The Himalayas


The Himalayas are mountains that are located in southern Asia. They are a part of in Nepal, India, Pakistan, Tibet and Bhutan. The mountains are the highest in the world, reaching almost 9,000 meters above sea level. The Himalayas separate the Indian subcontinent from the inner part of Asia. The word Himalaya means “home of snow”.

14 mountains are over 8,000 meters high, among them the K2 , Nanga Parbat and Mount Everest, at 8,848 meter the world’s highest mountain. The Himalayas extend over 1,500 miles (2,400 km) from the Indus Valley in the west to the Brahmaputra Valley in the east. They are between 100 and 250 kilometers wide.

Many of the mountain peaks are sacred to the people who live in the surrounding areas. Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims go there and pray to God.



How the Himalayas were formed

The Himalayas belong to the youngest mountain ranges in the world. They were formed when the Indian subcontinent, which was originally a part of the southern landmass, drifted to the north and crashed into Asia. This movement started about 70 million years ago and has been going on up to the present day. The Himalayas are still becoming taller, moving at about 7 cm per year. Earthquakes and volcanoes are evidence that the area is still very active.




Rivers and Lakes

Glaciers and permanent snow fields cover the higher regions of the Himalayas. They are the source of streams that flow into the two big rivers of the region.The Indus flows to the west and through Pakistan into the Arabia Sea. The Ganges and Brahmaputra flow to the east and get together in Bangladesh. They form  the largest delta in the world.



Almost every type of climate can be found in the different altitudes of the mountain range. The lower slopes in the south are home to tropical plants and tea. Trees grow up to a height of 4000 meters. Wheat and other cereals are grown in higher regions.

The Himalayas influence the climate in both India and Tibet. They form a barrier for monsoon winds that blow from the Indian Ocean over India. On the front side of the mountains it rains heavily while dry air blows across the plains of Tibet.



The Himalayas are very sparsely populated because of the harsh climate.  Most people live on the lower Indian slopes. Many people earn their living as sherpas, guiding tourists and mountaineers to the peaks of the mountain range.

The mountains have been a natural barrier for thousands of years. They stopped people from China and the inner part of Asia to mix with the Indian population. Genghis Kahn, emperor of the Mongols, was stopped from expanding his empire to the south by the tall mountains.

Most of the passes that cross the Himalayas are over 5,000 high. They are covered with snow during the winter period and almost impossible to pass.




Mountain climbing has become the main tourist activity in the Himalaya Mountains. It started towards the end of the 19th century when many mountaineers started climbing the peaks. In 1953 Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first to reach Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain.




Related Topics




  • altitude = height
  • barrier = blockade ; something you cannot get over or past
  • century = a hundred years
  • cereal = breakfast foods that are usually eaten with milk
  • delta = an area of low land where a river divides itself into many smaller rivers and flows into the sea
  • drift = move, float
  • emperor = king who rules over many countries
  • evidence = facts ; it shows that something is true
  • expand = to make larger
  • extend = reach from one place to another
  • harsh = very difficult to live in
  • heavily = very much
  • height = how high something is
  • influence = have an effect on
  • located = found, situated
  • mountain range = long line of mountains
  • mountaineer = person who climbs mountains as a sport
  • movement = activity
  • originally = at first
  • peak = highest part of a mountain
  • permanent = something that always  exists
  • pilgrim = a religious person who travels a long way to a holy place
  • plain = flat land
  • reach = here: get to the top
  • sacred = holy
  • sea level = the average height of the sea, from which  people measure how high places are
  • separate = divide
  • slope = side of a mountain
  • source = where something starts
  • sparsely = thinly; not every much
  • stream = very small river
  • subcontinent = part of a continent
  • surrounding = around something, nearby