Afghanistan, also known as the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a country in Central and South Asia. Afghanistan is a landlocked country with no access to the sea. Afghanistan’s capital is Kabul, and Pashto and Dari are the country’s official languages.
It is a mountainous country, with plains in the north and southwest. Snowfall falls on the peaks and mountains, which melts in the spring, forming rivers, rapids, lakes, and waterfalls, but most of Afghanistan remains dry.
Kabul, Kandahar, Jalalabad, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, LashkarGah, Taloqan, Khost, Ghazni, and Sheberghan are Afghanistan’s major cities and large towns. Pashtun and Tajik are the most populous ethnic groups in Afghanistan’s multiethnic society, but Hazara, Uzebk, Aimaq, Turkmen, Baloch, Pashayi, Nuristani, Arab, Brahui, Pamiri, and Gurjar also have significant populations. Afghani is Afghanistan’s official currency (AFN). The markets in Afghanistan are flooded with Afghan fruits.
Afghanistan has been inhabited since the Middle Paleolithic era, and its strategic location along the historic Silk Road connected it to the cultures of other parts of Asia as well as Europe, leaving behind a mosaic of ethnolinguistic and religious groups that have influenced the modern Afghan nation.
Throughout history, the country has been home to a diverse range of peoples and has seen multiple military campaigns, including those led by Alexander the Great, the Maurya Empire, Muslim Arabs, the Mongols, the British, the Soviet Union, and, most recently, an American-led coalition.
Afghanistan also provided a springboard for empires such as the Greco-Bactrians and the Mughals, among others. Throughout history, the area has been a hub for Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and later Islam due to numerous conquests and periods in both the Indian and Persian cultural worlds.
The Durrani dynasty founded the present state of Afghanistan in the 18th century, with the empire dominating a region stretching from eastern Iran to northern India at its apex. It was separated into smaller independent kingdoms of Herat, Kandahar, and Kabul after its decline and the death of Timur Shah, before being reunited in the 19th century through wars of unification led by Dost Mohammad Khan.
During this time, Afghanistan served as a buffer state in the “Great Game” between British India and the Russian Empire; in the First Anglo-Afghan War, the British attempted to subjugate the country but were defeated; in the Second Anglo-Afghan War, it was successful in establishing a British-protected state over Afghanistan.
Following the third battle in 1919, the country was liberated from foreign rule, and Amanullah Khan established the sovereign Kingdom of Afghanistan in June 1926. This kingdom lasted over 50 years until Zahir Shah was deposed in 1973, and a republic was created in his place.
Since the late 1970s, Afghanistan’s history has been dominated by prolonged warfare, beginning with the country’s transformation into a socialist state, which sparked the Soviet-Afghan War, and continuing with three civil wars (1989–1992, 1992–1996, and 1996–2001) that resulted in the Taliban’s totalitarian regime gaining control of the country.
The Taliban were deposed by a US-led invasion in 2001, which launched a 20-year war that culminated with the 2021 Taliban attack and the subsequent fall of Kabul in August, with the Taliban restoring control of the government and returning to power.
Archaeological research from the twentieth century reveals that Afghanistan’s geographical area was linked to its neighbors to the east, west, and north by culture and trade. In Afghanistan, artifacts from the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze, and Iron Ages have been discovered.
The early city of Mundigak (near Kandahar in the south of the country) was a center of the Helmand civilization, which is said to have begun as early as 3000 BCE. Recent discoveries have revealed that the Indus Valley Civilization extended up into modern-day Afghanistan, making the ancient civilization part of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India today. It spanned the area that is now northwest Pakistan, northwest India, and northeast Afghanistan.
On the Oxus River in northern Afghanistan, an Indus Valley site has been discovered. In Afghanistan, there are also several smaller IVC colonies. An Indus Valley site has been discovered on the Oxus River in northern Afghanistan, indicating that Afghanistan was once a component of the Indus Valley Civilization.
Following the year 2000 BCE, waves of semi-nomadic people from Central Asia began to migrate south into Afghanistan, with many Indo-European-speaking Indo-Iranians among them. Later, these tribes traveled further into South Asia, Western Asia, and Europe via the Caspian Sea region.
