The territory adjacent to the Ural Mountains is one of the richest regions of Russia in natural resources, including vast forests and mineral deposits (iron, chromium, bauxite, gold and platinum).
Western Siberia is rich in oil and gas fields. Only the Khanty-Mansiysk and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Districts produce more than 90% of Russian natural gas and 75% of Russian crude oil.
The Ural region is often called the Stone Belt, thanks to its large deposits of precious and semiprecious stones, including diamonds, emeralds, malachite, amethysts, topazes and tourmaline. The world’s largest emerald, weighing almost five pounds, is found in the Urals.
In essence, the development of the Urals began in the 17th century, when Russian migrants began to move east, just as in America migrants moved west almost a century later.
Many Ural cities have grown around copper mines and smelters. By the end of the 18th century, 80% of Russian copper coins were minted in Yekaterinburg.
By the middle of the 18th century, more than thirty metallurgical plants were operating in the Urals, producing cannons and kernels made from iron from local deposits.
During the eighteenth century, iron and steel mills were among the most advanced in the world. The Statue of Liberty was assembled from iron made in Nizhny Tagil, north of Yekaterinburg. The roof of the British Parliament building is made of Ural iron.
After the Bolshevik revolution, the Urals developed rapidly during the Stalinist industrialization of the Soviet Union.
During the Second World War, the industrial base of the region was significantly strengthened due to the influx of enterprises dismantled and transported to the Urals from the western part of the country that suffered from the war.
Today, engineering and metallurgy remain the most important sectors of the Urals industry. A significant part of the equipment, pipelines, drilling rigs for the West Siberian oil and gas industry was manufactured in the neighboring Ural region.