Badakhshan Province

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Badakhshan Province

Badakhshan province of Afghanistan.jpg
Different districts of Badakhshan Province
Badakhshan in Afghanistan.svg
Map of Afghanistan with Badakhshan highlighted
Coordinates: 38°0′N71°0′E / 38.000°N 71.000°E / 38.000; 71.000 Coordinates: 38°0′N71°0′E / 38.000°N 71.000°E / 38.000; 71.000
Country Afghanistan
Capital Fayzabad
  Governor Mohammad Zakaria Sawda
  Total44,059 km2 (17,011 sq mi)
 (2021) [2]
  Density24/km2 (63/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+4:30 (Afghanistan Time)
ISO 3166 code AF-BDS
Main languages Dari, Khowar, Kyrgyz, Shughni, Munji, Ishkashimi, Wakhi, Persian

Badakhshan Province (Dari/Pashto: بدخشان), Badaxšān) is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in the farthest north-eastern part of the country between Tajikistan and Pakistan's Gilgit-Baltistan region. It shares a 91-kilometer (57-mile) border with China.


It is part of a broader historical Badakhshan region. The province contains 22 to 28 districts, over 1,200 villages and approximately 1,054,087 people. [3] Fayzabad serves as the provincial capital.


Noshaq (or Nowshak) (Dari: nwshkh) is the second highest independent peak of the Hindu Kush Range after Tirich Mir (7,492 m (24,580 ft)). It lies on the border between Pakistan and Badakhshan Province in Afghanistan. The north and west sides of the mountain are in Afghanistan, and the southern and eastern sides are in Pakistan. Noshaq is Afghanistan's highest mountain and is in the northeastern corner of the country along the Durand line (which marks the border with Pakistan). It is the westernmost 7000m peak in the world. Naw shakh.jpg
Noshaq (or Nowshak) (Dari: نوشاخ) is the second highest independent peak of the Hindu Kush Range after Tirich Mir (7,492 m (24,580 ft)). It lies on the border between Pakistan and Badakhshan Province in Afghanistan. The north and west sides of the mountain are in Afghanistan, and the southern and eastern sides are in Pakistan. Noshaq is Afghanistan's highest mountain and is in the northeastern corner of the country along the Durand line (which marks the border with Pakistan). It is the westernmost 7000m peak in the world.
Valley of Kuran wa Munjan in Badakhshan, Afghanistan. Looking from the center of the main valley towards the south. Kuran wa Munjan valley, looking to the south.png
Valley of Kuran wa Munjan in Badakhshan, Afghanistan. Looking from the center of the main valley towards the south.

Badakhshan is primarily 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 Gilgit-Baltistan to a border with China. The province has a total area of 44,059 square kilometres (17,011 sq mi), most of which is occupied by the Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges.

Badakhshan was a stopover on the ancient Silk Road trading path and China has shown great interest in the province since the fall of the Taliban, helping to reconstruct roads and infrastructure.

According to the World Wildlife Fund,[ citation needed ] Badakhshan contains temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands, as well as Gissaro-Alai open woodlands along the Pamir River. Common plants found in these areas include pistachio, almond, walnut, apple, juniper, 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 deserts and xeric shrublands. Common vegetation includes thorny bushes, zizyphus, acacia, and Amygdatus. Paropamisus xeric woodlands can be found in the province's northwestern and central areas. Common vegetation includes almond, pistachio, willows, and sea-buckthorn.


The Achaemenid Empire conquered the area in the 1st millennium BC. Badakhshan etymologically derives from the Middle Persian word badaxš, an official title. The suffix of the name, -ān, means the region belonged to someone with the title badaxš. [4]

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, and 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, [5] 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, and 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. [6]

On 26 October 2015, the 7.5 Mw Hindu Kush earthquake shook northern Afghanistan with a maximum Mercalli intensity of VIII (Severe). This earthquake destroyed almost 30,000 homes, left several hundred dead, and more than 1,700 injured. [7]

Politics and governance

The current Governor of the province is Ahmad Bashir Samim. [8] His predecessors were Mohammad Zekeria Soda. The borders with neighboring Tajikistan, China, and Pakistan are monitored by the Afghan Border Police (ABP). All law enforcement activities throughout the province are handled by the Afghan National Police (ANP). 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 also 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. [9] The percentage of births attended to by a skilled birth attendant increased from 1.5% in 2003 to 2% in 2011. [9]


Badakhshan University is located in Fayzabad, a city which also has a number of public schools including an all-girls school.