Ariana was the name given to the region during the time. During the first century BCE, the Silk Road appeared, and Afghanistan flourished with trade, with routes to China, India, Persia, and north to the cities of Bukhara, Samarkand, and Khiva in modern-day Uzbekistan. At this crossroads, goods, and ideas such as Chinese silk, Persian silver, and Roman gold were traded, while the Badakhshan region of modern-day Afghanistan was extracting and trading lapis lazuli stones.
The Parthian Empire conquered the region in the first century BCE, although it was eventually lost to their Indo-Parthian vassals. The huge Kushan Empire, located in Afghanistan, was significant sponsors of Buddhist culture in the mid-to-late first century CE, allowing Buddhism to thrive throughout the region.
In the 3rd century CE, the Kushans were defeated by the Sassanids, though the Indo-Sassanids remained to dominate at least parts of the region. They were succeeded by the Kidarites, who were then succeeded by the Hephthalites. In the 7th century, the Turk Shahi took their place.
Before the Saffarids captured Kabul in 870, the Buddhist Turk Shahi of Kabul were replaced by a Hindu dynasty known as the Hindu Shahi. Much of the country’s northeastern and southern regions were still dominated by Buddhist culture.
Ahmad Shah Durrani had returned to Kandahar with a detachment of 4,000 Pashtuns after Nader Shah’s death in 1747. Ahmad Shah had been “unanimously accepted” by the Abdali’s as their new leader. Ahmad Shah had commanded many campaigns against the Mughal Empire, Maratha Empire, and then the fading Afsharid Empire by the time he was crowned in 1747. Nasir Khan, the Mughal-appointed governor of Kabul and Peshawar, had been defeated by Ahmad Shah.
In 1750, Ahmad Shah took Herat, and in 1752, he also conquered Kashmir. In 1750–1751 and 1754–1755, Ahmad Shah led two wars into Khorasan. The siege of Mashhad was part of his first campaign, but he was forced to flee after four months. He attempted to siege Nishapur in November 1750, but was unable to take the city and was forced to retire in early 1751.
In 1754, Ahmad Shah returned, conquered Tun, and besieged Mashhad for the second time on July 23. Even though Mashhad had fallen on the 2nd of December, Shah Rokh was reappointed in 1755. The Afghans forced him to hand over Torshiz, Bakharz, Jam, Khaf, and Turbat-e Haidari. Following this, Ahmad Shah besieged and conquered Nishapur once more.
Until 1946, King Zahir reigned with the help of his uncle, who served as Prime Minister and supported Nadir Shah’s policies. Shah Mahmud Khan, another of Zahir Shah’s uncles, became Prime Minister in 1946 and began an experiment permitting greater political freedom, but later reversed the program when it went too far.
In 1953, he was succeeded by Mohammed Daoud Khan, the king’s cousin and brother-in-law, who was a Pashtun nationalist who intended to establish a Pashtunistan, resulting in difficult relations with Pakistan. Daoud Khan pushed for social modernization changes and a stronger alliance with the Soviet Union during his ten years as Prime Minister, which ended in 1963. The 1964 constitution was drafted after that, and the first non-royal Prime Minister was sworn in.
King Zahir Shah, like his father Nadir Shah, pursued gradual modernization, nationalist sentiment, and improved relations with the United Kingdom while maintaining national independence. Afghanistan, on the other hand, remained neutral, neither participating in World War II nor aligning with either major bloc during the Cold War.
However, it benefited from the later rivalry in the post-war period, when both the Soviet Union and the United States competed for dominance by creating Afghanistan’s main highways, airports, and other essential infrastructure.
Afghanistan got more Soviet development funding per capita than any other country. As a result, Afghanistan had good relations with both Cold War foes. While the King was in Italy in 1973, Daoud Khan staged a bloodless coup and became Afghanistan’s first President, thereby ending the monarchy.
Afghanistan is in the southern part of Central Asia. The region around Afghanistan is known as the “crossroads of Asia,” and the country is known as the “Heart of Asia.” The country was formerly written about by the eminent Urdu poet Allama Iqbal. Afghanistan is the world’s 41st largest country, with a land area slightly larger than France and slightly smaller than Myanmar, and roughly the same size as Texas in the United States.
