An article about history and about mountains
Country highpoints draw the exceptional attention of many mountaineers. Most of these mountains are really worth the attention, while others are focused just because they are country highpoints, and there is nothing interesting about those peaks. It means that the interest for a mountain often doesn’t depend only on the beauty or peculiarity of the mountain itself, but human political decisions can support or decrease the “value” of mountains and peaks, too.
Since WWII the general political climate was moving towards democracy (despite the still existing huge defects) and as a consequence several countries and territories gained independence. The number of countries increased, and the number of country highpoints increased, too. Anybody can easily search for these country highpoints: there are several such lists there.
But a few countries also disappeared since WWII. As their highest mountains are not considered as country highpoints any more, much less information is known about these ex-country highpoints. Though these mountains are still the same as they were a few decades ago. The low attention on these peaks can be seen also in SP: hardly any of them has its page here. In the texts below I give the link in all cases when the relevant SP page is there.
There are a few cases when a country disappears, and not its highest mountain loses its significance but the highpoint of the “occupying” country will be forgotten. It happens when the highpoint of the “occupying” country is lower than that of the occupied country. I found three such cases:
· China > Tibet
· Indonesia > Netherlands New Guinea
· Malaysia > North Borneo
And now please see the disappeared countries and the mountains that once were their country highpoints. The ordered the countries in sequence of their area.
I would appreciate your advises for amending data concerning the highpoints. But I wouldn’t much like to open discussions about the summary of the history of these countries. My aim with the very short history description was really nothing else than helping you to position these countries in time and space. And not to give a detailed and exact history of these countries.
The Tibetan Empire was founded in the 7th century. From the 13th century Tibet was under Mongol rule. China gained control over Tibet in the 18th century. Tibet was de facto an independent state between 1912 and 1950. Since 1950 Tibet is an integral part of China.
Area: approximately 820,000 km2 (320,000 sq mi)
Highest mountain: Mount Everest
, 8850 m
(29035 ft) – the highest point of the Earth. As it is also the highest mountain of China now, it means that in 1950 China actually lost its earlier country highpoint and got a new higher one. Until 1950 the country highpoint of China was K2
, 8611 m (28250 ft), the highest peak of the Karakoram
As in the last decades there were ongoing disputes between Pakistan, India and China about the borders in the area around K2, a confirmation from from historians would be good that K2 was on the border of China before 1950, too.
And another comment: of course in case of K2 it's not fair to say that it has a minor attention. It's more valid for the peaks in the coming paragraphs.
Netherlands New Guinea
Carstensz Peak Mount Kerinci
The Netherlands retained New Guinea when Indonesia became independent in 1949. Netherlands New Guinea was an overseas territory of the Kingdom of the Netherlands from 1949 to 1962. Indonesia annexed it in 1963.
Area: 420,540 km² (162,371 sq mi)
Highest elevation: Carstensz Peak
, 4884 m
(16024 ft). As it is also the highest mountain of Indonesia now, it means that in 1963 Indonesia actually lost its earlier country highpoint and got a new higher one. Until 1963 the country highpoint of Indonesia was Mount Kerinci
, 3805 m
(12483 ft), the highest peak of Sumatra, in the Barisan Mountains.
The history of South Yemen as a political entity started in 1839 when the British East India Company captured the city of Aden. Until 1937 it was ruled as part of British India. In 1937 the Colony of Aden was formed and ruled separately. In 1967 Southern Yemen became an independent state as the People's Republic of South Yemen. In 1990 it unified with North Yemen.
Area: 290,274 km² (112,076 sq mi). There are sources giving different data.
Highest mountain: Ğabal Tamir, 2508 m
Western Sahara was established in 1884 as a Spanish colony. In 1975 Morocco occupied two-thirds of its area, and since 1979 it keeps in hand almost its entire area. Western Sahara still has disputed sovereignty, though de facto it belongs to Morocco.
Area: 266,000 km2 (103,000 sq mi)
Highest elevation: I didn’t find any reliable information about it. Different internet sources speak about summits with elevation between 463 m and 805 m. I have two maps indicating highpoints of Western Sahara. Both give the highest altitude as 823 m. But Google Map doesn’t confirm it: there I didn’t find any higher point than 570 m. What seems to be certain in all resources: this peak is unnamed.
