Pamir Mountains from an airplane, June 2008
|Countries||Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China|
|Regions||Gorno-Badakhshan, Wakhan, North-West Frontier Province, Northern Areas of Pakistan, Xinjiang of China|
|Highest point||Ismail Samani Peak|
|- elevation||7,495 m (24,590 ft)|
The Pamirs are mostly in the Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan
The Pamir Mountains (Chinese:帕米尔高原; Urdu:سلسلہ کوہ پامیر; Tajik:Кӯҳҳои Помир; Persian:پامیر کوهستان; Uyghur:پامىر ئېگىزلىكى) are a mountain range in Central Asia formed by the junction or knot of the Himalayas, Tian Shan, Karakoram, Kunlun, and Hindu Kush ranges. They are among the world’s highest mountains and since Victorian times they have been known as the "Roof of the World", translated from "Pamir". They are also known by the Chinese name of Congling (cōnglǐng 葱嶺), (Wade-Giles: Ts'ung-ling) or "Onion Range" (from the wild onions growing in the region).
The precise extent of the Pamir Mountains is debatable. They lie mostly in Gorno-Badakhshan province, Tajikistan and Badakshan Province, Afghanistan. To the north they join the Tian Shan mountains along the Alay Valley of Kyrgyzstan. To the south they join the Hindu Kush mountains along the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan and Pakistan. To the east they may end on the Chinese border or extend to the range that includes Kongur Tagh which is sometimes included in the Kunlun Mountains.
Its three highest mountains 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 (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).
The lapis lazuli found in Egyptian tombs is thought to come from the Pamir area. About 138 BC Zhang Qian reached the Fergana Valley northwest of the Pamirs. Ptolemy vaguely describes a trade route though 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 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 Russians informed 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.
According to Middleton and Thomas, 'pamir' is also a geological term. A pamir is a flat plateau or 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 mostly in the east and south of Gorno-Badakhshan as opposed to the valleys and gorges of the west. Pamirs were used for summer pasture. Note that the cited sources are all from the early twentieth century, so this usage may be out of date.
The Great Pamir is around Lake Zorkul. The Little Pamir is northeast of this to Aktash. The Taghdumbash Pamir is between Tashkurgan and the Wakhan Corridor along 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 Kara-Kul. There are several others. The Pamir River is in the south.
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 from Dushanbe in Tajikistan to Osh in 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 Mountain ranges.
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 2,600 km (1,616 mi) 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.
|Territorial disputes in East, South, and Southeast Asia|
|Type||Territory||Currently Administered by||Claimants|
|Baekdu Mountain||2 2|
|Heixiazi/Bolshoy Ussuriysky (Eastern part)2||2|
|Kachin State||1 2|
|Korean Peninsula and its adjacent islands3|
|North Borneo (Sabah)2|
|Sixty-Four Villages East of the River2||2|
|South Tibet/Arunachal Pradesh||2|
|Tannu Uriankhai (now Tuva Republic of Russia)2||2|
|Islands and Waters:||Kinmen|
|Socotra Rock||2 2|
|Southern Kuril Islands|
|Taiwan and Penghu2|
3Divided among multiple claimants.