Mount Everest in the Himalaya Mountains

The highest mountains in the world

As a child you learn in school that the tallest mountain is Mount Everest, with a height of 8,848 (29,032 ft) meters. It is located in the Himalayan mountains on the border between Nepal and China and was climbed for the first time in 1953. Since then, there have been countless other ascents.

The highest mountain in the USA is Denali (formerly Mount McKinley) in the Western Alaska Range. At 6,190 meters (20,308 ft), it is still quite large compared to other mountains and, at the same time, the northernmost mountain at over 5,000 meters (16,404 ft).

Eight-thousanders: The highest mountains in the world

All 14 mountains with a height of more than 8,000 meters are located in the mountains of Central and South Asia, as well as western China. This is even true for all seven-thousand-meter peaks. The highest peak outside Asia is Aconcagua in the Argentine Andes at 6,962 meters (22,841 ft). The Rocky Mountains follow much later with Mount Elbert (4,401 meters / 14,439 ft).

In general, only the highest point of a mountain is considered a "peak" as such. Of course, a mountain can also have further and lower secondary peaks, which are still higher than other mountains.

PeakHeight above MSLProminenceMountain rangeCountries
Mount Everest8,848 m8,848 mHimalayasNepal, China
Godwin Austen (K2)8,611 m4,017 mKarakoramPakistan, China
Kangchenjunga8,586 m3,922 mHimalayasIndia, Nepal
Lhotse8,516 m610 mHimalayasNepal, China
Makalu 8,485 m2,378 mHimalayasNepal, China
Cho Oyu8,188 m2,340 mHimalayasNepal, China
Dhaulagiri I8,167 m3,357 mHimalayasNepal
Manaslu8,163 m3,092 mHimalayasNepal
Nanga Parbat8,126 m4,608 mHimalayasPakistan
Annapurna I8,091 m2,984 mHimalayasNepal
Gasherbrum I (K5)8,080 m2,155 mKarakoramPakistan, China
Broad Peak (K3)8,051 m1,701 mKarakoramPakistan, China
Gasherbrum II (K4)8,035 m1,523 mKarakoramPakistan, China
Shishapangma / Gosainthan8,027 m2,897 mHimalayasChina

Prominence: Relative height to surroundings

A small hill on top of a large mountain would have an extremely high peak just because of its surroundings — at least if you measure it in relation to sea level. Therefore, in addition to the absolute height, the topographic "prominence" is also measured, often called the autonomous height or shoulder drop. This is the relative height to the actual base of the mountain, which can also be a foothill of a plateau. The drop is the deepest cut between the peaks. The "dominance" is also recorded in the classification of mountains. It is the horizontal distance between two peaks.

What is a mountain?

There is no exact distinction between a mountain and a hill. Mountains are usually steeper and higher. Also, a mountain has an independence, so a large hill on a mountain plateau does not become a mountain itself. For the demarcation of two connected geoformations, the topographic prominence (shoulder drop) and dominance (distance between each other) are also used. Here again, there are no uniform absolute values. In the European Alps, for example, a prominence of 30 meters is considered to be the standard for the independence of a mountain. In the Himalayas, up to 500 meters is used as a criterion. For the more than 1,500 mountains worldwide with a prominence of over 1,500 meters (4,921 ft), the term "Ultra Prominent Peak" has become established.

The highest mountain ranges and their peaks

In terms of height, but not necessarily the extent of the mountains, the following list results, in which the highest mountain ranges worldwide are listed by their highest peaks:

