associated with the boundary between Europe and Asia.

Ural MountainsUral Mountains, by Ugraland. Licensed under Creative Commons

Where are the Urals exactly located?
The Urals stretch for 1,500 mi roughly north to south from the Arctic Ocean down to central Russia, where the Ural River flows.
The Urals are mainly located in Russia, although the southern part reaches Northern Kazakhstan.

Location of the Ural mountains

Location of the Ural mountains, adapted from “Location map of Russia” by Uwe Dedering. This file is licensed under Creative Commons

Location map of RussiaLocation map of Russia


Since when are the Urals on the face of Earth and why?
The Urals appeared nearly 300 million years ago as a consequence of the collision between two continents that are no longer there, Laurussia and Kazakhstania. In other words, while other mountain ranges appeared because of collision of still-existing continents – like Europe and Africa for the Alps – the Urals are vestiges of long-gone tectonic activity.

Are the Urals high?
Nope. The Urals are not very high if compared to other mountain ranges. Their highest peak is Mount Narodnaya, which peaks at 6,217 ft above the sea level.
However, although not very high in average, the Urals are considered relatively high for their age.

River in the Ural Mountains

A river in the Urals

A natural boundary between Europe and Asia
The Urals are traditionally used to mark the easternmost boundary of Europe into Asia. West of the Urals lay the European prairies of Russia, while on the East spans Siberia for thousands of miles, up to the Pacific Ocean.

A natural barrier for humans
The Urals have been a natural barrier for humans. During World War II Soviet forces planned to retreat east of the Urals in case Nazi’s invasion would have been eventually successful.

Climate impact
The Urals act as a natural barrier to winds from the Atlantic. After blowing east from the ocean for thousands of miles through European central plains, those winds are stopped by the Urals. As a result, the region east of the Urals – Siberia – is in average colder and dryer.

The treasure chest of Russia
The Urals are reach in a variety of minerals, ores, precious stones, oil and coal.

Sunset over shugor river in northern urals (Russia)

Sunset over Shugor River in Polar Urals