Map of the Month: Central Afghanistan Mountains

Map of the Month: Central Afghanistan Mountains
Map boundaries: 30 to 40 degrees North; 60 to 70 degrees East
Countries: Afghanistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan

The Central Afghanistan Mountains are a temperate desert and dryland region with high elevation alpine meadows and forests. The northeastern portion of the map in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan is grassland and savannah; southeastern portions grade into tropical steppe in Balochistan. Mountains rise from the deserts throughout the region, including the Pamirs in the northeast, Hindu Kush in the central area, Kopet Dag in the west, and Sulaimen in the southeast. Many of the rivers that rise in the Central Afghan Mountains, also known as the Hindu Kush, flow into deserts and dry up. This includes the Amu River, the largest river in the area; the Hairi or Tejen, which arises in Afghanistan and disappears into the Karakum (Garagum) Desert in Turkmenistan; the Morghab River, which arises in Afghanistan and flows past Mary in Turkmenistan before drying up; the Farah River and Helmand River, both of which empty into swamps on the Iran-Afghanistan border. One exception is the Kabul River, which flows east from the city of Kabul into the Indus River in Pakistan.

World Wildlife Fund Ecoregions and Provinces/Political Subdivisions

Temperate Coniferous Forests
PA506–East Afghan montane conifer forests. Pine, fir, oak, juniper. Found in Afghanistan–Nangarhar, Paktia, Paktika; and Pakistan-Balochistan.
PA507, Elburz Range forest steppe. Juniper forest, pistachio. Found in Iran-Razavi Khorasan

Temperate Grasslands, Savannas and Shrublands
PA 801, Alai-Western Tian Shan steppe. Tall grasses, juniper, pistachio, almond, maple. Found in Tajikistan-Sughd; Turkmenistan-Lebap; Uzbekistan—Jizzakh, Navoiy, Qashqadaryo, Samarkand, Sirdaryo.
PA808, Gissaro-Alai open woodlands. Pistachio, almond, walnut, apple, juniper, sagebrush. Found in Kyrgyzstan-Batken, Tajikistan-Karotegin (Region of Republican Subordination), Khation, Sughd; Uzbekistan-Jizzakh, Qashqadaryo, Samarkand, Sirdaryo, Surxondaryo

Montane Grasslands and Shrublands
PA1004, Ghorat-Hazarajat alpine meadow. Meadows, willows, sea buckthorn. Found in
Afghanistan—Badghis, Baghlan, Bamyan, Daykundi, Farah, Faryab, Ghazni, Ghor, Herat, Kabul, Logar, Oruzgan, Paktia, Parwan, Samangan, Sar-e Pol, Wardak, Zabul.
PA1005, Hindu Kush alpine meadow. Meadows and birch forests. Found in Afghanistan—Baghlan, Kapisa, Laghman, Nuristan, Panjshir, Takhar.
PA1008, Kopet Dag woodlands and forest steppe. Mediterranean xeric woodlands, maple and hawthorn. Found in Iran-Razavi Khorasan; Turkmenistan-Ahal, Mary.
PA1009, Kuhrud-Kohbanan Mountains forest steppe. Pistachio and almond forest on dry steppe. Found in Iran—Razavi Khorasan, South Khorasan, Sistan and Baluchestan.
PA1014, Pamir alpine desert and tundra. Steppe with cushion plants, similar to Tibet but rougher and lower. Found in Tajikistan—Karotegin (Region of Republican Subordination), Sughd; Uzbekistan—Surxondaryo.
PA1018, Sulaiman Range alpine meadows. Pine, juniper, steppe, western Himalayan evergreen forests, Fagaceae, and alpine steppe. Found in Afghanistan—Kandahar, Nangarhar; Pakistan—Balochistan, Kurram, North Waziristan.

