Since 2003, December 11 is International Mountain Day as designated by the United Nations General Assembly. Annually, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) observes the day:
… to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build alliances that will bring positive change to mountain peoples and environments around the world.
• Mountains cover almost one-quarter (22 percent) of the Earth’s surface.
• Mountains host about 50 percent of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.
• Up to 80 percent of the world’s freshwater supply comes from mountains.
• One in eight people (13 percent) around the world lives in the mountains.
• Mountain tourism accounts for almost 20 percent of the worldwide tourism industry.
The following provides a glimpse to the mountain environments around the world and to the challenging conditions our ancestors would have faced and endured.