A pass is a gap, or break, in high, rugged terrain such as a mountain ridge. A pass forms when a glacier or stream erodes, or wears away, the land between areas of higher terrain. Passes often provide the easiest routes for people to travel across steep mountain ranges. For this reason, they have played an important role throughout human history in migration, trade, and settlement.
Most passes are flat at their summits and have the shape of a saddle. They can consist of very short, steep summits, or expansive valleys that stretch for kilometers. Often, passes sit just above the source of a river fed by precipitation and snowmelt.
Passes are good places to build settlements or defensive outposts because they are usually the only flat land in a mountainous area. This vantage point also makes a pass an easier location to defend against threats or enemies.
In some parts of the world, passes connect different cultures that are separated by the mountains between them. The Khyber Pass, which connects Pakistan and Afghanistan in the Hindu Kush mountains, has served as a key trade route between Central Asia and South Asia for thousands of years. Today, it is the route between the modern cities of Kabul, Afghanistan and Peshawar, Pakistan.
"Pass" may also refer to a channel, or deeper part of a body of water, that allows passage through an otherwise shallow waterway.
Hannibal (247-183 BCE) completed one of the most legendary crossings of the French Alps during the Second Punic War (218-203 BCE). Hannibal was from North Africa, the modern-day city of Carthage, Tunisia. He led not only his troops through the Alps, a formidable mountain range, but a number of war elephants as well. However, there is no record of which pass Hannibal used to cross the Alps. The subject remains intensely debated by historians.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry channel Noun
waterway between two relatively close land masses.
Encyclopedic Entry: channel consist Verb
to be made of.
learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.
to argue or disagree in a formal setting.
large mammal with a long trunk, native to Africa and Asia.
to wear away.
intimidating, or causing fear or hesitation due to difficulty.
mass of ice that moves slowly over land.
Encyclopedic Entry: glacier Hannibal Noun
(247-183 BCE) general of the Carthaginian Empire.
Encyclopedic Entry: Hannibal Khyber Pass Noun
gap in the Hindu Kush mountains linking Pakistan and Afghanistan.
famous, heroic, or celebrated.
movement of a group of people or animals from one place to another.
landmass that forms as tectonic plates interact with each other.
gap or break in rugged terrain, such as a mountain ridge.
Encyclopedic Entry: pass precipitation Noun
all forms in which water falls to Earth from the atmosphere.
Encyclopedic Entry: precipitation river Noun
large stream of flowing fresh water.
Encyclopedic Entry: river rugged Adjective
having an irregular or jagged surface.
seat for a rider on a horse.
Second Punic War Noun
(218-201 BCE) armed conflict between the Carthaginian Empire and the Roman Republic.
community or village.
water supplied by snow.
beginning of a stream, river, or other flow of water.
Encyclopedic Entry: source stream Noun
body of flowing water.
Encyclopedic Entry: stream summit Noun
highest point of a mountain.
topographic features of an area.
buying, selling, or exchanging of goods and services.
trade route Noun
path followed by merchants or explorers to exchange goods and services.
depression in the Earth between hills.
position or outlook.