Facts About the Alps

  • The Alps began to form about 65 million years ago when the African crustal plate shifted into Europe. The Alps are the source of many of Europe’s major rivers such as the Rhone, Po and Danube.
  • The pointed summit of the Matterhorn is the third highest peak of the Alps.
  • The Alps are Europe’s largest mountain range, 1050 km long, up to 250 km wide and covering 210,000 sq km.
  • The highest Alpine peak is Mont Blanc (4807 m) on the France-Italy border.
  • Famous peaks include the Matterhorn (4634 m) and Monte Rosa (4807 m) on the Swiss-Italian border. 428 Warm, dry winds called fohns blow down leeward slopes, melting snow and starting avalanches. The high Alpine pastures are famous for their summer grazing for dairy cows. In winter, the cows come down into the valleys. This is called transhumance. The Alps are being worn away by human activity. In valleys, cities and factories are growing, while skiing wears away the slopes at the tops of the mountains.
  • The Alps have Europe’s highest vineyards, 1500 m up.
  • The highest village in the Swiss Alps is Juf which lies at a height of 2126 m.