About 20% of the Earth’s land is covered with mountains. Mountains are most commonly formed by Earth’s tectonic plate colliding together due to movement below the surface and physically lifting the land at its edges.
Some of the most well-known mountain ranges in the world are the Himalayas, the Rocky Mountains in the United States, and the Andes in South America. The most mountainous states in the U.s. are Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah.
For those looking for mountain activities, whether it’s trekking, rock climbing, skiing, or mountain biking, some countries are better to visit than others.
The following countries are the most mountainous in the world based on their average elevation above sea level.
Bhutan’s average elevation is 10,760 feet. The Northern parts of Bhutan are dominated by the Greater Himalayas, with the highest point being Gangkhar Puensum at 24,840 feet above sea level. Gangkhar Puensum is the highest unclimbed mountain in the world. Most of the Bhutanese population lives in the southern parts of the country, consisting of valleys, hills, and highlands.
Nepal is considered the second-most mountainous country globally, with an average elevation of 10,715 feet, just below Bhutan. Nepal is home to the world’s highest mountain peak, Mount Everest, which sits at 29,035 feet.
Tajikistan’s average elevation is 10,455 feet above sea level. Much of Tajikistan lies in a seismic belt, contributing to its many high mountains and earthquake activity. The Turkestan Range in western Tajikistan has a maximum elevation of 18,077 feet.
The Tian Shan and Pamir mountain ranges make up about 65% of Kyrgyzstan’s land. Most mountains in Kyrgyzstan are relatively young. The countries average elevation is 9,805 feet above sea level.
Antarctica’s average elevation is 7,545 above sea level. While a continent and not a country, Antarctica has some of the most mountainous lands in the world and has the highest average elevation of any continent. Antarctica’s tallest mountain peak is Mount Vinson, which has a height of 16,050 feet.
Lesotho’s topography is covered primarily by the Drakensburg-Maloti mountain ranges, which run north to south along with the country. Most of Lesotho’s population resides in the lowlands of the mountains. Thabana Ntlenyana, the tallest mountain peak in southern Africa, is located in Lesotho and sits at 11,424 feet.
Andorra’s average elevation is 6,550 above sea level. Mountains occupy most of Andorra’s land. The Pic de Coma Pedrosa, the highest point in Andorra, has an elevation of 9,665 feet.
Afghanistan’s average elevation is 6,180 feet above sea level. About 75% of Afghanistan’s terrain is mountainous, and almost 50% of the country has an average elevation of 6,650 feet. Afghanistan’s mountains include some extensions of the Himalayas.
Chile has a high-elevation topography overall with an average elevation of 6,140 feet above sea level. The Andes Mountains comprise much of the land in the east, with peaks averaging at heights of 15,000 feet above sea level.
China has an average elevation of 6,035 feet above sea level. China has high elevations covering much of its terrain, including Mount Everest, which lies at the border of China and Nepal.
Other very mountainous countries around the world, more popular for tourist destinations, include:
- Switzerland, best known for skiing and the Alps
- The United States, best known for the Rocky Mountains
- New Zealand, whose South Island has mountains for skiing, hiking, or canyoning
- Peru, which is home to the famous Machu Picchu
- France, which is also home to the Alps
- Japan, home to Mount Fuji
- Australia, which has snow-covered peaks despite having an overall hot climate