The Pamir Mountains, or the Pamirs, are a mountain range in Central
Asia at the junction of the
Himalayas with the Tian Shan, Karakoram,
Kunlun, Hindu Kush, Suleman and
Hindu Raj ranges. They are among the
world’s highest mountains.
The precise extent of the
Pamir Mountains is subject to debate.
They lie mostly in the Gorno-Badakhshan province of Tajikistan. To the
north they join the
Tian Shan mountains along the
Alay Valley of
Kyrgyzstan. To the south they border the
Hindu Kush mountains along
Wakhan Corridor. To the east they are generally
considered to extend to the range that includes China's
Kongur Tagh, a
peak which is included in the "Eastern Pamirs" more often than in
the Kunlun Mountains, as
Kongur Tagh and the Kunlun range are
separated by the large
Yarkand River valley; no valley of such
significance separates the Pamirs and
Kongur Tagh, just political
1 Name and etymology
1.2 "A pamir"
2.3.1 Paleoclimatology during the Ice Age
8 Strategic position
9 See also
11 Further reading
12 External links
Name and etymology
Since Victorian times, they have been known as the "Roof of the
World", presumably a translation from Persian.
In other languages they are called: Kyrgyz Памир тоолору,
Pamir Tooloru, پامىر توولورۇ;
Part of a series on
Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan
, Persian: رشته کوه های پامیر, Rešte Kūh-hāye
Pāmīr; Tajik: Ришта Кӯҳҳои Помир, Rişta Kûhhoyi
Pomir; Pashto: د پامير غرونه Da Pāmir Ğruna; Uyghur:
پامىر ئېگىزلىكى, Памир Езгизлики, Pamir
Ëzgizliki; Urdu: پامیر کوهستان Pamir Kuhestan; simplified
Chinese: 葱岭; traditional Chinese: 蔥嶺; pinyin: Cōnglǐng;
Wade–Giles: Ts'ung-ling or "Onion Range" (after the wild onions
growing in the region); Dungan: Памир or Цунлин,
written in Xiao'erjing: پَامِعَر or ڞوْلٍْ. The name
"Pamir" is used more commonly in Modern Chinese and loaned as
simplified Chinese: 帕米尔; traditional Chinese: 帕米爾; pinyin:
According to Middleton and Thomas, "pamir" is a geological term. A
pamir is a flat plateau or U-shaped valley surrounded by mountains. It
forms when a glacier or ice field melts leaving a rocky plain. A pamir
lasts until erosion forms soil and cuts down normal valleys. This type
of terrain is found in the east and north of the Wakhan, and the
east and south of Gorno-Badakhshan, as opposed to the valleys and
gorges of the west. Pamirs are used for summer pasture.
Great Pamir is around Lake Zorkul. The
Little Pamir is east of
this in the far east of Wakhan. The
Taghdumbash Pamir is between
Tashkurgan and the
Wakhan west of the
Karakoram Highway. The Alichur
Pamir is around Yashil Kul on the Gunt River. The Sarez Pamir is
around the town of Murghab. The Khargush Pamir is south of Lake
Karakul. There are several others.
Pamir River is in the south-west of the Pamirs.
