The Himalayas are home to the highest peak in the world: the 29,029-foot Mount Everest. Other peaks include Karakora, also known as K2, Annapurna, Kailash and Nanga Parbat. The mountain range is composed of the Lesser Himalayas, the Greater Himalayas and the Outer Himalayas. Himalaya is a Sanskrit word meaning "abode of snow."
Tectonic plate movement created the Himalayas when Tibet collided with India. The mountains contain the third-largest amount of snow and ice in the world. There are roughly 15,000 glaciers throughout the range, including Siachen glacier, which is the world's third largest with a length of 48 miles.
Climate conditions vary widely in the Himalayas. The snow- and ice-covered peaks give way at lower levels to Alpine and sub-Alpine zones, which is where the snow leopard lives. Temperate areas closer to the base receive up to 80 inches of rain annually and are home to many species of birds and the golden langur monkey. A sub-tropical climate occurs in a narrow area that contains broadleaf forests. This area is home to Asian elephants, tigers and a large variety of birds.
The Himalayas are the water source for some major Asian rivers, including the Yangtze, Indus, Ganges and Mekong.