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Highlands or uplands are any mountainous region or elevated mountainous plateau. Generally speaking, upland (or uplands) refers to ranges of hills, [1] typically up to 500–600 m. Highland (or highlands) is usually reserved for ranges of low mountains.


Highlands internationally

Probably the best-known highlands in the anglosphere are the Scottish Highlands in northern Scotland, the mountainous region north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault. The Highland council area is a local government area in the Scottish Highlands and Britain's largest local government area.

Many countries have areas that are officially or unofficially referred to as highlands. Other than Scotland, these include parts of Tibet, [2] Ethiopia, Canada, Kenya, Eritrea, Yemen, Ghana, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Syria, and Cantabria. [3]

Synonymous terms used in other countries include high country, used in New Zealand, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Southern Queensland in Australia, and parts of the United States (notably Western North Carolina), highveld, used in South Africa and Roof of the World , [4] used for Tibet.

Glen Affric in the Scottish Highlands. Gleann Afraig is Beinn Fhada.jpg
Glen Affric in the Scottish Highlands.

The highlands in Australia are often above the elevation of 500 meters. These areas often receive snowfalls through winter. Most of the highlands lead up to large alpine or sub-alpine mountainous regions such as the Australian Alps, Snowy Mountains, Great Dividing Range, Northern Tablelands and Blue Mountains. The most mountainous region of Tasmania is the Central Highlands area, which covers most of the central-western parts of the state. Many of these areas are highly elevated alpine regions.

The Ozarks cover nearly 47,000 square miles (120,000 km2), making it the most extensive highland region between the Appalachians and Rockies. This region contains some of the oldest rocks in North America.

A spine of mountains runs the length of the island of New Guinea, forming a populous highlands region.

The Central Highlands of Sri Lanka these are rain forests, where the elevation reaches 2,500 meters (8,200 ft) above sea level. The Sri Lanka montane rain forests represent the montane and submontane moist forests above 1,000 meters (3,300 ft) in the central highlands and in the Knuckles mountain range. Half of Sri Lanka's endemic flowering plants and 51 percent of the endemic vertebrates are restricted to this ecoregion.

The highlands of Iceland cover about 40% of the country and are mostly inhospitable to humans. They are generally considered to be any land above 500 meters.

Additionally, the mountainous natural region of the Thai highlands is found in Northern Thailand.

The Cameron Highlands is a highland area and hill station in Northern Malaysia.

Shillong in India in the state of Meghalaya is a hill station which is surrounded by highlands. Officers of the British Raj referred to Shillong as "The Scotland of the East". [5]

Other planets

Highland continents – or terrae – are areas of topographically unstable terrain, with high peaks and valleys. They resemble highlands on Earth, but the term is applied to much larger areas on other planets. They can be found on Venus, [6] Mercury, Mars and the Moon.

See also

Related Research Articles

Geography of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, formerly called "Ceylon", is an island nation in the Indian Ocean, southeast of the Indian subcontinent, in a strategic location near major Indian Ocean sea lanes. The nation has a total area of 65,610 km², with 64,740 km² of land and 870 km² of water. Its coastline is 1,340 km (830 mi) long. The main island of Sri Lanka has an area of 65,268 km²; it is the twenty-fifth largest island of the world by area. Dozens of offshore islands account for the remaining 342 km² area. The largest offshore island, Mannar Island, leads to Adam's Bridge.

The Global 200 is the list of ecoregions identified by WWF, the global conservation organization, as priorities for conservation. According to WWF, an ecoregion is defined as a "relatively large unit of land or water containing a characteristic set of natural communities that share a large majority of their species dynamics, and environmental conditions". So, for example, based on their levels of endemism, Madagascar gets multiple listings, ancient Lake Baikal gets one, and the North American Great Lakes get none.

Geography of Tibet geographical situation of Tibet

The geography of Tibet consists of the high mountains, lakes and rivers lying between Central, East and South Asia. Traditionally, Western sources have regarded Tibet as being in Central Asia, though today's maps show a trend toward considering all of modern China, including Tibet, to be part of East Asia. Tibet is often called "the roof of the world," comprising tablelands averaging over 4,950 metres above the sea with peaks at 6,000 to 7,500 m, including Mount Everest, on the border with Nepal.

