The Alps have been fascinating people with their breathtaking views for thousands of years. Avid climbers love to explore the Alps more challenging peaks and ordinary tourists can be content with merely following the safer trails through this mountain range.
Want to learn more about this spectacular place? Here’s 19 interesting facts about the Alps for you to consider…
- The Alps are Europe’s youngest mountain range. They came into existence 65 million years ago, as a result of a collision between African and Eurasian tectonic plates.
- Humans have been living in the Alps for 60,000 years.
- Today, the Alps region attracts more than one hundred million visitors every year! But in the past, it was a remote location with difficult living conditions that most people were happier avoiding.
- The Alps attracted some interest in the 18th and 19th century when artists (mostly poets and writers) and naturalists started flocking to it. It was around this time that it became popular to climb the peaks.
- In modern times, interest in the Alps has been partly attributed to all the hostilities that played out within the region in World War 2, such as the Second Battle of the Alps (1945). It was after WWII that tourism in the Alps rose.
- Napoleon was in the Alps in 1800. He crossed one of the mountain passes, a task made more difficult by the fact that he had an army of 40,000.
- Otzi the Iceman, a mummified man believed to be 5,000-years-old, was discovered in the Alps in 1991.
- The Alps are Europe’s most extensive mountain range system. They stretch 1,200 km across eight countries.
- There are Eastern and Western Alps. The Western Alps, which are higher with a shorter, curved central chain, is owned by France, Switzerland, and Italy. The Eastern Alps can be found in Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and Germany.
- Mont Blanc stands at 4,800 meters above sea level, which makes it the highest of all the peaks in the Alps.
Mont Blanc, The Alps
- While it is the tallest, Mont Blanc isn’t the only peak that exceeds 4,000 meters in height. In fact, there are roughly a hundred of them. People call them “four-thousanders”.
- Beyond 9,000 feet above sea level, there are glaciers and a permanent blanket of snow.
- Speaking of glaciers, the Alps had an area of 1,817 sq. km covered by glaciers. That was in 1876. By 1973, the area covered by glaciers had reduced to 1,342 square km.
- The Alps have a strong influence on the climate in Europe. This isn’t that hard to believe seeing as they constitute 11% of Europe’s surface.
- There are 13,000 species of plants and 30,000 species of wildlife that have been discovered in the Alps. They have adapted to the harsh conditions.
Oeschinen Lake, Kandersteg, Switzerland
- Some notable creatures living in the Alps include the goat-like chamois, the ibex, and marmots.
- You can find crystals like quartz and cinnabar throughout the Alps.
- The Alpine region has 14 million inhabitants.
- People call Grenoble the capital city of the Alps. Boasting 500,000 residents, it is the biggest city in the Alps.
Do you know any interesting, fun or fascinating facts about the Alps you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comments section below!