The World's Tallest Mountain Ranges

The Alaska mountain range. Image credit: CSNafzger/Shutterstock
  • The Himalayas is the tallest mountain range in the world, with Mount Everest marking its highest point.
  • The eight tallest mountain ranges in the world can all be found in Asia.
  • The Andes mountain range in South America is the longest range in the world.

Mountain ranges are a series of mountains occurring in a linear pattern and connected by high ground. They are formed by a number of geological processes with most being formed through tectonic plate movement. Most of the world’s tallest mountain ranges are located in Asia following the ongoing collision of continental and oceanic plates. The following is a list of mountain ranges by height.

1. Himalayas - 8,848 m

Mount Everest, the tallest peak in the Himalayas, Nepal.

The Himalayas are the youngest mountain ranges forming the great mountain system in Asia. They create a barrier between the Tibet Plateau to the north and the Indian subcontinent alluvial plains to the south. The mountain range comprises over 100 mountain peaks at elevations over 7,300 m (24,000 ft) above sea level, including the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest. The Himalayan ranges stretch uninterrupted for 2,500 km (1,550 miles) from the west-northwest to the east-southeast of Nanga Parbat in Pakistan and Namjagbarwa in the Tibet autonomous region of China. Over 5 million people from Nepal, India, Bhutan, China, and Pakistan inhabit the Himalayas, with the mountain ranges playing a large part in their cultural beliefs and traditions. 

2. Karakoram - 8,611 m

Karakoram mountains in the Hunza Valley, Pakistan.

The Karakoram ranges form the great mountain systems in Central Asia and stretch 500 km (300 miles) from Afghanistan through to Central and South Asia. The borders of Tajikistan, Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and India converge within the mountain range. The Karakoram is home to the world’s highest closely located peaks elevating over 7,620 m (25,000 ft) above sea level, including the world’s second-highest peak, K2. Due to their great heights, the Karakoram forms the longest glaciers in the world located outside polar regions. The slopes of the ranges are much less inhabited due to the high altitude, ruggedness, and remoteness of the mountains. There are only three inhabited towns in the Karakoram with the locals depending on subsistence agriculture for their survival.

3. Hindu Kush - 7,708 m

The Hindu Kush mountain range seen from Hunza Valley, Pakistan.

The Hindu Kush (Caucasus Indicus) is an 800-km mountain range (500 miles) stretching from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to northern Pakistan. It forms the western part of the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region and the vast Alpine zone consisting of the largest watershed in central Asia. The Hindu Kush has numerous high snow-capped peaks with the highest peak being the Tirich Mir rising 7,708 m (25,289 ft) above sea level. In many of its features, the mountain ranges resemble the Karakoram since they merge on the Hindu Kush's eastern edge in the north. Passways running through the Hindu Kush have played a key military role in the invasions of the Indian Subcontinent and continue to be an integral part of modern Afghanistan warfare.

4. Pamirs - 7,649 m

Pamir Highway with the Pamir mountains in the distance, Tajikistan.

The Pamir mountain range is centered on the nodal orogenic uplift (Pamir Knot) from which several Asian mountain ranges such as the Karakorum, Hindu Kush, Tian Shan, and Kunlun ranges rise. The word Pamir refers to the high undulating grasslands of the eastern portion of the mountains, especially where they adjoin Afghanistan and China. The Pamirs mostly lie within the borders of Tajikistan, but its outer edges penetrate into China, Afghanistan, and Kyrgyzstan. The core of the Pamir mountain ranges is in the highlands of Tajikistan, with the highest peak being the Kongur Tagh in China. The Silk Road, a long and dangerous historic trading route between Europe and China, passed through the Pamir.

5. Hengduan Mountains - 7,556 m

Hengduan mountains, Tibet.

The Hengduan Mountain ranges are a series of ranges in Southwest China connecting the Tibetan Plateau and the Yunnan–Guizhou Plateau. The ranges separate the lowlands of Myanmar from those of the Sichuan Basin in China. These ranges were formed by major volcanic activity occurring in the Indian sub-continental plate when colliding with the Eurasian Plate. The components of mountain ranges in the Hengduan are separated by deep river valleys that channel water from great rivers in Southeast Asia, forming the Three Parallel Rivers of the Tibetan Plateau.