Tibetan Plateau a plateau in Central Asia

The Tibetan Plateau, also known in China as the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau or the Qing–Zang Plateau or Himalayan Plateau, is a vast elevated plateau in Central Asia and East Asia, covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai in western China, as well as Ladakh and Lahaul & Spiti in India. It stretches approximately 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) north to south and 2,500 kilometres (1,600 mi) east to west. It is the world's highest and largest plateau, with an area of 2,500,000 square kilometres (970,000 sq mi). With an average elevation exceeding 4,500 metres (14,800 ft) and being surrounded by imposing mountain ranges that harbor the world's two highest summits, Mount Everest and K2, the Tibetan Plateau is often referred to as "the Roof of the World".

Ethiopian Highlands mountain range

The Ethiopian Highlands is a rugged mass of mountains in Ethiopia, situated in the Horn region in northeast Africa. It forms the largest continuous area of its elevation in the continent, with little of its surface falling below 1,500 m (4,900 ft), while the summits reach heights of up to 4,550 m (14,930 ft). It is sometimes called the Roof of Africa due to its height and large area. Most of the Ethiopian Highlands are part of central and northern Ethiopia, and its northernmost portion reaches into Eritrea.

Thai highlands Natural region in Thailand

The Thai highlands or Hills of northern Thailand is a mountainous natural region in the north of Thailand. Its mountain ranges are part of the system of hills extending through Laos, Burma, and China and linking to the Himalayas, of which they may be considered foothills.

Zayü County County in Tibet Autonomous Region, Peoples Republic of China

Zayü County is a county under the administration of the prefecture-level city of Nyingtri in the southeast of the Tibet Autonomous Region, bordering India and Burma to the south and Yunnan province to the southeast.

Hengduan Mountains large mountainous region in southwest China

The Hengduan Mountains are a group of mountain ranges in southwest China that connect the southeast portions of the Tibetan Plateau with the Yunnan–Guizhou Plateau. The Hengduan Mountains are primarily large north-south mountain ranges that effectively separate lowlands in northern Myanmar from the lowlands of the Sichuan Basin. These ranges are characterized by significant vertical relief originating from the Indian subcontinent's collision with the Eurasian Plate, and further carved out by the major rivers draining the eastern Tibetan Plateau. These rivers, the Yangtze, Mekong, and Salween, are recognized today as the Three Parallel Rivers UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sri Lanka montane rain forests

The Sri Lanka montane rain forests are an ecoregion found above 1000 m in the central highlands of Sri Lanka. Owing to their rich biodiversity, this region considered a super-hotspot within the endemism hotspot of global importance. These forests are cooler than lowland forests and therefore they have ideal conditions for growth of cloud forests. Half of Sri Lanka's endemic flowering plants and 51 percent of the endemic vertebrates are restricted to these forests. More than 34 percent of Sri Lanka's endemic trees, shrubs, and herbs can only be found in this ecoregion. Twisted, stunted trees are a common sight in these forests, together with many varieties of orchids, mosses and ferns. The trees of montane rain forests grow to a height 10–15 meters, shorter than the lowland rain forest trees. These high altitude forests are the catchment area for most of Sri Lanka's major rivers.

The Northwest Highlands are located in the northern third of Scotland that is separated from the Grampian Mountains by the Great Glen. The region comprises Wester Ross, Assynt, Sutherland and part of Caithness. The Caledonian Canal, which extends from Loch Linnhe in the south-west, via Loch Ness to the Moray Firth in the north-east splits this area from the rest of the country. The city of Inverness and the town of Fort William serve as gateways to the region from the south.

Cameroonian Highlands forests

The Cameroonian Highlands forests are a montane tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion located on the range of mountains that runs inland from the Gulf of Guinea and forms the border between Cameroon and Nigeria. This is an area of forest and grassland which is becoming increasingly more populous as more and more land is cleared for agriculture.

New Guinea Highlands Natural region in New Guinea

The New Guinea Highlands, also known as the Central Range or Central Cordillera, are a chain of mountain ranges and intermountain river valleys, many of which support thriving agricultural communities, on the large island of New Guinea. The highlands run generally east-west the length of the island, which is divided politically between Indonesia in the west and Papua New Guinea in the east.

Sierra de los Cuchumatanes

The Sierra de los Cuchumatanes is the highest non-volcanic mountain range in Central America. Its elevations range from 500 m (1,600 ft) to over 3,800 m (12,500 ft), and it covers a total area of c. 16,350 km2 (6,310 sq mi). With an area of 1,500 km2 (580 sq mi) situated above 3,000 m (9,800 ft), it is also the most extensive highland region in Central America. The Sierra de los Cuchumatanes is located in western Guatemala in the departments of Huehuetenango and El Quiché. Its western and south-western borders are marked by the Seleguá River, which separates it from the Sierra Madre volcanic chain. Its southern border is defined by the Río Negro, which flows into the Chixoy River, which turns northwards and separates the Cuchumatanes from the mountains in the Alta Verapaz region. The highest peaks, which reach up to 3,837 m (12,589 ft), are located in the department of Huehuetenango.

