The History of the Frontier between Europe and Asia Europe and Asia are the Parts of the World are located on one Continent, and the Frontier between them is provisional. It passes somewhere along the continent. From the beginning this frontier was not only geographical, but it was the cultural frontier at the same time.
The European culture originated from Mediterranean ancient world, from Greek and Roman culture. Greeks considered Europe to be the Balkan Peninsula and all that, what was to the north and to the west of it. Africa was to the south, Asia began to the east from Bosporus and the Dardanelles. The northern shore of the Black Sea they regarded as European, but Caucasian shore as Asian. Farther to the North the Frontier of Asia went along the Tanais River (the River Don today).
In Medieval Russia Asia began to the east of the Don River, from where the wild nomads invaded the Russian lands
The Arabs who visited the Volga Bulgaria (later Tartar Kazan Khanate) as merchants, regarded the Volga River (ancient Itil River ) as the Frontier of Asia. But Russians, who lived on the shores of Volga considered Asia to be east of the Stone Mountains (the Urals now).
In Medieval times the concept of Europe was connected with Christianity and the concept of Asia with Islam or other eastern religions. After Russia was conquered by Mongols and became part of the Tartar Khanate of the Golden Horde, Asian Frontier for Europeans was along the border of The Golden Horde. But after Russia (The Great Moscow Princedom, Muscovy) became independent it was in isolation from Catholic Europe, because Orthodox Russia did not join the western Church, because it had not signed the Florentia Unio, which tried to unite both Churches.
The British traveler Richard Chancellor discovered The Great Moscow Duke of Tsar Ioann IV in 1533 as a Christian state. But even after 200 years Europeans sometimes considered Russia as a Tartar State. Even in 1754 - 1755 Russia was marked on some European maps sometimes as "Moscovia", sometimes as "Magna Tartaria".
Russians themselves considered that the frontier of the native Russian lands was along the Urals mountains, even after the official frontiers of the Moscow State reached the Pacific Ocean in the XVII century. In the XV-XVI centuries the Urals Ridge was the border between the Tatar Kazan Khanate and Tatar Siberian Khanate and for Russians it was the border of Siberia. After both Tartar States became part of the Russian Moscow State the Urals Mountains practically remained the border between Siberia and the old Moscow provinces. Till the time of Tsar Peter the Great (XVIII century) the only road from Russia to the Siberia went through the only Russian fortress in the Urals Verkhoturye (now the small monastery town in the Sverdlovsk region), where the only custom house in the Russian East was located. Asia began for Russian merchants just after the Urals mountains.
In the XVIII century the question about the line of the border between Europe and Asia became a scientific question. At this time it was obvious, that the Russian Empire or may be Russia till the Volga River was the country of the European culture. The European scientists of the first part of the XVIII century DeLille, Taubert, Hibner considered, that the Eastern frontier of Europe goes along the Ob River, may be because farther to the east there were practically no Russians in Siberia. The first European scientist, who substantiated the idea, that the border between Europe and Asia went along the watershed of the Urals Mountains, was the Swedish scientist Johann Philipp Stralenberg in 1730, who investigated the Urals and Western Siberia. In his book "Das Nord- und Ostliche Teil von Europa und Asia" (The Northern and Eastern parts of Europe and Asia), which was published in 1730 in Stockholm (in the German language) he devoted 22 pages to this question. He mentioned in his book that this point of view (that the frontier between Europe and Asia goes along the watershed of the Urals Ridge) was accepted "without hesitation" by all the "new geographers".
Later in 1736 the Russian historian and geographer (and founder of the city Yekaterinburg) Vassiliy N. Tatishchev substantiated this idea in his book "General Geographic Description of all Siberia", which was lost and was published only in 1950. In this book he affirmed, that it was he, Tatishchev, who gave this idea to Stralenberg, when that scientist was in the Urals on his expedition.
But even later some scientists proposed other variants of the European - Asian frontier. German geographer Gmelin in 1748 proposed to draw it along the Yenissey River. Russian scientist M.V. Lomonosov draws the frontier along Don, Volga and Pechora Rivers. Such a border can be seen on French maps of XVIII century. But after 1754 the Frontier usually goes along the Urals watershed till 60? longitude and then along the Kama and the Volga Rivers.
More contradictions were in the descriptions of the south-west part of the Frontier. The Russian scientists Polunin and Miller supported the old point of view, that the frontier goes along the Kama, Belaja, Volga and Don Rivers. German scientist Pallas drew the Frontier after the Urals Ridge along the valley of the Ural River and the Manych River. Pleshcheev and Gakman drew it along the Emba River. Filippson drew it along the Urals River, the Caspian shore, then along the Terek and Kuban rivers.
