Afghanistan the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in South-Central Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east, its territory covers 652,000 square kilometers and much of it is covered by the Hindu Kush mountain range, which experiences cold winters. The north consists of fertile plains, while the south-west consists of deserts where temperatures can get hot in summers. Kabul serves as its largest city. Human habitation in Afghanistan dates back to the Middle Paleolithic Era, the country's strategic location along the Silk Road connected it to the cultures of the Middle East and other parts of Asia; the land has been home to various peoples and has witnessed numerous military campaigns, including those by Alexander the Great, Muslim Arabs, British and since 2001 by the United States with NATO-allied countries. It has been called "unconquerable" and nicknamed the "graveyard of empires"; the land served as the source from which the Kushans, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Khaljis, Hotaks and others have risen to form major empires.
The political history of the modern state of Afghanistan began with the Hotak and Durrani dynasties in the 18th century. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in the "Great Game" between British India and the Russian Empire, its border with British India, the Durand Line, was formed in 1893 but it is not recognized by the Afghan government and it has led to strained relations with Pakistan since the latter's independence in 1947. Following the Third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919 the country was free of foreign influence becoming a monarchy under King Amanullah, until 50 years when Zahir Shah was overthrown and a republic was established. In 1978, after a second coup Afghanistan first became a socialist state and a Soviet Union protectorate; this evoked the Soviet–Afghan War in the 1980s against mujahideen rebels. By 1996 most of Afghanistan was captured by the Islamic fundamentalist group the Taliban, who ruled most of the country as a totalitarian regime for over five years.
The Taliban were forcibly removed by the NATO-led coalition, a new democratically-elected government political structure was formed, but they still control a significant portion of the country. Afghanistan is a unitary presidential Islamic republic with a population of 31 million composed of ethnic Pashtuns, Tajiks and Uzbeks, it is a member of the United Nations, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Group of 77, the Economic Cooperation Organization, the Non-Aligned Movement. Afghanistan's economy is the world's 108th largest, with a GDP of $64.08 billion. The name Afghānistān is believed to be as old as the ethnonym Afghan, documented in the 10th-century geography book Hudud ul-'alam; the root name "Afghan" was used in reference to a member of the ethnic Pashtuns, the suffix "-stan" means "place of" in Persian. Therefore, Afghanistan translates to land of the Afghans or, more in a historical sense, to land of the Pashtuns. However, the modern Constitution of Afghanistan states that "he word Afghan shall apply to every citizen of Afghanistan."
Excavations of prehistoric sites by Louis Dupree and others suggest that humans were living in what is now Afghanistan at least 50,000 years ago, that farming communities in the area were among the earliest in the world. An important site of early historical activities, many believe that Afghanistan compares to Egypt in terms of the historical value of its archaeological sites; the country sits at a unique nexus point where numerous civilizations have interacted and fought. It has been home to various peoples through the ages, among them the ancient Iranian peoples who established the dominant role of Indo-Iranian languages in the region. At multiple points, the land has been incorporated within large regional empires, among them the Achaemenid Empire, the Macedonian Empire, the Indian Maurya Empire, the Islamic Empire. Many empires and kingdoms have risen to power in Afghanistan, such as the Greco-Bactrians, Hephthalites, Kabul Shahis, Samanids, Ghurids, Kartids, Timurids and the Hotak and Durrani dynasties that marked the political origins of the modern state.
