Bamyan Province

Last updated
Bamyan collage.jpg
Various places in Bamyan province
Bamyan in Afghanistan.svg
The location of Bamiyan province within Afghanistan
Coordinates(Capital): 34°45′N67°15′E / 34.75°N 67.25°E / 34.75; 67.25 Coordinates: 34°45′N67°15′E / 34.75°N 67.25°E / 34.75; 67.25
Country Flag of Taliban.svg Afghanistan
Capital Bamyan
   Governor Sayed Anwar Rahmati
  Total18,029.2 km2 (6,961.1 sq mi)
 (2021) [2]
  Density28/km2 (72/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+4:30 (Afghanistan Time)
ISO 3166 code AF-BAM
Main languages Dari (Hazaragi dialect)

Bamyan Province (Dari/Pashto: ولایت بامیان) is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan, located in the central highlands of the country. Its terrain is mountainous or semi-mountainous, at the western end of the Hindu Kush mountains concurrent with the Himalayas. The province is divided into eight districts, with the town of Bamyan serving as its capital. The province has a population of about 495,557 [3] and borders Samangan to the north, Baghlan, Parwan and Wardak to the east, Ghazni and Daykundi to the south, and Ghor and Sar-e Pol to the west. It is the largest province in the Hazarajat region of Afghanistan, and is the cultural capital of the Hazara ethnic group that predominates in the area.


Its name can be translated as "The Place of Shining Light"[ citation needed ]. In antiquity, central Afghanistan was strategically placed to thrive from the Silk Road caravans that criss-crossed the region, trading between the Roman Empire, China, Central Asia and South Asia. Bamyan was a stopping-off point for many travellers. It was here that elements of Greek and Buddhist art were combined into a unique classical style known as Greco-Buddhist art.

The province has several famous historical sites, including the now-destroyed Buddhas of Bamiyan, around which are more than 3,000 caves, the Band-e Amir National Park, Dara-i-Ajhdar, Gholghola and Zakhak ancient towns, the Feroz Bahar, Astopa, Klegan, Gaohargin, Kaferan and Cheldukhtaran.



Bamyan Murals inside Buddah Detalle de frescos Bamiyan Afganistan.jpg
Bamyan Murals inside Buddah

Archaeological exploration done in the 20th century suggests that the geographical area of Afghanistan has been closely connected by culture and trade with its neighbors to the east, west, and north. Artifacts typical of the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze, and Iron Ages have been found in Afghanistan. [4] Urban civilization is believed to have begun as early as 3000 BC, and the early city of Mundigak (near Kandahar in the south of the country) may have been a colony of the nearby Indus Valley Civilization. [5]

After 2000 BC, successive waves of semi-nomadic people from Central Asia began moving south into Afghanistan; among them were many Indo-European-speaking Indo-Iranians. [6] These tribes later migrated further south to India, west to what is now Iran, and towards Europe via the area north of the Caspian Sea. [7] The region as a whole was called Ariana. [6] [8] [9]

The people shared similar culture with other Indo-Iranians. The ancient religion of Kafiristan survived here until the 19th century. Another religion, Zoroastrianism is believed by some to have originated in what is now Afghanistan between 1800 and 800 BC, as its founder Zoroaster is thought to have lived and died in Balkh. [10] [11] [12] Ancient Eastern Iranian languages may have been spoken in the region around the time of the rise of Zoroastrianism.

By the middle of the 6th century BC, the Achaemenid Persians overthrew the Medes and incorporated Arachosia, Aria, and Bactria within its eastern boundaries. An inscription on the tombstone of King Darius I of Persia mentions the Kabul Valley in a list of the 29 countries that he had conquered. [13]

In 330 BC, Alexander the Great seized the area but left it to Seleucids to rule.

Afghanistan's significant ancient tangible and intangible Buddhist heritage is recorded through wide-ranging archeological finds, including religious and artistic remnants. Buddhist doctrines are reported to have reached as far as Balkh even during the life of the Buddha (563 BC to 483 BC), as recorded by Husang Tsang. It became the site of an early Buddhist monastery. Many statues of Buddha were carved into the sides of cliffs facing Bamyan city. The two most prominent of these statues were standing Buddhas, now known as the Buddhas of Bamyan, measuring 55 and 37 meters high respectively, that were the largest examples of standing Buddha carvings in the world. They were probably erected in the 4th or 5th century A.D. They were cultural landmarks for many years and are listed among UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. In March 2001 the Taliban government decreed that the statues were idolatrous and ordered them to be demolished with anti-aircraft artillery and explosives.

