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The Helmand River Crossing Desert in Afghanistan

30.5N 63.6E

April 2nd, 2011 Category: Deserts, Lakes

Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan - March 23rd, 2011

A large, sandy desert can be observed in southern Afghanistan, near the border with Iran (west) and Pakistan (east). Running across the desert is the Helmand River, the longest river in Afghanistan and the primarily watershed for the endorheic Sistan Basin.

The Helmand river stretches for 1,150 km (715 miles). It rises in the Hindu Kush mountains, about 80 km (50 miles) west of Kabul. It crosses south-west through the desert of Dashti Margo, to the Seistan marshes and the Hamun-i-Helmand lake region around Zabol at the Afghan-Iranian border.

The river remains relatively salt-free for much of its length, unlike most rivers with no outlet to the sea. This river is used extensively for irrigation, although a buildup of mineral salts has decreased its usefulness in watering crops.

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