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The Natural Environment


Asia’s mightiest mountain ranges radiate in great sweeping arcs from the Pamirs of Central Asia, a highland region where Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and China intersect. Southeast of the Pamirs are the Himalayas, spanning 2,400 km (1,500 mi) from the border between India and Pakistan in the west to the border between India and Myanmar in the east. The Karakorum Range lies just north of the western Himalayas. These two ranges contain all but two of the world’s highest peaks, including Mount Everest, which lies on the border between Tibet and Nepal. Smaller mountain ranges extend southward from the eastern Himalayas into the Indochinese Peninsula.

East and northeast of the Pamir knot, the Kunlun Mountains and the Tian Shan extend for more than 1,600 km (1,000 mi) into China. To the west, extending into central Afghanistan, is the Hindu Kush. Ranges connected to the Hindu Kush then extend into northern Iran, where they are known as the Elburz Mountains. A branch of the Elburz becomes the Caucasus Mountains between Europe and Asia.

A low range of mountains extends southwestward from the Pamir knot into western Pakistan, where they are known as the Sulaiman Range. These mountains then continue northwestward through Iran into southern Turkey, where they are known as the Taurus Mountains.

Other important mountain ranges of Asia, such as the low Nan Ling hills in central and southern China, are not directly connected to the high mountain chains that meet at the Pamirs.

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