The smaller Buddha of Bamiyan. Buddhism was widespread in the region before the Islamic conquest of Afghanistan. BamyanBuddha Smaller 1.jpg
The smaller Buddha of Bamiyan. Buddhism was widespread in the region before the Islamic conquest of Afghanistan.

By the 7th century, when the Arabs first arrived, it was under the control of the Kabul Shahi before being conquered in the name of Islam by the Saffarids in the 9th century. It fell to the Ghaznavids followed by the Ghurids before the Mongol invasion in the 13th century. The area was ruled by Arghun Khan of Ilkhanate, later by the Timurids and Mughals.

In 1709, when the Hotaki dynasty rose to power in Kandahar and defeated the Persian Safavids, Bamyan was under the Mughal Empire influence until Ahmad Shah Durrani made it become part of the Afghan Durrani Empire, which became to what is now the modern state of Afghanistan.

During the 1980s Soviet–Afghan War, the Hazara rebel leader Abdul Ali Mazari began spreading influence. He founded the Hezbe Wahdat political party in 1989 and was killed by Taliban forces. By 1995, Bamyan province was under the control of the Taliban government. They were toppled by US-led forces in late 2001.

Recent history

After the formation of the Karzai administration, Bamyan became the focus of rebuilding.

Taller, 55 meter Buddha in 1963 and in 2008 after destruction Taller Buddha of Bamiyan before and after destruction.jpg
Taller, 55 meter Buddha in 1963 and in 2008 after destruction
Smaller, 38 meter Buddha, before and after destruction. Smaller Buddha of Bamiyan.jpg
Smaller, 38 meter Buddha, before and after destruction.

The remains of the Buddhist statues (destroyed by the Taliban) at Bamyan were included on the 2008 World Monuments Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites by the World Monuments Fund. It is hoped that the listing will put continued national and international attention on the site as a whole (including, but not limited to, the statues) in order to ensure its long-term preservation, and to make certain that future restoration efforts maintain the authenticity of the site and that proper preservation practices are followed. Bamyan is also known as the capital of Daizangi and for its natural beauty.

It is recognised as one of the safest provinces in the country, which has allowed for civil rebuilding. [14] Bamyan served as the base of operations for the New Zealand peacekeeping force, a Provincial Reconstruction Team codenamed Task Group Crib, which was part of the network of Provincial Reconstruction Teams throughout Afghanistan.


As of May 2014, the province was served by Bamyan Airport in Bamyan which had regularly scheduled direct flights to Kabul. [15]


Band-e Amir National Park Afghanistan's Grand Canyon.jpg
Band-e Amir National Park
Map of mines of Bamian Province Map of mines of Bamian Province.jpg
Map of mines of Bamian Province


Bamiyan has been particularly famous for its potatoes. The region is also known for a "shuttle system" of planting, wherein seed potatoes are grown in winter in Jalalabad, a warm area of eastern Afghanistan, and then transferred to Bamyan for spring re-planting. [16]


Prior to the Soviet invasion of 1979 the province attracted many tourists. [17] Although this number is considerably fewer now, [18] Bamyan is the first province in Afghanistan to have set up a tourist board, Bamyan Tourism. A feature of this developing tourist industry is based around skiing. The province is said to have 'some of the best "outback skiing" in the world' [19] and in 2008 an $1.2 million project to encourage skiing was launched by the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) with the help of NZAID, New Zealand government's international aid agency. [17] The province hosts the Afghan Ski Challenge, a 7 km downhill race over ungroomed and powdered snow, [20] founded by Swiss journalist and skier Christoph Zurcher. Tissot, the Swiss watch manufacturer, is the principal sponsor. [21]


Bamyan Province is home to the region's only university, Bamiyan University in the city of Bamyan. The school was founded in the mid-1990s, and largely destroyed under the Taliban and by US airstrikes. [22] It was later refurbished by New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Teams [23] following the fall of the Taliban.


As of 2020, the total population of Bamyan province is around 495,557. [3] Inhabitants of Bamyan are almost entirely Hazaras, but there is a small number of Tajiks living there too.


