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Hindu Kush Mountains


Main mountain chain in Afghanistan, extending to China; part of the great chain of central Asian mountains.

Beginning west of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, the Hindu Kush Mountains stretch some 600 miles (965 km) east across the northern tip of Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir to the Pamir and Karakoram Mountains on the border of China. The highest peak is Tirich Mir at 25,260 feet (7,700 m). Both the Indus and Amu Darya Rivers spring from the Hindu Kush. It is the main mountain chain in Afghanistan, and during the nineteenth century, it marked the limits of British expansion north of India and the unofficial and often-contested boundary between Russia and Britain in their struggle for hegemony in Central Asia. After World War II, the Hindu Kush divided American from Russian influence in Afghanistan, with the bulk of U.S. aid flowing south and the bulk of Russian aid going to the north. After the 1979 Soviet intervention and invasion of Afghanistan, the Hindu Kush became one of the main refuges of Afghan guerrillas in their struggle to force the Soviets out of the country. The mountains were a major battle area during the United States's 2001 campaign to oust the Taliban government and break the al-Qaʿida terrorist network.

See also amu darya.


Ewans, Martin. Afghanistan: A Short History of Its People and Politics. New York: HarperCollins, 2002.

Tanner, Stephen. Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the Fall of the Taliban. New York: Da Capo, 2002.

zachary karabell

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