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Afghanistan

Afghanistan Destinations Travel Guide

 

 

 

Flag of Afghanistan

Language: Pashto, Dari

Currency: Afghani (AFN)

Calling Code: +93

 

 

 

Afghanistan - is a landlocked country located in the heart of Asia. The country is located geographically in Central Asia, grouped within a regional block between the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East, as a religious, ethnolinguistic and geographic entity related to most of its neighbors. It borders Pakistan to the south and east, with Iran to the west, with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to the north, and with the People's Republic of China to the northeast through the Wakhan corridor.

In recent years several wars and conflicts have happened in this country. In 1978, the Saur Revolution took place. The strong harassment of the Islamic fundamentalists provoked the intervention of the Red Army in support of the government, while the guerrillas received the support of the United States, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other Muslim nations. In 1989 the Soviets withdrew, although the civil war continued. In 1996, the Taliban imposed a regime based on Sharia law. In 2001 the United States overthrew the Taliban government supported by an international coalition, in reaction to the attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York and responding to a policy of persecution of the group Al Qaeda in the region by the US government. The previous political structure of Afghanistan was replaced by a more pro-Western and democratically elected government.

 

Travel Destination in Afghanistan

Panjshir Valley

 

Panjshir Valley is located 150 km North of Kabul in North- Central Afghanistan. Name of Panjshir Valley literally means "Valley of the Five Lions".

     

 

 

 

 

Climate

Temperatures in the central highlands are below freezing for most of the winter, and snow is common at higher elevations. Summertime highs in lower elevations (such as Jalalabad or Mazar-e Sharif) can exceed 50°C/120°F. In higher areas such as Kabul, summer temperatures can be 30°C/90°F and winter around 0°C/30°F. The most pleasant weather in Kabul is during April, May and September.

Terrain
Mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest. The Hindu Kush mountains run northeast to southwest, dividing the northern provinces from the rest of the country, with the highest peaks found in the northern Wakhan Corridor. South of Kandahar is desert. Kandahar is beautiful in many places.

The lowest point is Amu Darya at 242m, and the highest is Nowshak at 7,489 m.

 

 

People

Afghanistan is an ethnically diverse country. Tribal and local allegiances are strong, which complicates national politics immensely.

The largest ethnic group is the Pashtun followed by the Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek and others.

Baloch tribesmen, while still largely nomadic, can be found anywhere between Quetta in Pakistan and Mashad in Iran, including much of Western Afghanistan. They make marvellous rugs, if somewhat simple.

There are about three thousand Hindus and Sikhs living in different cities of the country but mostly in Kabul, Jalalabad, and Kandahar who belong to the Punjabi, Sindhi, Kabuli, and Kandhari ethnic groups.

Hazaras in the Central mountains look much more Asiatic than other Afghans. According to some theories, many of them are descended from Ghengis Khan's soldiers.

Afghanistan is a multilingual country in which two languages - Persian (Dari) and Pashto are both official with Persian being most widely spoken in the country. Pashto speakers predominate in the South and East, Persian in North, West and central Afghanistan. About 11% of the population have Turkic languages, Uzbek or Turkmen, as their first language. Many of them are in the North, near Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Minor native language groups include Nuristani, Dardic and Pamiri, found in small pockets in the east and northeast.Most ethnicities speak and understand Persian.

 

 

History

Afghanistan is a country with an ancient history. The first people appeared in Afghanistan at least 5,000 years ago, and the rural communities of this region were among the first in the world.

It is assumed that one of the Iranian religions, Zoroastrianism, arose on the territory of modern Afghanistan Turkestan between 1800 to 800 years BC. e., and Zarathushtra lived and died in Balkh. Ancient Eastern Iranian languages, such as Avestan, were spoken in this region during the heyday of Zoroastrianism. By the middle of the VI century BC, the Achaemenids included Afghanistan in their Persian empire.

The Achaemenid Empire fell under the blows of Alexander of Macedon after 330 BC. e. and the modern territory of Afghanistan became part of his empire. After the collapse of the empire of Alexander the Great, Afghanistan was part of the Seleucid state, which controlled the region until 305 BC. e. Buddhism has become the dominant religion in the region.

Then the region became part of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom. The Indo-Greeks were defeated by the Scythians and driven out of the region by the end of the 2nd century BC. The Greco-Bactrian kingdom lasted until 125 BC.

