The Himalayas are the white appearing chains on the southern fringe of the Tibetan Plateau ( composite satellite images )

The Himalayas (also Himalaya ) is a high mountain system in Asia between the Indian subcontinent in the south and the Tibetan highlands in the north. The mountain range extends over a length of approximately 3000 kilometers from Pakistan to Burma ( Myanmar) and reaches a maximum width of 350 km.

In the Himalayas there are ten of the fourteen mountains on earth, whose peaks are over 8,000 meters high ( " eight thousand "). Among them is Mount Everest, with the 8848 meters above sea level, the highest mountain in the world.

Location and naming

The mountain range extends from Central Asia, the Khyber Pass on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan ( the highlands of Baluchistan ) and the Karakorum in Kashmir, along the border of India and the two Himalayan states of Nepal and Bhutan with Tibet, up to the umknickte south Patkai Mountains between Assam and Myanmar and the Hengduan Mountains, the southern flank of the eastern slopes of the Tibetan highlands. It separates South Asia from the rest of the continent.

In the German literature is mostly ' spoke in general terms of the whole mountain system than the Himalayas, in the English literature one speaks of the Himalayas, if you think the high mountain ranges without the southern foothills, and pluraliter of the Himalayas, when you think the whole Gebirgsystem including Trans Himalayas.

The name Himalaya ' ( Sanskrit: हिमालय, Himalaya, [ ˡ hi malaɪ̯ɐ ], German also [ ˡ himɐ laɪa̯ ] ) comes from a composition of hima, snow' and alaya " place of residence ".


The high Himalayas in the strict sense are up over 8000 m high mountain ranges, which extend between the hill areas of the Ganges Plain and the furrow of the headwaters of the Indus and Brahmaputra: extend ( Tsangpo Mazang / Damqog / Mǎquán or Yarlung / Yǎlǔ Zàngbù ). In the north of the high Himalaya is by the Indus - Brahmaputra - line of the chain of the Trans Himalaya (consisting of Gangdise and Nyainqentanglha ) separately, the edge of the mountains of the Tibetan highland. His greatest heights reached the Himalayas in the north. The southern foothills of the Himalayas, who accompany him on the whole length, are called Siwaliks ( Churia or Margalla Hills also ). They are separated by the zones of the interior of the main chains Terai. South underscore this out in the belts Bhabhar and Terai. In addition, the chains of the southern Himalaya, comparable only reach the heights of the Alps, as Front Himalaya ( Lesser Himalaya " Little Himalaya" ) can be distinguished from the high Himalayas.


The Himalayas is the largest mountain range in the world. The tectonically connected with it mountain ranges such as the Karakoram mountains have peaks of over 8000 meters altitude. They form a part of the alpidischen mountain belt, and are among the most recent high mountains of the earth.

The Himalayas are a fold mountain that has arisen as a result of plate collision of India with Eurasia. As the Indian land mass broke some 200 million years of Gondwana, the Tethys Ocean was between the Indian and Eurasian land masses. The Indian drifted at a speed of about 9 meters per century to the north, put it back to 6400 km and rammed before about 40 to 50 million years into the Eurasian plate. The collision slowed the speed of the drift to the north by half to about 5 centimeters per year and is regarded as the beginning of the rapid survey of the Himalayas. The drift continues to this day and is so strong that the Himalayas more than an inch per year is higher. This corresponds to a growth height of 10 km in a million years. Since the collision India has 2000 km further forced into it to Asia. This process led to strong earthquakes, shifts and folds whose effects far into China and Southeast Asia are noticeable. The area Nanga Parbat in Pakistan has been raised more than 10 kilometers in less than 10 million years ago. The present rate of uplift of the Himalayas are still considerable. This could not even keep up strong erosion. Nevertheless, the southern slopes of the Himalayas of large alluvial fans with fluvial deposits ( Molasse ) is surrounded; these form the Siwaliks.

The Himalayas are indeed the highest elevation of the earth's surface, but not the farthest from the center of the earth the place of the earth's surface.


The Himalayas has a great significance for the climate of the Indian subcontinent and the Tibetan plateau. He keeps cold, dry arctic winds from getting to the south to blow into the subcontinent into it, so that southern Asia is much warmer than corresponding temperate regions in the other continents. It also forms a barrier for the monsoon winds coming from the south, which supply the Indian subcontinent with the rain. It is believed that the Himalaya also plays an important role in the formation of Central Asian deserts, such as the Taklamakan desert and the Gobi Desert.

The southern slopes of the Himalayas shows a monsoon climate. The summer monsoon is a southwest monsoon ( See-/Meereswind ), he takes over the ocean moisture and rains it on the Indian and Nepalese west side, ie, on the southern slopes of the Himalayas, from ( in Luvlage → storage → effect orographic rainfall ). The winter monsoon is a land wind from the north- east of the continent. Thus the wind is rather dry ( arid ). Monsoon climate is a two- humid tropical climate. The large-scale circulation of air around the Indian Ocean is dependent on

Due to the shifted northward in summer intertropical convergence zone, the cooler and therefore heavier air is drawn in from the sea; this causes the typical humid conditions of the summer monsoon. In the winter months there over the continent a high floor and a surface low over the sea. The dry air from the continent is sucked in and due to the Coriolis force results in a northeast monsoon, which corresponds to the northeast trade winds. This is done in the humid tropics. In the south there is a southern monsoon climate in the north and an arid mountain climate. This is the Himalayas to a climatic divide - in contrast, the Alps are only a weather divide.

