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Few places on Earth can match the breathtaking beauty of the Eastern Himalayas.
Extending for almost 2,500 km across Bhutan, China, India and Nepal, the Eastern Himalayan sub-region is home to the world's tallest peaks, including Mt Everest, and houses the largest concentration of glaciers outside the polar caps. The region also feeds 3 of the world's great rivers: The Ganges, Indus and Yangtze, providing water to over a billion people across Asia.

View WWF Critical Regions of the World in a larger map

Facts & Figures

  • The Eastern Himalayan nations: Bhutan, China, India, Nepal.
  • Age: 70 million years. The youngest mountain range in the world!
  • Formation: A collision between the Indo Australian and Eurasion plates (India and Asia).
  • Length: 2,415 km (1,500 miles).
  • Highest peak: Mount Everest in Nepal (8,848m). The highest in the world.
  • Species: Over 10,000 plant, 900 bird, and 300 mammal species!
  • Glaciers: About 15,000 (containing over 12,000 km3 of freshawater).
  • Rivers: Source of 3 of the worlds great rivers: The Yangtze, the Indus, and the Ganges.
  • Population: Over a billion people live within the river basins of the Eastern Himalayas.

The Eastern Himalayas

The impacts of climate change are manifesting at a rapid rate in the Himalayas. © WWF
The Himalayas forms a 2,400 km long barrier that seperates the lowlands of the Indian subcontinent from the high, dry Tibetan Plateau. As a result tropical and subtropical forest, temperate forest, savanna, tundra, rich alpine meadows and the world's highest ice covered peaks can all be found within the region. This incredible diversity of climate, altitude, rainfall, and soil conditions generates the unique diversity of flora and fauna assemblages found in the region.

Find out more about the landscapes of the region >>

WWF Eastern Himalayas 
© WWF Living Himalayas
Download our factsheet on the Eastern Himalayas >>
© WWF Living Himalayas

The species

Chitwan National Park is home to the second largest population of greater one horned rhinoceros. © WWF
The Eastern Himalayas are one of the most biologically rich areas on Earth, home to a staggering 10,000 species of plant, 977 species of bird, 300 species of mammal, 269 species of freshwater fish, 176 species of reptile and 105 species of amphibian. Many of these species are endemic to the region including 30% of all plants and reptiles, and  40% of all amphibians. It is also home to some of the world's most iconic species on Earth including tigers, rhinos, elephants, and the illusive snow leopard.

Find out more about the species of the Himalayas >>

© WWF Living Himalayas

The people & cultures

Local Woman on the road from Dengboche to Tuckla Pass, Nepal. © WWF
Just as the Eastern Himalayas are renowned for the rich biodiversity of the region, they are equally celebrated for the incredible diversity of cultures and people.
With more than 40 languages, the region is home to a mosaic of cultures and faiths that have lived closely with nature for centuries, with many remaining intrinsically entwined today.

Find out more about the people and cultures of the Himalayas >>

© Sacred Land, Sacred People

Threats to the Himalayas

Tiger skins seized by Nepalese police © WWF
The Eastern Himalayas is facing a range of serious threats to the biodiversity, environments and human livelihoods of the region. These include habitat loss through deforestation, degradation and fragmentation; species loss through habitat loss, wildlife poaching and human-wildlife conflict; and climate change, which threatens to exacerbate the impacts from all of these threats. As a result less than 25% of the regions original habitat remains intact, and some 163 native species are considered threatened.

Find out more about the threats to the Himalayas >>

© WWF Living Himalayas

Landscape conservation

The Eastern Himalayas. © WWF
Through our Living Himalayas Initiative we are working closely with the governments and people of Bhutan, India and Nepal to conserve and reconnect the region's natural landscapes. Our objective is to create a conservation complex of over 7 million hectares across the top of the world - providing full connectivity across 1,500 km. This will ensure the ecological integrity of the forest and freshwater ecosystems, and allow the regions majestic species to move freely through these landscapes.

Find out more about our landscape conservation in the Himalayas >>

Conservation Complex Across the Top of the World 
© WWF Living Himalayas
Download our Conservation Complex factsheet >>
© WWF Living Himalayas

Climate Summit for a Living Himalayas Bhutan 2011
© Climate Summit for a Living Himalayas Bhutan 2011 ©

WWF Goals

  • Climate change adaptation and biodiversity conservation will be mainstreamed into the management of river systems.
  • A mosaic of over 7 million hectares of high conservation value forest, grassland and wetland will be secured, connecting 1,500 km of conservation area.
  • Viable populations of iconic and threatened species will be secured and will live in harmony with human communities.

Facts & Figures

  • The Himalayas extend over 7 nations: Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Pakistan and Afghanistan. 
  • It is the highest mountain range in the world and is home to 14 of the world’s highest peaks, including Mt Everest (8850m).
  • The Himalayas have the largest concentration of glaciers outside the polar caps.
  • These glaciers feed 7 of Asia’s great rivers: Brahmaputra, Ganges, Huang Ho, Indus, Mekong, Salween and Yangtze.