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Ural Mountains facts for kids

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Ural Mountains
Highest point
Peak Mount Narodnaya
Countries Russia and Kazakhstan
Range coordinates 60°N 59°E / 60°N 59°E / 60; 59
Orogeny Uralian orogeny
Age of rock Carboniferous
Type of rock Metamorphic, igneous, sedimentary

The Ural Mountains or simply the Urals, are a mountain range in Eurasia that runs north-south mostly through Russia, from the coast of the Arctic Ocean to the river Ural and northwestern Kazakhstan. The mountain range forms part of the boundary between the regions of Europe and Asia. Vaygach Island and the islands of Novaya Zemlya form a further continuation of the chain to the north into the Arctic Ocean. The average altitudes of the Urals are around 3,300–4,300 feet (1,000–1,300 m). Its highest point is Mount Narodnaya, which reaches a height of 6,217 feet (1,895 m).

The mountains produce resources including metal ores, coal, and precious and semi-precious stones. These resources have helped the Russian economy.


There are many theories about the origin of the name "Ural." Most agree that the name comes from words that mean "stone" and "belt" or "chain."


The earliest recorded history of the Ural Mountains was recorded by mideastern geographers from the 10th century when Middle-Eastern merchants traded with the Bashkirs and other people living on their western slopes. Russia first recorded the Ural Mountains in 1096 when it described the Novgorodian expedition to the upper parts of the Pechora. Russia conquered more land along the Urals during the next few hundred years. During the 17th century, Russia discovered deposits of iron and copper ores, mica, gemstones, and other minerals in the Urals.

Peter I of Russia ordered the first thorough geographic survey of the Ural Mountains to be completed in the early 18th century. He assigned Russian historian and geographer Vasily Tatishchev to complete it and to oversee the new iron and copper smelting works.

In 1745, gold was discovered in the Urals. Gold mining began in 1747. The first railway across the Urals was finished in 1878, and other railways have been completed since then.

Geography and topography


The Ural Mountains extend about 1,600 mi (2,600 km) from the Kara Sea to the Kazakh Steppe along the border of Kazakhstan. The range's average height is 3,300–3,600 ft (1,000–1,100 m). Its highest peak is Mount Narodnaya, with an elevation of 6,217 ft (1,895 m).

The Urals are divided into five parts by topography. From north to south, the parts are Polar (or Arctic), Nether-Polar (or Sub-Arctic), Northern, Central, and Southern Urals.


  • Mostly exposed rock with sharp-edged peaks


  • Sawtooth-shaped mountains that are the highest peaks in the range


  • Mostly flat-topped peaks


  • Mostly smooth-topped peaks that are the lowest in the range


  • Many valleys and parallel ridges
Mountain formation near Saranpaul.jpg Rochers dans les montagnes de l Oural 448122760 3572eca433 o.jpg Ural Mountains IMG 3277 (28448487562).jpg Ignateva cave entry.jpg
Mountain formation near Saranpaul, Nether-Polar Urals Rocks in a river, Nether-Polar Urals Ural Mountains in summer Entry to Ignateva Cave, Southern Urals


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A mine in the Ural Mountains, early color photograph by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky, 1910

The Ural Mountains contain about 48 species of economically valuable ores and minerals. The eastern areas are rich in chalcopyrite, nickel oxide, gold, platinum, chromite and magnetite ores, coal (Chelyabinsk Oblast), bauxite, talc, fireclay, and abrasives. The western areas contain deposits of coal, oil, natural gas, and potassium salts. The specialty of the Urals is precious and semi-precious stones, such as emerald, amethyst, aquamarine, jasper, rhodonite, malachite, and diamond.

Minerals from the Ural Mountains
Andradite-23893.jpg Beryl-md20a.jpg Platinum-41654.jpg Quartz-34654.jpg
Andradite Beryl Platinum Quartz

Rivers and lakes

Maksimovsky rock Chusovaya river
Chusovaya River

Many rivers begin in the Ural mountains. The rivers drain into the Caspian Sea and the Arctic Ocean. Many of the rivers are frozen for more than half of the year. They flow more slowly in the Southern Urals because there is more evaporation and less snow there.

The mountains contain deep lakes, which are located mostly on the eastern slopes of the Southern and Central Urals. Spas and medical centers have been built in the area. They use the medicinal muds found in some of the mountain lakes.


The Urals have a continental climate. The areas west of the Ural Mountains are warmer in the winter than the eastern regions because the west is warmed by Atlantic winds while the east is cooled by Siberian air masses.

January's average temperatures are −4 °F (−20 °C) in the Polar and 5 °F (−15 °C) in the Southern Urals. The temperatures in July average 50 °F (10 °C) in the Polar and 68 °F (20 °C) in the Southern Urals.

The western areas of the Urals receive more rainfall per year than the eastern ones. This is because the mountains trap clouds from the Atlantic Ocean. The Northern Urals receive the most snow. The wettest season is summer, and the driest is winter.


The landscapes of the Urals are made of tundra, forests, grassy meadows, and flat rocks. The Polar Urals contain fewer trees than the other parts because of the climate there. The Northern Urals have mostly coniferous trees like Siberian fir, Siberian pine, Scots pine, Siberian spruce, Norway spruce, Siberian larch, and silver and downy birches. The low polar forests are mixed with swamps, lichens, bogs and shrubs. Dwarf birch, mosses, and berries (blueberry, cloudberry, black crowberry, etc.) are abundant. Further south, deciduous trees like English oak, Norway maple, and elm grow.


Animals that like the cold live in the north. Some of these animals are the snowy owl, elk, brown bear, Arctic fox, wolf, wolverine, lynx, squirrel, lemming, reindeer, and sable.

Reptiles and amphibians live mostly in the Southern and Central Urals. In the Southern Urals, badgers, black polecats, and birds of prey are common. Hares and rodents like hamsters, susliks, and jerboa live there as well. In summer, the Southern and Central Urals are visited by songbirds, such as nightingale and redstart.


Because of economic development, plant and animal life has decreased near industrial centers. The area has also been severely damaged by Mayak, a plutonium-producing facility. Its plants went into operation in 1948 and, for the first ten years, dumped unfiltered radioactive waste into the river Techa and Lake Karachay. Other accidents that contaminated lakes and rivers happened as well. To help keep plants and animals alive, Russia created nine nature reserves in the Urals.

Cultural significance

The Urals have been viewed by Russians as a "treasure box" of mineral resources. As Russians in other regions gather mushrooms or berries, Uralians gather mineral specimens and gems. Dmitry Mamin-Sibiryak (1852–1912) and Pavel Bazhov (1879–1950) have written of the region.

The region served as a military stronghold during Peter the Great's Great Northern War with Sweden, Stalin's rule, and the Cold War. The air and water were contaminated with radiation and pollution from World War II onward, resulting in people leaving the area. After the Soviet Union fell, the area began to resume its industry.


See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Montes Urales para niños

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