The overall literacy rate (6+ years of age) fell from 31% in 2005 to 26% in 2011. [9] The overall net enrolment rate (6–13 years of age) increased from 46% in 2005 to 68% in 2011. [9]


Classic lazurite specimen from Sar-e-Sang district. Lazurite.jpg
Classic lazurite specimen from Sar-e-Sang district.

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, and bitter winters of the province.

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. [10] [11] Most recent mining activity has focused on lapis lazuli, with the proceeds from the lapis mines being used to fund Northern Alliance troops, and before that, anti-Soviet Mujahideen fighters. [12] Recent geological surveys have indicated the location of other gemstone deposits, in particular rubies and emeralds. [13] It is estimated that the mines at Kuran wa Munjan District hold up to 1,290 tonnes of azure (lapis lazuli). [14] Exploitation of this mineral wealth could be key to the region's prosperity. [13]

On 5 October 2018 in Washington, D.C., Afghan officials signed a 30-year contract involving a $22 million investment by investment group Centar and its operating company, Afghan Gold and Minerals Co., to explore and develop an area of Badakhshan for gold mining. [15]


The province is represented in Afghan domestic cricket competitions by the Badakhshan Province cricket team BORNA Cricket Club which belongs to BORNA Institute of Higher Education is coming up with its own team and will be groomed by the experts in the field of cricket.


Districts of Badakhshan Before 2005 Badakhshan districts.png
Districts of Badakhshan Before 2005
Children in Badakhshan Afghan children in Badakhshan Province-2012.jpg
Children in Badakhshan

As of 2020, the population of the province is about 1,054,087, which is a multi-ethnic rural society. [3] Dari-speaking Tajiks make up the majority followed by a few Uzbeks, Hazaras, Pashtuns, Kyrgyz, Qizilbash, and others. [16] There are also speakers of the following Pamiri languages: Shughni, Munji, Ishkashimi, and Wakhi.

The inhabitants of the province are mostly Sunni Muslims, although there are also some Ismaili Shias.

Historical population estimates for Badakhshan province are as follows: [17]


National emblem of Afghanistan.svg | Districts of Badakhshan Province | Flag of Afghanistan.svg
DistrictCapitalPopulation [18] AreaVillages
Ethnic groups
Arghanj Khwa 18,520Tajik. [19]
Argo 90,1651,032 km2145 villages.Tajik. [19]
Baharak Baharak 33,119328 km251 villages. Tajik. [19]
Darayim 70,834570 km2101 villages. Tajik. [19]
Fayzabad Fayzabad 78,757514 km2175 villages. Tajik. [19]
Ishkashim Ishkashim 15,9511,123 km243 villages. [20]
Jurm 43,4451286 km275 villages. Tajik [19]
Khash 43,798264 km221 villages. Tajik [19]
Khwahan Khwahan 19,06080 km246 villages. Tajik. [21]
Kishim Mashhad 93,004264 km2100 villages. Tajik [19]
Kohistan 19,06113 villages. Tajik [19]
Kuf Ab Qal`eh-ye Kuf 25,684Tajik
Keran wa Menjan Keran wa Menjan 10,9491,588 km242 villages. 100% Tajik. [22]
Maimay Jamarj-e Bala 30,416
Nusay Nusay 26,6314,589 km216 villages. Tajik. [23]
Raghistan Ziraki 45,55625 villages. Tajik. [19]
Shahri Buzurg Shahri Buzurg 60,155956 km274 villages. [24]
Sheghnan Shughnan 27,7503528 km228 villages. Khowar, Tajik and Qizilbash. [25]
Shekay Jarf 30,2801,700 km238 villages. Tajik, etc. [26]
Shuhada 39,7421,521 km262 villages. 99% Tajik and 1% others. [27]
Tagab 32,307
Tishkan 34,336812 km257 villages. Tajik. [19]
Wakhan Khandud 17,16710,953 km2110 villages. Tajik. [28]
Warduj 25,144929 km245 villages. Tajik. [19]
Yaftali Sufla 60,695605 km293 villages. Tajik. [19]
Yamgan 29,6041,779 km239 villages. 100% Tajik [29]
Yawan 37,310
Zebak Zebak 9,0571,521 km262 villages. 99% Tajik and 1% others. [30]

Notable people from Badakhshan

See also

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  20. Ishkashim District
  21. Khowahan District
  22. Keran Wa Menjan District
  23. Nusay District
  24. Shahr-e-Bozorg District
  25. Sheghnan District
  26. Shekay District
  27. Shuhada District
  28. Wakhan District
  29. Yamgan District
  30. Zibak District
  31. DeWeese, Devin A. (4 May 2016). "Badakhshī, Nūr al-Dīn Jaʿfar". Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE.
  32. "Encyclopedia Iranica, BADAḴŠĪ, MOLLĀ SHAH".

Further reading