With a population of 1.4 million people, Yekaterinburg is the 4th most populous city in Russia after Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and Novosibirsk. The city was founded in 1723 by the order of Peter the Great as a metallurgical factory. It was named after the wife of Peter the Great, Yekaterina. In 1918, the last czar family was imprisoned, and later executed, in a house in Yekaterinburg which was later demolished. During World War II, the city grew rapidly as industries and people moved east to escape the war. Between 1924 and 1991, the town was known as Sverdlovsk (Свердловск), named after Communist party leader Yakov Sverdlov and signs with this name still abound, particularly at the train station.
To this day, the city retains its metallurgical roots and the metal industry is the largest contributor to the economy.
The city is situated near the Ural Mountains, the border of Europe and Asia, and there are several symbolic monuments to mark the border.