Archaeological exploration done in the 20th century suggests that the geographical area of Afghanistan has been connected by culture and trade with its neighbors to the east and north. Artifacts typical of the Paleolithic, Neolithic and Iron ages have been found in Afghanistan. Urban civilization is believed to have begun as early as 3000 BCE, the early city of Mundigak may have been a colony of the nearby Indus Valley Civilization. More recent findings established that the Indus Valley Civilisation stretched up towards modern-day Afghanistan, making the ancient civilisation today part of Pakistan and India. In more detail, it extended from what today is northwest Pakistan to northwest India and northeast Afghanistan. An Indus Valley site has been found on the Oxus River at Shortugai in northern Afghanistan. There are several smaller IVC colonies to be found in Afghanistan as well. After 2000 BCE, successive waves of semi-nomadic
Badakhshan Province is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in the farthest northeastern part of the country between Tajikistan and northern Pakistan. It shares a 56.5-mile border with China. It is part of a broader historical Badakhshan region; the province contains 22 to 28 districts, over 1,200 villages, 904,700 people. Feyzabad serves as the provincial capital. Badakhshan is bordered by Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province and Khatlon Province in Tajikistan to the north and east. In the east of the province a long spur called the Wakhan Corridor extends above northern Pakistan's Chitral and Northern Areas to a border with China; the province has a total area of 44,059 square kilometres, most of, occupied by the Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges. Badakhshan was a stopover on the ancient Silk Road trading path, China has shown great interest in the province after the fall of the Taliban, helping to reconstruct roads and infrastructure. According to the World Wildlife Fund, Badakhshan contains temperate grasslands and shrublands, as well as Gissaro-Alai open woodlands along the Pamir River.
Common plants found in these areas include pistachio, walnut, apple and sagebrush. Montane grasslands and shrublands are existent in the province, with the Hindu Kush alpine meadow in the high mountains in the northern and southwestern regions; the Wakhan corridor contains two montane grassland and shrubland regions: the Karakoram-West Tibetan Plateau alpine steppe and in the Pamir Mountains and Kuh-e Safed Khers in Darwaz region. South of Fayzabad the terrain becomes dominated by xeric shrublands. Common vegetation includes thorny bushes, zizyphus and Amygdatus. Paropamisus xeric woodlands can be found in central areas. Common vegetation includes almond, pistachio and sea-buckthorn; the area has a long history like the rest of Afghanistan, dating to its conquering by the Achaemenid Empire and beyond. Badakhshan etymologically derives from an official title; the suffix of the name, -ān, means the region belonged to someone with the title badaxš. The territory was ruled by the Uzbek Khanate of Bukhara between the early 16th century and the mid-18th century.
It was given to Ahmad Shah Durrani by Murad Beg of Bukhara after a treaty of friendship was reached in or about 1750 and became part of the Durrani Empire. It was ruled by the Durranis followed by the Barakzai dynasty, was untouched by the British during the three Anglo-Afghan wars that were fought in the 19th and 20th centuries, it remained peaceful for about 100 years until the 1980s Soviet–Afghan War at which point the Mujahideen began a rebellion against the central Afghan government. During the 1990s, much of the area was controlled by forces loyal to Burhanuddin Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Massoud, who were de facto the national government until 1996. Badakhshan was the only province that the Taliban did not conquer during their rule from 1996 to 2001. However, during the course of the wars a non-Taliban Islamic emirate was established in Badakhshan by Mawlawi Shariqi, paralleling the Islamic Revolutionary State of Afghanistan in neighboring Nuristan. Rabbani, a Badakhshan native, Massoud, were the last remnants of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance during the peak of Taliban control in 2001.
Badakhshan was thus one of the few provinces of the country that witnessed little insurgency in the Afghan wars - however during the 2010s Taliban insurgents managed to attack and take control of several districts in the province. On 26 October 2015, the 7.5 Mw Hindu Kush earthquake shook northern Afghanistan with a maximum Mercalli intensity of VIII. This earthquake destroyed 30,000 homes, left several hundred dead, more than 1,700 injured; the current Governor of the province is Shah Waliullah Adeeb. His predecessors were Baz Mohammad Ahmadi; the borders with neighboring Tajikistan and Pakistan are monitored by the Afghan Border Police. All law enforcement activities throughout the province are handled by the Afghan National Police. A provincial Police Chief is assigned to lead both the ANP and the ABP; the Police Chief represents the Ministry of the Interior in Kabul. The ANP is backed by the military, including the NATO-led forces. Fayzabad, the capital of Badakhshan province, sits on the Kokcha River and has an approximate population of 50,000.
