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Afghanistan geography is rugged yet beautiful. Pristine mountains, just right for skiing, natural rivers great for rafting and swimming, and high deserts make it a land with great potential for many as yet undeveloped industries.

It sits at the historical and geographical crossroads of four cultural worlds: The Middle East, with its Arab and Persian peoples; Central Asia, populated by Turks and Mongolians; the Indian subcontinent and the Far East.

It has traditionally been a place that other people crossed on their way to China and forms part of the ancient Silk Route.


The 650,000 square km of Afghanistan are sliced from east to west by the Hindu Kush mountains, with peaks as high as 4,000 to 8,000 meters. The mountain range sretches more than 1000 km long and is 250 km wide. In the northeast corner of Afghanistan the Hindu Kush gives way to the Pamir mountains. These run through the Wakhan Corridor, touching China, Tajikistan and Pakistan.

Earthquakes are frequent in the country, small tremors occurring often throughout.


Afghanistan geography includes stunning, fast-flowing rivers. The Amu Darya river (in ancient times called the Oxus) separates the country from its northern neighors, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Towards the east lies Iran and the southwestern neighbor is Pakistan. Other major rivers are the Kabul, which flows into the Indus; the Helmand, the longest in the south of the country and the Harirud, in the west. All these rivers, except the Kabul River, empty into lakes or swamps.


Natural passes through the mountains give entrance into the eastern side of the country. The Khyber Pass, which traverses the Suleiman range, gives access into Pakistan's gateway city of Peshawar and the Khojak Pass, into Pakistan's Quetta. The historical northern entrance was through the Kunduz valley and in the east, Herat is the gateway into Persia.

Provinces of Afghanistan

Politically, Afghanistan is divided into 34 provinces (Wilayats):

There are currently thirty-four (34) provinces in the country. Each province is further divided into smaller districts. Provincial governments are led by a governor. Each province is represented in the government of Afghanistan by two members in the House of Elders.

One representative is elected by the provincial council to a four year term while the second is elected by the district councils to a three year term. Representation in the House of the People is directly from the districts, although in each province, two of the representatives must be women. These are appointed by the President.

Badakhshan, Badghis, Baghlan, Balkh, Bamiyan, Daykundi, Farah, Faryab, Ghazni, Ghor, Helmand, Herat, Jozhan, Kabul, Kandahar, Kapisa, Khost, Kunar, Kunduz, Laghman, Logar, Nangarhar, Nimruz, Nuristan, Oruzgan, Paktia, Paktika, Panshir, Parwan, Samangan, Sar-e-Pol, Takhar, Wardak and Zabul.


  • Unpublished report by Elizabeth Jordaan, April, 1997

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