Afghanistan is landlocked, hence there is no coastline. Afghanistan’s longest land border (the Durand Line) is with Pakistan to the east and south, with Tajikistan to the northeast, Iran to the west, Turkmenistan to the north-west, Uzbekistan to the north, and China to the north-east; India recognizes an Afghan border through Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
Afghanistan shares borders with Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan Province, South Khorasan Province, and Razavi Khorasan Province; Turkmenistan’s Ahal, Mary, and Lebap Regions; Uzbekistan’s Surxondaryo Region; Tajikistan’s Khatlon Region and Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region; China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region; and Pakistan’s
Afghanistan’s landscape is diverse, but it is largely rocky and rough, with several distinctive mountain ranges, plateaus, and river basins. It is dominated by the Hindu Kush range, a western extension of the Himalayas that spans from Afghanistan’s far northeast to eastern Tibet via the Pamir Mountains and Karakoram Mountains.
The majority of the highest points are in the east, in rich mountain valleys that are commonly referred to as the “Roof of the World.” The Hindu Kush finishes in the west-central highlands, forming the Turkestan Plains and the Sistan Basin in the north and southwest, respectively, consisting of rolling grasslands and semi-deserts and scorching windy deserts.
Forests can be found between the provinces of Nuristan and Paktika, as well as the tundra in the northeast. Noshaq, at 7,492 meters above sea level, is the country’s highest peak. At 258 meters above sea level, the lowest point is found in Jowzjan Province, along the Amu River’s bank.
Despite the presence of multiple rivers and reservoirs, significant swaths of the nation are devoid of water. The endorheic Sistan Basin is one of the world’s driest areas. The Amu Darya springs in the Hindu Kush to the north, while the neighboring Hari Rud flows west to Herat and the Arghandab River flows south from the middle region. The Helmand River, for example, flows to the south and west of the Hindu Kush and is a tributary of the Indus River.
The Kabul River, which flows eastward to the Indus and then to the Indian Ocean, is an exception. The Hindu Kush and the Pamir Mountains in Afghanistan receive a lot of snow in the winter, and the melting snow fills the rivers, lakes, and streams in the spring. Two-thirds of the country’s water, however, go into neighboring Iran, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan. According to a 2010 estimate, the state requires more than $2 billion to rebuild its irrigation systems and ensure proper water management.
In and around the Badakhshan Province of Afghanistan, the northeastern Hindu Kush mountain range is in a geologically active area where earthquakes can occur virtually every year. They can be dangerous and damaging, generating landslides in some areas and avalanches in the winter. The last major earthquakes occurred in Badakhshan, Tajikistan, in 1998, killing over 6,000 people.
The Hindu Kush earthquakes of 2002 followed, killing over 150 people and injuring over 1,000 more. A 2010 earthquake killed 11 Afghans, injured over 70 others, and destroyed over 2,000 homes.
Afghanistan has a continental climate with harsh winters in the central highlands, the glaciated northeast (around Nuristan), and the Wakhan Corridor, where the average temperature in January is below 15 °C (5 °F) and can reach 26 °C (15 °F), and hot summers in the low-lying areas of the southwest’s Sistan Basin, the east’s Jalalabad basin, and the Turkestan plains along the Amu River in the north, where Summers in the nation are arid, with the majority of rain falling between December and April.
The driest parts of Afghanistan are in the north and west, with precipitation more common in the east. Despite its proximity to India, Afghanistan is largely outside the monsoon zone, except for Nuristan Province, which receives summer monsoon rain on occasion.
Afghanistan is home to a diverse range of animals. The alpine tundra zones are home to snow leopards, Siberian tigers, and brown bears. The Marco Polo sheep can only be found in Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor in the northeast. The eastern mountain forest region is home to foxes, wolves, otters, deer, wild sheep, lynx, and other large cats.
Various birds, hedgehogs, gophers, and huge carnivores such as jackals and hyenas can be found in the semi-desert northern plains. The steppe plains of the south and west are home to gazelles, wild pigs, and jackals, while the semi-desert south is home to mongoose and cheetahs.
Marmots and ibex also thrive in Afghanistan’s high mountains, while pheasants can be seen in some areas. The Afghan hound is a local dog breed notable for its speed and long fur; it is a relatively unknown breed in the western world.
The Afghan flying squirrel, Afghan snow finch, Afghanodon, Stigmella kasyi, Vulcaniella kabulensis, Afghan leopard gecko, Wheeleria parviflorellus, and other endemic fauna of Afghanistan include the Afghan flying squirrel, Afghan snow finch, Afghanodon, Stigmella kasyi, Vulcaniella kabulensis, Afghan leopard gecko, Wheeleria parviflorellus, and others.
