The Sudetes stretch from eastern Germany to Poland and the Czech Republic. The highest mountain is Sněžka-Śnieżka in the Krkonoše/Karkonosze Mountains on the Czech-Polish border. They reach up to 1,602 metres in altitude. The current geomorphological unit in the Czech part of the mountain range is Krkonošsko-jesenická soustava ("Krkonoše-Jeseníky").
The Karkonosze/Krkonoše Mountains have experienced growing tourism for winter sports during the past ten years. Its skiing resorts are becoming an alternative to the Alps.
The name Sudetes has been derived from Sudeti montes, a Latinization of the name Soudeta ore used in the Geographia of Ptolemy (Book 2, Chapter 10) ca. 150 for the present-day northern Czech mountains. Ptolemy said that they were above the Gabreta Forest, which places them in the Sudetenland. Ptolemy wrote in Greek, in which the name is a neuter plural. Latin mons, however, is a masculine, hence Sudeti. The Latin version is likely to be a scholastic innovation, as it is not attested in classical Latin literature.
The meaning of the name is not known. In one hypothetical derivation, it means Mountains of Wild Boars, relying on Indo-European *su-, "pig". A better etymology perhaps is from Latin sudis, plural sudes, "spines", which can be used of spiny fish or spiny terrain.
The exact location of the Sudetes is not very clear, as it has varied over the centuries. The ancient "Sudetenland" meant at least the northwest frontier of today's Czech Republic, probably extending to the north. By implication, it was part of the Hercynian Forest mentioned by many ancient authors of Antiquity.
Occupation of Sudetes by Germany in 1938–1939 is discussed again in 2008 in connection with the South-Ossetian war and Kosovo.
The Sudetes are usually divided into:
Notable towns in this area include: