|Annapurna south face|
Annapurna is a section of the Himalaya in north-central Nepal that includes 8091 meter (26,545 ft) Annapurna I, thirteen additional peaks over 7000 meters and 16 more over 6000 meters. This section is a 55 km (34 mi)-long massif. Annapurna I is tenth among Earth's fourteen eight-thousanders. It rises east of the Kali Gandaki Gorge separating it from Dhaulagiri massif. 8167 meter Dhaulagiri I is 34 km to the west and the gorge between is considered Earth's deepest.
Annapurna is a Sanskrit name which literally means "full of food" (feminine form), but is normally translated as Goddess of the Harvests. In Hinduism, Annapurna is "the universal and timeless kitchen-goddess . . . the mother who feeds. Without her there is starvation, a universal fear: this makes Annapurna a universal goddess. . . . Her most popular shrine is located in Kashi, on the banks of the river Ganga." Her association with the giving of food (wealth) led her in time to be transformed into Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth.
The entire massif and surrounding area are protected within the 7,629 km2 Annapurna Conservation Area, the first and largest conservation area in Nepal, established in 1986 by the King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation. The Annapurna Conservation Area is home to several world-class treks, including the Annapurna Circuit.
The Annapurna peaks are the world's most dangerous mountains to climb. As of 2007, there had been 153 summit ascents of Annapurna I, and 58 climbing fatalities on the mountain. This fatality to summit ratio (38%) is the highest of any of the eight-thousanders.