Vertical climate change: in the depths ( near the ground ), there is the tropical monsoon climate. In 3000 meters has a temperate monsoon climate and from 5000-6000 meters in front of a high-alpine or polar climate.

Paleogeography and prehistoric climate

A 2500 km long Himalayan arc was during the ice ages between Kangchenjunga in the east and Nanga Parbat in the west a coherent Talvergletscherung, ie a Eisstromnetz. In the West had the Himalayan glaciers contact with the Eisstromnetz of the Karakoram in the north and with the Tibetan inland ice. To the south, the partial currents of the local mountain glaciers flowed together into larger valley glaciers, which in turn einmündeten in the large parent Himalayaquertal Glacier. These centrally located ordinary or outlet glaciers ended below 2000 m above sea level. M. and sometimes even below 1000 m above sea level in the Himalayan foothills. This was true of the Tamur Khola, Arun, Dhud Koshi Nadi, Tamba Kosi, Bo Chu (Sun Kosi ) - Langtang ( Trisuli Khola ) -, Buri Gandaki, Marsyandi Nadi, Madi Khola, Seti Khola, Modi Khola, Thak Khola, Mayangdi ( Myagdi ) Khola, Barbung - Bheri Khola, Gohna Nala, Nandakini Nala, Nala Alaknanda, Mandakini Nala, Bhagirathi Nala, Solang Nala ( Kullu Valley) -, Tori Valley, Triund and Indus Valley glacier. While the current valley glaciers of the Himalayas reach at most 20-32 km in length, some of these glacial Haupttalgletscher were 60-112 km long. The glacier snow line (ELA ), as the high limit between Gletschernährgebiet and Abschmelzzone was glacially lowered to 1400-1660 meters in altitude compared to today. From this it would be - under the condition of similar rainfall pattern - a glacial temperature reduction of at least 7 to 8.3 ° C above today. Probably, however, it was dry and therefore colder.


The higher areas (regions) of the Himalayas are snowbound throughout the year despite their proximity to the tropics, and they form the sources for several large perennial rivers. Essentially, there are two major river systems:

Interestingly, the High Himalaya, which carries the highest peak on earth, no Continental Divide. Some of the largest rivers of Asia originate north of the main chain and break through the mountains from north to south. The Kali Gandaki forms between just 35 kilometers apart eight-thousand Annapurna and Dhaulagiri, the deepest gorge in the world. Indus also ( in the vicinity of Nanga Parbat forms the border to Karakorum ) and Tsangpo, the first flows over long distances between the Himalaya and Trans- Himalaya east, cut through the mountains in deep cuts. These rivers drained already the older Trans Himalayas to the south, and with their eroding power they could also claim against the strong uplift of the high Himalayas.

Indus, Satlej, Ghaghara and Brahmaputra ( Tsangpo ) originate in the territory of Kailash in the southern Trans- Himalayas ( Gangdise Mountains ), which one sees as the " navel of the world " in Buddhism it. Ganges and Yamuna originate in the Garhwal Mountains, which is upstream of the high Himalayas southwest.

  • In addition, drain nor the easternmost portions in the Irrawaddy by Myanmar, and the Salween ( Nagchu, Lukiang ), which originates in Tibet itself.

In addition, the Himalaya also influenced the headwaters of another springing around major rivers of South, Southeast and East Asia, which is called Zirkumhimalaya rivers, including the Irrawaddy and Salween next:

  • Mekong ( Dsachu, Langcang ), Laos and Cambodia to the Gulf of Siam, Yangtze River ( Drichu ) with mouth near Shanghai into the East China Sea, as well as Yarkant, the sinks over the Tarim in the Tarim Basin.

In a broader sense it is also the Huang He (Ma -chu, Yellow River ) mentioned in this context, but which originates in northern Tibet, and dehydrated at Beijing in the Yellow Sea.

The glaciers of the Himalayas and in particular the following in the Northwest Karakorum are numerous and among the largest of the Earth. Among them, the 74 km long Siachen Glacier is the largest. Other famous Glacier Gangotri and Yamunotri are ( Uttarakhand ), Nubra, Biafo and Baltoro ( Karakoram ), Zemu ( Sikkim ) and Khumbu ( in the area of Mount Everest ). The glaciers store water during the winter in the form of ice and snow and enter this in the summer through the melt again.


The surveys of Siwalikkette, a comparatively excessive formation which is still entirely forested, followed by the north of the Himalayan Front - also on its southern slope still a lush and rich in species ( for example, juniper) covered chain - Connect and the high Himalayas.


The highest mountain of the earth is covered not only by a network of important watersheds, but is also one of the clearest and most stable vaginal culture in the world. Always has it ensured that India could be amazingly undisturbed develop from the outside. Because he opposes the monsoon and forces him to raining, the Himalayas also produces mainly in northeastern India, so crucial for overall living conditions annually recurring unique high rain.

The states of Nepal and Bhutan are on the south side, north to the highlands of China's Tibet province joins. Even India, Pakistan and Myanmar share in the mountains.