Theme Week Afghanistan – Kabul

Saturday, 30 May 2020 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General

Kabul in a narrow valley, wedged between the Hindu Kush mountains © flickr.com - Joe Burger/cc-by-sa-2.0

Kabul in a narrow valley, wedged between the Hindu Kush mountains © flickr.com – Joe Burger/cc-by-sa-2.0

Kabul is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan, located in the eastern section of the country. It is also a municipality, forming part of the greater Kabul Province, and divided into 22 districts. According to estimates in 2020, the population of Kabul is 4.222 million, which includes all the major ethnic groups of Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s only city with a population of over 1 million, Kabul serves as its political, cultural and economical center. Rapid urbanization had made Kabul the world’s 75th largest city. Kabul is known for its gardens, bazaars, and palaces. It was also formerly a mecca for young western hippies. Despite frequent terrorist attacks in the city, mainly by Taliban insurgents, the city continues to develop and was the fifth fastest-growing city in the world as of 2012.

Kabul is located high up in a narrow valley between the Hindu Kush mountains, with an elevation of 1,790 metres (5,873 ft) making it one of the highest capitals in the world. The city is said to be over 3,500 years old, mentioned since at least the time of the Achaemenid Empire. Located at crossroads in Asia – roughly halfway between Istanbul in the west and Hanoi in the east – it is in a strategic location along the trade routes of South and Central Asia, and a key location of the ancient Silk Road. It has been part of the Achaemenids followed by the Seleucids, Mauryans, Kushans, Kabul Shahis, Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Khwarazmians, Qarlughids, Khaljis, Timurids, Mughals, and Hotaks, until finally becoming part of the Durrani Empire (also known as the “Afghan Empire”) in 1747. Kabul became the capital of Afghanistan in 1776, during the reign of Timur Shah Durrani, the son of Ahmad Shah Durrani. In the early 19th century, the British occupied the city, but after establishing foreign relations, they were compelled to withdraw all forces from Afghanistan. The city was occupied by the Soviets in 1979 but they too abandoned it after the 1988 Geneva Accords were signed. A civil war in the 1990s between various rebel groups destroyed much of the city, resulting in many casualties. From late 2001 the city has been continuously rebuilt.

Kabul is situated in the eastern part of the country, 1,791 meters (5,876 feet) above sea level in a narrow valley, wedged between the Hindu Kush mountains along the Kabul River. Immediately to the south of the old city are the ancient city walls and the Sher Darwaza mountain, with the Shuhadayi Salihin cemetery behind it. A bit further east is the ancient Bala Hissar fortress with the Kol-e Hasmat Khan lake behind it (Geography of Afghanistan). Its location has been described as a “bowl surrounded by mountains”. Some of the mountains (which are called koh) include: Khair Khana-e Shamali, Khwaja Rawash, Shakhi Baran Tey, Chihil Sutun, Qurugh, Khwaja Razaq and Sher Darwaza. There are also two mountains in between urban areas in western Kabul: Asamayi (also known as the Television Hill) and Ali Abad. Hills within the city (which are called tapa) include Bibi Mahro and Maranjan. The city covers an area size of 1,023 square kilometres (395 sq mi), making it by far the largest in the country. The closest foreign capital cities as the bird flies are Islamabad, Dushanbe, Tashkent, New Delhi and Bishkek. Kabul is roughly equidistant between Istanbul (western Asia) and Hanoi (eastern Asia).

Commercial area © flickr.com - Kandaray/cc-by-sa-2.0 © Danial/cc-by-sa-4.0 Kabul in a narrow valley, wedged between the Hindu Kush mountains © flickr.com - Joe Burger/cc-by-sa-2.0 Modern Kabul - panoramio.com © Masoud Akbari/cc-by-sa-3.0 National Museum of Afghanistan © Ninaras/cc-by-4.0 Shah-Do Shamshira Mosque © panoramio.com - Masoud Akbari/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Kabul in a narrow valley, wedged between the Hindu Kush mountains © flickr.com - Joe Burger/cc-by-sa-2.0
The Kabul River flows through the heart of the city, dividing the central bazaars. There are several bridges (pul) crossing the river, the major ones being Pul-e Shah-Do Shamshira, Pul-e Bagh-e Omomi, Pul-e Khishti, and Pul-e Mahmoud. Due to climate change, since the 21st century, the river runs dry most of the year, only filling up in the wetter winter and spring seasons. A large lake and wetland is located just to the southeast from the old city called Kol-e Hashmat Khan. The marsh provides a critical resting place to thousands of birds who fly between the Indian subcontinent and Siberia. In 2017 the government declared the lake a protected area. Some rare species of birds have been spotted at the lake, such as the Eastern imperial eagle and the Dalmatian pelican. Kabul’s other large lake is Qargha, located some 9 km northwest from the center. It is a major attraction for locals as well as foreigners. Air pollution is a major problem in the city during the winter season, when many residents burn low-quality fuels.

Each year about 20,000 foreign tourists visit Afghanistan. Major hotels in Kabul include; the Serena Hotel, the Inter-Continental, and the Safi Landmark Hotel above the Kabul City Center. There are a number of other less-known hotels. Most visitors prefer lodging at guest houses, which are found all over the city. The better and safer ones are in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood where the embassies are located. 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 Chihil Sutun Park, the Minar-i-Istiqlal (Column of Independence) built in 1919 after the Third Afghan War, the tomb of Timur Shah Durrani, the Bagh-e Bala Palace 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. There are also the Kolola Pushta fort, which is still garrisoned by the Afghan Army, and the nearby 19th-century Shahrara Tower fort, which was ruined in 1928. 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 west and east of the city.

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$2 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 developments have included a number of indoor shopping malls. The first of these was the Kabul City Center, opened 2005. Others have also opened in recent years including Gulbahar Center, City Walk Mall and Majid Mall. Kabul’s largest industrial hub is located in District 9, on the north banks of the River Kabul and near the airport. About 6 km (4 mi) from downtown Kabul, in Bagrami, a 9-hectare (22-acre) 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. Da Afghanistan Bank, the nation’s central bank, is headquartered in Kabul. In addition, there are several commercial banks in the city.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on LonelyPlanet.com – Kabul, Wikitravel Kabul, Wikivoyage Kabul and Wikipedia Kabul. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.








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