Afghanistan Terrain

Mountains traverse the center of the country, running generally in a northeast southwest direction. Of the total land area, over 49 percent lies above 2,000 meters. Geographers disagree on the division of these mountains into systems.

The highest peaks are over 7,000 meters above sea level and are found in the eastern part of the country. In comparison, Mount Everest, which has the highest elevation in the world, stands 8,853.5 meters above sea level. The mountains of the Hindu Kush diminish in height as they stretch westward. Toward the middle of the range, near Kabul, they extend from 4,500 to 6,000 meters above sea level. In the western portion of the range they attain heights of 3,500 to 4,500 meters and at the extreme western border are lower still. The average altitude of the Hindu Kush is 4,500 meters (see fig. 4). The Hindu Kush runs about 966 kilometers laterally, and its median north south measurement is about 240 kilometers

In addition to its mountains, the country also possesses many rivers, river basins, lakes, and desert areas. Rivers take on a very special significance in an arid, landlocked country. The major rivers axe the Amu Darya (or Oxus; length at least 800 kilometers), Helmand (length 1,000 kilometers), Harirud 850 kilometers), and Kabul (length 460 kilometers). In addition, four important rivers flow northward: the Balkh, Morghab, Koshk, and Qonduz. The last two rivers flow into the Amu Darya. Many additional rivers and streams flow only seasonally, drying to a trickle or becoming totally dry during part of the year. Most rivers simply empty into arid portions of the country, spending themselves through evaporation without emptying into another watercourse. The most important river basins in the view of Gopalakrishnan are the Amu Darya, Kabul, Helmand, and Harirud.

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