Deserts and Xeric Shrublands
PA1301, Afghan Mountains semi-desert. Thorny bushes, zizyphus, acacia,Amygdatus. Found in Afghanistan–Badghis, Baghlan, Bamyan, Ghor, Herat.
PA1306, Badkhiz-Karabil semi-desert. Savannah of pistachio, desert sedge. Found in Afghanistan-Badghis, Balkh, Faryab, Herat, Jowzjan, Kunduz, Samangan, Sar-e Pol; Iran—Razavi Khorasan; Tajikistan—Khation; Turkmenistan—Ahal, Lebap, Mary; Uzbekistan—Surxondaryo.
PA1307, Baluchistan xeric woodlands. Pistachio, almond, sage, juniper and other tropical steppe flora. Found in Afghanistan—Kabul, Kapisa, Khost, Nangarhar, Paktia, Paktika, Parwan; Pakistan—Balochistan, Dera Ismail Khan Frontier Region, Kurram, North Waziristan, Punjab, South Waziristan.
PA1309, Central Afghan Mountains xeric woodlands. Dry shrubland, pistachio. Found in Afghanistan—Bamyan, Daykundi, Farah, Ghazni, Ghor, Helmand, Herat, Kabul, Kandahar, Kapisa, Laghman, Logar, Oruzgan, Paktia, Paktika, Panjshir, Parwan, Wardak, Zabul; Pakistan—Balochistan.
PA1311, Central Asian riparian woodlands. Poplar, willow, tamarisk, lianas, meadows, wetlands. Found in Turkmenistan—Lebap; Uzbekistan—Bukhara.
PA1312, Central Asian southern desert. Saksaul trees, acacias, Salsola, shrub bindweed. Found in Turkmenistan—Ahal, Lebap, Mary; Uzbekistan—Bukhara, Navoiy, Qashqadaryo, Samarqand.
PA1313, Central Persian desert basins. Grass, sagebrush, chenopods. Found in Afghanistan—Farah, Herat; Iran—Razavi Khorasan, South Khorasan.
PA1322, Paropamisus xeric woodlands. Almond, pistachio, willows, sea buckthorn. Found in Afghanistan–Badakhshan, Badghis, Baghlan, Balkh, Bamyan, Faryab, Ghor, Herat, Jowzjan, Kunduz, Samangan, Sar-e Pol, Takhar.
PA1326, Registan-North Pakistan sandy desert. Shrubs, sedges, grasses. Found in Afghanistan—Farah, Helmand, Kandahar, Nimruz, Oruzgan, Zabul; Iran—Sistan and Baluchestan, South Khorasan.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam, Ghor, Afghanistan. This giant decorated tower, built in the 12th century, stands beside the Hari Rud River, ecoregion PA1301.
Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley, Bamyan, Afghanistan. From the first to 13th century, this was ancient Baktria. The area contains Buddhist monastic sanctuaries, as well as fortified edifices from the Islamic period. The two standing Buddha statues were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. ecoregion PA1301.
Historic Center of Bukhara, Uzbekistan. The most complete example of a medieval city in Central Asia. The tomb of Ismail Samani is a masterpiece of 10th Century Muslim architecture. Much of the city’s appearance dates to the 16th century. Ecoregion PA1312.
Samarkand, Uzbekistan. For 2000 years, this was an important stop on the Silk Road. Samarkand’s Registan is one of the grandest public squares in the world, and its complex of mausoleums dating from the 14th and 15th centuries is visually stunning (Schultz, 2003). Samarkand was founded in the 7th century BC, with its most significant development in the 14th to 15th century. Ecoregion PA 801.
Historic Center of Shakhrisyabz, Uzbekistan. Birthplace of the famous conqueror Timur the Lame and home of the Timurids Empire, 15th and 16th century. Ecoregion PA801
Ancient Merv (Mary), Turkmenistan. Best preserved oasis city on ancient Silk Route. Ecoregion PA1312.

Other points of interest:
Balkh, Afghanistan, formerly Bactra, the capital of ancient Bactria, is found in Balkh Province, north Afghanistan. It contains Buddhist and Islamic ruins. Ecoregion PA1306.
Band-e Amir, Afghanistan, is a series of six lakes 75 miles west of Bamiyan, Ecoregion PA1004.
Karakum Canal, Turkmenistan, flows 1,000 miles across Turkmenistan, from the Amu River to the Caspian Sea, is the world’s longest irrigation and shipping canal. It crosses the world’s largest sand desert, the Karakum. Ecoregion PA1312.
Khojak Pass, Pakistan, contains a 2.4-mile long railroad tunnel northwest of Quetta in Balochistan. Ecoregion 1018.
Rogun Dam, Tajikistan, is an unfinished dam that was originally slated to be the world’s tallest at 1,100 feet. PA808.

501 Must-Visit Destinations. Bounty Books, 2006.
Bonneville, Patrick and Hemono, Philippe. 2006. The World Heritage. Bonneville Connection, Quebec.
National Geographic Society and World Wildlife Fund, WildWorld map.
Schultz, Patricia. 2003. 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. Workman Publishing.


Comments are closed.