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Kirifuri Highland in Japan

The term highland(s) or upland(s) is used to denote any mountainous region or elevated mountainous plateau. Generally speaking, upland (or uplands) tends to refer to ranges of hills,[1] typically up to 500-600m. Highland (or highlands) is usually reserved for ranges of low mountains.


Highland climate is often also used to describe a particular mountain climate, fully termed the highland zone. The highland zone is of relatively low altitude and is distinguished by the growth of thick shrubs such as heather, tussock grasses, and deciduous trees and bushes. The ground in the highland zone is generally well irrigated. This can be compared to the higher altitude alpine zone, which is generally drier and is noted for the sparseness of trees (which are generally coniferous there) and shrubs, and the growth of thinner grasses and small flowers.

Highlands worldwide[edit]

Highland cattle in Hebrides, Scotland

Probably the most known highlands in the anglophone world are the Scottish Highlands, the mountainous region north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault. The Highland council area is a local government area in the Scottish Highlands and the largest local government area in Scotland.

Many countries have areas that are officially or unofficially referred to as highlands. Other than Scotland, these include parts of Nigeria, Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, Syria and Nova Scotia (the latter being Latin for 'New Scotland' due to its resemblance to the country).

Synonymous terms used in other countries include high country, used in New Zealand, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Southern Queensland in Australia, and parts of the United States (notably Western North Carolina), and highveld, used in South Africa.

Highland shrubs in Agua Fria National Monument, Arizona, USA

The highlands in Australia are often above the elevation of 500 meters. These areas often receive snowfalls through winter. Most of the highlands lead up to large alpine or sub-alpine mountainous regions such as the Australian Alps, Snowy Mountains, Great Dividing Range, Northern Tablelands and Blue Mountains. The most mountainous region of Tasmania is the Central Highlands area, which covers most of the central western parts of the state. Many of these areas are highly elevated alpine regions.

A spine of mountains runs the length of the island of New Guinea, forming a populous highlands region.

The highlands in Iceland cover about a quarter of the country and is mostly inhospitable to humans. The highlands in Iceland are generally referred to as land above 200 meters.

The mountainous natural region of the Thai highlands in Northern Thailand.

The Cameron Highlands are a hill station in Northern Malaysia.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ University of California Museum of Paleontology (1995 and later), upland, UCMP Glossary