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The north–south course of the Urals is relatively narrow, varying from about 20 to 90 miles (32 to 145 km) in width, but it cuts across the vast latitudinal landscape regions of the Eurasian landmass, from Arctic waste to semidesert.
The Urals also are part of a highly developed industrial complex closely tied to the mineral-rich Siberian region and are the home of peoples with roots reaching deep into history.
Alpine folding resulted in new mountains, the most marked upheaval being that of the Nether-Polar Urals.
In the watershed region lies the Bashkir Anticlinorium.
These rocks compose the Tagil-Magnitogorsk Synclinorium (a group of rock arches and troughs, itself forming a trough), the largest in the Urals.
Almost all the rivers of the eastern slope belong to the Ural rivers belong to the drainage basin of the Caspian Sea.
The Kama collects water from a large area of the western slope: the Vishera, Chusovaya, and Belaya all empty into it.
The rivers on the western slope carry more water than those of the east, particularly in the Northern and Nether-Polar Urals; the slowest rate of flow is on the eastern slope of the Southern Urals, reflecting intense evaporation as well as low precipitation.
In winter the rivers freeze for five months in the south and for seven months in the north.