Geography Awareness Week, also known as GeoWeek, is celebrated every year during the third week of November. The goal of the week is to get people excited about geography and help them learn more about the world around them. Every year, we present fun facts to help you get excited about Geography Awareness Week. This year is no exception. In honor of Geography Awareness Week, we have rounded up 10 fun facts about one of the most majestic and awe-inspiring geographical features on Earth – mountains!
What is a Mountain?
Did you know that there are no universally agreed upon rules for what makes a mountain a mountain?
The general agreement is that a mountain is a landform that is taller than the surrounding area and bigger than a hill. Of course, there is also no agreed upon definition of a hill either.
Because there is not an official definition of a mountain, countries define what a mountain is in different ways. For example, Ireland and the United Kingdom require a mountain to be over two thousand feet tall to be considered a mountain, while the United States has determined that mountains only have to be over one thousand feet tall. This means that a mountain in one country might be considered a hill in another.
Mountains are found all over the world. Each of the seven continents have its own maintains. Here are some fun facts about the mountains on each of the continents.
1.) North America: Oldest Mountains
The Appalachians are over 480 million years old. They were formed during the Ordovician period when the North American plate crashed into another plate during the creation of the super-continent of Pangaea. Once as tall as the Rocky Mountains, the Appalachians have been worn down over the many millions of years to the low peaks seen today.
2.) South America: Longest Mountain Range
The Andes extend over forty three hundred miles through Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. The mountains were pushed up when to the Nazca and Antarctic plates started slipping under the South American Plate. The highest volcanoes in the world, and the highest mountains outside of Asia, are located the Andes mountain range.
3.) Asia: Highest Mountains
With over ten mountains over 8000 meters tall, the Himalayas are the tallest mountains in the world. Mount Everest, with an elevation over twenty nine thousand feet, is officially the tallest mountain in the world and is located in the Himalayas.
There is, though, some dispute over whether or not Mount Everest is actually the tallest mountain. Mountain height is measured by how high the peak of a mountain is above sea level, not how tall the slopes of the mountain are. The base of Mount Everest sits in the Tibetan Plateau, which is over thirteen thousand feet above sea level, meaning that the slopes are around fifteen thousand feet. Denali in Alaska, on the other hand, has a base that is less than three thousand feet above sea level and slopes that are almost nineteen thousand feet.
The mountains are also only about 70 million years old, which means that they are also among the world’s youngest mountains. The Indian continental plate moves sixty-seven millimeters per year, which means that that the Himalayas are growing, albeit very slowly, each year.
4.) Africa: Tallest Free-Standing Mountain
Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is a volcano that is not part of any mountain range. The mountain has three distinct volcanic cones, two of which are extinct, but the third is only dormant and could erupt again at some point. It is unclear when Mt. Kilimanjaro last erupted, but it is suspected to have been during the 19th century. Because of its height, Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the only mountains in Africa to have a permanent snowcap.
5.) Australia: Smallest Mountain
Not every continent has tall mountains. Mount Wycheproof in Australia is officially the smallest mountain in the world. To most of the world Mount Wycheproof would barely be considered a hill. The mountain measures in at a staggering 486 ft above sea level. You would have to stack up almost sixty Mount Wycheproofs to reach the height of Mount Everest.
6.) Europe: Most Photographed Mountain
Though it is impossible to accurately verify, residents of the town of Zermatt, Switzerland claim that the nearby Matterhorn is the most photographed mountain in the world. Even if it is not the world’s most photographed mountain, the Matterhorn is an extremely popular tourist attraction and its image has become a symbol of Switzerland.
7.) Antarctica: Mountains Covered in the Most Snow
Did you know that even Antarctica has mountains? They might not be the highest or the longest mountains in the world, but the Gamburtsev Mountains are the only mountains that are completely covered with snow. No one has actually seen the mountains because they are currently buried under two thousand feet of snow and ice. From 2007 to 2009, scientists used ice penetrating radar to survey mountain range. From their findings it has been determined that the mountains probably are around 6,500 feet tall and resemble the Alps in Europe.
Do you have any fun mountain facts to share? If so, share them in the comments. For more fun geography facts, check out 10 Fun Facts for Geography Awareness Week and 10 More Fun Facts for Geography Awareness Week, and be sure to check back next year for even more facts!