What is the Difference Between Hills and Mountains?

Are Mountains and Hills the same? What are the Similarities between Hills and Mountains? Do Hills have Cliffs? What are Big Hills called?
what is the difference between hills and mountains
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Mountains and hills are the perfect getaways from the summer heat. They are amazing staycation stops. They are mentioned in books, captured in photographs, and reflected in arts and paintings but have you ever questioned, are they the same? It may not seem like it, but mountains and hills are two separate entities. There is a thin line of differences separating them both. Because of being ill-informed, many people wrongly address a mountain as a hill. Some even call a hill a mountain. Let’s unravel some basic information about them, like the similarities between hills and mountains and the difference between hills and mountains.

1. What is Mountain?

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Image by Eknbg from Pixabay

Our planet comprises four primary kinds of landforms: hills, mountains, plains, and plateaus. Mountains are prominent landforms that have risen above other surroundings, including the ocean. They have a summit or peak at their highest point, sharp or rounded ridges, steeps, and sloping sides.

According to geologists, a landform is considered a mountain if it has elevated at least 300 meters or 1000 ft above its surrounding. They are formed due to collisions of tectonic plates within Earth. They are categorized as volcanic, bock, and fold. Examples of the mountain are the Himalayan Mountains in Asia, the Alps in Europe, the Atlas Mountains in Northwest Africa, etc. Also, check out Top 10 Major Mountain Ranges of the World)

2. What is a Hill?

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Image by jplenio from Pixabay

Hill is a landform elevated above other surroundings and looks like a small bump on the Earth’s surface. They have less steepness and height. They also have the highest point, like mountains called a summit. Till the mid-twentieth century, the USA and UK categorized hills as landforms with a summit of fewer than 1000 ft. But now, there are no official distinctions to differentiate a hill from a mountain.

Hills are natural as well as manmade. The man-made ones are called mounds. The natural ones occur due to geological activities like erosion and faulting. The hills are generally categorized as butte, drumlin, puy, pingo, etc. Examples of hills are Nilgiri hills, Malabar hills, Cypress hills, Campbell hill, Timms hill, etc. (See How are Volcanoes Distributed on the Map?)

3. What is the difference between Hills and Mountains?

Conversations regarding the difference between hills and mountains are always confusing as there aren’t broader distinction points between both. These landforms are elevated above their surroundings and have a summit. There isn’t any official distinction between them, so it is not rare that people are curious to know some points by virtue of which they can get an idea of what is what. (See What is the Biggest Thing on Earth?)

The table below will help you understand the difference between hills and mountains:

Distinction Points Hills Mountains
Height Usually less than 300–600 meters Usually higher than 600 meters
Steepness Less steep Steeper
Climbing Easier Challenging and harder

4. List five Differences each between Mountain and Hills

The list of difference between hills and mountains are as follows:

Mountains Hills
They are usually higher than hills. Their height is above 600 meters. They are usually smaller than mountains. Their height is less than 300–600 meters.
They are steeper than hills. They are less steep than mountains.
They are harder to climb. They are comparatively easier to climb.
Tectonic plates collide and form these landforms. They are formed due to geological activities like faulting, erosion, etc.
They have a higher altitude and defined peak or summit. They have a lower altitude and rounded top.

5. List three Similarities between Hills and Mountains

After you have learned about the difference between hills and mountains. Let’s now look at the three major similarities between hills and mountains:

  • Both of them have the highest point called a summit.
  • Both of them are elevated above their surroundings.
  • Both of them are formed due to geological reactions and accumulations. (See How do Mountains affect Dry Areas like Nevada?)

6. At what point does a Hill become a Mountain?

There aren’t any official criteria that defy when a hill can become a mountain. But people believe that if a hill fits certain parameters, it can become a mountain. Like, a hill’s peak is above 8,200 ft with a slope of 2 degrees, sharper than 5 degrees, or elevated above its surrounding by 300 m at the very least. Also, check out what are physical features in Geography?

7. Do Hills have Cliffs?

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Image by Máté Markovics from Pixabay

When a mass of rock highly elevates vertically, it’s called a cliff. Weathering and erosion processes are the reasons for their formation. These landscape features are formed near mountains, canyons, valleys, and oceans. As you can see, they aren’t formed near hills. So, hills don’t have cliffs. (See What are Physical Resources?)

8. What is the difference between Mountain and Mountain Range?

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Image by Julius Silver from Pixabay

Mountains are landforms elevated above their surrounding. They are taller than their surroundings by 300 meters at the very least. They are situated in a limited area. For example, Mount Olympus.

On the other hand, the chain or series of such elevated mountains form a mountain range. In such ranges, the mountains are closely held together. For example, the Himalayan Mountain range. Must read what is the difference between Oceanic Crust and Continental Crust?

9. What is the difference between Mountain, Hill, and Peak?

After understanding the difference between hills and mountains, let’s know the difference between mountains, hills, and peaks.

  • A mountain is an elevated landform usually about 600 meters above its surrounding. They are steeper and harder to climb.
  • On the other hand, the hills are bump-like landforms on the Earth’s surface. They are about 300 to 600 meters elevated above their surroundings. They are comparatively easier to climb and are also less steep.
  • In contrast, a peak is different from both but is also related to them. It is the highest point in the chain of mountains or hills. These chains are called ranges. For example, Mt. Everest’s peak. (See Why Climbing Everest Is Dangerous?)

10. What is a Small Mountain called?

There isn’t any official term for addressing a small mountain. People often informally call small mountains hills. In this world, landforms higher than mountains are also called hills. Thus, addressing any such landform depends on its location and the name was given to it. (See What are the Northern Lights?)

11. What are Big Hills called?

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Image by jplenio from Pixabay

Hills are landforms elevated above their surroundings. They are relatively at a lower altitude and have a rounded peak. When a hill is very big, it is informally addressed as a mountain. It is called so due to a notion among the people that mountains are always higher than hills. But some hills in the world are even bigger than mountains. There aren’t official parameters that distinguish a hill from a mountain. The landforms are always called by the names the natives of their residing place give them. A country can call a small landform hill, while others can call it a mountain. (See 16 Snowing in the Mountains Facts)

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