Kabul is the capital of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as well as the largest city of Afghanistan, located in the eastern section of the country.
According to a 2015 estimate, the population of the city was around 3,678,034, which includes all the major ethnic groups. Due to rapid urbanization that has seen large-migration to the city, it is the 64th largest and the 5th fastest growing city in the world.
Kabul is over 3,500 years old and many empires have controlled the city which is at a strategic location along the trade routes of South and Central Asia.
Since the Taliban's fall from power in November 2001, the Afghan government and other countries have attempted to rebuild the city, although the Taliban insurgents have slowed the re-construction efforts and staged major attacks against the government, the NATO-led forces, foreign diplomats and Afghan civilians.
|POPULATION :||City: / Metro: 3,678,034|
|TIME ZONE :||(UTC+4:30)|
|LANGUAGE :||Afghan Persian or Dari (official) , Pashto (official)|
|RELIGION :||Sunni Islam 85%, Shiites 14%, Sikhism, Hinduism and other local religions 1%|
|AREA :||275 km2 (106 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||1,791 m (5,876 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||34°32′N 69°10′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 50.70% |
• Female: 49.30%
|ETHNIC :||Pashtun 42%, Tajik 27%, Hazara 9%, Uzbek 9%, Aimak 4%, Turkmen 3%, Baloch 2%, other 4%|
|AREA CODE :||20|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+93 20|
The old part of Kabul is filled with bazaars nestled along its narrow, crooked streets. Cultural sites include: the National Museum of Afghanistan, notably displaying an impressive statue of Surya excavated at Khair Khana, the ruined Darul Aman Palace, the tomb of Mughal Emperor Babur at Bagh-e Babur, and Chehlstoon Park, the Minar-i-Istiqlal (Column of Independence) built in 1919 after the Third Afghan War, the tomb of Timur Shah Durrani, and the imposing Id Gah Mosque (founded 1893). Bala Hissar is a fort destroyed by the British in 1879, in retaliation for the death of their envoy, now restored as a military college. The Minaret of Chakari, destroyed in 1998, had Buddhist swastika and both Mahayana and Theravada qualities.
Other places of interest include Kabul City Center, which is Kabul's first shopping mall, the shops around Flower Street and Chicken Street, Wazir Akbar Khan district, Kabul Golf Club, Kabul Zoo, Abdul Rahman Mosque, Shah-Do Shamshira and other famous mosques, the National Gallery of Afghanistan, the National Archives of Afghanistan, Afghan Royal Family Mausoleum, the OMAR Mine Museum, Bibi Mahro Hill, Kabul Cemetery, and Paghman Gardens. The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) was also involved in the restoration of the Bagh-e Babur (Babur Gardens).
Tappe-i-Maranjan is a nearby hill where Buddhist statues and Graeco-Bactrian coins from the 2nd century BC have been found. Outside the city proper is a citadel and the royal palace. Paghman and Jalalabad are interesting valleys north and east of the city.
The city is believed to have been founded between 2000-1500 BCE. It is mentioned in Hinduism's sacred Rigveda text (c1700-1100 BCE) as a vision of paradise set in the mountains. It was an important center of Zoroastrianism and later Buddhism. The city remained of little importance for much of the first three millennia of its existence. It was controlled variously by: the Persians, Alexander the Great, the Seleucid Empire, the Mauryan Empire, the Bactrians, various Hellenistic kingdoms, the Sassanid Empire, and by the 5th century CE was its own kingdom known as Kabul-Shahan. This last kingdom before the Islamic conquest built a large wall to protect the city from invasion when the Arabs arrived at the edge of the kingdom; parts of the wall have survived to this day and are visible above ground within the city.
In 871 Kabul fell to the Islamic invasion (nearly 200 years after invading Muslims reached modern-day Afghanistan). The Kabulistan empire was formed covering much of Afghanistan and parts of western modern-day Pakistan. The city once again passed uneventfully through the hands of several empires, including the Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Timurids, Mughols, Durranis, and the Barakzais, before conquest by the Mongols in the 13th century. The famous Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta visited the city in 1344, noting, "We travelled on to Kabul, formerly a vast town, the site of which is now occupied by a village inhabited by a tribe of Persians called Afghans."
Under the rule of Tamerlane in the 14th century, the city developed into a regional center of trade. In 1504, the city was captured by the Mughal emperor Babur.
In 1747, Kabul came under control of the Durrani (or Afghan) Empire. In 1776, Kabul would become the empire's capital, although the empire soon fell into tribal civil war. In 1839, the region was claimed by the British and Kabul was established as the location of British government and the British Indian Forces. They were very unpopular amongst local tribes who revolted and in 1841. Within a few days, a series of events led to the massacre of all but one of the 16,000 occupying British and Indian civilians and soldiers within miles of Kabul as they attempted to flee to Jalalabad, a famous blunder known as the Massacre of Elphinstone's Army. The British returned in 1878 and 1879, but were both times thousands of them were killed and they were forced to retreat.