In the 1st century, the Parthian Empire conquered modern Afghanistan. In the mid-end of the II century BC. The Kushan Empire, centered in modern Afghanistan, has become a great patroness of Buddhist culture. Kushans were defeated by the Sassanids in the 3rd century. Various rulers called themselves Kushans (as you know, the Sassanids continued to rule at least part of this region). In the end, the Kushans were defeated by the Huns, whose place, in turn, was taken by the Ephthalites, who created their state in the region in the first half of the 5th century. The Ephthalites were defeated by the troops of the Turkic Kaganate in 557. However, the Ephtalites and descendants of the Kushans managed to create a small state in Kabulistan, which was subsequently captured by the Muslim rulers of the Saffarids, and then was part of the Samanids and Ghaznavids.

During this period, in the central part of modern Afghanistan, the Bamian Buddha statues were built, which were part of the complex of Buddhist monasteries in the Bamian Valley, whose age dates back to the 6th century AD and belongs to the Indian art of Gandhar, and the population spoke Gandhari (language).

Islamic and Mongolian period
In the 7th century, the modern territory of western Afghanistan was conquered by the Arabs, who brought their culture and a new religion - Islam. However, Islam was finally established only in the 10th century, when the region became part of the Samanids empire.

In the X century, the Turks came to the country from Central Asia. On the territory of modern Afghanistan, the Ghaznavid Empire arose (with its capital in the city of Ghazni), which also included parts of Iran, Central Asia and India. The flowering of science and culture began.

In the XII century, the local Gurid dynasty intensified, uniting a large territory under its authority. At the beginning of the 13th century, the Gurid power was conquered by Khorezm.

In the XIII century, the region was invaded by the Mongol troops of Genghis Khan. The modern territory of Afghanistan became part of the Mongol empire, on its territory there was a vassal of the Kurt dynasty to the Mongols. Modern Afghanistan was located on the border of two Mongolian uluses - the Hulaguids and the Chagatai ulus. In the second half of the 14th century, modern Afghanistan was part of the Timur empire, and after his death the Timurids ruled here, of which the ruler of Kabul Babur, who founded the Mughal Empire, is especially famous.

In the XVI - XVII centuries, the territory of modern Afghanistan was ruled by the rulers of the Safavid Iran, the Mughal Empire and the Bukhara Khanate.

Hotaki Dynasty
At the beginning of the XVIII century, the territory of modern Afghanistan was part of the Safavid state and the Bukhara Khanate. After the weakening of Persia and several uprisings, the Afghans managed to create a number of independent principalities - Kandahar and Herat, and after the weakening of the Bukhara Khanate, the semi-independent Uzbek khan of the Balkh Khanate became independent.

The Kandahar principality was ruled by the Pashtun Hotaki dynasty, founded by Mir Weiss. In 1722, Afghan troops launched a campaign in the Safavid Empire and even captured its capital, Isfahan, but then were defeated by Nadir Shah.

Nadir Shah then extended his power to the modern territory of Afghanistan, but his power there turned out to be fragile and after his death in 1747 the Safavid empire broke up.

Durrani Power
The Durrani Empire was founded in Kandahar in 1747 by military commander Ahmad Shah Durrani. She became the first single Afghan state. However, under his successors, the empire broke up into a number of independent principalities - Peshawar, Kabul, Kandahar and Herat.

Modern history
Anglo-Afghan Wars

Due to its strategic position in the center of Eurasia, Afghanistan is becoming an arena of struggle between two powerful powers of that time: the British and Russian empires. This fight was called the "Big Game". In order to control Afghanistan, the British Empire conducted three wars, two of which ended with a confident victory for the British.

Kingdom of Afghanistan
On August 19, 1919, Amanullah Khan proclaimed the independence of Afghanistan, which was welcomed by the authorities of Soviet Russia. Afghanistan was the first state to recognize the RSFSR and establish diplomatic relations with it.

After the third Anglo-Afghan war, Great Britain was forced to recognize at first the partial, and in 1926 complete independence of the Emirate of Afghanistan.

The Emirate was abolished in 1929; the last emir was Habibullah Gazi. The Kingdom of Afghanistan was proclaimed by Muhammad Nadir Shah. After the death of Nadir Shah in November 1933, his son Muhammad Zahir Shah became the king, who was overthrown by his own cousin Muhammad Daoud in 1973.

The First Republic and Daud Dictatorship
On July 17, 1973, a coup d'etat took place in Afghanistan. The monarchy was abolished and a republic was proclaimed in the country. This period of history is characterized by extreme political instability. President Mohammed Daoud tried to reform and modernize the country, but he ultimately failed.

April (Saur) revolution
In April 1978, a revolution began in the country. President Mohammed Daoud, together with his family members, was executed, and the Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) came to power.

Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. Civil war
In April 1978, after the Saur (April) Revolution, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) was proclaimed. The head of state was Nur Mohammad Taraki, and the chairman of the Revolutionary Council was Hafizullah Amin. The government began to carry out radical reforms, in particular, secularization, which caused massive protests in traditional Afghan society. The country began the Civil War. Since 1967, the ruling party of the PDPA has been divided into two factions - the Halk and Parcham. Nur Mohammad Taraki, leader of the Halk faction, was secretly killed by Amin, a member of his own faction, who became the head of state. In the USSR, Amin was considered an unreliable person, capable of reorienting to the West at any time.

