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  • Afghanistan DEMs

    Follow the latest international developments with these DEMs and DEM overlays of north central Afghanistan from the author of the "Terrain Modeling and Mapping using DEM, SDTS, DRG, DLG and DTED Data" website

    Contributed by John Childs, October 15, 2001
    Here are some maps of Afghanistan showing the topography of the country. Good overlay material for Afghanistan is in short supply. The best I have found are Russian 1:50,000 and 1:200,000 topo maps, but they are not cheap. An example of one of these maps (of Kabul) is shown to the right. This and more examples of these Russian topos are available for free at the excellent University of Texas at Austin map collection site. The small topo is of a section of a 1:50,000 topo of an unidentified region. This map is offered as a sample at the Omni Resources website. They have an extensive (and expensive) collection of Russian topos. I will continue my search for acceptable overlay maps and will update this section as I find better data.

    The DEM shown to the left was prepared from DTED0 data exactly as described in preceding sections. It is indicative of the type of remotely sensed data available to US military planners, except that the quality and resolution of their data is so much superior to anything available to us.

    The DEM does give some idea of the formidable terrain in the country, especially the terrifying Hindu Kush which has some of the highest mountains in the world. I have seen this range from Kashmir in India, and can report that they are nothing like the mountains in the United States. The elevation of the lowest passes in this range surpass the height of any mountain in the United States. The terrain is severe and the valleys are constricted. The excellent defensive nature of the terrain and the warlike tendencies of many of the tribal groups is one reason that Afghanistan has remained unconquered for centuries. See also the MicroDem to USGS DEM Conversion by mdem

    The last set of pictures are some incredible IKONOS satellite images of the Duranta camp complex outside of Jalalabad. The first shows a view of the camp complex. The second shows several tunnel enterances in the vicinity of one of the camps. The third shows a column of militants led by a vehicle, again in the vicinity of the camps. The resolution of these photographs is remarkable, to say the least. The complete series of Russian topos, NIMA Pilotage maps and satellite images can be viewed at the excellent Global Security website. Many more unique maps of Afghanistan can be found at the Afghan Military Guide main page.

    Those interested are encouraged to keep ckecking back at as John will post additional maps here as he is able to locate and prepare the data.
    About The Author

    John Childs ( maintains a not-for-profit website at where he offers a series of dem file translation utilities that he has developed and makes available for free download.

    Entire Article Copyright (c)2001, all rights reserved. Reproduction or redistribution in whole or in part without contacting The Geocommunity is strictly prohbited.

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