Major mountain ranges in the world

A mountain range is a group of mountains and massifs located close together usually in a line. Mountain ranges are found throughout the world and are mostly formed because of tectonic activity. Let’s take a look at the major mountain ranges in the world and some interesting facts about them.

Major mountain ranges in the world

The Himalayas

CountriesTop 3 highest peaksLength
India, Nepal, China, Bhutan, PakistanMount Everest (8,848.86 m), Kanchenjunga (8,586 m), Lhotse (8,516 m)2,400 km
  • The Himalayas are perhaps the most famous of all mountain ranges. These mountains were formed when the Indian tectonic plate collided with the Eurasian plate.
  • The Himalayan mountain range is home to the highest peak in the world, Mount Everest (8,848.86 m).
  • It is one of the youngest mountain ranges in the world. It began forming 40-50 million years ago.
The Himalayas
THE HIMALAYAS – Image by Anita Chen from Pixabay
  • The Himalayan mountain range is divided into three parallel subranges – the Sivalik Hills, the Lower Himalayan Range, and the Greater Himalayas.
  • The Himalayas are the source of three major rivers of the Indian subcontinent – the Ganga, the Brahmaputra, and the Indus.

The Alps

CountriesTop 3 highest peaksLength
Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia, Italy, Monaco, LiechtensteinMont Blanc (4,805.59 m), Monte Rosa (4,634 m), Dom (4,545 m)1,200 km
  • The Alps is a famous mountain range that lies entirely in Europe. It was formed after the collision of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates.
Image by Torben Stroem from Pixabay
  • Grenoble in France is the largest city in the Alps. It is also known as the “capital of the Alps“.

The Rocky Mountains

CountriesTop 3 highest peaksLength
United States and CanadaMount Elbert (4,401.2 m), Mount Massive (4,398 m), Mount Harvard (4,395.6 m)4,800 km
Rocky mountains
Rocky mountains
  • Rocky mountains were formed 80-55 million years ago.
  • The Rockies are subdivided into 4 subranges – the northern Rockies, the Middle Rockies, the southern Rockies, and the Canadian Rockies.
  • These mountains are very sparsely populated with a population density of only about 4 people per square kilometer.

The Andes

CountriesTop 3 highest peaksLength
Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, VenezuelaAconcagua (6,961 m), Ojos del salado (6,893 m), Monte Pissis (6,793 m)7,000 km
  • The Andes is the highest mountain range outside of Asia. It is also the longest mountain range on Earth above water.
  • The highest peak of the Andes, Aconcagua (6,961 m) located in Mendoza, Argentina is the highest peak outside Asia.
Machu Picchu in the Andes
Machu Picchu in the Andes
  • Ojos del Salado in the Andes is the highest active volcano in the world. It is a stratovolcano and has an elevation of 6,893 meters.
  • The summit of Chimborazo (6,263.47 m) is the farthest point on the Earth’s surface (even farther than Everest because of the equatorial bulge).

The Atlas

CountriesTop 3 highest peaksLength
Morocco, Algeria, TunisiaToubkal (4,167 m), Ouanoukrim (4,089 m), M’Goun (4,071 m)2,500 km
  • Perhaps not as well known as the other mountain ranges on this list, Atlas is a 2,500 km long mountain range in Northern Africa.
  • These mountains were once home to the extinct Barbary lion and the Atlas bear.
Atlas mountains
Atlas mountains

Sierra Nevada

CountryTop 3 highest peaksLength
United StatesMount Whitney (4,421 m), Mount Williamson (4,383 m), North Palisade (4,343 m)approximately 650 km
Mount Whitney
  • Sierra Nevada is a mountain range in the US states of California and Nevada.
  • Mount Whitney is the highest mountain of the Sierra Nevada range. It is also the highest mountain in the contiguous US. It stands at 4,421 m (14,505 ft).
  • Sierra Nevada is one of the youngest mountain ranges on Earth. It began forming roughly 40 million years ago.

The Western Ghats

CountryTop 3 highest peaksLength
IndiaAnamudi (2,695 m), Meesapulimala (2,640 m), Doddabetta (2,637 m)1,600 km
Hairpin curves in the Western Ghats
  • Western Ghat is the second-highest mountain range in India. It runs along the western coast of India for about 1,600 kilometers.
  • A biodiversity hotspot, the western ghats provide safe haven to many threatened species like the Indian elephant, Nilgiri Tahr, Indian leopard, Nilgiri marten, etc.
  • The mountain range is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list.

(Also read: Highest mountains in the world – the eight-thousanders)

Ural mountains/Urals

CountryTop 3 highest peaksLength
Russia and KazakhstanMount Narodnaya (1,894 m), Mount Karpinsky (1,878 m), Mount Yamantau (1,640 m)2,500 km
  • Though not very high, the Urals are a long chain of mountains that stretch for 2,500 kilometers.
  • A major portion of the Urals act as the conventional boundary between Europe and Asia.
  • Ural mountains stretch from the Arctic Ocean in the North to the northwestern regions of Kazakhstan crossing the Ural river.

The Southern Alps

CountryTop 3 highest peaksLength
New ZealandAoraki/Mount Cook (3,724 m), Mount Tasman (3,497 m), Mount Dampier (3,440 m)500 km
Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand
  • The Southern Alps is a mountain range on the South Island of New Zealand. The range runs for approximately 500 kilometers.
  • In Maori, the range is known as “Kā Tiritiri o te Moana” meaning “the Mirage of the ocean”.

Appalachian Mountains

CountryTop 3 highest peaksLength
United States and CanadaMount Mitchell (2,037 m), Mount Craig (2,026 m), Clingman’s Dome (2,025 m)approximately 3,200 km
Appalachian Mountains
  • Appalachian Mountains are a mountain range in North America located primarily in the United States with some part in Canada.
  • These mountains are the oldest in the continent of North America with some estimates saying they are are over 500 million years old.
  • America’s most popular National Park, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located in the Great Smoky Mountains which is a subrange of Appalachian mountains.

Quick question

The equator passes through….?

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Answer to quick question

The equator passes through Brazil. The tropic of cancer passes through India.

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