Pamir Mountains on map showing
Sakastan about 100BC
Pamir Mountains on the Chinese side and Muztagh Ata
The three highest mountains in the Pamirs core are Ismoil Somoni Peak
(known from 1932–1962 as Stalin Peak, and from 1962–1998 as
Communism Peak), 7,495 m (24,590 ft);
Ibn Sina Peak
Ibn Sina Peak (still
unofficially known as Lenin Peak), 7,134 m (23,406 ft); and
Peak Korzhenevskaya (Russian: Пик Корженевской, Pik
Korzhenevskoi), 7,105 m (23,310 ft). In the Eastern
Kongur Tagh is the highest at 7,649 m
Among the significant peaks of the
Pamir Mountains are the
Kongur (Kungur Tagh)
(38°35′36″N 75°18′45″E / 38.593428°N 75.312560°E
/ 38.593428; 75.312560 (Kongur))
Kongur Jiubie (Kungur Tjube Tagh)
(38°36′57″N 75°11′45″E / 38.615833°N 75.195833°E
/ 38.615833; 75.195833 (Kungur Tjube Tagh))
(38°16′33″N 75°06′58″E / 38.275855°N 75.1161°E /
38.275855; 75.1161 (Muztagata))
Muztagh Ata Massif
Ismoil Somoni Peak
Ismoil Somoni Peak (formerly Communism Peak, Stalin Peak)
(38°56′36″N 72°00′57″E / 38.943422°N 72.015803°E
/ 38.943422; 72.015803 (Ismoil Somoni Peak))
Academy of Sciences Range
Lenin Peak (new name: Abu Ali Ibn Sino Peak; formerly Kaufmann Peak)
(39°20′37″N 72°52′39″E / 39.343724°N 72.877536°E
/ 39.343724; 72.877536 (Pik Lenin))
(39°03′26″N 72°00′35″E / 39.057317°N 72.00983°E /
39.057317; 72.00983 (Peak Korzhenevskaya))
Academy of Sciences Range
Independence Peak (also Qullai Istiqlol, formerly Revolution Peak,
(38°30′36″N 72°21′15″E / 38.51°N 72.354167°E /
38.51; 72.354167 (Independence Peak))
(38°53′46″N 72°01′44″E / 38.896°N 72.029°E /
38.896; 72.029 (Russia Peak))
Academy of Sciences Range
(38°56′55″N 71°50′04″E / 38.948563°N 71.8344°E /
38.948563; 71.8344 (Moscow Peak))
Peter I Range
Karl Marx Peak
(37°09′45″N 72°28′54″E / 37.1625°N 72.481667°E /
37.1625; 72.481667 (Karl Marx Peak))
(39°27′21″N 73°34′01″E / 39.455812°N 73.566978°E
/ 39.455812; 73.566978 (Gora Kurumdy))
(38°48′39″N 72°04′20″E / 38.810955°N 72.072344°E
/ 38.810955; 72.072344 (Mount Garmo))
Academy of Sciences Range
(37°10′18″N 72°31′22″E / 37.171671°N 72.522898°E
/ 37.171671; 72.522898 (Engels Peak))
(37°09′N 73°13′E / 37.15°N 73.21°E / 37.15; 73.21
Peak of the Soviet Officers
(38°25′26″N 73°18′07″E / 38.424°N 73.302°E /
38.424; 73.302 (Peak of the Soviet Officers))
(37°01′16″N 71°42′54″E / 37.021092°N 71.715138°E
/ 37.021092; 71.715138 (Mayakovskiy Peak))
(37°53′21″N 72°11′21″E / 37.889167°N 72.189167°E
/ 37.889167; 72.189167 (Patkhor Peak))
(39°20′53″N 72°28′37″E / 39.348°N 72.477°E /
39.348; 72.477 (Leipzig Peak))
(37°36′02″N 72°13′37″E / 37.6005°N 72.227°E /
37.6005; 72.227 (Skalisty Peak))
(37°24′02″N 72°50′37″E / 37.4006°N 72.8435°E /
37.4006; 72.8435 (Kysyldangi Peak))
Southern Alitschur Range
Remark: The summits of the
Kongur and Muztagata Group are in some
sources counted as part of the Kunlun, which would make Pik Ismoil
Somoni the highest summit of the Pamir.
There are many glaciers in the Pamir Mountains, including the
77 km (48 mi) long Fedchenko Glacier, the longest in the
former USSR and the longest glacier outside the polar regions.
Approximately 12,500 km² (ca. 10%) of the Pamirs are glaciated.
Glaciers in the Southern Pamirs are retreating rapidly. Ten percent of
annual runoff is supposed to origin from retreating glaciers in the
Southern Pamirs. In the North-Western Pamirs, glaciers have almost
stable mass balances.
