22 June 2012

Which countries have no mountains?

The World Geography has assembled a list of the nine largest (by area) countries that do not have a mountain.  That sent me scrambling to find a definition of a mountain:
There is no universally accepted definition of a mountain. Elevation, volume, relief, steepness, spacing and continuity have been used as criteria for defining a mountain. In the Oxford English Dictionary a mountain is defined as "a natural elevation of the earth surface rising more or less abruptly from the surrounding level and attaining an altitude which, relatively to the adjacent elevation, is impressive or notable."
So, which are the largest countries without a "mountain?"  Ponder your answer before peeking below the fold.  The one I guessed came out #5 on their list.

9.  The Gambia
8.  Kuwait
7.  Moldova
6.  Guinea-Bissau
5.  Denmark
4.  Estonia
3.  Latvia
2.  Lithuania
1.  Belarus

At the source, comments suggest that Uruguay and the Netherlands were overlooked.


  1. As a Dutchman, I am insulted to be overlooked. Not only is our highest point only 321m, it is at the same time the three-country point with Belgium and Germany. So, not only is it barely a hill, we managed to share the thing with two other countries!

    And in all seriousness: The Maldives?

    1. But the area of the Maldives is only 300 km^2.

    2. If only there were a list of the flattest of countries, instead of the mountainlessnest, we'd win head over heels.

      Didn't check the data, assumed we're just not big enough to make the first ten.

    3. @naam: I did just check the data, and the Netherlands should definitely be #6 on this list.
      Here's the area of:
      Denmark 43,094 km^2
      The Netherlands 41,543 km^2
      Guinea-Bissau 36,125 km^2

      It seems a bit baffling to me that someone compiling a list of flat countries would overlook the Netherlands... Maybe they'll try their hand at listing the world's biggest countries and forget about Russia

  2. That definition of a mountain has changed my attitude about Phoenix. I moved there from Oregon, and was appalled at the naming of Camelback Mountain, and the oh-so-cleverly named South Mountain. These were hills compared to the mountains I knew.

    1. I moved from Albuquerque to Phoenix and now I live in Washington. I share your disdain.

  3. I find it curious that Denmark is on the list, because while Denmark proper is relatively flat, the Danish Crown (and hence, the Danish Government) rules Greenland, which certainly has mountains.

  4. Regarding the definition of a mountain: I taught pre-school at Head Start in the Mississippi Delta area one year. I read a book to the kids about Mount Everest at one point. One of the kids asked me what a mountain is. It hit me hard that they had never seen a mountain before. I tried explaining that it's like a huge pile of rocks that's bigger than anything they've seen. I was convinced I had sufficiently explained it, when one of the kids raised a hand and said "So, it's as big as a car?"

  5. Here in Lithuania we solve this particular deficiency by using the words for "hill" and "mountain" pretty much interchangeably when referring to local geographical features. "Mountain" may even be preferred when the hill in question, no matter how small, has something of interest on top of it, like a fort or a monument.

  6. In the north of the Netherlands, there is a region that is a few meters higher than the surrounding land. It's called "Het Hogeland" (The High Country).

  7. Hi, from 3rd finalist - Latvia. As with Lithuania we usually use generic word "mountain" to describe almost anything that you need to put noticeable effort to walk onto. Our highest peak is "mount" Gaizins 311m.

    Old joke from 1980s (when Baltic states started to struggle for independence) goes like this: A group from Caucasus (Georgia) comes on excursion to Latvia. The guide shows them "mount" Gaizins. One person from group says - Latvians are really a very very proud nation to call this a mountain.

    For the record we also have the widest waterfall (althoug as I suspect there is again difference in English between waterfall and rapid) in Europe http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venta_Rapid :)

  8. My first thought was, The Bahamas. 13,880 sq km; high point -- "Mount" Alvernia on Cat Is., 64 m!
    (BTW, while the Danish "kingdom" may include Greenland and Faeroe, these are constituent countries within the kingdom. Denmark itself has no mountains. Ditto with K. of the Netherlands and its constituent countries.)


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