Alps, the highest and most remarkable chain of mountains in Europe, forming the watershed between the rivers which discharge their waters into the Mediterranean, and those which run to the Atlantic ocean, the North sea, and the Black sea. The Alps have a general crescent-like form, and extend through fourteen degrees of longitude and five of latitude. From the principal chains spurs extend to the Apennines, the Pyrenees, the Vosges, the Hartz, the Sudetes, the Carpathians, and the Balkan. The average height of the different ranges is about 7,700 ft., from which altitude more than 400 peaks rise into the region of perpetual snow. The principal subdivisions of the Alps are the following:
I. The Maritime Alps, consisting of two portions, of which the first, distinguished as Ligu-rian Alps, extends in a semicircle from the S. W. extremity of the Alpine chain to the Col de Liuzania in Piedmont, and forms the line of separation between that province and the French department of Alpes-Maritimes (the former circle of Nice); the second, distinguished as the Upper Maritime Alps, terminates on the W. frontier of Piedmont in the lofty peak of Monte Viso. The principal altitudes of the Maritime Alps are: peak to the W. of the village of Mauricio, 13,107 ft.; Monte Viso, 12,582 ft,; Monte Pelvo, 9,958 ft.; Col de Maurin, 9,784 ft.
II. The Cottian Alps, extending, in a triangular form, from Monte Viso to Mont Cenis, having Piedmont on one side, Savoy on another, and the department of Hautes-Alpes in France on the third. They give rise to the Durance, the Po, and several smaller streams. The principal summits are: Mont Olan, 13,831 ft.; Mont Pel-voux, 13,440; Mont Galeon, 12,467; Mont Genevre, 11,785.
III. The Graian Alps, the Gray Alps of the German geographers, extending from Mont Cenis to the Col du Bonhomme, between Savoy on the W. and Piedmont on the E., giving rise to several tributaries of the Po and the Rhone. The most elevated summits in this chain are: Mont Iseran, 13,274 ft.; Aiguille de la Sassiere, 12,346; Rocca Melone, 11,569; Mont Cenis, 11,457.
IV. The Pennine Alps, extending from the Col du Bonhomme to Monte Rosa, between upper Savoy and the Swiss canton of Valais on one side, and Piedmont on the other. This chain includes the three loftiest mountains in Europe, as well as several other peaks of considerable elevation, namely: Mont Blanc, 15,732 ft.; Mente Rosa, 15,150; Mont Cervin, 14,835; Le Geant, 13,800; Aiguille du Midi, 12,743; Mont Velan, 11,003; Pic Blanc, E. of Monte Rosa, 11,190.
V. The Lepontine or Helvetian Alps, including the divergent chain known as the Bernese Alps. This division covers western Switzerland, extending on both sides of the Rhone, dividing Lombardy from Switzerland, and one branch terminating at Monte Bernardino, while the other extends to and unites with the Jura mountains N. of Lake Geneva. This portion of the Alps is more visited than any other, and comprises the finest mountain scenery in Europe. Its most elevated peaks are: the Finster-aarhorn, 14,106 ft.; the Furca, 14,037; the Jungfrau, 13,718; the Monch, 13,498; the Schreckhorn, 13,386; the Eiger, 13,075; the Blumlis Alp, 12,140; Monte Leone, on the Simplon, 11,541; the Galenstock, the highest of the St. Gothard group, 12,481; the Moschelhorn, in the Rheinwald, 10,870; the Grimsel, 9,704.
VI. The Rhaetian Alps, commencing at Monte Bernardino, extending along the frontiers of Switzerland, Italy, and Germany, and terminating at the N. E. extremity of the Tyrol. The principal summits are: Mount Julier, 13,855 ft.; the Ortler-spitze, 12,852; Monte della Disgrazia, 12,060; the Wetterhom, 12,176; Monte Gavis, 11,754; the Dodi, 11,735; and several other peaks of nearly the same altitude.
VII. The Noric Alps, commencing at Dreiherrenspitze, where the preceding division terminates, extend through Salzburg, northern Carinthia, Styria, and Upper and Lower Austria, forming the dividing line of the basins of the Salza and the Drave. Their highest peaks are: the Gross-Glockner, on the confines of Tyrol and Salzburg, 12,776 ft.; the Wisbachhorn, in Carinthia, 11,518; the Hohen-wart, in Carinthia, 11,075; together with several other summits nearly 10,000 feet high.
VIII. The Carnic Alps, extending, on the confines of Venetia and Carinthia, from Pellegrino to Terglou, separating the waters of the Gail from those that flow into the gulf of Venice, and sending out a spur to divide the waters of the Save and the Drave. Its highest peak is La Marmoluta, 11,508 ft.
IX. From Terglou this chain is prolonged through Gorz and Car-niola to Mount Kleck under the name of the Julian or Pannonian Alps. Its loftiest summit is the Terglou, 10,866 ft.
X. A southern continuation, called the Dinaric Alps, extends from Mount Kleck through Croatia, Dalmatia, and Herzegovina, to the neighborhood of the Balkan. The St. Gothard range is the culminating point of all these chains of the Alps, and is distant in a direct line from the Mediterranean about 150 miles, 225 from the Adriatic, 525 from the Atlantic, 500 from the North sea, and 550 from the Baltic. It will be evident from these distances that the southern slope is far more rapid and precipitous than the northern. - The line of permanent snow for the whole Alps averages about 8,000 to 9,000 feet of altitude. On the northern slope it is usually 600 or 700 feet lower than on the southern. The glaciers of the Alps (German, Gletscher) form one of the most remarkable features. From the peaks, more than 400 in number, which rise above the line of perpetual snow, there descends into the valleys below a mass of partially melted snow and comminuted ice, often i of very great extent. Constantly pressed forward by the accumulation of ice and snow be-hind it, nothing can resist its onward progress; trees, rocks, houses, all are borne forward on its slow-moving surface, till it reaches the point where the sun's rays are sufficiently fervid to melt the mass, when it forms the source of some mighty river.