Berg wind is the South African name for a katabatic wind: a hot dry wind blowing down the Great Escarpment from the high central plateau to the coast. When the air, heated on the extensive central plateau flows down the escarpment to the coast it undergoes further warming by adiabatic processes; this accounts for the hot and dry properties of these off-shore winds, wherever they occur along South Africa's coastline. Although berg winds are called a Föhn winds, this is a misnomer, as Föhn winds are rain shadow winds that result from air moving over a mountain range, resulting in precipitation on the windward side; this releases latent heat into the atmosphere, warmed still further as the air descends on the leeward side. Berg winds do not originate in precipitation, but in the dry arid central plateau of Southern Africa. On the other hand, katabatic winds are technically drainage winds, that carry high density cold air from a high elevation down a slope under the force of gravity; these are thus "fall winds", which occur most down the coastal ice slopes of Antarctica and Greenland.
Berg winds blow off the African escarpment in response to large scale weather systems in the South Atlantic Ocean, the African interior, the Southern Indian Ocean. Berg winds are accompanied by coastal lows; these coastal lows owe their existence to the configuration of the plateau and coastal plain, in that they are confined to the coastal areas, always below the escarpment. Though they can arise anywhere along the coast, they first appear on the west coast, or on the Namibian coast, they are always propagated counter-clockwise along South Africa's coastline at between 30–60 km/h, from the west coast southwards to the Cape Peninsula and eastward along the south coast, north-eastward along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline, to dissipate north of Durban, due to the divergence of the coastline from the plateau which disappears altogether in the vicinity of the Limpopo valley. There is always a hot off-shore berg wind ahead of a coastal low, which can blow for several days or for only for a few hours.
This is followed by cool onshore winds which bring low cloud, fog or drizzle to the region, but may, on occasions, produce substantial precipitation when coupled to an approaching cold front. Coastal lows are a common feature of the coastal weather in South Africa with an average of about 5 lows of varying intensities passing through Port Elizabeth per month, they are shallow, mesoscale systems that are not more than 100–200 km across, trapped on the coastal plain by the escarpment on the inland side, Coriolis effects on the oceanic side, an inversion layer above. The pressure minima of these systems lie just off-shore. In the south-west corner of the country the coastal lows are bounded on the inland side by the Cape Fold Mountains, which tend to have a higher elevation than the escarpment, form an continuous 1000 km mountain barrier running parallel to the coast from the Cederberg, 300 km to the north of Cape Town, to Cape Hangklip on the east side of False Bay and eastwards for 700 km to Port Elizabeth, where they peter out.
Coastal lows are initiated by the interaction of large scale weather systems such as the quasi-permanent South Atlantic and South Indian Ocean Anticyclones, the cold fronts that approach the subcontinent from the South Atlantic Ocean, as well as the pressure systems on the plateau, causing air, warmed on the plateau by 2–3 days of sunny weather to flow down the Great Escarpment on to the coastal plain either on the west or south coasts of the country. The descending air warms up adiabatically, heating up the coastal plain, while, at the same time, causing an off-shore wind which blows the surface water away from the land to be replaced by cold water which wells up from the depths; this upwelling of cold subsurface water from the ocean increases the ocean-land temperature difference, causing an on-shore wind. The on-shore airflow is strengthened by the fact that the berg wind is not only hot, but it is “stretched” vertically due to the sudden lowering of the floor over which it moves below the escarpment.
Its low density, lowers the atmospheric pressure on the coast. This low pressure area caused by the berg wind draws the dense moist maritime air onshore to the right of the off-shore berg wind. Shear forces between these on- and off-shore winds on the right hand side of the berg wind tend to cause clockwise rotation of the air in this region. In addition, on reaching the escarpment the maritime air curves to the right round the low pressure zone due to Coriolis forces accentuating the cyclonic circulation of the "coastal low"; the entire system is capped by an inversion consisting of a layer of warm air that has moved horizontally off the plateau at the level of the upper edge of the escarpment. This inversion layer prevents the upwardly spiralling cyclonic air of the coastal low from rising above 1000–1500 m, thus preventing it from causing significant precipitation. Along the south coast the passage of a coastal low is preceded by a north-easterly wind driven by the South Indian Ocean Anticyclone.
