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The Tibetan Plateau is surrounded by massive mountain ranges The plateau is bordered to the south by the Himalayan range, to the north by the Kunlun Range.
The Tibetan Plateau is bounded on the north by a broad escarpment where the altitude drops from around 5,000 metres (16,000 ft) to 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) in less than 150 kilometres (93 mi). Along the escarpment is a range of mountains.
The plateau is a high-altitude arid steppe interspersed with mountain ranges and large brackish lakes. Annual precipitation ranges from 100 to 300 millimetres (3.9 to 11.8 in) and falls mainly as hailstorms. Proceeding to the north and northwest, the plateau becomes progressively higher, colder and drier, until reaching the remote Changthang region in the northwestern part of the plateau. Here the average altitude exceeds 5,000 metres (16,000 ft) and winter temperatures can drop to −40 °C (−40 °F). As a result of this extremely inhospitable environment, the Changthang region is the third least populous area in the world after Antarctica and northern Greenland.
Tibet has some of the world's tallest mountains, with several of them making the top ten list. Mount Everest, at 8,848 metres (29,029 ft), is the highest mountain on earth, located on the border with Nepal. Several major rivers have their source in the Tibetan Plateau (mostly in present-day Qinghai Province). These include Yangtze, Yellow River, Indus River, Mekong, Ganges, Salween and the Yarlung Tsangpo River. TheYarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, along the Yarlung Tsangpo River, is among the deepest and longest canyons in the world.
The Himalayas, or Himalaya - Sanskrit word literally meaning "abode of the snow") is a mountain range in South Asia 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 South Asia. 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 state ofAssam, Arunachal Pradesh. The Himalayas span five countries: India, Nepal, Bhutan, China (Tibet), and Pakistan, with the first three countries having sovereignty over most of the range.
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.
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 unique floral and faunal wealth of the Himalayas is undergoing structural and compositional changes due to climate change. The increase in temperature may shift 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.
Original text: http://commons.wikimedia.org
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