Kunlun ko͝on´lo͝on´ [key], great mountain system of central Asia, between the Himalayas and the Tian Shan, extending c.1,000 mi (1,610 km) E from the Pamir Mts., along the Tibet-Xinjiang border in W China and into Qinghai prov., where it branches into the mountain ranges of central China it rises to 25,340 ft (7,724 m) in Muztag (Ulugh Mus Tagh), NE Tibet. The Kunlun's main branches are the Altun Mts. (Altyn Tagh) and Nan Shan in the north the Min Shan in the south and the Qinling Shan in the east. The Kunlun system acts as a natural barrier between N Tibet and the Tarim basin of Xinjiang streams rising on the northern slope of the Kunlun disappear into the basin's desert sands. Great sections of the system are inaccessible and uninhabited there is a very small nomad population, and yaks are the beasts of burden in the high mountain passes.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: East Asian Physical Geography

Browse by Subject