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Land and Resources, Mountain Peaks and Passes

Mount Godwin Austen, Tirich Mir, Karakoram Pass, Karakoram Range, Hindu Kush mountains

Pakistan has within its borders some of the world’s highest and most spectacular mountains. In the northern part of the country, the Hindu Kush mountains converge with the Karakoram Range, a part of the Himalayan mountain system. Thirteen of the world’s 30 tallest peaks are in Pakistan. The tallest include K2 (also known as Mount Godwin Austen), the second highest peak in the world at 8,611 m (28,251 ft), in the Karakoram Range; Nanga Parbat (8,125 m/26,657 ft) in the Himalayas; and Tirich Mir (7,690 m/25,230 ft) in the Hindu Kush.

Many mountain passes cross Pakistan’s borders with Afghanistan and China. Passes crossing over the mountains bordering Afghanistan include the Khyber, Bolan, Khojak, Kurram, Tochi, and Gomal passes. The most well-known and well-traveled is the Khyber Pass in the northwest. It links Peshawar in Pakistan with Jalalabad in Afghanistan, where it connects to a route leading to the Afghan capital of Kabul. It is the widest and lowest of all the mountain passes, reaching a maximum elevation of 1,072 m (3,517 ft). The route of the Bolan Pass links Quetta in Baluchistan Province with Kandahar in Afghanistan; it also serves as a vital link within Pakistan between Sind and Baluchistan provinces. Historically, the Khyber and Bolan passes were used as the primary routes for invaders to enter India from Central Asia, including the armies of Alexander the Great. Also historically significant is Karakoram Pass, on the border with China. For centuries it was part of the trading routes known as the Silk Road, which linked China and other parts of Asia with Europe.

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