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May 3, 2005

Afghanistan is a blend of fertile valleys and formidable mountains running from the Hindu Kush in the northeast to the Sistan Basin in the southwest. The Sistan Basin, which is home to the Hamoun Wetlands, straddles the border between Iran and southern Afghanistan, though persistent drought conditions and poor water management of the Helmand River have turned what was once a lush oasis into arid salt pans. A thin line of green vegetation marks the banks of the Helmand River, which flows toward the Hamoun Wetlands at lower left. The river brings life-giving water to portions of the Margo Desert.

Running along the left side of the image is Iran. Along the bottom edge are Pakistan (center) and India (lower right). From left to right along the top edge are Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. The Indus River valley makes a green and brown ribbon running south through the bottom right portion of the image in Pakistan; to the east of the river are a number of bright red dots that mark locations where MODIS detected fires.

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