Mountain rangeHighest mountainHeightCountries
HimalayasMount Everest 8,848 mNepal, China
KarakoramK2 8,611 mPakistan
Hindu KushTirich Mir 7,708 mPakistan
Kongur ShanKongur Tagh 7,649 mChina
Daxue MountainsMount Gongga 7,556 mChina
Pamir MountainsIsmoil Somoni Peak 7,495 mTajikistan
Kakshaal TooJengish Chokusu 7,439 mChina, Kyrgyzstan
Nyenchen Tanglha MountainsGyala Peri 7,294 mChina
AndesAconcagua 6,960 mArgentina
Kunlun MountainsChakragil 6,760 mChina
Cordillera de la RamadaMercedario 6,720 mArgentina
Tian ShanXuelian Feng 6,627 mChina
Hindu RajBuni Zom 6,542 mPakistan
Cordillera OccidentalChimborazo 6,263 mEcuador
Alaska RangeDenali 6,191 mUnited States
Saint Elias MountainsMount Logan 5,959 mCanada
Eastern Rift mountainsMount Kilimanjaro 5,895 mTanzania
Sierra Nevada de Santa MartaPico Cristóbal Colón 5,700 mColombia
Caucasus MountainsMount Elbrus 5,642 mRussia
Trans-Mexican Volcanic BeltPico de Orizaba 5,636 mMexico
AlborzMount Damavand 5,610 mIran
Yun RangeJade Dragon Snow Mountain 5,596 mChina
Bogda ShanBogda Peak 5,445 mChina
Cordillera OrientalRitacuba Blanco 5,410 mColombia
Armenian HighlandsMount Ararat 5,137 mTurkey
Rwenzori MountainsMount Stanley 5,109 mCongo, Uganda
Wrangell MountainsMount Blackburn 4,996 mUnited States
Sierra Nevada de MéridaPico Bolívar 4,981 mVenezuela
Trans-Ili AlatauPik Talgar 4,979 mKazakhstan
Sentinel RangeVinson Massif 4,892 mAntarctica
Sudirman RangePuncak Jaya 4,884 mIndonesia
AlpsMont Blanc 4,808 mItaly, France
KamchatkaKlyuchevskaya Sopka 4,750 mRussia
Semien MountainsRas Dashen 4,550 mEthiopia
Bismarck RangeMount Wilhelm 4,509 mPapua New Guinea
Virunga MountainsMount Karisimbi 4,507 mCongo, Rwanda
Altai MountainsBelukha Mountain 4,506 mKazakhstan, Russia
Sierra NevadaMount Whitney 4,418 mUnited States
Sawatch Range (Rocky Mountains)Mount Elbert4,401 mUnited States
Cascade RangeMount Rainier 4,393 mUnited States
Sierra Madre de ChiapasVolcán Tajumulco 4,220 mGuatemala
Atlas MountainsToubkal 4,167 mMorocco
Finisterre RangeMount Boising 4,150 mPapua New Guinea
Crocker Range, BorneoMount Kinabalu 4,095 mMalaysia
Cameroon lineMount Cameroon 4,040 mCameroon
Coast MountainsMount Waddington 4,019 mCanada
Chugach MountainsMount Marcus Baker 3,991 mUnited States
Canadian RockiesMount Robson 3,959 mCanada
Yushan RangeYushan 3,952 mTaiwan
Baluchestan MountainsTaftan 3,941 mIran
Saur MountainsSauyr Zhotasy 3,840 mChina, Kazakhstan
PatkaiSaramati 3,826 mIndia, Myanmar
Cordillera de TalamancaCerro Chirripó 3,820 mCosta Rica
Barisan Mountains, SumatraMount Kerinci 3,805 mIndonesia
Ross IslandMount Erebus 3,794 mAntarctica
HonshuMount Fuji 3,776 mJapan
Southern AlpsAoraki/Mount Cook 3,724 mNew Zealand
TenerifeTeide 3,715 mSpain
Watkins RangeGunnbjørn Fjeld 3,694 mGreenland
Tengger RangeSemeru 3,676 mIndonesia
Owen Stanley RangeMount Suckling 3,676 mPapua New Guinea
Sarawat MountainsJabal an Nabi Shu'ayb 3,666 mYemen
Sredinny RangeIchinsky 3,607 mRussia
Sierra NevadaMulhacén 3,479 mSpain
LatimojongRantemario3,478 mIndonesia
Tibesti MountainsEmi Koussi 3,445 mChad
PyreneesAneto 3,404 mSpain
SicilyMount Etna 3,329 mItaly
Siple IslandMount Siple 3,110 mAntarctica
Cordillera Central, HispaniolaPico Duarte 3,098 mDominican Republic
RéunionPiton des Neiges 3,069 mFrance
Al Hajar MountainsJabal Shams 3,019 mOman
Cerro de la NeblinaPico da Neblina 2,994 mBrazil
Douglas Range, Alexander IslandMount Stephenson 2,987 mAntarctica
TimorPico do Ramelau 2,963 mTimor-Leste
Apo–Talomo, MindanaoMount Apo 2,954 mPhilippines
Allardyce RangeMount Paget 2,934 mSouth Georgia
Cordillera Central, LuzonMount Pulag 2,922 mPhilippines
MadagascarMaromokotro 2,876 mMadagascar
Aleutian RangeMount Shishaldin 2,869 mUnited States
FogoMount Fogo 2,829 mCape Verde

Seven Summits: The highest mountains on each continent

A sporting challenge is to climb the highest mountains on each continent. However, there is a problem in defining the limits. The following list goes back to the American Dick Bass. Also known, however, is a slightly different list of the Seven Summits by the Italian Reinhold Messner, who considers Mont Blanc (4,810 m) to be the highest European mountain and Puncak Jaya in Indonesia (4,884 m) to be the highest Australian mountain.

ContinentPeakHeightMountain rangeCountries
AfricaKibo5,895 mKilimanjaroTanzania
AsiaMount Everest8,848 mHimalayasNepal, China
AntarcticaMount Vinson4,892 mSentinel Range-
AustraliaMount Kosciuszko2,228 mGreat Dividing RangeAustralia
EuropeElbrus5,642 mCaucasus MountainsRussia
North AmericaDenali6,190 mAlaska RangeUnited States (Alaska)
South AmericaAconcagua6,962 mAndesArgentina
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