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Europe is one of the smallest continents, yet is home to some of the largest mountain ranges.
About 20% of the total landmass of the continent is considered mountainous, slightly less than the 24% of the total world landmass that is covered by mountains.
The mountains of Europe have been home to some of the most daring feats in history, used by explorers and warlords alike. The ability to safely navigate these mountain ranges helped shape the world as it's now known through trade routes and military achievements.
Today these mountain ranges are mostly used for skiing or marveling at their wondrous views.
Five Longest Mountain Ranges in Europe
Scandinavian Mountains: 1,762 kilometers (1,095 miles)
Also known as the Scandes, this mountain range stretches through the Scandinavian Peninsula. They are the longest mountain range in Europe. The mountains aren't considered very high but they're known for their steepness. The western side drops into the North and Norwegian sea. Its northern location makes it prone to ice fields and glaciers. The highest point is Kebnekaise at 2,469 meters (8,100 feet.)
Carpathian Mountains: 1,500 kilometers (900 miles)
The Carpathians stretch across Eastern and Central Europe. They're the second-longest mountain range in the region and can be divided into three major sections: the Eastern Carpathians, Western Carpathians, and the Southern Carpathians. The second-largest virgin forest in Europe is located in these mountains. They are also home to a large population of brown bears, wolves, chamois, and lynx. Hikers can find many mineral and thermal springs in the foothills. The highest point is Gerlachovský štít at 2,654 meters (8,707 feet.)
Alps: 1,200 kilometers (750 miles)
The Alps are probably the most famous mountain range in Europe. This range of mountains stretches across eight countries: France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Switzerland, Monaco and Liechtenstein. Hannibal once famously rode elephants across them, but today the mountain range is more home to skiers than pachyderms. The Romantic poets would be enamored with the ethereal beauty of these mountains, making them the backdrop for many novels and poems. Farming and forestry are large parts of these mountains' economies along with tourism. The Alps remain one of the world's top travel destinations. The highest point is Mount Blanc at 4,810 meters (15,781 feet.)
Caucasus Mountains: 1,100 kilometers (683 miles)
This mountain range is notable not only for its length but also for being the dividing line between Europe and Asia. This mountain range was an important part of the historical trade route known as the Silk Road that connected the ancient Eastern and Western world. It was in use as early as 207 BCE, carrying silk, horses and other goods to trade between continents. The highest point is Mount Elbrus at 5,642 meters (18,510 feet.)
Apennine Mountains: 1,000 kilometers (620 miles)
The Apennine mountain range stretches the length of the Italian Peninsula. In 2000, the Environment Ministry of Italy suggested extending the range to include the mountains of Northern Sicily. This addition would make the range 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) long, tying them in length with the Carpathians. It has one of the most intact ecosystems in the country. These mountains are one of the last natural refuges of the largest European predators like the Italian wolf and Marsican brown bear, which have gone extinct in other regions. The highest point is Corno Grande at 2,912 meters (9,553 feet.)