Difference Between Mountain and Plateau

Mountain vs Plateau

If one looks at the surface of the earth, it becomes clear that it is not uniform and there are many land forms such as mountains, plateaus and plains to make it look so very interesting. Most of us know what mountains are, however, not many know the features of a plateau which also happens to be a major landform created by Mother Nature. Though both mountains and plateaus are elevated landforms, their similarities end with this point and differences begin. These differences will be highlighted in this article for the benefit of the readers.


On the basis of elevation and the slope that gets formed, different landforms are classified as mountains, plateaus, or plains. Mountain is any natural elevation of the surface of the earth. Mountains are big and small and they may have very high summits or they may not be high. But one thing is common to all mountains and that is they are all considerably higher than surrounding area. There are mountains even higher than clouds. As one goes up mountains, the climate becomes cooler. Some mountains have frozen rivers over them known as glaciers. Some mountains are under sea so that, they remain hidden and we cannot see them. But some of these are even higher than the highest ones on earth which is really surprising. Mountains have steep slopes and present very littler land for farming. The climate is also harsh so they are not thickly populated.


A plateau is a flat land that has got elevation, and it is separate and distinct from the plains that surround such a landform. A plateau looks like a large table made by nature on a flat land. There are small as well as very high plateaus in the world with their height going up to thousands of meters. Deccan plateau in India is considered to be the oldest plateau in the world. There are many other famous plateaus such as ones in Kenya, Tibet, Australia and many other countries. Tibet plateau is highest with height ranging from 4000-6000 meters. Plateaus are very useful for mankind as they are rich in mineral deposits. Plateaus also have waterfalls occasionally. Most of the plateaus of the world are known as scenic spots and are full of tourists all year long.

In brief:

Difference Between Mountain and Plateau

• A plateau is an elevated plain, while mountain is an elevation with steep slopes

• A plateau is generally lower in height than mountain, though there are plateaus higher than some mountains

• Mountains are sparsely populated as they are not suitable for farming, and the climate is also harsh.

• On the other hand, plateaus are places with rich reserves of minerals

• Plateaus also have waterfalls making them scenic spots frequented by visitors

• A mountain goes up and comes down steeply, whereas a plateau goes up, remains flat for a while before sloping gently again.

• Plateaus have relatively flat terrain making it look like a table

• Highest plateau of the world, the one in Tibet is also called the roof of the world.