Greatest Hits is the first greatest hits album by American recording artist Mariah Carey, released in the United States on December 4, 2001 by Columbia Records. It is a greatest hits double album: CD 1 is primarily a collection of Carey's hits from 1990 to 1995, while CD 2 is primarily a collection of hits from 1996 to 2000. In 2011, the album was re-issued outside the US with the same track listing, under the title of The Essential Mariah Carey. In 2012, The Essential Mariah Carey was released in North America with a slightly different track listing, replacing some hits with their extended club mixes, and others being completely removed in favor of tracks that had not been released as singles. Much of the artwork inside the album booklet is very similar to that of the Greatest Hits release.
Carey had previously released the compilation album #1's (1998), but the release of her Greatest Hits album was a contractual agreement beyond her control, since she had left Columbia Records and had moved on to Virgin Records. The album had little creative input from Carey and there are no personal messages within its liner notes, unlike #1's. All tracks from the previous album, with the exception of "Whenever You Call" with Brian McKnight, and the #1's non-U.S. bonus track "Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" are included on l.p. Greatest Hits. Tracks that weren't included on #1's are:
Most non-U.S. versions of Greatest Hits retain the track listing as listed below with the addition of "Against All Odds" (2000), a duet with Westlife. The Japanese version contains "Against All Odds", "Open Arms" (1996), the non-single album track "Music Box" from the album Music Box (1993), and the Merry Christmas album version of "All I Want for Christmas Is You"; it is also the only album to include the "Never Too Far/Hero Medley" (2001) single. Unlike most non-U.S. versions of the Greatest Hits album, the So So Def Remix of "All I Want for Christmas Is You" was not included on the original UK edition but on the album's 2005 re-release.