What Is the Highest Mountain in the World?
Mount Everest is the world’s highest mountain. It lies in the Himalayas, on the Tibet-Nepal border, and rises to a height of about 29,028 feet 9 in (8,848 meters) – almost 5 ½ miles – above sea level. First known as Peak XV on the Tibet – Nepal border, it was discovered to be the world’s highest mountain in 1856 by the Survey Department of the Government of India, from theodolite readings taken in 1849 and 1850. Its height was calculated to be 8,840m 29,002ft.
The mountain was named after Col. Sir George Everest (UK), who was Surveyor-General of India from 1830 to 1843, and who, in fact, pronounced his name ‘Eve-rest’ as opposed to ‘Ever-est’. Mount Everest is also known by the Tibetan name Chomolungma (Goddess Mother of the World) and by the Nepali name Sagarmatha (Forehead in the Sky).
But the world’s tallest mountains lie beneath the sea. The tips of some undersea mountains form islands in the middle of the ocean. Mauna Kea, the famous volcano on the island of Hawaii, is the tip of an undersea mountain. Measured from the ocean floor, it is nearly 4,500 feet taller than Everest—but only the top 13,796 feet show above the surface.
But the highest mountain above Earth’s center is Chimborazo. Chimborazo in Ecuador has an altitude of 6,310 meters (20,703 feet). Mount Everest has a higher altitude, and Mauna Kea is “taller.” However, Chimborazo has the distinction of being the “highest mountain above Earth’s center.”
This is because Earth is not a sphere – it is an oblate spheroid. As an oblate spheroid, Earth is widest at its equator. Chimborazo is just one degree south of the equator. At that location, it is 6,384 kilometers (3,967 miles) above Earth’s center, or about 2 kilometers (about 1.2 miles) farther from Earth’s center than Mount Everest.