Hills Vs Mountains: What’s the Difference?

Mountains

Hills and mountains are both geographical formations that rise above the surrounding plains.

Sometimes it is hard to make a difference between them, but there are a couple of things that I will point out as a sure difference. Therefore, they are both above the plains, but how to tell which is which?

The first thing you can look out for is the height – a mountain is higher than a hill. Moreover, the difference is in the shape. Mountains have a steep slope ending in the sharp top, while hills have a more rounded look, with a bumpy top. You can also define a mountain by a formed summit with snow formed during most of the year.

Don`t be disappointed, that is not all. There are other things to look out for between these two land formations. I will also define both of them so you will have an easier time understanding them.

I also covered some of the FAQs regarding them, so you will learn a lot of interesting geography facts.

Defining A Hill And A Mountain

It can be hard to make a difference between them, so it would be better to start by characterizing hills and mountains.

The basic definition describes a hill as a naturally raised form with a height between 300 and 600 meters.

The height is not definitive, because other aspects can define a hill, and some hills can be higher because of those other aspects.

Several reasons can impact the creation of a hill, and the most common are:

  • Movement of the rocks below the surface, sometimes because of the earthquakes
  • Moving of the glaciers due to melting
  • Erosion of the land, occasionally triggered by mass cutting of the forests
  • Extensive mining operations in the depths of the hills

Hills can be covered in tundras, steppes, forests, and even deserts. It is all a result of the climate where the hills are positioned.

Mountains

When compared to plains, hills are not that good spot for agricultural production, because many plants have perfect conditions in the plains, especially temperature, soil, wind, and other natural elements that can be too harsh in the hills.

On the other side, hills offer a great spot for animal husbandry because they have plenty of space for pastures needed for feeding large herds of animals. Also, the air in the hills is cleaner and that is also a plus for raising livestock.

As for the mountains for starts, they are taller than hills, and their rise is much steeper. Their top is sharp and it is much harder to ascend than to a hill.

Other climate factors are also harsher – as you climb higher, the temperature drops, and the air is harder to breathe. When climbing very tall mountains, like Kilimanjaro, or the Hymalies, climbers need to carry tanks with air, because as they get higher, the air gets thinner with less oxygen.

When viewing mountains from a height you can often see a summit covered in snow that doesn`t melt during the year because of the height of the mountains as well as lower temperature than at ground level. And that’s something you can`t see up on hills. 

All those tough living conditions impact the wildlife. Therefore, not many animals live in the mountains, and humans rarely dare to settle there.

Recognizing A Hill And A Mountain

Now that you know what is a mountain and what is a hill, it would be easier to tell the difference, right? To make things even simpler, I will put all the info on a table so it would be easier to look at.

Characteristics Hill Mountain
Height 300-600 meters Above 600 meters
Form The less steep, rounded summit Steep slope, tall and sharp summit
Snow Occasional snow, depending on the climate Snow on the summit during the whole year
Climate Mild climate results in many human settlements Harsh living conditions even for wild animals
Farming and agriculture Animal husbandry and breeding of livestock is common Too tough conditions for any type of farming

So, what can we conclude? Living in the hills is a good option because it offers cleaner air than in the lowlands, there is plenty of pastures and fertile land to produce food.

On the other side, mountains have a lower temperature, thinner air, and living in those conditions is much harder. If you are looking for adventure and physical activity, both can offer it. It only depends on what are you looking for.

Hills are ideal for camping and active vacation because they don`t require top physical condition. Mountains are for those that are looking for a thrill.

If you are planning mountain climbing you should take some time to prepare. Taking mounting climbing classes, and some gym is a must if you want to try to conquer a mountain.

FAQ About Hills And Mountains

Q: At what point a hill is considered a mountain?

For a hill to be observed as a mountain its peak should be taller than 2500 meters, and its outcrop should be at least 1500 meters high with a slope of two degrees.

Some definitions describe mountains as geographical formations higher than 600 meters.

Q: Do mountains start as hills?

Mountains and hills are created as a result of different processes including moving of the rocks, erosion, and melting glaciers and all those processes result in creating different formations.

At some moment, some hills under the continuous natural influences can become a mountain. They can become a hill after an earthquake. However, several earthquakes and a burst of lava can turn it into a mountain.

So, yes, some mountains were hills first.

Q: What are the differences between a mountain and a valley?

Valleys are parts of mountains.

You can easily identify valleys as long gaps that run between the slopes of the mountain. In some cases, rivers are flowing on the lower levels of the valleys.

There are several types of valleys, and they are based on the way they were created.

Most of the valleys are formed by the stream of rivers, by glacial erosion, or by tectonic activity, usually earthquakes. Also, humans often build settlements in the valleys, while they avoid the high ground of the mountains.

Q: What hills are the most known around the world?

I will mention a couple, and from there you can easily find other interesting information about them and other hills:

  • Cypress Hills in Canada, precisely Southern Alberta,
  • Ooty in India, rich with coffee and tea gardens, and plentiful natural lakes
  • Manali Hills in India – large orchards of apples, valleys filled with flowers, and large flocks of sheep that makes this location beautiful
  • Thredbo Australia – famous for its long ski run. A great place for any snow sport or mountain-climbing
  • Zermatt in Switzerland – If you are looking for a place for an active vacation, you found it. Clean air, freshwater, beautiful gardens and villages, and numerous ski resorts make this a great place to relax.

Learning something new gives new meaning to a day. I hope that with this nature topic I opened your eyes to our paradise on Earth.

We don`t need to search anywhere else for beauty. Earth has given us everything! Learning something new about our planet will make us love it and safe keep it even more.

And remember – we don`t have another place to live than Earth, so learn about it. Start by exploring our hills, mountains, and valleys.

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