The wind backs through northerly to north-westerly as its temperature rises. This is the berg wind phase of the coastal low; the wind changes abruptly to a strong, south or south-westerly wind (called a “buster” if the change in wind speed is greater t
The Chugach Mountains of southern Alaska are the northernmost of the several mountain ranges that make up the Pacific Coast Ranges of the western edge of North America. The range is about 250 miles long and 60 miles wide, extends from the Knik and Turnagain Arms of the Cook Inlet on the west to Bering Glacier, Tana Glacier, the Tana River on the east, it is bounded on the north by the Matanuska and Chitina rivers. The highest point of the Chugach Mountains is Mount Marcus Baker, at 13,094 feet, but with an average elevation of 4,006 feet, most of its summits are not high. So its position along the Gulf of Alaska ensures more snowfall in the Chugach than anywhere else in the world, an annual average of over 1500 cm; the mountains are protected in the Chugach National Forest. Near to Anchorage, they are a popular destination for outdoor activities; the Richardson Highway, Seward Highway, Portage Glacier Highway, the Glenn Highway run through the Chugach Mountains. The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel of the Portage Glacier Highway provides railroad and automobile access underneath Maynard Mountain between Portage Lake and the city of Whittier on Prince William Sound.
The name "Chugach" comes from Chugach Sugpiaq "Cuungaaciiq," Alaska Natives inhabiting the Kenai Peninsula and Prince William Sound on the south coast of Alaska. The Chugach people are an Alutiiq people. In 1898 United States Army Captain William R. Abercrombie spelled the name "Chugatch" and applied it to the mountains, it is possible that the Koniagmiut may have called these northern Sugpiat "Cuungaaciirmiut" in ancient times but it is possible that this was a neologism during Russian times. The twelve highest peaks in the Chugach Mountains are listed below: Other important peaks in the Chugach Mountains include: Mount Michelson 8,504 feet Bashful Peak 8,005 feet Mount Billy Mitchell 6,968 feet Mount Palmer 6,703 feet Eagle Peak 6,309 feet Polar Bear Peak 5,656 feet North Suicide Peak 5,065 feet Ptarmigan Peak 4,839 feet Byron Peak 4,590 feet Flattop Mountain 3,245 feet Bold Peak 7,522 feet Matanuska Formation Media related to Chugach Mountains at Wikimedia Commons
Romandy is the French-speaking part of western Switzerland. In 2018, about 2.1 million people, or 25.1% of the Swiss population, lived in Romandy. The bulk of the romand population lives in the Arc Lémanique region along Lake Geneva, connecting Geneva and the Lower Valais; the adjective romand is a regional dialectal variant of roman. Use of the adjective romand in reference to the Franco-Provençal dialects can be traced to the 15th century; the term Suisse romande has become used since World War I. Suisse romande is used in contrast to Suisse alémanique, "Alemannic Switzerland", the term for Alemannic German speaking Switzerland. Formed by analogy is Suisse italienne, composed of Ticino and of a part of Grisons. In Swiss German, French-speaking Switzerland is known as Welschland or Welschschweiz, the French-speaking Swiss as Welsche, using the old Germanic term for "Celts" used in English of Welsh; the terms Welschland and Welschschweiz are used in written Swiss Standard German but in more formal contexts they are sometimes exchanged for französischsprachige Schweiz or französische Schweiz.
