Geographic Profiles

Three Major Geographical Regions

Afghanistan has a mountainous landscape. The Hindu Kush runs along the center of Afghanistan, while the Pamir extends from the far Northeast, followed by the Wakhan Corridor. The Wakhan Corridor, like an arm, stretches between Tajikistan to its North, Pakistan to its South, and reaches China at its easternmost end. The magnificent Hindu Kush divides the country into three major geographical regions: the northern plains, the central highlands, and the southern plateau. Each of these regions contain a different climate.


Central Highlands - Bamiyan, Kabul, Herat

The central highlands encompass most of the land in Afghanistan, from Herat to Bamiyan. The Hindu Kush expands throughout much of the region, which is mountainous and rocky. As such, many cities are built in valleys at various elevations. The climate varies slightly between different parts of the region. Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, experiences cold winters with freezing nights. Snow is common and heavy at times. During summer, days are hot while nights are cool. It is often sunny throughout the year, even during winter. Rain is most significant during the Spring. Bamiyan, which is northwest of Kabul, experiences freezing winters and cool summers. Herat, to the far west in the Hari River Valley, experiences cold winters. Winters are seldom freezing. It snows occasionally, but less so than Kabul. During the summer, the city experiences hot, sunny weather as well as strong winds that blow in the west of Afghanistan. They are known as the “one hundred- and twenty-days wind;” fierce, hot winds that blow sand and dust throughout the area.


Northern Plains

The northern plains border the Amu Darya river and contains the most fertile soil in Afghanistan. There, the climate is continental. The winters are bitterly cold, and the summers are very hot. Rainfall is limited but develop during the Winter and Spring. It reaches its peak with strong winds during March. Summer is accompanied by clear skies, while winter is cloudier. A notable city in the northern plains is Mazar-i-Sharif.


Southern Plateau – Kandahar

The southern plateau consists of dry deserts and plateaus. Its climate is generally dry, warm, and sunny through the year. Winters are mild during the day with cold nights, yet summers are extremely hot. Rainfall is scarce. It seldom snows, but melts on the ground when it does. Most of the arid environment is infertile and desolate; however, there is fertile soil near the Helmand River, the longest river in Afghanistan. Sandstorms occasionally stir the region. Two notable cities in the Southern Plateau are Kandahar and Zaranj.