A mountain is a large landform that rises above the surrounding land in a limited area, usually in the form of a peak. A mountain is generally steeper than a hill. Mountains are formed through tectonic forces or volcanism. These forces can locally raise the surface of the earth. Mountains erode slowly through the action of rivers, weather conditions, and glaciers. A few mountains are isolated summits, but most occur in huge mountain ranges.

High elevations on mountains produce colder climate than at sea level. These colder climates strongly affect the ecosystem of mountains: different elevations have different plants and animals. Because of the less hospitable terrain and climate, mountains tend to be used less for agriculture and more for resource extraction and recreation, such as mountain climbing.

The surface of the Earth is full of bumps, hills and valleys. We call the tallest places on Earth ‘mountains’.  Life in the mountains is cold and harsh but many people, plants and animals are able to live there.

Mountains come in all shapes and sizes.

No two mountains look the same! Some are pointed and jagged. Others are rounder and smoother. There is no agreed definition about when a hill becomes a mountain, but generally mountains are more than 700 metres tall. Mount Everest is the tallest mountain on land and is 8,850 metres tall.

The four principal shapes of mountain ranges include: diamond, pyramid, inverted pyramid and hourglass. For all the range shapes except pyramid, land availability can be greater at higher elevations than it is farther down the mountainside. Yet, people’s idea that land area steadily shrinks as a mountain rises is so entrenched that it has come to guide conservation plans and research.

Mountains are made from rock.

There are three main types of mountain rock, depending on where the mountain is found and how it formed. Granite is very hard and looks grainy, like a mixture of salt and pepper. Sandstone is made of squashed up grains of sand. Limestone is mostly made from the remains of dead plants and animals.

Groups of mountains are called ranges.

Most mountains are grouped together in ranges, such as the Alps in Europe and the Atlas mountains in Africa. The highest range of mountains in the world is the Himalayas range in Asia.

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