Simple Westschweiz "western Switzerland" may be used as a loose synonym. French is the only official language in the following cantons: In addition, three regions of French-German bilingual cantons have a French-speaking majority: "Romandy" is not an official territorial division of Switzerland any more than there is a clear linguistic boundary. In four Swiss cantons, French is the sole official language: Geneva, Neuchâtel, Jura. There are three cantons where French and German have co-official status: Bern and Valais; the linguistic boundary between French and German is known as Röstigraben. The term is humorous in origin and refers both to the geographic division and to perceived cultural differences between the Romandy and the German-speaking Swiss majority; the term can be traced to the WWI period, but it entered mainstream usage in the 1970s in the context of the Jurassic separatism virulent at the time. The linguistic boundary cuts across Switzerland north-to-south, forming the eastern boundary of the canton of Jura and encompassing the Bernese Jura, where the boundary frays to include a number of bilingual communities, the largest of, Biel/Bienne.
It follows the border between Neuchâtel and Bern and turns south towards Morat, again traversing an areal of traditional bilinguism including the communities of Morat and Fribourg. It divides the canton of Fribourg into a western French-speaking majority and an eastern German-speaking minority and follows the eastern boundary of Vaud with the upper Saane/Sarine valley of the Bernese Oberland. Cutting across the High Alps at Les Diablerets, the boundary separates the French-speaking Lower Valais from the Alemannic-speaking Upper Valais beyond Sierre, it cuts southwards into the High Alps again, separating the Val d'Anniviers from the Mattertal. The linguistic boundary in the Swiss Plateau would have more or less followed the Aare during the early medieval period, separating Burgundy from Alemannia; the Valais has a separate linguistic history. Traditionally speaking the Franco-Provençal or Patois dialects of Upper Burgundy, the romand population now speak a variety of Standard French. Today, the differences between Swiss French and Parisian French are minor and lexical, although in rural speakers, remnants of dialectal lexicon or phonology may remain more pronounced.
In particular, some parts of the Swiss Jura participate in the Frainc-Comtou dialect spoken in the Franche-Comté region of France. Since the 1970s, there has been a limited amount of linguistic revivalism. In this context, the Franco-Provençal dialects are called their area Arpitania; the cultural identity of the Romandy is supported by Télévision Suisse Romande, Radio Suisse Romande and the universities of Geneva, Fribourg and Neuchâtel. Most of the Romandy has been
Croatia the Republic of Croatia, is a country at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, on the Adriatic Sea. It borders Slovenia to the northwest, Hungary to the northeast, Serbia to the east and Herzegovina, Montenegro to the southeast, sharing a maritime border with Italy, its capital, forms one of the country's primary subdivisions, along with twenty counties. Croatia has an area of 56,594 square kilometres and a population of 4.28 million, most of whom are Roman Catholics. Inhabited since the Paleolithic Age, the Croats arrived in the area in the 6th century and organised the territory into two duchies by the 9th century. Croatia was first internationally recognized as an independent state on 7 June 879 during the reign of duke Branimir. Tomislav became the first king by 925, elevating Croatia to the status of a kingdom, which retained its sovereignty for nearly two centuries. During the succession crisis after the Trpimirović dynasty ended, Croatia entered a personal union with Hungary in 1102.
In 1527, faced with Ottoman conquest, the Croatian Parliament elected Ferdinand I of Austria to the Croatian throne. In October 1918, in the final days of World War I, the State of Slovenes and Serbs, independent from Austria-Hungary, was proclaimed in Zagreb, in December 1918 it was merged into the Kingdom of Serbs and Slovenes. Following the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941, most of the Croatian territory was incorporated into the Nazi-backed client-state which led to the development of a resistance movement and the creation of the Federal State of Croatia which after the war become a founding member and a federal constituent of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On 25 June 1991, Croatia declared independence, which came wholly into effect on 8 October of the same year; the Croatian War of Independence was fought for four years following the declaration. The sovereign state of Croatia is a republic governed under a parliamentary system and a developed country with a high standard of living.
It is a member of the European Union, the United Nations, the Council of Europe, NATO, the World Trade Organization, a founding member of the Union for the Mediterranean. As an active participant in the UN peacekeeping forces, Croatia has contributed troops to the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan and took a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2008–2009 term. Since 2000, the Croatian government has invested in infrastructure transport routes and facilities along the Pan-European corridors. Croatia's economy is dominated by service and industrial sectors and agriculture. Tourism is a significant source of revenue, with Croatia ranked among the top 20 most popular tourist destinations in the world; the state controls a part of the economy, with substantial government expenditure. The European Union is Croatia's most important trading partner. Croatia provides a social security, universal health care system, a tuition-free primary and secondary education, while supporting culture through numerous public institutions and corporate investments in media and publishing.
The name of Croatia derives from Medieval Latin Croātia. Itself a derivation of North-West Slavic *Xrovat-, by liquid metathesis from Common Slavic period *Xorvat, from proposed Proto-Slavic *Xъrvátъ which comes from Old Persian *xaraxwat-; the word is attested by the Old Iranian toponym Harahvait-, the native name of Arachosia. The origin of the name is uncertain, but is thought to be a Gothic or Indo-Aryan term assigned to a Slavic tribe; the oldest preserved record of the Croatian ethnonym *xъrvatъ is of variable stem, attested in the Baška tablet in style zvъnъmirъ kralъ xrъvatъskъ. The first attestation of the Latin term is attributed to a charter of Duke Trpimir from the year 852; the original is lost, just a 1568 copy is preserved, leading to doubts over the authenticity of the claim. The oldest preserved stone inscription is the 9th-century Branimir Inscription found near Benkovac, where Duke Branimir is styled Dux Cruatorvm; the inscription is not believed to be dated but is to be from during the period of 879–892, during Branimir's rule.
The area known as Croatia today was inhabited throughout the prehistoric period. Fossils of Neanderthals dating to the middle Palaeolithic period have been unearthed in northern Croatia, with the most famous and the best presented site in Krapina. Remnants of several Neolithic and Chalcolithic cultures were found in all regions of the country; the largest proportion of the sites is in the river valleys of northern Croatia, the most significant cultures whose presence was discovered include Baden, Starčevo, Vučedol cultures. The Iron Age left traces of the Celtic La Tène culture. Much the region was settled by Illyrians and Liburnians, while the first Greek colonies were established on the islands of Hvar, Korčula, Vis. In 9 AD the territory of today's Croatia became part of the Roman Empire. Emperor Diocletian had a large palace built in Split to which he retired after his abdication in AD 305. During the 5th century, the last de jure Western emperor last Western Roman Emperor Julius Nepos ruled his small realm from the palace after fleeing Italy to go into exile in 475.
The period ends with Avar and Croat invasions in the first half of the 7th century and destruction of all Roman towns. Roman survivors retreated to more favourable sites on the coast and mountains; the city of Dubrovnik was founded by such survivors from Epidaurum. The ethnogenesis of Croats is uncertain an
A rain shadow is a dry area on the leeward side of a mountainous area. The mountains block the passage of rain-producing weather systems and cast a "shadow" of dryness behind them. Wind and moist air is drawn by the prevailing winds towards the top of the mountains, where it condenses and precipitates before it crosses the top; the air, without much moisture left, advances across the mountains creating a drier side called the "rain shadow". The condition exists because warm moist air rises by orographic lifting to the top of a mountain range; as atmospheric pressure decreases with increasing altitude, the air has expanded and adiabatically cooled to the point that the air reaches its adiabatic dew point. At the adiabatic dew point, moisture condenses onto the mountain and it precipitates on the top and windward sides of the mountain; the air descends on the leeward side, but due to the precipitation. Descending air gets warmer because of adiabatic compression down the leeward side of the mountain, which increases the amount of moisture that it can absorb and creates an arid region.
There are regular patterns of prevailing winds found in bands round the Earth's equatorial region. The zone designated the trade winds is the zone between about 30° N and 30° S, blowing predominantly from the northeast in the Northern Hemisphere and from the southeast in the Southern Hemisphere; the westerlies are the prevailing winds in the middle latitudes between 30 and 60 degrees latitude, blowing predominantly from the southwest in the Northern Hemisphere and from the northwest in the Southern Hemisphere. The strongest westerly winds in the middle latitudes can come in the Roaring Forties between 30 and 50 degrees latitude. Examples of notable rain shadowing include: Eastern Side of Sahyadri ranges on Deccan e.g. Northern Karnataka & Solapur, Osmanabad, Vidharba Plateau and eastern side of Kerala India. Gilgit and Chitral are rainshadow areas; the peaks of the Caucasus Mountains to the west and Hindukush and Pamir to the east rain shadow the Karakum and Kyzyl Kum deserts east of the Caspian Sea, as well as the semi-arid Kazakh Steppe.