Iris afghanica is an example of endemic flora. Despite its arid climate, Afghanistan maintains a diverse bird population, with an estimated 460 species, 235 of which breed here. In Afghanistan’s forest region, you’ll find pine trees, spruce trees, fir trees, and larches, while in the steppe grassland regions, you’ll find broadleaf trees, short grass, perennial plants, and shrublands. Hardy grasses and tiny blooming plants grow in the colder high elevation zones.
Several areas have been declared as protected areas, and three national parks have been established: Band-e Amir, Wakhan, and Nuristan. Afghanistan was ranked 15th out of 172 countries in the 2018 Forest Landscape Integrity Index, with an average score of 8.85/10.
There are various ethnolinguistic groupings among Afghans. The Pashtuns are the country’s largest ethnic group, accounting for 39 percent of the population (2019 sociological research data from The Asia Foundation), followed by Tajiks (or Farsiwans), who account for 37 percent. The Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks are the other three largest ethnic groupings. There are ten more ethnic groups recognized, each of which is represented in the Afghan National Anthem.
Afghanistan’s official languages are Dari and Pashto, although bilingualism is fairly common. Dari, a variant of Persian that is mutually intelligible, serves as the lingua franca in Kabul and much of the country’s northern and northwestern regions. Farsiwans are native speakers of Dari who are of any ethnicity. Pashto is the Pashtuns’ native language, while many of them can also communicate in Dari, and some non-Pashtuns can also communicate in Pashto.
Despite the Pashtuns’ centuries-long dominance in Afghan politics, Dari was the favored language for administration and bureaucracy. According to the CIA World Factbook, Dari Persian is spoken by 78 percent of the population and serves as the lingua franca, while Pashto is spoken by 50% of the population, Uzbek 10%, English 5%, Turkmen 2%, Urdu 2%, Pashayi 1%, Nuristani 1%, Arabic 1%, and Balochi 1%.
Because of the high level of bilingualism in the country and the fact that respondents were allowed to choose more than one language, the data represent the most widely spoken languages. Uzbek, Turkmen, Balochi, Pashayi, and Nuristani are only a few of the lesser regional languages.
When it comes to foreign languages, many people can speak or comprehend Hindustani (Urdu-Hindi), thanks in part to the return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan and the popularity of Bollywood films. English is also spoken by a portion of the population and has grown in popularity throughout the 2000s.
Some Afghans have a working knowledge of Russian, which was taught in public schools in the 1980s. Afghanistan’s nominal GDP in 2018 was $21.7 billion, or $72.9 billion when adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP). It has a per capita GDP of $2,024 (PPP). Despite having mineral riches worth $1 trillion or more, it is nonetheless one of the world’s least developed countries.
Afghanistan’s rugged physical topography and landlocked status have long been mentioned as factors for the country’s reputation as one of the least developed in the modern period — a factor hindered further by current conflict and political turmoil. The country imports almost $7 billion in products but only exports $784 million, mostly in the form of fruits and nuts. It owes $2.8 billion to the outside world. Agriculture (23 percent), industry (23 percent), and the service sector (55.9%) all contributed to the GDP (21.1 percent ).
While donor money is used to cover the majority of the country’s current account deficit, only a small percentage is used to fund the government’s budget. The remainder is distributed through the United Nations system and non-governmental organizations for non-budgetary expenditures and donor-designated projects.
The return of almost 5 million ex-pats, who brought with them entrepreneurial and wealth-creation skills as well as much-needed cash to start enterprises, is one of the key drivers of the present economic revival.
Many Afghans are now employed in construction, which is one of the country’s main sectors. The $35 billion New Kabul City project near the capital, the Aino Mena project in Kandahar, and the Ghazi Amanullah Khan Town near Jalalabad are just a few of the big national construction projects. In Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, and other cities, similar development projects have commenced. Every year, an estimated 400,000 people enter the work market.
Several small businesses and factories have opened in various sections of the country, generating cash for the government while also creating new jobs. Since 2003, improvements in the business environment have resulted in over $1.5 billion in telecom investment and the creation of over 100,000 jobs.
