The Urals is a common geographical name of the area of Russia around the Ural Mountains. It is a vast territory which includes major cities like Yekaterinburg and Chelyabinsk, as well as parts of the polar areas. The Ural mountains are among the oldest mountains on Earth and are generally not very high, more often looking like large hills, though there are some taller ones, too. Travellers to Urals should not miss Yekaterinburg; usually it is a starting point of any trip to the Urals.
The most significant cities in the Ural region are Yekaterinburg and Ufa. Other major cities that have a population of over one million people include Chelyabinsk.
Except for the polar and northern sections, the mountains are forested, and lumbering is an important industry. The great mineral resources of Russia are in the Urals. Iron ore is mined in the south, and there are rich deposits of coal, copper, manganese, gold, aluminum, and potash. Oil fields and refineries along the Kama and Belaya rivers in the W Urals produce oil. Emeralds, chrysoberyl, topaz, and amethyst are mined, as are deposits of bauxite, asbestos, zinc, lead, silver, platinum, nickel, chrome, and tungsten.
The Urals industrial area (c.290,000 sq mi/751,100 sq km), a major Russia metallurgical region, is in the central and S Urals and the adjacent lowlands. Huge industrial centers are found at Yekaterinburg, Magnitogorsk, Chelyabinsk, Perm, Berezniki, Nizhni Tagil, Orsk, Orenburg, Ufa and Zlatoust.
The major forms of transportation between cities in the Ural region include train, bus, electric train, and airplane.
For inner-city travel, most cities offer a combination of these services: bus, trolleybus, and tramvai.
In any Russian city, however, you can find a taxi with great ease. Simply stand on the side of the road, and hold your hand out at waist level. Within a minute or two, someone will stop to ask you where you're going. In the Urals, short trips generally cost between 50 and 80 rubles (USD2-3), while longer, cross-town trips may cost over 100 rubles (over USD3). Always be wary, however, when flagging down a taxi in Russia. It is not recommended to get into a car with two or more males or with suspicious-looking individuals. You shouldn't expect to run into problems, but it's always better to play it safe in Russia.
The Urals region is famous for its pelmeni, small dumplings usually stuffed with beef and eaten in large quantities topped with butter, vinegar, sour cream, or a combination of the three.
This page was last edited at 22:38, on 1 March 2009 by Peter Fitzgerald. Based on work by Sergey Kudryavtsev and Colin Jensen, Wikitravel user(s) Episteme, Valtteri, Ae-a and WindHorse and Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel.