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Major Landforms on Earth: Geography NCERT Notes for UPSC

Jan 19, 2023

major landforms on earth

 Landforms on the surface of the Earth are the ultimate result of internal and external processes. Read this blog to learn more about the Major Landforms on Earth and upgrade your IAS exam preparation.  

  • Internal process which leads to the upliftment and sinking of the Earth’s surface at several places.
  • External process is the continuous wearing down and rebuilding of the land surface. The wearing away of the earth’s surface is called erosion. The surface is being lowered by the process of erosion and rebuilt by the process of deposition. These two processes are carried out by running water, ice, and wind. 

Types of landforms depending on elevation and slopes


  • A mountain is any natural elevation of the Earth surface which is considerably higher than the surrounding area.
  • The arrangement of mountains in a line is known as the range.
  • Many mountain systems consist of a series of parallel ranges extending over hundreds of kilometres. The Himalayas, the Alps, and the Andes are mountain ranges of Asia, Europe, and South America, respectively.
  • In some mountains, there are permanently frozen rivers of ice. They are called glaciers.

Three types of mountains

  • Fold Mountains: These mountains are created where two or more of Earth’s tectonic plates are pushed together. At these colliding, compressing boundaries, rocks and debris are warped and folded into rocky outcrops, hills, mountains, and entire mountain ranges.
  • The Himalayan Mountains and the Alps are young fold mountains with rugged relief and high conical peaks. 
  • The Aravali range in India is one of the oldest fold mountain systems in the world.
  • The Appalachians in North America and the Ural mountains in Russia have rounded features and low elevation. They are very old fold mountains.
Fold Mountains
  • Block Mountains: These types of mountains are created when large areas are broken and displaced vertically. The uplifted blocks are termed as horst and the lowered blocks are called graben. The Rhine valley and the Vosges Mountain in Europe are examples of such mountain systems.
Block Mountains
  • Volcanic Mountains: These Mountains are formed due to volcanic activity. Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa and Mt. Fujiyama in Japan are examples of such mountains
Volcanic Mountains

Significance of the Mountains

  • They are storehouse of water.
  • Water from the mountains is also used for irrigation and generation of hydro-electricity.
  • Mountains provide an idyllic site for tourists.
  • They are also useful for crop cultivation e.g. terrace farming etc.


It is a flat tableland standing above the surrounding area. Like mountains, they are also young and old. E.g. Deccan plateau is one of the oldest plateaus. Other examples are the East African Plateau in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda and the Western plateau of Australia.

Importance of Plateaus

  • World’s major mining areas are generally found on plateaus. For example; African plateau is famous for gold and diamond mining. In India, huge reserves of iron, coal, and manganese are found in the Chota Nagpur plateau. 
  • In the plateau areas, there may be several waterfalls as the river falls from a great height. In India, the Hundru falls in the Chota Nagpur plateau on the river Subarnarekha and the Jog falls in Karnataka are examples of such waterfalls.
  • The lava plateaus are rich in black soil that is fertile and good for cultivation.


These are large stretches of flatlands; they are generally not more than 200 meters above sea level. Generally, plains are very fertile. Most of the plains are formed by the rivers by depositing the eroded material along their courses and in their valleys. These plains are thickly populated regions in the world such Gangetic belt in India, the Yangtze in China etc.

Interesting points:

  • A hill is a land surface that rises higher than the surrounding area. Generally, a steep hill with an elevation of more than 600 metres is termed as a mountain.

Mauna Kea (Hawaii) in the Pacific Ocean is an undersea mountain. It is higher than Mount Everest being 10,205 meters high.

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