South Vietnam's origin can be traced to the French colony of Cochinchina. Cochinchina was a French colony from 1862 to 1948. The later state of South Vietnam was created in 1954 by combining Cochinchina with southern Annam. North Vienam occupied South Vietnam in 1975, and since then a single Vietnam exists.
Area: 173,809 km2 (67,108 sq mi)
Highest mountain: Ngoc Linh, 2598 m
(8524 ft). It is the highest peak of the Annamite Range.
In 1841 James Brook signed a treaty with the Sultan of Brunei about governing Sarawak, and in 1842 the sultan appointed him as the Rajah of Sarawak. The independence of this state ended when the Brook’s family formally ceded the sovereignty to the British crown in 1946. Sarawak was granted independence in 1963 and was admitted into the Federation of Malaysia still in the same year.
Area: 124,450 km2 (48,050.4 sq mi)
Highest mountain: Mount Murud, 2423 m
(7946 ft). There are sources indicating elevation of 2438 m, too. The mountain is the highest point of the Kelabit Highlands.
The basis of this country was formed in 1945 as the Soviet Occupation Zone of Germany. Officially the country existed between 1949 and 1990. In 1990 it joined the federal Republic of Germany.
Area: 108,333 km2 (41,828 sq mi)
Highest mountain: Fichtelberg, 1215 m
(3986 ft). It is the second highest peak of Erzgebirge.
Mount Kinabalu Gunung Tahan
From 1865 North Borneo was a land leased by different entrepreneurs and companies from the Sultanate of Brunei. In 1888 North Borneo became a protectorate of the UK. In 1946 North Borneo became a British Crown Colony. North Borneo joined the Federation of Malaysia still in 1963.
Area: 76,115 km2 (29,388 sq mi)
Highest mountain: Mount Kinabalu
, 4095 m
(13435 ft). As it is also the highest mountain of Malaysia now, it means that in 1963 the highpoint of the Federation of Malaya, Gunung Tahan
, 2187 m (7175 ft) has lost its significance as a country highpoint.
Portugal first claimed sovereignty over Cabinda in the 1885 Treaty of Simulanbuco, which gave Cabinda the status of a protectorate of the Portuguese Crown. In 1975, the Treaty of Alvor integrated Cabinda into Angola. Since then officially Cabinda is part of Angola. But please note that this treaty was rejected by all Cabindan political organizations and secessionist still reclaim independence.
Area: 7823 km2 (3020 sq mi)
Highest point: Mountain Muabi, 870 m
(2850 ft). The name of the highest mountain was given by an unofficial website of the "Cabinda government". For its altitude it's written "700+". According to the topo map of Google it is approximately 870 m.
In 1510 the Portuguese established their permanent settlement Velha Goa.
Beside Goa they had other possessions on the coastline of India. In 1961 India annexed the last Portuguese possessions: Goa, Daman, Diu and the territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
Area: 4,319 km2 (1,668 sq mi).
Highest mountain: Sonsogor, 1167 m
(3827 ft) – one of the peaks of the Western Ghats mountain range.
In 1856 the Sultanate of Oman was divided into 2 principalities: Oman and Zanzibar. Zanzibar became a British protectorate in 1890. It gained independence in 1963: the Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba was established. In the same year the former British colony Tanganyika subsumed Zanzibar. Tanganyika and Zanzibar was soon renamed as the United Republic of Tanzania.
Area: 2,643 km2 (1,020.5 sq mi)
Highest elevation: 122 m
(390 ft) on the Island of Zanzibar
The territory of Sidi Ifni was ceded to Spain by Morocco in 1859, following a short war. Spain returned Ifni to Morocco in 1969.
Area: 1502 km2 (580 sq mi).
Highest point: reading Google Map, its approximate elevation is 1230 m
(4035 ft) at the southwestern end of Anti Atlas
Tai Mo Shan
The British forces occupied Hong Kong island in 1841, and their occupation was reinforced by the Treaty of Nanking in 1842. In 1997 sovereignty was transferred to China.
Area: 1,104 km2 (426 sq mi)
Highest mountain: Tai Mo Shan
, 957 m
Macau as a Portuguese settlement started to develop in the 16th century. But Macau became officially a Portuguese colony only in 1887. Though according to the treaty of 1887 Portugal got the right for perpetual occupation and government of Macau, China assumed formal sovereignty over Macau in 1999.
Area: 29.2 km2 (11.27 sq mi)
Highest point: Alto de Coloane, 171 m