Afghan rugs are regaining popularity, allowing numerous carpet shops around the country to hire more employees; it was the fourth most exported group of commodities in 2016–17. Afghanistan is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
It is a member of the SCO as an observer. In 2018, Iran, China, Pakistan, and Kazakhstan account for the majority of imports, while Pakistan and India account for 84 percent of exports. The US has frozen nearly $9 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank since the Taliban took control of the country in August 2021, preventing the Taliban from accessing billions of cash stashed in US bank accounts.
Due to security concerns, tourism in Afghanistan is a modest business. Despite this, around 20,000 foreign tourists visited the country in 2016. The gorgeous Bamyan Valley, which contains lakes, canyons, and historical sites, is a key region for domestic and international tourists, aided by the fact that it is located in a safe area away from insurgent action.
In places like the Wakhan Valley, which is also one of the world’s most remote settlements, fewer people travel and hike. Afghanistan was a popular destination on the famed hippie route from the late 1960s onwards, attracting many Europeans and Americans.
The trial began in Iran and passed through several provinces and cities in Afghanistan, including Herat, Kandahar, and Kabul, before passing into northern Pakistan, northern India, and Nepal. Tourism soared in 1977, the year before political unrest and armed conflict broke out.
Ghazni, together with Bamyan, has been designated as the Islamic Cultural Capital and the South Asia Cultural Capital, respectively, in recent years. Herat, Kandahar, Balkh, and Zaranj are also historically significant cities. Jam’s Minaret is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Hari River Valley.
The Shrine of the Cloak in Kandahar, built by Alexander the Great and the first capital of Afghanistan, houses a cloak said to have been worn by Islam’s prophet Muhammad. The Alexander citadel in Herat, in western Afghanistan, has recently been rebuilt and is a famous tourist site.
The Shrine of Ali, located in the north of the country, is widely thought to be the site of Ali’s burial. The National Museum of Afghanistan, in Kabul, houses a large collection of Buddhist, Bactrian Greek, and early Islamic antiquities; the museum was severely damaged during the civil war but has been slowly restored since the early 2000s.
Afghans share both common and unique cultural traits, which are due in part to the country’s geographic division, which has resulted in diverse cultures in each province. Afghan society is based on the family, which is frequently headed by a patriarch. People in the southern and eastern regions follow Pashtunwali and live according to Pashtun culture (the Pashtun way).
Hospitality, providing safety to those seeking refuge, and vengeance for bloodshed are all key elements of Pashtunwali. The Pashtuns are heavily influenced by Central Asian and Iranian Plateau culture. The remaining Afghans are Persian and Turkic in culture.
Pashtunization refers to the adoption of Pashtunwali by non-Pashtuns who live near Pashtuns, while Persianization refers to the adoption of Pashtunwali by Pashtuns. Over the previous 30 years, those who have lived in Pakistan and Iran have been influenced by the cultures of their neighbors. Afghans are recognized for their strong religious people.
Afghans, especially Pashtuns, are known for their strong tribal bonds and high concern for personal honor. According to one author, the tribal system is the finest way to organize huge groups of people in a country with tough geography and a population with a simple lifestyle from a materialistic standpoint. There are several Afghan tribes, as well as 2–3 million nomads.
Although Afghan culture is heavily influenced by Islam, pre-Islamic rituals still exist. Bacha Bazi, for example, is a phrase for behaviors involving sexual interactions between older men and younger adolescent men or boys. In Afghanistan, child marriage is common; the legal marriage age is 16. In Afghan society, marrying one’s parallel cousin is the most common choice, and the husband is frequently expected to pay a bride price.
Families often live in mudbrick dwellings or compounds with mudbrick or stonewalled houses in the villages. A headman (malik), a master for water distribution (mihrab), and a religious teacher are common in villages (mullah). Typically, men would work in the fields, with women joining them during harvest.
Nomadic people, known as Kochis in the area, make up about 15% of the population. When nomads pass through communities, they frequently buy items from the residents, such as tea, wheat, and kerosene, and the villagers buy wool and milk from the nomads.
Various types of shalwar kameez, particularly perahan tunban and khet partug, are commonly worn by both men and women in Afghanistan. Women usually cover their heads with a chador, but some women, especially those from strict groups, wear the burqa, which covers the entire body.
These were worn by certain Pashtun women long before Islam arrived in the region, but when the Taliban came to power, they made it mandatory for women to wear them. The chapan, which doubles as a coat, is another popular outfit. The karakul is a cap constructed from the fur of a particular breed of sheep from a certain region.
