Bactrian Plain

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bactrian Plain


a piedmont plain in northern Afghanistan on the left bank of the Amu-Darya River.

The Bactrian plain is about 400 km long and up to 140 km wide. Its elevation ranges from 500 m in the south to 250 m in the northwest. The plain is located in a tectonic depression whose surface is composed primarily of sand and clay deposits and loess. The southern part of the Bactrian plain is a sloping proluvial plain up to 25 km wide, consisting of the merging deltas of mountain rivers and streams. The northern part of the plain is flat; it is occupied mainly by low river terraces of the Amu-Darya. The climate is dry and subtropical. In July the average temperature is about 31°C, and in January it is about 3° C. Precipitation is 150–250 mm a year, with the maximum occurring in the spring. In the north, sandy, partly wind-scattered deserts predominate; farther south there are sand and clay deserts with takyrs (clay-surfaced deserts) and solonchaks.

There are floodplain thickets and meadows growing in tugaic soils along the Amu-Darya River. The cities of Mazar-i-Sharif, Tashkurghan, Shibarghan, Kunduz, and others, are located on a strip of oases in Mazar-i-Sharif Province, Afghanistan, on the dry deltas of mountain rivers in the south that have dried up. Cotton, wheat, sugar beets, and rice are cultivated on the Bactrian plain, and sheep and horses are raised.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.