URALSK AREA, an administrative division of Russia, lying partly in Europe, and partly in Asia, and which should not be confused with the former Uralsk province of pre-1917 Asiatic Russia, which is now included in the Kazakstan S.S.R. (q.v.). It stretches southwards from the Arctic Ocean to the Kazakstan S.S.R. on the east, and the Tatar and Bashkir A.S.S.R.'s and Oren burg province on the west. The Siberian area forms its eastern boundary, and to the west lie the autonomous Komi (Zirian) area, the Kirov province and the Udmurt Autonomous S.S.R. It occupies 1,692,810 sq.km. and has a population of 6,791,875 (1926), 91.2% of whom are Russians, the remainder being chiefly Turco-Tatars, Finns, Poles, Jews, Lithuanians and Latvians. Most of the Ural range lies within its borders.
It reveals many aspects of the complex life of Russia, up-to date electrified industry side by side with peasant mining and metal artels, a railway net in the south, trackless wastes in Tobolsk, rich corn-growing lands, meadow cattle pastures, sheep-grazing lands, nomad reindeer breeders, fishing, the hunting life of the co niferous and deciduous forest, and the bleak desert tundra of the Arctic shores. East of the Urals there are the winds from Asia ; the rainfall varies between 8 to 16 in. east of the Urals to 20 in. west of them. Summer in the south is as hot as in Odessa, while winter is much more severe. Spring, especially in the south-east is very short. The rivers are frozen from 144 days in the south to 200 in the north. The north lies within the Arctic circle.
The economic life of the Uralsk region centres on the vast mineral wealth of the Urals. A wide zone of the western region of the Urals is covered with Permian deposits rich in copper, salt and salt springs.
the Ural river (Yaik) and its tributaries the Sakmara, Or and Ilek, and of the Pechora and Usa in the north lie in the area.
Mining.—The beginning of salt, iron and copper exploitation was made in the 16th century by the brothers Stroganov, to whom the land was given by the Moscow government in 1558. Later Peter the Great founded several iron-works and after the discovery of gold in 1745, colonization proceeded rapidly. Until 1861 the work in the mines was carried on by serfs, either belonging to pri vate persons (especially the Stroganovs and Demidovs) or to the Crown. Russia and Sweden, using charcoal, were formerly the chief iron producers, but when coal began to be used, especially in England, the market passed from them. The Urals ceased to be the chief mining district in Russia, and the Donetz basin in the south took its place. Even after the revival of the Ural iron industry in 1898, when foreign capital (especially British) re developed and improved it, the ratio of iron production as between southern Russia and the Urals was 67:19. In the post-revolution period the region was in the centre of the disturbances and the Czech army and Kolchak's troops both held it temporarily. Much of the plant of the mines and metal works was destroyed, and the bridges, permanent way and rolling stock of the railways were damaged. This, combined with the revolution in the economic regime brought industrial life almost to a standstill and many branches have not yet fully recovered, especially the copper industry (1928). Important changes have taken place in the industry in the period of re-organization. The freightage costs of fuel are heavy; the good coke of the Kuznetsk district is much better for smelting furnaces than the local coal, but its transport cost raises the price of metal and puts it at a disadvantage in the market. The timber for charcoal in the accessible regions is rapidly diminishing and the power problem became acute after 1921. It has been partly met by electrification, and within the period 1923-28, electric power has been supplied at Chelyabinsk, using brown coal, at Kizelovsk, at Sverdlovsk (Ekaterinburg), using peat fuel, and on the Chusov river, using water power; a further station is under construction at Egorshin, while the capacity of that at Chelyabinsk is being increased. Naphtha has also been introduced as fuel and the role of timber and charcoal as a source of power compared with other sources diminished in the district from 7o:3o in 1922-23 to 52:47 in 1924-25. The industry has also been helped by concentration, the smaller and less profitable undertakings having been closed down. It is still, however, bearing the burden of keeping mines in repair which cannot be opened for lack of capital and of restoring war damages, so that the full effect of the reconstruction is not yet felt.