Main Facts About the Himalaya Range

  • It is the largest mountain range in the World and contains the top 15 tallest mountains in the World and 90% of the top 50 mountains in the World
  • The Himalayas have an enormous amount of influence on the geography of surrounding areas, from keeping South Asia warm to supplying river water to forming the Central Asian deserts
  • the Himalayas separate South Asia and the Indian subcontinent from the rest of Asia, creating separate cultures and climates

How Were the Himalayas Formed?

It is hard to imagine that the Indian subcontinent used to be an island floating out there by itself. It’s such an integral part of the shape of Asia as we imagine it today, with its signature arrowhead shape jutting out at the base of the mainland. Yet, because it was indeed an island that eventually collided with the Eurasian land mass, we now have our largest collection of peaks: the gargantuan Himalayan Moutains. In ways, it was Asia’s big bang, and it must have been the biggest continental collision of them all when Asia was fused together and officially became massive and give birth to its tallest offspring.

Number One On Everyone’s List

The Himalayas constitute the largest and tallest range on Earth, and the Himalayan highest peaks fill up more than 90% of anyone’s list of the World’s tallest mountains. At their individual level, the Himalayan peaks are the undisputed champions of the World. Despite their physical prowess, these folded mountains are indeed just youngsters, mere babies in age compared to most major ranges around the World.

A Climate Contradiction

Because they rise so high, the tallest regions of the Himalayan Mountains are home to severe pockets of snow, permafrost, and glacial activity. This would not be so astounding of a fact if the Himalayas weren’t so close in proximity to the hot, subtropical climates of South and Southeast Asia. At the base of the mountains, you find the tropics, and then at the peak of the mountains you find permanent snow that never leaves no matter what time of year it is. The different interpretations of the translation of the word Himalaya, whether “adobe of snow” or “home of snow” is always centered around “snow”. The glaciers that reside in the cold shelter of the Himalayan altitude are some of the biggest glaciers outside of the polar regions, which is remarkable considering its location on a map.

Where Rivers Start Their Journey

Some of the most important rivers in Asia begin their journey in the Himalayan peaks, pouring down onto the heavily populated regions below the mountains where human civilization thrives off the benefits of the downward flow of the rivers. Some reports claim that over half of the World’s population live in the areas around the Himalayan rivers.

Environmental Composition

The environmental regions within the range can best be summarized as a series of layers in which there are changes from layer to layer. There are different types of elevation and water flow in each layer, and the characteristics change from one layer to the next as you travel from the basin to the base and climb onward up to the peak. For instance, the lakes of the region generally become smaller as the elevation increases. Also, the existence of forests and rich varieties of species changes from one elevation to the next. The mountain chains themselves exist in layers too. The entire Himalayan range is really a set of multiple ranges running parallel to each other (Greater Himalayas, Lesser Himalayas, and Outer Himalayas). Each range has different heights, ecosystems, and features. The Himalayas extend across six separate countries with over 2,400 kilometers in width, so as you travel from the West to the East or vice versa you see changes. You see more rainfall the farther East you travel. Also, the layers of peaks become more narrow and the parallel structure becomes less prevalent as you continue traveling East.

Breaks and Passes in the Range

Due to the lack of breaks and passes in the Himalayas, it has served as a barrier to trvale for humans since its inception. Even the mighty forces Genghis Khan had at his disposal could not bust through the Himalayas to expand their kingdom. Despite the rugged terrain, there are places where the rivers gather to break through the mighty mountains, and there is a handful of various passes that have proven as the best options for breaking through. The effectiveness of its barrier can best explain why Indian and Chinese cultures have not mixed more over history, becoming two very distinct cultures despite living so close to one another.

Religion and Myth

Considering its impact on the Earth, it’s no surprise that various areas of the Himalayan Mountains are considered sacred. Many spots where rivers begin and merge with other features are considered religious places, and many of the peaks are also considered sacred. In regards to the myths circulating about the regions, one of the most well known myths is the lore of the yeti, an infamously stalked mammal thought to live in the Himalayas, but never actually documented to exist there or anywhere. The creature lives on in popular culture across the World, and makes for the most entertaining untruth about the intriguing ecosystem.