Guinea Highlands

The Guinea Highlands is a densely forested mountainous plateau extending from central Guinea through northern Sierra Leone and Liberia to western Côte d'Ivoire. The highlands include a number of mountains, ranges and plateaus, including the Fouta Djallon highlands in central Guinea, the Loma Mountains in Sierra Leone, the Simandou and Kourandou massifs in southeastern Guinea, the Nimba Range at the border of Guinea, Liberia, and Côte d'Ivoire, and the Monts du Toura in western Côte d'Ivoire.

<i>Mittelgebirge</i> low mountain range, mostly in Central Europe

A Mittelgebirge is a relatively low mountain range or highland area, a typical geographical feature of Central Europe, especially Central and Southern Germany; it refers to something between rolling low hill country or Hügelland and a proper mountain range like the High Alps.

Knuckles Mountain Range Mountain range located in Sri Lanka

The Knuckles Mountain Range lies in central Sri Lanka, in the Districts of Matale and Kandy. The range takes its name from a series of recumbent folds and peaks in the west of the massif which resemble the knuckles of clenched fist when viewed from certain locations in the Kandy District. Whilst this name was assigned by early British surveyors, the Sinhalese residents have traditionally referred to the area as Dumbara Kanduvetiya meaning Mist-laden Mountain Range.

Central Highlands of Sri Lanka geographic region

Central Highlands of Sri Lanka is a recognised world Heritage Site in Sri Lanka. The site comprises the Peak Wilderness Protected Area, the Horton Plains National Park and the Knuckles Conservation Forest. These are rain forests, where the elevation reaches 2,500 metres (8,200 ft) above sea level. The region harbors a variety of mammal species including the bear monkey, Trachypithecus vetulus monticola, and the Horton Plains slender loris, Loris tardigradus nycticeboides,.

The ecology of the Himalayas varies 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 climate, altitude, rainfall and soil conditions supports a variety of distinct plant and animal species, such as the Nepal gray langur

Southeast Tibet shrub and meadows Ecoregion (WWF)

The Southeast Tibet shrub and meadows are a montane grassland ecoregion that cover the southeast and eastern parts of the Tibetan Plateau in China. The meadows in this region of Tibet are in the path of the monsoon rains and are wetter than the other upland areas of the Tibetan Plateau. Chinese provinces covered by the Southeast Tibet shrub and meadows include the alpine parts of eastern Tibet Autonomous Region, the alpine parts of western and northern Sichuan, extreme southern and eastern Qinghai, and the montane areas of southern Gansu. Many mountain ranges support the Southeast Tibet meadows, stretching from the Nyainqêntanglha Mountains in the southwest to the Qilian Mountains in the northeast.

Upland pasture

Upland pasture is a type of semi-natural grassland located in uplands of rolling foothills or upon higher slopes, greater than 350 meters and less than 600 meters from ground level, that is used primarily for grazing. Upland pastures occur in most grassland systems where topographic slope prevents feasible crop production; they are a primary component of rangelands, but are not necessarily water limited. Upland pastures include highlands, moorland, and other grasslands in regions of upland soils.


  1. University of California Museum of Paleontology (1995 and later), upland, UCMP Glossary
  2. Dotson, Brandon; Gurung, Kalsang Norbu; Halkias, Georgios; Myatt, Tim, eds. (2009). "The Tibetan Gesar Epic as Oral Literature". Contemporary Visions in Tibetan Studies: Proceedings of the First International Seminar of Young Tibetologists (1st ed.). Chicago: Serindia Publications, Inc. p. 189. ISBN   978-1-932476-45-3. ... for the highlanders for eastern Tibet
  3. Ross, Mars; Cooper, H. Stonehewer (1885). "The Highlands of Cantabria; or, Three days from England". London: S.Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington .: 491. OL   20620939M.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. Alec, Le Sueur (2003-01-01). The hotel on the roof of the world : from Miss Tibet to Shangri-La. RDR Books. ISBN   1571431012. OCLC   845721671.
  5. Rao, Sachin. "Travel: Shillong, India - 'Scotland of the east'". www.scotsman.com. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  6. "The Highlands of Venus". HyperPhysics. Retrieved 18 July 2014.