The chief commercial and administrative center of northeast Afghanistan and the Pamir region, Fayzabad has rice and flour mills. Fayzabad Airport serves the province with regular direct flights to Kabul; the percentage of households with clean drinking water increased from 13% in 2005 to 21% in 2011. The percentage of births attended to by a skilled birth attendant increased from 1.5% in 2003 to 2% in 2011. The overall literacy rate fell from 31% in 2005 to 26% in 2011; the overall net enrolment rate increased from 46% in 2005 to 68% in 2011. Despite massive mineral reserves, Badakhshan is one of the most destitute areas in the world. Opium poppy growing is the only real source of income in the province and Badakhshan has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world, due to the complete lack of health infrastructure, inaccessible locations, bitter winters of the province. BORNA Institute of Higher Education being the first private university located on the bank of Kokcha river. Lapis lazuli has been mined in the Sar-e-Sang mines, located in the Kuran wa Munjan District of Badakhshan, for over 6,000 years.
The mines were the largest and most well-known source in ancient times. Most recent
Kharwar District is a district of Logar Province, Afghanistan. It was created from Charkh District; the district, is named after the village of Kharwar, about 56 miles south of Kabul and about 40 kilometers northeast of Ghazni. In July 2008 a coalition helicopter was shot down by small arms fire, an American officer said he was worried about the rising violence in the area. In 2009 a coalition combat outpost was set up in the district by Cherokee Troop 3-71 CAV 3BCT 10th Mountain Division. In 2013 the combat outpost was handed over to the Afghan National Army. Near the village are a series of archaeological remains known as Kafir Kot; these are believed to date from the Kushano-Sassanian period. Warwick Ball described Kharwar as "an extensive plain c. 40 km northeast of Ghazni on the route to Charkh-i Logar. Description: ruins of a large town, where many coins have been found." Dr. S M Raheen, the Afghan Minister of Culture and Information has said that "Kharwar is more beautiful than Mes Aynak the same age.
Looting is going on there, but no one pays any attention … I don't know why everybody cares just about Mes Aynak." The site is large — 19 square miles centered on the given coordinates, but never scientifically excavated, so its true size remains unknown— comprising a number of sites and ruins of an immense Buddhist monastery complex or city, where a fortified gate, many stupas and coins have been found. The site has been looted nearly continuously by locals and organized teams for the past several years. An Italian archaeological team was allowed to visit the site for one day in September, 2003. All efforts should be made to halt the looting of this site, which archeologists term "the Pompeii of the Buddhist world": meaning a site, frozen in time, abandoned when the first Islamic armies reached this part of Central Asia during the 8th or 9th century. Warwick Ball located a portion of Kharwar at latitude 34º43'N, longitude 68º52'E. World City Database locates Kharwar at Lat. 33.74, long. 68.8958333 Variant Names: Kharvar, Karfir Kowt, Kefir Kot
Wakhan District is one of the 28 districts of Badakhshan Province in eastern Afghanistan. The total population for the district is about 13,000 residents; the district has three international borders: Tajikistan to the north, Pakistan to the south, Afghanistan's only border with China to the east. The capital of the district is the village of Khandud, which has a population of 1,244. Wakhan Wakhan Corridor Map at the Afghanistan Information Management Services
10th Mountain Division
The 10th Mountain Division is a light infantry division in the United States Army based at Fort Drum, New York. Designated as a mountain warfare unit, the division is the only one of its size in the US military to receive intense specialized training for fighting in mountainous and arctic conditions. More the 10th Mountain has been conducting operations in Iraq and assisting Iraqi Security Forces. Activated as the 10th Light Division in 1943, the division was redesignated the 10th Mountain Division in 1944 and fought in the mountains of Italy in some of the roughest terrain in World War II. On 5 May 1945 the Division reached Nauders, beyond the Resia Pass, where it made contact with German forces being pushed south by the U. S. Seventh Army. A status quo was maintained until the enemy headquarters involved had completed their surrender to the Seventh. On the 6th, 10th Mountain troops met the 44th Infantry Division of Seventh Army. Following the war, the division was deactivated, only to be reactivated and redesignated as the 10th Infantry Division in 1948.