6. Tian Shan - 7,439 m

The Tian Shan mountains seen from the Altyn Arashan valley.

The Tian Shan (Celestial Mountains) form the ranges of Central Asia stretching from the China–Kyrgyzstan border, spilling out into Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The Tian Shan mountain ranges consist of a series of ranges coupled with intervening valleys and basins. The Turpan depression in the Tian Shan is the lowest region in Central Asia, lying 153 m (504 ft) below sea level. The alpine mountain ranges composed of sedimentary and crystalline rocks form crests within which glaciation occurs. Glaciers in the mountains have been shrinking rapidly and it is estimated that by 2050, half of the remaining glaciers on the mountain will have melted.

7. Kunlun - 7,167 m

The Kunlun mountains seen from Karakul Lake, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China.

The Kunlun Mountains are the longest chain of mountain ranges in Asia stretching for 2,000 km (1,250 miles) through central China. It forms the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. Throughout its alignment, the Kunlun comprises three parallel ridges rather than a single crest, unlike most ranges. Due to their location, the Kunlun ranges are almost totally isolated from the climatic influence of the Indian and Pacific Ocean monsoons but rather the climate is influenced by the continental air masses. Most of the Kunlun region is covered in steppe and rocky terrain character of desert conditions.

8. Trans-Himalayas - 7,162 m

Nyenchen Tanglha in the Trans-Himalayas seen from Nam Co lake, Tibet.

The Trans-Himalayas are composed of two mountain ranges: the Nyenchen Tanglha and the Gangdise. They are located in the southern part of the Tibet Autonomous Region in China. The mountain system runs about 1,000 km (600 miles) long in an east-west direction, parallel to the Himalayas and further north. Its highest point, the Nyenchen Tanglha, is the subject of folklore among the inhabitants of the Tibetan region. It is also considered the most influential deity in a large part of northern Tibet.

9. Andes - 6,962 m

The Andes seen from Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.

The Andes Mountain ranges are the longest continental mountain range in the world, located in South America. The Andes ranges stretch for 8,900 km (5,500 miles) from the southern tip of South America through Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile to the northern coast of the Caribbean. The Andes are the highest peaks of the Western Hemisphere and home to the highest mountain peak in South America, Aconcagua. They also form the American Cordillera consisting of a continuous sequence of mountain ranges that form the backbone of North America, South America, Central America, and Antarctica. Due to the rotation of the earth, the Chimborazo peak in the Andes lying in the equatorial bulge is considered the farthest point from the earth’s center.

10. Alaska Range - 6,194 m

The Alaska range is one of the components of the Alaskan Mountains stretching 650 km (400 miles) from Lake Clark in Alaska to the White River in Canada's Yukon Territory. Alaska Range is a segment of the larger Pacific mountain system of North America and hosts the third highest peak of the world’s Seven Summits, the Denali. The mountain range is part of the Pacific ring of fire and the Denali Fault line responsible for a number of earthquakes on the southern edge and forms a climatic barrier that separates the interior tundra from the Pacific coastal region. The Alaska range's enormous glaciers and panoramic Arctic sceneries attract tourists and mountain climbers.

The World's Tallest Mountain Ranges

RankNameCountriesHighest pointAltitude (m above sea level)
1HimalayasPakistan, Nepal, India, China, BhutanEverest8,848
2KarakoramPakistan, China, IndiaK28,611
3Hindu KushAfghanistan, PakistanTirich Mir7,708
4PamirsTajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, AfghanistanKongur Tagh7,649
5Hengduan MountainsChina, MyanmarMount Gongga7,556
6Tian ShanChina, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, UzbekistanJengish Chokusu7,439
7KunlunChinaLiushi Shan7,167
8Trans-HimalayasChinaMount Nyenchen Tanglha7,162
9AndesArgentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, VenezuelaAconcagua6,962
10Alaska RangeUnited StatesDenali6,194
11Saint Elias MountainsUnited States, CanadaMount Logan5,959
12Caucasus MountainsGeorgia, Russia, AzerbaijanMount Elbrus5,642
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