Part of the Pamir
Mountain range in springtime
Covered in snow throughout the year, the Pamirs have long and bitterly
cold winters, and short, cool summers. Annual precipitation is about
130 mm (5 in), which supports grasslands but few trees.
Paleoclimatology during the Ice Age
The East-Pamir, in the centre of which the massifs of Mustagh Ata
(7620 m) and
Kongur Tagh (Qungur Shan, 7578, 7628 or 7830 m) are
situated, shows from the W-margin of the
Tarim Basin an East-West
extension of c. 200 km. Its North-South extension from King Ata
Tagh up to the North-West Kunlun foothills amounts to c.170 km.
Whilst the up to 21 km long current valley glaciers are
restricted to mountain massifs exceeding 5600 m in height, during the
Last Glacial Period the glacier ice has covered the high plateau with
its set-up highland relief, continuing west of Mustagh Ata and Kongur.
From this glacier area an outlet glacier has flowed down to the
north-east through the Gez valley up to c.1850 m asl and thus as far
as to the margin of the Tarim basin. This outlet glacier received
inflow from the Kaiayayilak glacier from the Kongur-north-flank. From
the north-adjacent Kara Bak Tor (Chakragil, c. 6800 or 6694 m)-massif
the Oytag valley glacier in the same exposition flowed also down up to
c. 1850 m asl. At glacial times the glacier snowline (ELA) as altitude
limit between glacier nourishing area and ablation zone, was lowered
about 820 to 1250 altitude metres against today. Under the
condition of comparable proportions of precipitation there results
from this a glacial depression of temperature of at least 5 to
Coal is mined in the west, though sheep herding in upper meadowlands
are the primary source of income for the region.
This section is based on the book by R. Middleton and H. Thomas
Expedition in 1982 to
Tartu Ülikool 350
Tartu Ülikool 350 Peak, which was considered to
be the highest unreached peak in the territory of former Soviet Union
at the time
The lapis lazuli found in Egyptian tombs is thought to come from the
Pamir area in Badakhshan province of Afghanistan. About 138 BC Zhang
Qian reached the
Fergana Valley northwest of the Pamirs. Ptolemy
vaguely describes a trade route through the area. From about 600 AD,
Buddhist pilgrims travelled on both sides of the Pamirs to reach India
from China. In 747 a Tang army was on the
Wakhan River. There are
various Arab and Chinese reports.
Marco Polo may have travelled along
the Panj River. In 1602
Bento de Goes
Bento de Goes travelled from
Kabul to Yarkand
and left a meager report on the Pamirs. In 1838 Lieutenant John Wood
reached the headwaters of the Pamir River. From about 1868 to 1880, a
number of Indians in the British service secretly explored the Panj
area. In 1873 the British and Russians agreed to an Afghan frontier
along the Panj River. From 1871 to around 1893 several Russian
military-scientific expeditions mapped out most of the Pamirs (Alexei
Pavlovich Fedchenko, Nikolai Severtzov, Captain
Putyata and others.
Later came Nikolai Korzhenevskiy). Several local groups asked for
Russian protection from Afghan raiders. The Russians were followed by
a number of non-Russians including Ney Elias, George Littledale, the
Earl of Dunmore,
Wilhelm Filchner and
Lord Curzon who was probably the
first to reach the
Wakhan source of the Oxus River. In 1891 the
Francis Younghusband that he was on their territory
and later escorted a Lieutenant Davidson out of the area ('Pamir
Incident'). In 1892 a battalion of Russians under Mikhail Ionov
entered the area and camped near the present Murghab. In 1893 they
built a proper fort there (Pamirskiy Post). In 1895 their base was
moved to Khorog facing the Afghans.
In 1928 the last blank areas around the Fedchenko
Glacier were mapped
out by a German-Soviet expedition under Willi Rickmer Rickmers.
Pamir Mountains from a NASA satellite image, April 2012
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.
