Capital city of Sverdlovsk oblast (region), situated in the central Urals of western Siberia, 1,400 km/870 mi northeast of Moscow; population (2002) 1,293,500. Yekaterinburg has large heavy-engineering industries (notably the giant Uralmash works) producing machine tools, iron and steel and electrical equipment, and the city also has chemical and diverse light industries, such as food processing. Yekaterinburg is an important transportation centre, and a major cultural centre of the Russian Federation. Since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, there has been considerable development of financial, business, and other services. The last Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, and his family were executed here by a Bolshevik firing squad in July 1918.
The city was founded in 1723 as a metalworks and fortress by Tsar Peter I, who named it after his wife Catherine. It became the administrative hub of the Urals mining industry and a regional cultural centre. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as agriculture developed in western Siberia, the city began to trade extensively in grain, flour, and cattle. From 1923–34 it was the capital of the Urals. Industrial plants were relocated here from the west during World War II to prevent their capture by advancing German forces.
Yekaterinburg is the seat of the Urals branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (founded 1932), a university (founded 1920), a polytechnic institute (founded 1925), a mining institute (1914), and a number of other higher educational establishments.