Former Afghan rulers favored it, and it became well-known around the world in the twenty-first century when President Hamid Karzai wore it all the time. Another traditional hat from Afghanistan’s far east is the pakol, which was popularized by insurgent leader Ahmad Shah Massoud. Mazari hats are made in northern Afghanistan.
How to reach Afghanistan
You can fly to Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, using major domestic and international airlines such as Air India, Gulf Air, and Jet Airways. There are currently no direct flights from Indian cities to Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport. The airlines may make a stop at Bahrain, Mumbai, or Dubai for a stopover.
Minivans or vehicles are the most common modes of transportation inside the country. Avoid visiting the Khyber Pass and Kurdistan, as both are vulnerable to assaults.
Best Time To Visit Afghanistan
Afghanistan is accessible all year, but March is the best time to visit because to perfect weather conditions, low travel costs, and the avoidance of major vacation seasons. July is the hottest month of the year in Kabul, one of Afghanistan’s most famous tourist destinations, with average high temperatures of roughly 30°C (85°F). On the hottest summer days, temperatures can exceed 34°C (93°F).
In the winter, around January, the temperature in Kabul can drop to a low of -12°C (11°F) at night. Other parts of Afghanistan can get considerably colder than this, so keep that in mind if you’re going to a few different spots. If you want to work on your tan in Afghanistan, July is when you’ll have the longest days between sunrise and sunset.
Do you want to spend your vacation getting wet? If you want to avoid getting wet, stay away from Afghanistan in April. If you want to enhance your chances of not getting rained on, go in September instead.
Things To Do In Afghanistan
Because of the battle between the US government, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban government that defends it, most people recognize Afghanistan as a war-torn country. Following the world-shaking 9/11 events, Afghanistan has been at the heart of news coverage.
What we don’t know about this Middle Eastern country is that, despite the problems its people have faced over the past seventeen years, there is a vibrant community and thriving culture beneath the stories of terrorism and airstrikes. Some of the reasons why Afghanistan should be on your bucket list may be found in this article.
1. Take a stroll through Babur’s Garden.
Despite the country’s most valued properties being torn apart by a decade-long war, Kabul was able to reclaim some of its most historically significant locations, such as the Garden of Babur, thanks to the Aga Khan Development Network’s assistance.
After the conflict destroyed much of the garden, they were able to restore it to its former glory, and it has since become a popular destination for foreigners and locals seeking serenity in the heart of Kabul.
This is also an important historical site because it is here that Babur, the Mughal monarch, was eventually laid to rest.
2. Visit the Kabul Museum to learn more about history.
Despite the continual efforts of many people to destroy most of the objects housed by the Kabul Institution, you’ll be astonished at how many vital pieces of history this resilient museum has. It’s replete with Buddha sculptures, wooden deities, and Nuristani ancestors, offering us a glimpse into the region’s pagan past.
When visiting the museum these days, security can be tight, but the wait to see this amazing piece of Afghan history is well worth it. When you first go in, you’ll see a sign that reads, “A nation stays alive when its culture stays alive.” And no truer words have ever been expressed, given the museum’s and the Afghan nation’s experiences over the last few decades.
3. Go shopping on Chicken Street until you drop.
Don’t be fooled by the name; Chicken Street is home to rows of shops selling Afghan handcrafted rugs, jewelry, and gems such as Afghan Lapis Lazuli. When you visit this location, you will undoubtedly be able to put your bargaining abilities to the test.
4. Be amazed by the sight of the Friday Mosque.
This 800-year-old mosque is one of the most magnificent you’ll ever see in the center of Asia. You won’t be able to stop yourself from photographing the multicolored mosaic of tiles that covers the vast mosque in Herat, which is the creation of the mosque’s tile craftsmen who have been working on it since the 1940s. You may also pay a visit to the tile artisans, who will gladly show you how their intricate artwork is created.
The Blue Mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif is another noteworthy mosque in Afghanistan. With its colorful facade, this beauty, like the Friday mosque, attracts a large number of travelers from all over the world.
5. Take in Band-e-amazing Amir’s splendor.
Band-e-Amir is a series of six magnificent blue lakes in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan region that is famous for being the country’s first national park. It may be a long journey up to the park, but once you see its beautiful waters, you’ll be completely smitten.
