Geography & Climate
The terrain consists of mountain ranges, heaving sub mountain areas, and plains surrounded by hills. In the north the mountain ranges generally run north-south; south of the Kabul River, which bisects the province from east to west, the ranges generally run east-west. The Hindu Kush region in the north, long noted for its scenic beauty is divided by the Kunar River into two distinct ranges: the northern Hindu Kush and the Hindu Raj. Tirich Mir rises to 25,230 feet (7,690 meters) and is the highest peak of the northern Hindu Kush. To the south of the Hindu Raj lie the rugged basins of the Panjkora, Swat, and Kandia rivers. The Lesser Himalayas and the Sub-Himalayas are situated in the eastern part of the province and form definite ranges broken by hilly country and small plains.
The fertile Vale of Peshawar extends northward along the Kabul River. Though it covers less than one-tenth of the province’s area, this region contains about half of its total population. The city of Peshawar lies in the western portion of the vale. West of Peshawar, the historic Khyber Pass is strategically important as the most easily negotiable route between Afghanistan and the Indian subcontinent. South of the Kabul River lies the east-west-trending Spin Ghar (SafidKud) Range. The Kurram, Tochi, and Gumal rivers drain the province’s southern region, and the Indus River forms part of the province’s eastern border.
The climate varies with elevation. The mountain ranges experience cold winters and cool summers, and temperatures rise markedly toward the south. Precipitation over the province is variable but averages roughly 16 inches (400 mm) annually, with much of this occurring during the period from January to April.
The mountain slopes in the north support stands of evergreen oak and pine. There are also extensive mountain grasslands. The hills to the south are sparsely covered with bushes, acacia, and grasses.
The province’s economy is essentially agricultural, even though the mountainous terrain is not favorable to extensive cultivation. Irrigation is carried out on about one-third of the cultivated land. Wheat, corn (maize), sugarcane, and tobacco are the major crops. The principal industries are the manufacture and refining of sugar, the canning and preservation of fruits and vegetables, tobacco processing, and the manufacture of small arms and accessories. Other products are cotton textiles, cement, ghee (clarified butter), furniture, and milled grains.
Peshawar lies on an east-west road that connects Kabul, Afghanistan, to Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. A major north-south road traverses the province, and an east-west railway runs from the Afghanistan border through Peshawar to Lahore in Punjab province.