The Ural Mountains run roughly north and south through western Russia and Siberia, forming an approximate border between Europe and Asia in the northern portion of the supercontinent of Eurasia. The range extends about 2500 km (1500 miles), starting in northern Kazakhstan and the deserts near the Caspian Sea, running north to the tundra near the Arctic Ocean. Novaya Zemlya, an island, is a continuation of the mountain chain.
The Urals are not exceptionally high mountains, but the terrain varies greatly. In the south there is more forest, with the highest peaks rising up out of the forest. The south is also the widest part of the mountain range, with many parallel ridges. In the middle portion, the mountains are lower, and more narrow. The terrain here is mostly sloping hillsides, and this portion of the mountain range is also home to the only river which crosses east/west, the Chusovaya River. This middle part is also the most populated place.
Moving north, the mountains are higher, and become more desolate. There are alpine meadows and mountain tundra here. As the mountains near the Artic, the forest nearly disappears and the terrain is mostly rocky and treeless. Here is the north is the range's highest peak, Naroda Mountain, at a height of 1895 meters. Also in the north are the Virgin Komi Forests, which are recognized as a World Heritage site.
For people travelling to the Urals, the starting point is usually the Russian city of Yekaterinburg (also spelled Ekaterinburg or Jekaterinburg). It is a city of over one million people, located on the eastern side of middle part of the mountains.