AskDefine | Define pamirs

Extensive Definition

The Pamir Mountains are located in Central Asia and are formed by the junction or knot of the Tian Shan, Karakoram, Kunlun, and Hindu Kush ranges. They are among the world’s highest mountains. They are also known by the Chinese name of Congling 葱嶺 or 'Onion Mountains.'
The Pamir region is centered in the Tajikistani region of Gorno-Badakhshan. Parts of the Pamir also lie in the countries of Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. South of Gorno-Badakhshan, the Wakhan Corridor runs through the Pamir region, which also includes the northern extremes of the North-West Frontier Province and the northern extremes of Pakistan called Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir.


Its three highest mountains are Ismoil Somoni Peak (known from 1932–1962 as Stalin Peak, and from 1962–1998 as Communism Peak), 24,590 ft (7,495 m); Ibn Sina Peak (still unofficially known as Lenin Peak), 23,406 ft (7,134 m); and Peak Korzhenevskaya (in Russian, Pik Korzhenevskoi), 23,310 ft (7,105 m).
There are many glaciers in the Pamir Mountains, including the 48-mile-long (77 km) Fedchenko Glacier, the longest in the former USSR and the longest glacier outside the Polar region.


Covered in snow throughout the year, the Pamirs have long and bitterly cold winters, and short, cool summers. Annual precipitation is about 5 inches (130 mm), which supports grasslands but few trees.


Coal is mined in the west, though sheep herding in upper meadowlands are the primary source of income for the region.


In the early 1980s, a deposit of gemstone-quality clinohumite was discovered in the Pamir Mountains. It was the only such deposit known until the discovery of gem-quality material in the Taymyr region of Siberia, in 2000.


At the southeastern edge of the Pamir region in China, the Karakoram Highway, the highest international highway in the world, connects Pakistan to China. The Pamir Highway, the world's second highest, runs from Dushanbe in Tajikistan to Osh in Kyrgyzstan through the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, and is the isolated region's main supply route. The Great Silk Road crossed a number of Pamir Mountain ranges.

Strategic Position

Historically, the Pamir Mountains were considered a strategic trade route between Kashgar and Kokand on the Northern Silk Road and have been subject to numerous territorial conquests. The Northern Silk Road (about 2600 kilometres in length) connected the ancient Chinese capital of Xian to the west over the Pamir Mountains to emerge in Kashgar before linking to ancient Parthia. In the 20th Century, they have been the setting for Tajikistan Civil War, border disputes between China and Soviet Union, establishment of US, Russian, and Indian military bases, and renewed interest in trade development and resource exploration.


Further reading

  • Curzon, George Nathaniel. 1896. The Pamirs and the Source of the Oxus. Royal Geographical Society, London. Reprint: Elibron Classics Series, Adamant Media Corporation. 2005. ISBN 1-4021-5983-8 (pbk; ISBN 1-4021-3090-2 (hbk).
  • Gordon, T. E. 1876. The Roof of the World: Being the Narrative of a Journey over the high plateau of Tibet to the Russian Frontier and the Oxus sources on Pamir. Edinburgh. Edmonston and Douglas. Reprint by Ch’eng Wen Publishing Company. Taipei. 1971.
  • Toynbee, Arnold J. 1961. Between Oxus and Jumna. London. Oxford University Press.
  • Wood, John, 1872. A Journey to the Source of the River Oxus. With an essay on the Geography of the Valley of the Oxus by Colonel Henry Yule. London: John Murray.
  • Horsman, S. 2002. Peaks, Politics and Purges: the First Ascent of Pik Stalin in Douglas, E. (ed.) Alpine Journal 2002 (Volume 107), The Alpine Club & Ernest Press, London, pp 199-206.
  • Leitner, G. W. 1890. Dardistan in 1866, 1886 and 1893: Being an Account of the History, Religions, Customs, Legends, Fables and Songs of Gilgit, Chilas, Kandia (Gabrial) Yasin, Chitral, Hunza, Nagyr and other parts of the Hindukush. With a supplement to the second edition of The Hunza and Nagyr Handbook. And an Epitome of Part III of the author’s “The Languages and Races of Dardistan”. First Reprint 1978. Manjusri Publishing House, New Delhi.
  • Strong, Anna Louise. 1930. The Road to the Grey Pamir. Robert M. McBride & Co., New York.
  • Slesser, Malcolm "Red Peak: A Personal Account of the British-Soviet Expedition" Coward McCann 1964
  • Tilman, H. W. "Two Mountains and a River" part of "The Severn Mountain Travel Books". Diadem, London. 1983
  • Waugh, Daniel C. 1999. "The ‘Mysterious and Terrible Karatash Gorges’: Notes and Documents on the Explorations by Stein and Skrine." The Geographical Journal, Vol. 165, No. 3. (Nov., 1999), pp. 306-320.

External links

  • Information and photos
  • The Pamirs. 1:500.000 - A tourist map of Gorno-Badkshan-Tajikistan and background information on the region. Verlag „Gecko-Maps“, Switzerland 2004 (ISBN 3-906593-35-5)
  • Tourist office in Khorog (Tajikistan) Pamirs Tourism Association
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pamirs in Chinese: 帕米爾高原
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