Himalaya, the highest mountain range and most populated mountain systems in the world

The Himalaya (abode of snow)

The Highest Mountain Region in the World


Among the world’s mountain areas, Asia contains the largest, highest, and most populated mountain systems. The Himalaya, Karakoram and Hindu-Kush range of mountains extend from Namcha Barwa in the east to the borders of Afghanistan in the west. This mountain system in Asia, comprising a series of parallel and converging ranges and forming the highest mountain region in the world. The immense mountain range began to form between 40 and 50 million years ago, when two large landmasses, India and Eurasia, driven by plate movement, collided. The pressure of the impinging plates could only be relieved by thrusting skyward, contorting the collision zone, and forming the jagged Himalayan peaks. More than 30 peaks of the Himalayas rise to heights of 7620 m (25,000 ft) or more, and one of these, Mount Everest (8848 m), is the world's highest mountain. This Hindu-Kush-Himalaya (HKH) mountain chain extending over 3,500 km in the countries Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, covering an area of about 43 lakh km2. The Himalaya, is an enchantment territory of the nature where the magnificence of the world’s highest mountains is mirrored in the rugged beauty and unique culture of the people who live in their shadow.  

Topographical Map of the Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) Region, Scale: 1:20 mio, Albers equal-area projection
Source: USGS Digital Elevation model, MENRIS/ICIMOD, Kathmandu.



Indian Himalaya
The Indian part of Himalayas covering an area about 5 lakh km2 (about 16.2% of country’s total geographical area) and forms the northern boundary of the country. The traditional definition of the Himalaya, sensu stricto, is that great range of mountains that separates India, along its north-central and northeastern frontier, from China (Tibet), and extends between latitudes 26o20’ and 35o40’ North, and between longitudes 74o50’ and 95o40’ East.



The Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) is spreading on 10 states (administrative regions) namely, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, and hill regions of 2 states viz. Assam and West Bengal of Indian Republic. Starting from foot-hills in the south (Siwaliks) the region extends to Tibetan plateau in the north (trans-Himalaya) comprising about 95 districts of the country. The region occupies the strategic position of entire northern boundary (North-West to North-East) of the nation and touches almost all the international borders (7 countries) with India. It contributes about 16.2% of India’s total geographical area, and most of the area is covered by snow-clad peaks, glaciers of higher Himalaya, dense forest cover of mid-Himalaya. The IHR shows a thin and dispersed human population as compared to the national figures due to its physiographic condition and poor infrastructure development but the growth rate is much higher than the national average. The graphical information on IHR database and district maps of Indian Himalaya to depict the distribution of some demographic parameters are available with the ENVIS Centre at GBPIHED. The relevant/subject specific information on the region are also available from the institutes working for the development of this fragile mountain.


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