"Himalaya" and "Imaus" redirect here. For the genus of moth, see Imaus (moth). For other uses, see Himalaya (disambiguation).
The Himalayas or Himalaya (/ˌhɪməˈleɪ.ə/ or /hɪˈmɑːləjə/; Sanskrit: हिमालय, Nepali: हिमालय, Hindi: हिमालय, Urdu: ہمالیہ; from Sanskrit hima (snow) + ālaya (dwelling), literally meaning "abode of snow") is a mountain range in Indian subcontinent which separates the Indo-Gangetic Plain from the Tibetan Plateau. This range is home to nine of the ten highest peaks on Earth, including the highest, Mount Everest. The Himalayas have profoundly shaped the cultures of Indian subcontinent. Many Himalayan peaks are sacred in both Buddhism and Hinduism.
The Himalayas are bordered on the north by the Tibetan Plateau, on the south by the Indo-Gangetic Plain, on the northwest by the Karakoram and Hindu Kush ranges, and on the east by the Indian states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. The western anchor of the Himalayas — Nanga Parbat — lies just south of the northernmost bend of the Indus River, while the eastern anchor — Namcha Barwa — is situated just west of the great bend of the Yarlung Tsangpo River. The Himalayas span five countries: India, Nepal, Bhutan, China (Tibet), and Pakistan, with the first three countries having sovereignty over most of the range.
Lifted by the collision of the Indian tectonic plate with the Eurasian Plate, the Himalayan range runs northwest to southeast in a 2,400 kilometres (1,500 mi) long arc. The range varies in width from 400 kilometres (250 mi) in the west to 150 kilometres (93 mi) in the east. Besides the Greater Himalayas, there are several parallel lower ranges. The southernmost of these, located along the northern edge of the Indian plains and reaching about a thousand meters in altitude, are called the Sivalik Hills. Further north is a higher range, reaching two to three thousand meters, known as the Lower Himalayan Range.
Three of the world's major rivers — the Indus, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra — arise in the Himalayas. While the Indus and the Brahmaputra rise near Mount Kailash in Tibet, the Ganges rises in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. Their combined drainage basin is home to some 600 million people
Main article: Ecology of the Himalaya
The flora and fauna of the Himalayas vary with climate, rainfall, altitude, and soils. The climate ranges from tropical at the base of the mountains to permanent ice and snow at the highest elevations. The amount of yearly rainfall increases from west to east along the southern front of the range. This diversity of altitude, rainfall and soil conditions combined with the very high snow line supports a variety of distinct plant and animal communities. The extremes of high altitude (low atmospheric pressure) combined with extreme cold favor extremophile organisms.
The unique floral and faunal wealth of the Himalayas is undergoing structural and compositional changes due to climate change. The increase in temperature is shifting various species to higher elevations. The oak forest is being invaded by pine forests in the Garhwal Himalayan region. There are reports of early flowering and fruiting in some tree species, especially rhododendron, apple and box myrtle. The highest known tree species in the Himalayas is Juniperus tibetica located at 4,900 metres (16,080 ft) in Southeastern Tibet.