The Himalayas, the highest mountain range in the world, extend along the northern frontiers of Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Burma. They were formed geologically as a result of the collision of the Indian subcontinent with Asia. This process of plate tectonics is ongoing, and the gradual northward drift of the Indian subcontinent still causes earthquakes (see Earthquakes, this ch.). Lesser ranges jut southward from the main body of the Himalayas at both the eastern and western ends. The Himalayan system, about 2,400 kilometers in length and varying in width from 240 to 330 kilometers, is made up of three parallel ranges--the Greater Himalayas, the Lesser Himalayas, and the Outer Himalayas--sometimes collectively called the Great Himalayan Range. The Greater Himalayas, or northern range, average approximately 6,000 meters in height and contain the three highest mountains on earth: Mount Everest (8,796 meters) on the China-Nepal border; K2 (8,611 meters, also known as Mount Godwin-Austen, and in China as Qogir Feng) in an area claimed by India, Pakistan, and China; and Kanchenjunga (8,598 meters) on the India-Nepal border. Many major mountains are located entirely within India, such as Nanda Devi (7,817 meters) in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The snow line averages 4,500 to 6,000 meters on the southern side of the Greater Himalayas and 5,500 to 6,000 on the northern side. Because of climatic conditions, the snow line in the eastern Himalayas averages 4,300 meters, while in the western Himalayas it averages 5,800 meters.


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