What is the modern idea (notion) about the Frontier between Europe and Asia? Most of it goes in the northern part strictly along the watershed of the Urals Ridge. From the shore of the Kara Sea the watershed is the administrative border of the Nenets district and the Komi district on the west and Yamal-Nenets district and Khanty-Mansi district on the east. The line of the watershed is visible on any map. It is well seen, that all rivers left of this line run to the Kama and Volga rivers, and the rivers to the right of this line run to the Ob River.
Farther to the south the watershed of the Urals Ridge is the administrative border between the Perrn Region on the west and Sverdlovsk Region on the east. And only after monumental signpost near the railroad station "Aziatskaya" (Asian) on the railroad Perm - Nizhny Tagil the watershed line goes to the south along the territory of the Sverdlovsk Region. It goes along the railroad Kushva - Nizhny Tagil - Sverdlovsk till the station Kalinovo, then through the forests till the Mountain Beryozovaya (409 m), near the bottom of which stands the most famous monumental signpost built in the memory of the visit of Grand Prince Alexander (the future Tsar Alexander II). Near this point the Frontier turns to the East and goes about 20 km to the city of Yekaterinburg. It goes to the east between the Chusovaya River, which runs to the west and the Isset River, which runs to the east through the territory of Yekaterinburg. Just near the border of the city of Yekaterinburg the frontier turns to the south, crosses a small part of Yekaterinburg and goes to the south along te Chusovaya River and along the Yekaterinburg - Chelyabinsk railroad till the mountain Bolshoy Iremel (1582 m). This part of European - Asian Frontier is accepted by all the scientists. But what concerns the other part of the frontier, there are some different points of view. The generally acknowledged (universally recognized) point of view is that the frontier after the Bolshoj Iremel goes along the Ural River (ancient Jayik River). The cause of this idea is that after this mountain the Ural watershed is absent, because all the rivers from this mountain run to Ural River, which runs to the Caspian Sea. At the same time the Ural River for a long time was the border between the Russia (Europe) and the Asian Khanates and nomad tribes. Then the frontier goes along the shore of the Caspian Sea and the Main Caucasus Ridge, then along the south shore of the Black Sea till Istanbul city on the Bosporus. But there are some other points of view about the south-west part of the Frontier. Some authors draw the frontier after B. Iremel along the Sakmara River, which runs more near to the Urals Ridge, than the Ural River. After Orenburg the frontier is the same, because Sakmara flows into the Ural. Other authors draw the line along the point of crossing the Urals Ridge of the Urals River. The third point of view is that the line of the frontier has to go farther to the South till the Mugodzhary Mountains and then to go along the Emba River till the Caspian Sea. The worst idea is to proclaim, that the frontier has to go along the eastern slopes of the Urals mountains. But in this case it is necessary to determine what the height from the Ocean level has to be chosen for this line.
There is the variant, where the frontier between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea is along the rivers Kuma and Manych. In this case all Northern Caucasus, including the Stavropol Territory (Kray) and the Krasnodar Territory (Kray) are in Asia. But generally acknowledged (universally recognized) point of view is that the frontier there goes along the Main Caucasus Ridge, then along the Caucasian and Turkey shores of the Black Sea till the Bosporus.
An especially interesting question is the course of the frontier near the city of Yekaterinburg. There is a paradox for travelers, that they have to cross this frontier on their way from the west to the city not less, than three times, both when they go along the Old Moscow Road, and when they go along the New Moscow Road. Old Road during some kilometers goes practically along the watershed, along the Frontier, when to the north of the road is Asia and to the south of the road there in Europe. Practically it is necessary to install three new Monumental Signposts on the New Moscow Road ("30 km", "23 km", "20 km" ), and three new Monumental Signposts on the Old Moscow Road. And even now it is possible to install three Monumental Signposts "Europe - Asia" inside the City of Yekaterinburg on the roads, which goes to three townships: Chosovskoye Ozero, Medny and Glukhoye Ozero.
Now the Adminstration of Yekaterinburg plans to build on the 17 km of the New Moscow Road the Monument "Europe - Asia" with a height of 180 m. But this monument will be only the monument, devoted to the Frontier, but it will not be monument On the Frontier (it will be in 3 km from Europe).
In any case, the Urals mountains chain even now is the real eastern frontier of Europe. After the Urals the Indo-European peoples live practically only along the Trans Siberian Railroad. And even now not all the peoples in Europe understand, that Russia up to the Urals belongs to Europe. TV channel "Euro News", showing the weather in Europe, gives the weather data in Russia only for Moscow and Petersburg. But it never gives the weather for such European cities of Russia which have a million and more then a million-strong population, as Yekaterinburg, Samara, Nizhny Novgorod, Perm, Kazan and many others.