The Dasht-i-Lut in Iran is in the rain shadow of the Elburz and Zagros Mountains and is one of the most lifeless areas on Earth. The Himalaya and connecting ranges contribute to arid conditions in Central Asia including Mongolia's Gobi desert, as well as the semi-arid steppes of Mongolia and north-central to north western China; the Ordos Desert is rain shadowed by mountain chains including the Kara-naryn-ula, the Sheitenula, the Yin Mountains, which link on to the south end of the Great Khingan Mountains. The Thar desert is bounded and rain shadowed by the Aravalli ranges to the south-east, the Himalaya to the northeast, the Kirthar and Sulaiman ranges to the west. Eastern Side of Sahyadri ranges on Deccan e.g. Northern Karnataka & Solapur, Osmanabad, Vidharba Plateau and eastern side of Kerala India; the central region of Myanmar is in the rain shadow of the Arakan Mountains and is semi-arid with only 750 millimetres of rain as against as much as 5.5 metres on the Rakhine State coast. The Tokyo, Japan plain in the winter months experiences less precipitation than the rest of the country by virtue of surrounding mountain ranges, including the "Japan Alps", blocking prevailing northwesterly winds originating in Siberia.
The Verkhoyansk Range in eastern Siberia is the coldest place in the Northern Hemisphere, because the moist southeasterly winds from the Pacific Ocean lose their moisture over the coastal mountains well before reaching the Lena River valley, due to the intense Siberian High forming around the cold continental air during the winter. One of the evident effects in the Sakha Republic are the regions of Yakutsk and Oymyakon, all of which have their average temperature in the coldest month being lower than −38 °C, have been places of veritable synonyms for extreme severe winter cold; the High Peaks of Mount Lebanon rain-shadow the northern parts of the Beqaa Valley and Anti-Lebanon mountains. The Judaean Desert, the Dead Sea and the western slopes of the Moab Mountains on the opposite side are rain-shadowed by the Judaean Mountains; the Atacama Desert in Chile is the driest non-polar desert on Earth because it is blocked from moisture on both sides. Cuyo and Eastern Patagonia is rain shadowed from the prevailing westerly winds by the Andes range and is arid.
The aridity of the lands next to eastern piedmont of the Andes decreases to the south due to a decrease in the height of the Andes with the consequence that the Patagonian Desert develop more at the Atlantic coast contributing to shaping the climatic pattern known as the Arid Diagonal. The Argentinian wine region of Cuyo and Northern Patagonia is completely dependent on irrigation, using water drawn from the many rivers that drain glacial ice from the Andes; the Guajira Peninsula in northern Colombia is in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and despite its tropical latitude is arid, receiving no rainfall for seven to eight months of the year and being incapable of cultivation without irrigation. On the largest scale, the entirety of the North American Interior Plains are shielded from the prevailing Westerlies carrying moist Pacific weather by the North American Cordillera. More pronounced effects are observed, however, in particular valley regions within the Cordillera, in the
The Cascade Range or Cascades is a major mountain range of western North America, extending from southern British Columbia through Washington and Oregon to Northern California. It includes both non-volcanic mountains, such as the North Cascades, the notable volcanoes known as the High Cascades; the small part of the range in British Columbia is referred to as the Canadian Cascades or, locally, as the Cascade Mountains. The latter term is sometimes used by Washington residents to refer to the Washington section of the Cascades in addition to North Cascades, the more usual U. S. term, as in North Cascades National Park. The highest peak in the range is Mount Rainier in Washington at 14,411 feet; the Cascades are part of the Pacific Ocean's Ring of Fire, the ring of volcanoes and associated mountains around the Pacific Ocean. All of the eruptions in the contiguous United States over the last 200 years have been from Cascade volcanoes; the two most recent were Lassen Peak from 1914 to 1921 and a major eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.