Women can take a dip in the lake in solitude and away from prying eyes beneath a building known as the Tomb of Amir. The water from the lake is supposed to be able to heal illnesses. There’s also a section where you can sip spring water.
6. Take a ride through one of the world’s tallest tunnels.
Take a journey across the Salang Pass, the road that connects Kabul with Northern Afghanistan, and take in the vistas of the snow-capped Hindu Kush Mountains before entering the 3,400-meter-high Salang Tunnel.
7. Take part in a round of Buzkashi
Although the mechanics sound similar, Afghanistan’s national game isn’t like most of the games we’re used to seeing in stadiums and fields. A team of horse riders will score a point in buzkashi if they can get the ball to the opposing team’s base. They have a headless goat carcass to place in the goal instead of an inflatable piece of rubber floating around the court.
Other Asian countries that play this game include Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan. Despite its apparent danger, Afghan culture has a stronghold on this nomadic pastime.
What You Should Know Before Visiting Afghanistan
It’s still a good idea to verify your country’s travel advisory for Afghanistan before organizing a trip. Due to the country’s turbulent history and the threat of terrorist strikes, certain countries, including the United States, have imposed travel restrictions.
Despite these cautions, travelers are still allowed to visit Afghanistan, but it’s critical to be cautious about where you go. Travelers who want to see more of Afghanistan should join organized tours rather than going it alone, according to certain internet forums and comments.
Many people advise against traveling to Afghanistan by land for obvious reasons, regardless of how feasible it might be. Traveling by plane to any of the country’s airports, such as Hamid Karzai International Airport and Herat Airport, is the safest option (which is mainly used for Iran-Afghanistan flights).
Ariana Afghan Airlines is the country’s national airline, however other important players in the aviation business, such as Emirates, also fly into the country. To enter Afghanistan as a tourist, you must first apply for an Afghan visa, which is valid for three months once you arrive.
For a single entry visa, you can only stay in Afghanistan for 30 days. One of the most pressing concerns you may have is whether or not it is safe to travel to Afghanistan. To be honest, some regions are still regarded as dangerous, not only for tourists but also for locals. In larger cities, such as Kabul, it is, nonetheless, safer.
That isn’t to say you won’t have to be cautious when walking about town. When going to Afghanistan, you must exercise extreme caution. Maintain vigilance over your goods and surroundings, just as you would while visiting other cities with high-risk zones for visitors. Outside of cities, avoid going alone, especially at night.
Afghani, the local currency, is used to pay for goods in Afghanistan. You can exchange your money at airport exchange counters or in large cities. Paying with cards, on the other hand, proved to be incredibly difficult due to the lack of POS throughout the country.
You can also withdraw money from the local ATMs for a fee if necessary. Because the country is made up of different tribes, it is difficult to name a single language spoken there. Pashtuns who speak Pashto and Tajiks who speak Farsi are the two largest groups. It’s not easy to meet someone who speaks English when you’re traveling, so knowing a few simple Farsi words will come in helpful.
Another thing to keep in mind when visiting Afghanistan is how the people dress. Because Afghanistan is a conservative country, it’s best to dress appropriately to respect their culture. You must cover your head if you are a woman, especially while entering places of worship. During the summer, you can also wear their traditional garment, the salwar kameez. They may be found in stores all across Kabul.
While in Afghanistan, you can use a local sim card to phone and send text messages to your family and friends around the world. Some local networks also offer 3G internet for a price.
If you’re already planning a trip to Afghanistan, it’s better to go during the spring season, which runs from March to June, to escape the harsh weather of both summer and winter. Tourists may find it difficult to withstand these contrasts due to the location and topography.
It’s unfortunate to think that the media and recent events within Afghanistan’s borders have depicted the country as a threat to the majority of people. “The nation is alive when its culture stays alive,” as the plaque outside the Kabul Museum proclaims. So long as every Afghan has a strong sense of resiliency and endurance, the culture’s future will only be bright.
Best Places To Visit In Afghanistan
Afghanistan has been split up and transformed by various peoples due to its landlocked location at the crossroads of south and central Asia. Neolithic tribespeople from the Indus Valley arrived here in ancient times.