The Pamir Highway, the world's second highest international road, runs
Kyrgyzstan through the
Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province, and is the isolated region's
main supply route. The Great
Silk Road crossed a number of Pamir
In December 2009, the
New York Times
New York Times featured articles on the
possibilities for tourism in the Pamir area of Tajikistan.
2013 proved to be the most successful year ever for tourism in the
region and tourism development continues to be the fastest growing
economic sector. The META (Murghab Ecotourism Association) website
(www.meta.tj) provides an excellent repository of tourism related
resources for the Eastern Pamir region.
Ismoil Somoni Peak
Ismoil Somoni Peak (then known as Peak Communism) taken in 1989
Climbers near "Peak Communism" in 1978
Pamir Mountains were considered a strategic trade
Kokand on the Northern
Silk Road and have
been subject to numerous territorial conquests. The Northern Silk Road
(about 2,600 km (1,616 mi) in length) connected the ancient
Chinese capital of Xi'an over the
Pamir Mountains towards the west to
Kashgar before linking to ancient Parthia. In the 20th
century, they have been the setting for
Tajikistan Civil War, border
China and Soviet Union, establishment of US, Russian,
and Indian military bases, and renewed interest in trade
development and resource exploration.
China has since resolved
most of those disputes with Central Asian countries.
Pamir National Park
List of mountain ranges
List of highest mountains
Soviet Central Asia
Kam Air Flight 904
Kam Air Flight 904 – crashed into Pamir Mountains; the cause
^ According to the Big Soviet Encyclopedia "The question of the
natural boundaries of Pamir is debatable. Normally Pamir is regarded
as covering the territory from
Trans-Alay Range to the north, Sarykol
Range to the east, Lake Zorkul, Pamir River, and the upper reaches of
Panj River to the south, and the meridional section of the Panj valley
to the west; to the north-west Pamir includes the eastern parts of
Peter the Great and Darvaz ranges."
^ N. O. Arnaud; M. Brunel; J. M. Cantagrel; P. Tapponnier (1993).
"High cooling and denudation rates at
Kongur Shan, Eastern Pamir
(Xinjiang, China)". Tectonics Vol. 12 No. 3. American Geophysical
Union Publications. pp. 1335–1346. Retrieved 2015-05-02.
^ Encyclopædia Britannica 11th ed. 1911: PAMIRS, a mountainous region
of central Asia...the Bam-i-dunya ("The Roof of the World"); The
Columbia Encyclopedia, 1942 ed., p.1335: "Pamir (Persian = roof of the
world)"; The Pamirs, a region known to the locals as Pomir –
“the roof of the world".
^ Social and Economic Change in the Pamirs, pp. 13–14, by Frank
Bliss, Routledge, 2005, ISBN 0-415-30806-2,
ISBN 978-0-415-30806-9: Pamir = a Persian compilation of
pay-I-mehr, the "roof of the world".
^ Li, Daoyuan (in Chinese). 水經注 [Commentary on the Water
Classic]. 2. Wikisource.
from the 西河舊事) The Onion Range is 8,000 Li west of Dunhuangin
Uzbek Language "Pamir Tog'i". Its mountains are high and onions grow
on them, therefore it is called Onion Range."
^ "The origin of the Chinese name "Onion Range" for Pamir".
Depts.washington.edu. 2002-04-14. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
^ a b c Robert Middleton and Huw Thomas, '
Tajikistan and the High
Pamirs',Odyssey Books, 2008
^ a b c Aga Khan Development Network (2010):
Wakhan and the Afghan
Pamir p.3 Archived 2011-01-23 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Tajikistan: 15 Years of Independence, statistical yearbook,
Dushanbe, 2006, p. 8, in Russian.
