‘Abode of snow’ is the Sanskrit word for Himalaya, which aptly describes this great Asian mountain system. Stretching over 2500kms (1500 miles) through northeastern Pakistan, northern India, southern Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim, the Himalayas have an average width along the entire longitudinal extension ranges from 100 – 400 kms (62 – 250 miles).
The range is bordered in the south by the fertile plains of the Indian subcontinent, and in the north by the Tibet high plateau. Within this range 9 of the world’s 14 – 8,000m (26400 ft.) peaks can be found, 8 of which can be found in Nepal. The world’s highest peak, Mount Everest at 8,850m (29035 ft.) is located in Nepal. The major mountains of the Himalaya include Mount Everest, Annapurna, Kanchenjunga, K2 and Nanga Parbat Peak.
Across the Himalaya, the large geographical contrasts are reflected in the range of climatic conditions – from sub-arctic to arctic and similarly the fauna, flora and landscape offer many contrasts. The Himalaya is as culturally diverse as it is geographically. Across the countries of the Himalaya the predominant religions are Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam.