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More than 2,700 people have successfully climbed Mount Everest--and more than 200 have died during failed attempts.
The Himalayan mountain system extends some 1,550 mi (2,500 km) from east to west and covers about 230,000 sq mi (595,000 sq km). It is traditionally divided into four parallel ranges: from north to south, the Tethys (or Tibetan) Himalayas, the Great Himalayas (including the major peaks), the Lesser Himalayas (including peaks of 12,000–15,000 ft [3,700–4,500 m]), and the Outer Himalayas (including the lowest peaks). Between the eastern and western extremities of the broad Himalayan arc lie several Indian states and the kingdoms of Nepal and Bhutan. It acts as a great climatic divide, causing heavy rain and snow on the southern side but aridity north of the range, and represents at many points a virtually impassable barrier, even by air. The mountains’ glaciers and snows are the source of 19 major rivers, including the Indus, Ganges (Ganga), and Brahmaputra.
For thousands of years the Himalayas have held a profound significance for the peoples of South Asia, as their literature, mythologies, and religions reflect. Since ancient times the vast glaciated heights have attracted the attention of the pilgrim mountaineers of India, who coined the Sanskrit name Himalaya—from hima (“snow”) and alaya (“abode”)—for this great mountain system. In contemporary times the Himalayas have offered the greatest attraction and the greatest challenge to mountaineers throughout the world.
Forming the northern border of the Indian subcontinent and an almost impassable barrier between it and the lands to the north, the ranges are part of a vast mountain belt that stretches halfway around the world from North Africa to the Pacific coast of Southeast Asia. The Himalayas themselves stretch uninterruptedly for about 1,550 miles (2,500 km) from west to east between Nanga Parbat (26,660 feet [8,126 metres]), in the Pakistani-administered portion of the Kashmir region, and Namjagbarwa (Namcha Barwa) Peak (25,445 feet [7,756 metres]), in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. Between these western and eastern extremities lie the two Himalayan countries of Nepal and Bhutan. The Himalayas are bordered to the northwest by the mountain ranges of the Hindu Kush and the Karakoram and to the north by the high Plateau of Tibet. The width of the Himalayas from south to north varies between 125 and 250 miles (200 and 400 km). Their total area amounts to about 230,000 square miles (595,000 square km).
Though India, Nepal, and Bhutan have sovereignty over most of the Himalayas, Pakistan and China also occupy parts of them. In the disputed Kashmir region, Pakistan has administrative control of some 32,400 square miles (83,900 square km) of the range lying north and west of the “line of control” established between India and Pakistan in 1972. China administers some 14,000 square miles (36,000 square km) in the Ladakh district of Kashmir and has claimed territory at the eastern end of the Himalayas within the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. These disputes accentuate the boundary problems faced by India and its neighbours in the Himalayan region.
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