The Rivers and Lakes of Afghanistan indicate the great river bodies of the country. Many of Afghanistan’s major rivers are fed by mountain streams. Most rivers in the country become only trickles during the long dry season and have large flows of water only in the spring, when the winter snow in the mountains melts rapidly. Most of the rivers end in lakes, swamps, or salt flats. The Kabul River is an exception, flowing east into Pakistan to join the Indus River, which empties into the Indian Ocean. The country’s only navigable river is the Amu Darya, on the northern border, although ferry boats can cross the deeper areas of other rivers. The Amu Darya receives water from two main tributaries, the Panj and the Vakhsh, which rise in the Pamirs. The Harīrūd River rises in central Afghanistan and flows to the west and northwest to form part of the border with Iran. Water from the Harîrûd is used to irrigate the Herāt region of Afghanistan. The long Helmand River rises in the central Hindu Kush, crosses the southwest of the country, and ends in Iran. This river is used extensively for irrigation, although a buildup of mineral salts has decreased its usefulness in watering crops.
Afghanistan’s lakes are small in size and number, but include Lake Zarkol in the Wakhan Corridor along the Tajikistan border, Shīveh in Badakhshān, and the saline Lake Istādeh-ye Moqor, located south of Ghaznī. The Hamun-i-Helmand (Sīstān Lake), which straddles the border between Afghanistan and Iran, is located in a region of wetlands and salt marshes at the end of the Helmand River. A number of hydroelectric dams have created artificial reservoirs on some of the country’s rivers. These include the Sarowbī (Sarobi) and Naghlū dams on the Kabul River east of the capital city, the Kajakī Reservoir on the Helmand River, and the Arghandāb Dam on a tributary of the Helmand near the city of Kandahar. The Rivers and Lakes of Afghanistan as described above do have some sort of link with larger ones.