The division first acted as a training division and, in 1954, was converted to a full combat division and sent to Germany before being deactivated again in 1958. Reactivated again in 1985, the division was designated the 10th Mountain Division to tie it to the World War II division and to better describe its modern disposition. Since its reactivation, the division or elements of the division have deployed numerous times; the division has participated in Operation Desert Storm, Hurricane Andrew disaster relief, Operation Restore Hope and Operation Continue Hope, Operation Uphold Democracy, Operation Joint Forge, Operation Joint Guardian, several deployments as part of the Multinational Force and Observers. Since 2001, the 10th Mountain Division has been the most deployed unit in the US military, its combat brigades have seen over 20 deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. The 10th Division was organized in 1918 as a Regular Army and National Army division for World War I.
However, it demobilized in February 1919 at Camp Funston, Kansas. It was redesignated the Panama Canal Division after the war and shares no connection with the 10th Mountain Division activated during World War II. In November 1939, during the Soviet Union's invasion of Finland, Russian efforts were frustrated following the destruction of two armored divisions by Finnish soldiers on skis; the conflict caught global attention as the outnumbered and outgunned Finnish soldiers were able to use the difficult local terrain to their advantage hampering the Soviet attacks and embarrassing their military. Upon seeing the effectiveness of these troops, Charles Minot Dole, the president of the National Ski Patrol, began to lobby the War Department of the need for a similar unit of troops in the United States Army, trained for fighting in winter and mountain warfare. In September 1940, Dole was able to present his case to General George Marshall, the U. S. Army Chief of Staff, who agreed with Dole's assessment, deciding to create a "Mountain" unit for fighting in harsh terrain.
The U. S. Army authorized the formation of the platoon sized Army Ski Patrol in November 1940; the first Patrol was formed at Camp Murray as part of the 41st Infantry Division under Lt. Ralph S. Phelps; the army, prompted by fears that its standing force would not perform well in the event of a winter attack on the Northeastern coast, as well as knowledge that the German Army had three mountain warfare divisions, approved the concept for a division. This required an overhaul of U. S. military doctrine, as the concept of winter warfare had not been tested in the army since 1914. At first, planners envisioned ten mountain divisions, but personnel shortages revised the goal to three; the 10th Mountain Division would be the only one brought to active duty. Military leaders continued to express concern of the feasibility of a division-sized mountain warfare unit until the fall of 1941, when they received reports that Greek mountain troops had held back superior numbers of unprepared Italian troops in the Albanian mountains during the Greco-Italian War.
The Italian military had lost a disastrous 25,000 men in the campaign because of their lack of preparedness to fight in the mountains. On 22 October 1941, General Marshall decided to form the first battalion of mountain warfare troops for a new mountain division; the Ski Patrol would assist in its training. On 8 December 1941, the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the army activated its first mountain unit, the 87th Mountain Infantry Battalion at Fort Lewis, south of Tacoma, it was the first mountain warfare unit in U. S. military history. The National Ski Patrol took on the unique role of recruiting for the 87th Infantry Regiment and the division, becoming the only civilian recruiting agency in military history. Army planners favored recruiting experienced skiers for the unit instead of trying to train standing troops in mountain warfare, so Dole recruited from schools and ski clubs for the unit; the 87th trained in harsh conditions, including Mount Rainier's 14,411-foot peak, throughout 1942 as more recruits were brought in to form the division.