Minor eruptions of Mount St. Helens have occurred since, most from 2004 to 2008; the Cascade Range is a part of the American Cordillera, a nearly continuous chain of mountain ranges that form the western "backbone" of North America, Central America, South America. The Cascades extend northward from Lassen Peak in northern California to the confluence of the Nicola and Thompson rivers in British Columbia; the Fraser River separates the Cascades from the Coast Mountains in Canada, as does the Willamette Valley from the upper portion of the Oregon Coast Range. The highest volcanoes of the Cascades, known as the High Cascades, dominate their surroundings standing twice the height of the nearby mountains, they have a visual height of one mile or more. The highest peaks, such as the 14,411-foot Mount Rainier, dominate their surroundings for 50 to 100 miles; the northern part of the range, north of Mount Rainier, is known as the North Cascades in the United States but is formally named the Cascade Mountains north of the Canada–United States border, reaching to the northern extremity of the Cascades at Lytton Mountain.
Overall, the North Cascades and Canadian Cascades are rugged. The southern part of the Canadian Cascades the Skagit Range, is geologically and topographically similar to the North Cascades, while the northern and northeastern parts are less glaciated and more plateau-like, resembling nearby areas of the Thompson Plateau; because of the range's proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the region's prevailing westerly winds, precipitation is substantial on the western slopes due to orographic lift, with annual snow accumulations of up to 1,000 inches in some areas. Mount Baker in Washington recorded a national record single-season snowfall in the winter of 1998–99 with 1,140 inches. Prior to that year, Mount Rainier held the American record for snow accumulation at Paradise in 1978, it is not uncommon for some places in the Cascades to have over 500 inches of annual snow accumulation, such as at Lake Helen, near Lassen Peak. Most of the High Cascades are therefore white with ice year-round; the western slopes are densely covered with Douglas-fir, western hemlock and red alder, while the drier eastern slopes feature ponderosa pine, with some western larch, mountain hemlock and subalpine fir and subalpine larch at higher elevations.
Annual rainfall is as low as 9 inches on the eastern foothills due to a rain shadow effect. Beyond the eastern foothills is an arid plateau, created 17 to 14 million years ago by the many flows of the Columbia River Basalt Group. Together, these sequences of fluid volcanic rock form the 200,000-square-mile Columbia Plateau in eastern Washington and parts of western Idaho; the Columbia River Gorge is the only major break of the range in the United States. When the Cascades began to rise 7 million years ago in the Pliocene, the Columbia River drained the low Columbia Plateau; as the range grew, erosion from the Columbia River was able to keep pace, creating the gorge and major pass seen today. The gorge exposes uplifted and warped layers of basalt from the plateau. Indigenous peoples have inhabited the area for thousands of years and developed their own myths and legends about the Cascades. In these legends, St. Helens with its pre-1980 graceful appearance, was regarded as a beautiful maiden for whom Hood and Adams feuded.
Native tribes developed their own names for the High Cascades and many of the smaller peaks, including "Tahoma", the Lushootseed name for Mount Rainier, "Koma Kulshan" or "Kulshan" for Mount Baker, "Louwala-Clough", meaning "smoking mountain" for Mount St. Helens. In early 1792, British navigator George Vancouver explored Puget Sound and gave English names to the high mountains he saw. Mount Baker was named for Vancouver's third lieutenant, Joseph Baker, although the first European to see it was Manuel Quimper, who named it la gran montaña del Carmelo in 1790. Mount Rainier was named after Admiral Peter Rainier. In 1792, Vancouver had his lieutenant William Robert Broughton explore the lower Columbia River, he named Mount Hood after an admiral of the Royal Navy. Mount St. Helens was sighted by Vancouver from near the mouth of the Columbia River, it was named for Al
The Alps are the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies in Europe, separating Southern from Central and Western Europe and stretching 1,200 kilometres across eight Alpine countries: France, Italy, Liechtenstein, Austria and Slovenia. The mountains were formed over tens of millions of years as the African and Eurasian tectonic plates collided. Extreme shortening caused by the event resulted in marine sedimentary rocks rising by thrusting and folding into high mountain peaks such as Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. Mont Blanc spans the French–Italian border, at 4,810 m is the highest mountain in the Alps; the Alpine region area contains about a hundred peaks higher than 4,000 metres. The altitude and size of the range affects the climate in Europe. Wildlife such as ibex live in the higher peaks to elevations of 3,400 m, plants such as Edelweiss grow in rocky areas in lower elevations as well as in higher elevations. Evidence of human habitation in the Alps goes back to the Palaeolithic era.