Therefore, the Soviet leadership decided to eliminate Amin, and send troops into the country to help the communist government cope with the rebels. As a result, the USSR intervened in the civil war, which continues to this day. US official position: USSR invaded Afghanistan and occupied it. After the assassination of Amin during the assault on the presidential palace by Soviet special forces, the chairman of the Revolutionary Council was taken by the leader of the faction, Parcham Babrak Karmal.

Afghan mujahideen fought against Soviet troops. For some time now, they began to support the United States, China and several other countries, in particular financially, and to help with weapons, including portable missile systems "Stinger". The incessant resistance ultimately led the Soviet leadership to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

On May 4, 1986, by decision of the 18th plenum of the Central Committee of the PDPA, Karmal was released “for health reasons”. The dismissal was caused by changes in the USSR, where Gorbachev came to power. On October 1, Muhammad Najibullah became the new chairman of the Revolutionary Council of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. A month later, on November 30, in accordance with the new constitution, the Loya Jirga elected him the new president of the country, thereby restoring the post, which was abolished after the Saur revolution. Soviet troops were withdrawn from the country in 1989. After the departure of the Soviet troops (1989), Najibullah remained in power for another three years.

Taliban rule
After the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989, the civil war did not end, but flared up with renewed vigor. In the north, a group of field commanders formed the Northern Alliance. In April 1992, rebels entered Kabul, and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan ceased to exist. During the power struggle between Ahmad Shah Masoud and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the capital of Kabul was fired by artillery of the warring parties, and a large number of cultural and historical monuments of the Afghan capital were destroyed. Meanwhile, the Taliban movement was gaining strength in the south of the country. For the most part, the Taliban were Pashtuns by nationality and declared themselves defenders of the interests of the Afghan people. Their goal was to build an Islamic state in Afghanistan based on Sharia law.

 

By 1996, most of the country came under their control, in September, after the capture of Kabul, Muhammad Najibullah was executed, and the Northern Alliance was ousted to the remote border northern provinces. Taliban rule was characterized by religious intolerance towards Gentiles (for example, despite the protests of the world community, including Muslim countries, the Taliban blew up architectural monuments - Bamyan Buddha statues, which they declared pagan idols) and cruelty - for example, thieves chopped off hands, women and girls were forbidden to attend schools and to be on the street without an escort of a man, etc.

Since the late 1980s, a massive increase in drug production in Afghanistan has begun. A record opiate crop of 4,600 tons was harvested in 1999 during Taliban rule. In 2000, 3,275 tons of opium poppy were harvested due to severe drought. In the same year, under the pressure of the world community, the Taliban banned the cultivation of opium poppy in their controlled territory, as a result of which a record low yield of opium poppy was grown in Afghanistan in 2001: only 185 tons of opium were produced, and most of this opium was collected on the territory Badakhshan province controlled by the Northern Alliance.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, international terrorist Osama bin Laden took refuge in Taliban Afghanistan. This was the reason for the US invasion of Afghanistan. However, according to the journalist Pepe Escobar, the Taliban refused to lay the Trans-Afghan pipeline (TAPI, Turkmenistan - Afghanistan - Pakistan - India) under US conditions, in particular, the plan for the US invasion of Afghanistan existed six months before the events of September 11.

The war in Afghanistan in 2001-2014
During Operation Enduring Freedom, by the beginning of 2002, the Taliban regime was liquidated, but the Taliban were not completely destroyed. The main forces went to the mountainous regions of Waziristan, while others switched to guerrilla warfare in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
After the fall of the Taliban regime, the modern Islamic Republic of Afghanistan was proclaimed. In December 2001, at the Bonn Conference of Afghan Politicians, Hamid Karzai was placed at the head of the transitional administration of Afghanistan. In June 2002, the Loya Jirga (Supreme Council, which includes the leaders of all peoples, tribes and groups of Afghanistan) elected him interim president of the country. In 2004, a new Constitution was adopted and the first presidential election was held, in which Hamid Karzai won.

On August 20, 2009, the country held the next presidential election, a victory in which Hamid Karzai again won.

At the moment, the head of the country is Ashraf Ghani (since 2014).

Despite this, a civil war continues in the country, but with the participation of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF).

According to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, which published in January 2019 the ranking of the most dangerous countries for women in the world, Afghanistan ranks second in the list of countries with the highest risks for women in terms of health, access to economic resources, ordinary life, sexual violence, and human trafficking.