No matter how much research you have compiled on the Himalayas -- the rooftop of the world -- much remains to learn about the youngest mountain range on Earth. The Himalayas, meaning Abode of Snow, gained their name from the ancient Indian language Sanskrit. This spectacle is home to Mount Everest, called Chomolungma by Tibetans, meaning Goddess Mother of the World. An efficient report on the Himalayas requires information on a variety of topics.
The Himalayas are in Asia, south of the Tibetan plateau and extending from west to east through Pakistan, China, India, Nepal and Bhutan.
The Himalayas developed as two tectonic plates -- the Eurasian and Indo-Australian plates -- collided. The interaction of the two plates about 20 million years ago pushed India and Tibet together, forming the Himalayas.
Religions of the Himalayas include Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. The Himalayas are well-known for being home to Buddhist monasteries and Hindu pilgrimages.
Size and elevation
The Himalayas cover 380,292 square miles. The mountain range varies in width from 62 to 248 miles wide. The highest elevation is Mt. Everest at 8,848 metres (29,029 feet). The oldest range referred to as the Great Himalayas extends about 5,998 metres (19,678 feet) and the youngest range called the sub-Himalayas range between 914 metres (3,000 feet) and 1,219 metres (4,000 feet).
Climate and weather
The Himalayas experience summers and winters. The climate, precipitation and temperature of the mountain regions depend on the altitude. The foothills vary from 17.8C in the winter to 30C during summer. The mid-range fluctuates below -17.8C during winter and around 15.6C throughout the summer. Himalaya Alpine regions, at altitudes above 4,877 metres (16,000 feet), are below freezing and covered with snow year-round. Monsoon season brings rainfall in the Himalayas from June through September.
The Himalayas are composed of varying topography that promotes diverse ecological systems. Grasslands, scrublands and coniferous forests exist at higher elevations in the alpine and subalpine regions. Temperate and subtropical broadleaved forests are scattered between middle elevations. Tropical and subtropical rainforests are found at lower elevations near the foothills. The Himalayas is home to 15,000 glaciers and a major river system that sources a number or rivers in Asia including the Ganges, Indus and Yarlung.
Plants and animals
The majority of plants and animals exist at lower altitudes because the environment is more conducive to survival. Grasslands and scrublands are home to rhododendron plants, snow leopards, musk deer and yaks. Coniferous forests offer a habitat for pine, spruce, hemlock and fir trees, red pandas, musk deer and antelope. Temperate forests grow oak and maple trees and plants such as orchids and ferns. This region is inhabited by an array of wildlife from birds to monkeys. The tropical and wetland regions are dominated by deciduous and tropical hardwood trees including evergreens and teak. Elephants, tigers, crocodiles and birds roam this region.
The Himalayas are home to famous mountain peaks that are the first, second and third highest peaks on the planet and popular climbing destinations. These peaks include Mount Everest, Karakoram (K2) and Kanchenjunga, respectively.