Then came Alexander the Great’s phalanxes, which spanned the bigger phalanx of mountains that is the Hindu Kush, putting an end to the old Persian dynasties. Then there were the Muslim Arabs of the Middle East, who came up against Genghis Khan’s irresistible army. Then there were the Mughals, the Soviets, and the British imperialists, to name a few.
The fabric of this large country in the heart of Asia today is a palimpsest of its turbulent past and incredible location: The desert gives way to snow-capped peaks and alpine glaciers in cities like Mazar-e Sharif and Kandahar; historic commercial routes traverse opium plantations, and the dusty desert gives way to filigreed mosques and beautiful madrasahs.
Of course, contemporary times have not been kind, and the tribes’ and Taliban’s war-torn territory is now largely off-limits.
Kandahar, the revered site of the Sacred Cloak Mosque and a city rich in history, stands at the crossroads where southern Afghanistan meets the country’s central mountains.
It was the capital of the last Afghan empire during the years of Ahmad Shah Durrani, and it was the traditional center of Pashtun sovereignty.
People come to witness the odd inscriptions of the famous Mughal emperor Babur on the Chilzina View, which is only on the outskirts of the city, and the place is now packed with mosques, shrines, and mausoleums dedicated to national heroes.
2. Mazar-e Sharif (Mazar-e Sharif)
The famous Blue Mosque’s cobalt domes soar over Mazar-e Sharif’s skyline, glistening white-hot under the sweltering Balkh sun.
It’s a stunning array of arabesque and south Asian architecture, complete with turquoise-blue domes and gold-peppered minarets, and it’s famous as the burial location of Ali bin Talib, the Prophet Mohammad’s cousin.
However, Muslim history is only one facet of Mazar-e Sharif, since the city also houses a plethora of Greek treasures, many of which were brought here by Alexander’s forces in the 3rd century BC!
Jalalabad, like so many other cities in this region, was founded by the emperor Akbar, and it is a site where the passage of time is almost visible.
The snowy peaks of the Safid Mountain Range can often be seen on the horizon, and you can picture how the Mughal soldiers must have felt as they gazed at them in the 1500s.
Closer to the city, the climate allows for citrus orchards and green parks, which are well-known in Jalalabad.
You can also visit King Amanullah Khan’s mausoleum, play cricket with the locals, or simply relax in the well-kept parks and gardens.
The ancient town of Balkh hailed as the epicenter of the Bactrian Empire has a nearly 4,000-year history! Indeed, it was in these areas, high up in the crevices of the Hindu Kush’s northern ridges, that Zoroastrianism and Buddhism first flourished.
The town would have been devastated (even by Genghis Khan himself) and rebuilt numerous times by the time Venetian adventurer Marco Polo arrived in the 1300s, but recollections of its great fortress walls and learning institutes would still be fresh.
The town is no longer the noble city it once was, yet there is a sense of history among the bustling bazaars and the emerald-hued Green Mosque.
It’s simple to see why Herat, Afghanistan‘s third-largest city, has such a Persian flavor: the town lies only a few kilometers from the Iranian border, and it was once the capital of the Timurid kingdom (a lineage that fused elements of Turkic, Persian and Mongol culture in their time). The Friday Mosque is the city’s major symbol of resistance.
This exquisite edifice, with turquoise-tipped minarets and gleaming tiles, is sure to dazzle the senses – it’s said to be over 800 years old! The Herat Citadel and the tombs of famed Sufi poets are also worth seeing.
While the town of Samangan is famous for being an ancient caravan station on the old Silk Road’s perimeter routes, that isn’t its main attraction.
The enigmatic cave complexes of Takht I Rostam, which claw their way through the arid ridges of the neighboring highlands, deserve this accolade.
These are thought to have been constructed in the 4th and 5th century AD and are embellished with beautiful Buddhist lotus leaf inlays, all of which focus on an inner mud-brick stupa.
They provide an immersive look at a nearly-forgotten pre-Muslim era.
The Bamiyan story is a sad one for culture and religion history buffs.
Before the Muslim conquest, the area was known as a center for Hindu–Buddhist worship, and it prospered with artisans, monasteries, and – especially – sculptors.
In reality, the two colossal Buddha sculptures that stood here were regarded as some of Asia’s most magnificent 4th and 5th-century carvings.
The Taliban, however, demolished these massive effigies in March 2001, provoking international outcry and prompting UNESCO to tag their remains to avoid further destruction.