The world's great mountain chains are often the natural divide between countries and cultures. Formed by either the crash of the earth's tectonic plates, along the earth's fault lines, or magma pushing through the surface of the earth, mountain chains are the among the most majestic and awe-inspiring presences in the world. For those who live in mountain regions, these chains dominate the landscape, inspiring decor, recreation, gardening and many other activities.
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The largest chain of mountains in Europe, the Alps range from eastern Austria to western France. Mont Blanc, between Italy and France, is the highest and perhaps most famous mountain in the Alps. The chain divides into three sections. The Western Alps includes the Pennine and Maritime ranges, while the Central Alps include those in Switzerland. The Eastern Alps feature the Tyrolean, Dolomite and Bavarian ranges.
This southwestern European mountain chain divides Spain from France. The chain divides into three sections, known as the Central, Western and Eastern Pyrenees. The highest mountain in the chain is Aneto in the Central Pyrenees.
The Carpathian Mountains
The Carpathian Mountains in Yugoslavia are part of the Alpine chain. The sections of this chain that do not include the Alps begin in the Czech Republic and extend through eastern Europe and through Romania. These sections divide into four areas, known as the Western, Southern, Eastern and Forest Carpathians. The Southern Carpathians in Romania include the highest mountain in the chain, Moldoveanu Peak.
The Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains in North America extend from Alaska through Canada to Mexico. The highest peak is Mount McKinley, also known as Denali. This Alaskan mountain was named after the assassinated 25th president William McKinley. The Rockies include the Southern, Northern and Central regions.
The Andes Mountains
One of the world's longest mountain chains, the Andes Mountains run north to south along South America's west coast. Its three natural regions divide into the Northern, Southern and Central ranges. The Northern region is close to the equator and quite warm, while the lightly-populated Southern region is closer to Antarctica and much colder.
The world's highest mountain chain, the Himalayas extend from northern India and Pakistan to Burma. It contains three of the highest mountains on earth -- Mount Everest, K2 and Kanchenjunga. Divided into the Greater, Lesser and Outer Himalayas, the former hosts the highest peaks.
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