Initial training was conducted by Olympian Rolf Monsen. A new garrison was built for the division in central Colorado at Camp Hale, at an elevation of 9,200 feet above sea level; the U. S. Army Mountain
Maidan Wardak Province
Wardak Province called Wardag or Wardak, is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in the central region of Afghanistan. It is divided into eight districts and has a population of 567,600; the capital of the province is Maidan Shar, while the most populous district in the province is Saydabad District. The name of the province is only Wardak according to Afghan constitution and IDLG approved documents During the communist times, the people of Wardak never gave significant support to the communist government. Wardak Province was significant during the Civil War in Afghanistan, due to its proximity with Kabul and its agricultural lands. Hezb-e Wahdat had significant presence in the area. Most of the area was captured by the Taliban around winter 1995; the security situation deteriorated in Maidan Wardak in 2008 and 2009. According to a report by Mohammad Osman Tariq Elias, both Logar and Wardak, by the end of 2008, were under de facto Taliban control; as of April 2009, the Ministry of the Interior had listed the entire province as "High Risk."On January 21, 2019 a Taliban attack on a military base and police training center in the province resulted in 12 deaths.
At least 30 people were reported to be injured. The attack came during a time of intense daily violence throughout the country. Wardak province is located in the eastern region of Afghanistan; the capital of Wardak province is Maidan Shar, located about 35 km from Kabul. Wardak province covers an area of 9,934 km2, it is mountainous like the rest of the country with many valleys. The majority of its residents live in rural areas; the most populated areas are along the Kabul–Kandahar Highway. The rest of the province is thinly populated, with villages concentrated in areas with available irrigation and water sources. Famous passes include the Hajigak Pass; the current governor of the province is Mohammad Halim Fidai. His predecessor was Abdul Jabbar Naeemi; the town of Maidan Shar serves as the capital of the province. All law enforcement activities throughout the province are conducted by the Afghan National Police along with the Afghan Local Police; the provincial police chief represents the Ministry of the Interior in Kabul.
The ANP is backed including the NATO-led forces. In terms of industry, one marble factory is working in the province, there are marble mines in the provincial center and Sayed Abad District although no mining is undertaken there due to the government ban; the majority of commercial activity in Maidan Wardak is related to trade in agricultural and livestock products, although stone quarrying is a growing business in the area. The people from Maidan Wardak are expert in karez cleaning and repair and go to other parts of the country for this purpose. In Maidan Wardak, there are many natural resources like petroleum, iron and many historical artifacts that have been found by the people, but have been kept secret. Agriculture is a major source of revenue for 43% of households in Maidan Wardak province. Four fifths of rural households manage agricultural land or garden plots in the province. However, nearly a quarter of households in the province derive income from trade and services, around half of households earn some income through non-farm related labor.
The overall literacy rate in Wardak province is 25%. There are around 251 secondary schools in the province catering for 105,358 students. There are 2909 teachers teaching in these schools; as of 2013, the total population of Wardak province is about 567,600, multi-ethnic and a tribal society. According to the Institute for the Study of War, "Roughly 70 percent of the population is Pashtuns and Tajiks comprise the remainder of the population; the Tajiks live in northern districts of the province, while the Hazaras live in the western part of the province. Maydan Wardak has a small population of Qizilbashs, who are ethnically Persian and practice Shi’a Islam; the major Pashtun tribes are the Ghilzai and Wardak." Provinces of Afghanistan Wardak Province by the Institute for the Study of War Wardak Province by the Naval Postgraduate School
Kuran wa Munjan District
Kuran wa Munjan District is one of the 28 districts of Badakhshan Province in eastern Afghanistan. Located in the Hindu Kush mountains, the district is home to 8,000 residents; the district administrative center is Kuran wa Munjan. The district is in the southwest corner of the province, is bordered on its northeast side by the Jurm and Zebak Districts. Most of the district's boundaries are adjacent to other Afghan provinces, but a small section on the eastern edge of the district lies on the international border between Afghanistan and Pakistan; the epicenter of the October 26 2015 Hindu Kush earthquake was 45 km north of here. Map at the Afghanistan Information Management Services