In the early 20th century, electricity was introduced to the city and the Darul Aman palace was constructed for the royal family. The 1930s-60s were good times in Kabul. Kabul University was opened; the roads were paved; modern shops, offices, & schools were opened; shopping centers and a cinema were opened; and the Kabul Zoo opened. The city also saw a vibrant tourism industry appear, largely due to the Istanbul-New Delhi "Hippie Trail" which passed through Kabul in the 1960s-70s.
The 1970s-80s brought a turn for the worse. The city saw two coups, in 1973 and 1978. The second coup was carried out by the Marxist PDPA, which a year later invited the Soviet military to maintain their power over the country. From 1979-1989, the Soviet Union maintained military and governmental headquarters in Kabul. After the Soviets left, the government collapsed in 1992 and left local warlords to fight over the city leaving tens of thousands dead and (according to the UN) 90% of the city's buildings destroyed. By 1994, the city was without electricity or water. In 1996, the political movement known as the Taliban captured the city, publicly hanging the former (pre-1992) president and imposing notoriously strict Islamic rule over the country.
A US-led military force invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, bombing strategic installations throughout the city to rout out the governing Taliban, who quickly fled the city. The city was named the capital of the Afghan Transitional Authority and subsequently the capital of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The city saw many suicide bombings between 2002–2007, but they have become rare since 2008. In late 2008, control of the city's security was passed from the NATO ISAF force to Afghan National Police and the Afghan National Army. Since 2001, billions of dollars in aid and foreign investment have been used to improve the city. Most of the major roads have been paved and improved, government building have been extensively renovated, new hotels and shopping malls have opened, the zoo and many museums have reopened, and utilities have been extensively reconstructed.
Kabul has a semi-arid climate with precipitation concentrated in the winter (almost exclusively falling as snow) and spring months.
Temperatures are relatively cool compared to much of Southwest Asia, mainly due to the high elevation of the city.
Summer has very low humidity, providing relief from the heat.
Autumn features warm afternoons and sharply cooler evenings.
Winters are cold, with a January daily average of −2.3 °C (27.9 °F).
Spring is the wettest time of the year, though temperatures are generally amiable. Sunny conditions dominate year-round. The annual mean temperature is 12.1 °C (53.8 °F).
Kabul serves as the nation's cultural and learning center, situated 1,791 meters (5,876 feet) above sea level in a narrow valley, wedged between the Hindu Kush mountains along the Kabul River. It is linked with Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-e Sharif via the circular Highway 1 that stretches across Afghanistan. It is also the start of the main road to Jalalabad and further to Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Kabul International Airport is located about 16 kilometers (9.9 mi) from the center of the city, next to the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood. Bagram Airfield is about 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Kabul.
Kabul's main products include fresh and dried fruit, nuts, beverages, Afghan rugs, leather and sheep skin products, furniture, antique replicas, and domestic clothes.
The world bank authorized US$25 million for the Kabul Urban Reconstruction Project which closed in 2011. Over the last decade, the United States has invested approximately $9.1 billion into urban infrastructure in Afghanistan.
The wars since 1978 have limited the city's economic productivity but after the establishment of the Karzai administration. Since late 2001, local economic development has included a number of indoor shopping centers.
About 4 miles (6 km) from downtown Kabul, in Bagrami, a 22-acre (9 ha) wide industrial complex has completed with modern facilities, which will allow companies to operate businesses there. The park has professional management for the daily maintenance of public roads, internal streets, common areas, parking areas, 24 hours perimeter security, access control for vehicles and persons. A number of factories operate there, including the $25 million Coca-Cola bottling plant and the Omaid Bahar juice factory.
According to Transparency International, the government of Afghanistan is the third most-corrupt in the world. Experts believe that the poor decisions of Afghan politicians contribute to the unrest in the region. This also prevents foreign investment in Afghanistan, especially by Western countries. In 2012, there were reportedly $3.9 billion paid to public officials in bribes which contributed to these issues.
The city of Kabul is one of the 15 districts of Kabul Province, which is divided into 22 city districts. Each city district covers several neighborhoods.
There are numerous Internet cafes around the city, so getting access should not be too hard.
Assa II Net Cafe, Muslim St. On the ground floor of Assa II Guesthouse, they have several computers with semi-reliable connections.
Kabul Coffee House and Flower Street Cafe both have wireless Internet for customers.
The cellular telephone system in Kabul is excellent. American and European phones do work on the local system. 3G services are available by Etisalat.
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