About 24% of the world’s total land surface is covered by mountains. It is estimated that about three-quarters of the earth’s fresh water is stored in mountain glaciers. Depending upon their mode of formation, the mountains are classified as Fold, Block, Volcanic and Residual mountains.
Located in the Northern and Eastern hemispheres of the Earth, Asia is the world’s largest continent occupying a total area of about 44,579,000 km2. Some of the world’s tallest, longest, and most revered mountain ranges are located in Asia. Some of the major mountain ranges in Asia are discussed in this article.
- Altai Mountains
- Western Ghats
- Eastern Ghats
- Kunlun Mountains
- Tian Shian Mountains
- Ural Mountains
- Zagros Mountains
The Altai (or Altay) Mountains are a mountain range in East-Central Asia stretching across the countries of the People’s Republic of China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Russia. The Altai Mountain range extends from the Gobi Desert in the southeast to the Siberian plains in the northwest. The western extremity of the range is occupied by the Sayan Mountains whereas the Sailughem Mountains occupy the northern extremity of the Altai mountain range. The five tallest peaks of the Altai Mountain range are the Belukha, Khüiten, Mönkh Khairkhan, Sutai Mountain, and Tsambagarav mountain peaks. Numerous wild animals are found in the different habitats of the Altai Mountains, such as the Siberian ibex, Altai wapiti, Siberian musk deer, wild boar, snow leopards, brown bears, lynx, Tien Shan dhole, and wolves, among others.
The Western Ghats or Sahyadri Mountains are a series of mountains that stretch parallel to the western coast of India for 1,600 km and cover an area of about 160,000 km2. The Western Ghats extend across the Indian States of Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala. There are many high peaks in the Western Ghats rising above 2,000m. Located in the Indian State of Kerala, Anamudi is the highest peak in the Western Ghats, which rises to an elevation of 2,695 m. The Western Ghats is one of Asia’s longest mountain ranges, and they give rise to major rivers like Tungabhadra, Thamiraparani, Godavari, Krishna, and Kaveri. The Western Ghats is considered one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots where at least 325 threatened species, 9216 floral species, 139 species of mammals, 508 avian species, 6,000 insect species, and several other significant flora and fauna.
As their name indicates, the Eastern Ghats are a chain of discontinuous mountains that are located along the eastern coast of India across the Indian States of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. The Jindhagada Peak, which rises to an elevation of 1,690 m is the highest point in the Eastern Ghats. Many rivers like Mahanadi, Krishna, Godavari, and Kaveri flow through the mountain ranges of the Eastern Ghats.
The Himalayas are one of the youngest mountain ranges on Earth, located immediately to the north of the Indian subcontinent. This range is Asia’s fourth-longest mountain range that is home to more than 50 mountains with an elevation of more than 7,200 m. At 2,400 km long, the Himalayan Mountain range stretches across the countries of Nepal, India, Bhutan, Pakistan, and China. Some of the world’s highest peaks that are a part of the Himalayan Mountain range include Mount Everest (8,848m), the tallest mountain in the world, Kangchenjunga (8,586m), and Lhotse (8,516 m). The extensive Himalayan mountain range is a biodiverse area. Species include the snow leopard, Tibetan sheep, mountain goat, Himalayan musk deer, Himalayan serow, Asian black bear, Red panda, Kashmir gray langur, among many others. The Gangotri and Yamunotri glaciers in the Himalayas serve as sources of the large Ganga and Yamuna rivers. There are also several lakes in the Himalayan region including Gurudongmar Lake, Rara Lake, Tilicho Lake, Manasarovar Lake, and Pangong Tso.
The Kunlun Mountains are one of Asia’s longest mountain chains, stretching for more than 3,000 km. The Kunlun Mountains start from Tajikistan’s Pamir Mountains and extend across the western part of China traversing the Xinjiang Autonomous region, the Tibet Autonomous Region, and the Chinese province of Qinghai. Located on the boundary between the Tibet and Xinjiang Autonomous Regions is Liushi Shan (“Kunlun Goddess”), which rises to an elevation of 7,167m and is the highest peak in the Kunlun Mountain Range. The Kunlun Mountains serve as a source of the Karakash and the Yurungkash Rivers.
Tian Shan Mountains
The Tian Shan (also Tien Shan) is a large mountain system located in Central Asia that stretches for more than 2,900 km. The Tian Shan Mountains are situated in the northern and western parts of the Taklamakan Desert near the border region of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of northwestern China. The Tian Shan Mountains link the Pamir Mountains in the south with the Altai Mountains in the north. Situated on the boundary between Kyrgyzstan and China is Jengish Chokusu (“Victory Peak”), which rises to an elevation of 7,439m and is the highest peak in the Tian Shan Mountains.
The Ural Mountains run from north to south for some 2,500 km across western Russia to northwestern Kazakhstan. These mountains form a natural boundary between European and Asian Russia. Located in Russia’s Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug is Mount Narodnaya, which rises to an elevation of 1,894 m and is the highest peak in the Ural Mountains. The Ural Mountains are one of the world’s oldest mountain ranges and contains several valuable minerals like platinum, quartz, beryl, andradite, emerald, malachite, diamond, gold, and chalcopyrite.
The Zagros is a long mountain range that extends for some 1,600 km in the northwestern part of Iran, the northeastern part of Iraq, and the southeastern part of Turkey. The Zagros Mountains span the entire length of the southwestern and western portions of the Iranian Plateau and end at the Strait of Hormuz. Qash-Mastan in the Dena sub-range, which rises to an elevation of 4,409 m, is the highest peak in the Zagros Mountains. It is estimated that about half of the Zagros Mountains are covered by Persian oak forests. Some of the notable animals that are found in the Zagros mountain region include the striped hyena, Luristan newt, Zagros mountains mouse-like hamster, Persian fallow deer, and wild goat.