The Russian character and identity have long been influenced by the fact that Russia spreads across the two continents: Europe and Asia. The boundary between the two continents lies along the Ural Mountains that also mark the borders of Siberia.
Siberia covers a vast area of over five million square kilometers. For several decades Siberia was strictly off limits to foreigners and only in the early 1990s it became accessible for everybody. The population of Siberia has grown both from a mix of adventurers and fortune seekers who settled there voluntarily and those who were forced there for criminal and political reasons.
Tzar Nicolas II and his family were the most prominent people who were forced there. In the center of Yekaterinburg there is a monument to Jakov Sverdlov, a high ranking official, who was responsible for the execution of the royal family. The brutal execution took place in 1918 in the basement room of the house in Yekaterinburg. That house was bulldozed in 1977, as it was an inconvenient reminder of bloody methods of the Communist regime. The royal family was given a secret burial in an unmarked meadow. Controversies about the members of the royal family continued until 1994 when the DNA testing identified the bodies of nine people of the royal family including Anastasia who had been long considered to have survived by a miracle.
The Urals have long supplied Russia with locally mined precious and semi-precious stones. They are widely used by local craftsmen who create wonderful designs in order to make exquisite and unique jewelry. Their masterpieces are famous worldwide.