^ Heights of mountains over 6,750 metres in accordance with: List lf
all mountains of Asia with a height of over 6,750 metres.
www.8000ers.com (retrieved 6 April 2010)
^ In the
Karakoram Mountains, Siachen
Glacier is 76 km long, Biafo
Glacier is 67 km long, and Baltoro is 63 km long. The Bruggen or Pio
Glacier in southern Chile is 66 km long. Kyrgyzstan's South
Glacier is 60.5 km in length. Measurements are
from recent imagery, generally with Russian 1:200,000 scale
topographic mapping for reference as well as the 1990 Orographic
Sketch Map: Karakoram: Sheets 1 and 2, Swiss Foundation for Alpine
^ a b c Knoche, Malte; Merz, Ralf; Lindner, Martin; Weise, Stephan M.
(2017-06-13). "Bridging Glaciological and Hydrological Trends in the
Pamir Mountains, Central Asia". Water. 9 (6): 422.
^ Kuhle, M. (1997):New findings concerning the Ice Age (LGM) glacier
cover of the East Pamir, of the Nanga Parbat up to the Central
Himalaya and of Tibet, as well as the Age of the Tibetan Inland Ice.
Tibet and High Asia (IV). Results of Investigations into High Mountain
Geomorphology. Paleo-Glaciology and Climatology of the Pleistocene.
GeoJournal, 42, (2–3), pp. 87–257.
^ Kuhle, M. (2004):The High Glacial (Last Ice Age and LGM) glacier
cover in High- and Central Asia. Accompanying text to the mapwork in
hand with detailed references to the literature of the underlying
empirical investigations. Ehlers, J., Gibbard, P. L. (Eds.). Extent
and Chronology of Glaciations, Vol. 3 (Latin America, Asia, Africa,
Australia, Antarctica). Amsterdam, Elsevier B.V., pp. 175–199.
^ "Official Website of Pamir Travel". Pamir Travel. Archived from the
original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan". The New York Times. Retrieved
^ Isaacson, Andy (17 December 2009). "Pamir Mountains, the Crossroads
of History". The New York Times. Archived from the original on
^ "''Silk Road, North China'', C.Michael Hogan, the Megalithic Portal,
ed. A. Burnham". Megalithic.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
^ "India's `Pamir Knot'". The Hindu. 11 November 2003. Retrieved
^ "The West Is Red". Time. Retrieved 2007-08-26.
^ "Huge Market Potential at China-Pakistan Border".
Retrieved 2007-08-26. [dead link]
^ "China's Territorial and Boundary Affairs". Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, the People's Republic of China. 2003-06-30. Retrieved
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
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.
The Pamirs. 1:500.000 – A tourist map of
Tajikistan and background information on the region.
Verlag „Gecko-Maps“, Switzerland 2004 (ISBN 3-906593-35-5)
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pamir Mountains.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Pamirs.
Photos of the Tajik Pamirs, with emphasis on
Information and photos
Pamirs Tourism Association in Khorog (Tajikistan)
Kashgar Pamir Youth Hostel in
Little Pamir - photos of the life of ethnic Kyrgyz
Juldu.com - photos and online guide to trekking in the
Mountain ranges of China
Geography of China
and Southwest China
Bayan Har Mountains
Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains
Landforms of China
Protectorate of the Western Regions
Kingdom of Khotan
Turkic Khaganate (Western)
Protectorate General to Pacify the West
Four Garrisons of Anxi
Kingdom of Qocho
Islamicisation and Turkicisation of Xinjiang
Dzungar conquest of Altishahr
General of Ili
Reconquest of Xinjiang
Republic of China
People's Republic of China
Xinjiang Agricultural University
Xinjiang Medical University
Chinese Islamic cuisine
Apak Khoja and Xiang Fei Tomb
Grand Bazaar, Ürümqi
Id Kah Mosque
Ruins of Niya
Baren Township riot
Ürümqi bus bombings
2008 Uyghur unrest
2010 Aksu bombing
2011 Hotan attack
Pishan hostage crisis
2012 Yecheng attack
Tianjin Airlines Flight 7554
April 2013 Bachu unrest
June 2013 Shanshan riots
2013 Tiananmen Square attack
2014 Kunming attack
2014 China–Vietnam border shootout
Assassination of Juma Tayir
Migration to Xinjiang
World Uyghur Congress