The Ural Mountains in Russia form the traditional geographic boundary between Europe and Asia¾stretching from the Arctic to the Kazakhstan borders. The Urals make up a major portion of the Uralian orogenic belt, which stretches some 3500 km in distance from the Aral Sea in the south to the northernmost tip of Severny Island¾an island of Novaya Zemlya in the Arctic Ocean.The Ural Mountains proper, extends from the bend in the Ural River in the south to the Pay-Khoy Ridge in the north, covering some 2,500 km in length and varying in width from 32-145 km.

The Urals are located between the East European Craton in the west and the Siberian and Kazakhstan cratons of Asia. The north–south trending mountain chain is divided into five main divisions: the Polar, Nether-Polar, Northern, Central, and Southern Urals which transect a wide range of ecological zones in the Eurasian landmass¾from cold arctic tundra in the north to the hot semi-arid Kazakhstan steppes in the south.  The highest peak is Mount Narodnaya (1,895 meters) which is located in the Nether-Polar Urals. The Urals are well known for their abundant mineral deposits such as platinum, nickel, copper, manganese, iron, chromium, zinc, silver, and gold.

The Urals owe their existence to collisional forces between the continents of Europe and Asia during the Late Paleozoic. The collision between Europe and Asia is known as the Uralian orogeny and is a result of the closing of an ancient ocean basin that once separated Europe and Asia during Early and Middle Paleozoic time.

Some of the distinct features of the Urals are :
  •  A well preserved crustal root
  •  Exceptionally well preserved ophiolites and  volcanic-arc assemblages
  •  A vast granite belt
  •  Spectacular outcrops of metamorphic rock
  •  A well preserved accretionary complex
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