A mummified man, determined to be 5,000 years old, was discovered on a glacier at the Austrian–Italian border in 1991. By the 6th century BC, the Celtic La Tène culture was well established. Hannibal famously crossed the Alps with a herd of elephants, the Romans had settlements in the region. In 1800, Napoleon crossed one of the mountain passes with an army of 40,000; the 18th and 19th centuries saw an influx of naturalists and artists, in particular, the Romantics, followed by the golden age of alpinism as mountaineers began to ascend the peaks. The Alpine region has a strong cultural identity; the traditional culture of farming and woodworking still exists in Alpine villages, although the tourist industry began to grow early in the 20th century and expanded after World War II to become the dominant industry by the end of the century. The Winter Olympic Games have been hosted in the Swiss, Italian and German Alps. At present, the region has 120 million annual visitors; the English word Alps derives from the Latin Alpes.
Maurus Servius Honoratus, an ancient commentator of Virgil, says in his commentary that all high mountains are called Alpes by Celts. The term may be common to Italo-Celtic, because the Celtic languages have terms for high mountains derived from alp; this may be consistent with the theory. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the Latin Alpes might derive from a pre-Indo-European word *alb "hill". Albania, a name not native to the region known as the country of Albania, has been used as a name for a number of mountainous areas across Europe. In Roman times, "Albania" was a name for the eastern Caucasus, while in the English languages "Albania" was used as a name for Scotland, although it is more derived from the Latin albus, the color white; the Latin word Alpes could come from the adjective albus. In modern languages the term alp, albe or alpe refers to a grazing pastures in the alpine regions below the glaciers, not the peaks. An alp refers to a high mountain pasture where cows are taken to be grazed during the summer months and where hay barns can be found, the term "the Alps", referring to the mountains, is a misnomer.
The term for the mountain peaks varies by nation and language: words such as Horn, Kopf, Spitze and Berg are used in German speaking regions. The Alps are a crescent shaped geographic feature of central Europe that ranges in a 800 km arc from east to west and is 200 km in width; the mean height of the mountain peaks is 2.5 km. The range stretches from the Mediterranean Sea north above the Po basin, extending through France from Grenoble, stretching eastward through mid and southern Switzerland; the range continues onward toward Vienna and east to the Adriatic Sea and Slovenia. To the south it dips into northern Italy and to the north extends to the southern border of Bavaria in Germany. In areas like Chiasso and Allgäu, the demarcation between the mountain range and the flatlands are clear; the countries with the greatest alpine territory are Austria, Italy and Switzerland. The highest portion of the range is divided by the glacial trough of the Rhône valley, from Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa on the southern side, the Bernese Alps on the northern.
The peaks in the easterly portion of the range, in Austria and Slovenia, are smaller than those in the central and western portions. The variances in nomenclature in the region spanned by the Alps makes classification of the mountains and subregions difficult, but a general classification is that of the Eastern Alps and Western Alps with the divide between the two occurring in eastern Switzerland according to geologist Stefan Schmid, near the Splügen Pass; the highest peaks of the Western Alps and Eastern Alps are Mont Blanc, at 4,810 m and Piz Bernina at 4,049 metres. The second-highest major