The following is a list of the districts with the 202122 estimates of their settled population:

Districts of Bamyan Province Bamyan districts.png
Districts of Bamyan Province
Districts of Bamyan Province
DistrictCapitalPopulation [24] Area
Bamyan Bamyan 96,610
Kahmard Kahmard 41,7741298
Panjab Panjab 78,4041891
Sayghan Sayghan 27,5761777
Shibar Shibar 33,9301265
Waras Waras 125,4472988
Yakawlang Yakawlang 70,0236917
Yakawlang No. 230,551

See also

Related Research Articles

Ancient history of Afghanistan Wikimedia history article

Archaeological exploration of the pre-Islamic period of Afghanistan began in Afghanistan in earnest after World War II and proceeded until the late 1970s when the nation was invaded by the Soviet Union. Archaeologists and historians suggest that humans were living in Afghanistan at least 50,000 years ago, and that farming communities of the region were among the earliest in the world. Urbanized culture has existed in the land from between 3000 and 2000 BC. Artifacts typical of the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze, and Iron ages have been found inside Afghanistan.

Hazaras Persian-speaking people native to central Afghanistan

The Hazaras are a Persian-speaking ethnic group native to, and primarily residing in, the mountainous region of Hazarajat, in central Afghanistan. They speak the Hazaragi dialect of Persian which is mutually intelligible with Dari, one of the two official languages of Afghanistan.

Hazarajat Region in the central highlands of Afghanistan

Hazarajat, or Hazaristan, is a mountainous region in the central highlands of Afghanistan, among the Koh-i-Baba mountains in the western extremities of the Hindu Kush. It is the homeland of the Hazara people who make up the majority of its population. "Hazarajat denotes an ethnic and religious zone."

Ghazni City in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan

Ghazni, historically known as Ghaznin (غزنين) or Ghazna (غزنه) and also transliterated as Ghuznee, is a city in southeastern Afghanistan with a population of around 190,000 people. The city is strategically located along Highway 1, which has served as the main road between Kabul and Kandahar for thousands of years. Situated on a plateau at 2,219 metres (7,280 ft) above sea level, the city is 150 kilometres (93 mi) south of Kabul and is the capital of Ghazni Province.

Ghazni Province Province of Afghanistan

Ghazni is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in southeastern Afghanistan. The province contains 19 districts, encompassing over a thousand villages and roughly 1.3 million people, making it the 5th most populous province. The city of Ghazni serves as the capital. It lies on the important Kabul–Kandahar Highway, and has historically functioned as an important trade center. The Ghazni Airport is located next to the city of Ghazni and provides limited domestic flights to Afghanistan's capital, Kabul.

Ghor Province Province of Afghanistan

Ghōr, also spelled Ghowr or Ghur, is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is located in the western Hindu Kush in central Afghanistan, towards the north-west. The province contains eleven districts, encompassing hundreds of villages, and approximately 764,472 settled people. Firuzkoh, serves as the capital of the province.

Nimruz Province Province of Afghanistan

Nimruz or Nimroz is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in the southwestern part of the country. It lies to the east of the Sistan and Baluchestan Province of Iran and north of Balochistan, Pakistan, also bordering the Afghan provinces of Farah and Helmand. It has a population of about 186,963 people. The province is divided into five districts, encompassing about 649 villages.

Gandhara Ancient region in the Indian subcontinent

Gandhāra is the name of an ancient region located in present-day north-west Pakistan and parts of north-east Afghanistan. Gandhara was one of 16 Mahajanapada of ancient India. The region centered around the Peshawar Valley and Swat river valley, though the cultural influence of "Greater Gandhara" extended across the Indus river to the Taxila region in Potohar Plateau and westwards into the Kabul Valley in Afghanistan, and northwards up to the Karakoram range.

Bamyan City in Afghanistan

Bamyan also spelled Bamiyan or Bamian is the capital of Bamyan Province in central Afghanistan. With an altitude of about 2,550 m and a population of about 100,000, Bamyan is the largest town in the central Afghanistan region of Hazarajat, and lies approximately 240 kilometres north-west of Kabul, the national capital. It also refers to the surrounding valley. Many statues of Buddha are carved into the sides of cliffs facing Bamyan city. In 2008, Bamyan was found to be the home of the world's oldest oil paintings. The city of Bamyan has four districts and a total land area of 3,539 hectares. The total number of dwellings in this city are 4,435.

Buddhas of Bamiyan Destroyed Buddha statues in Bamyan

The Buddhas of Bamiyan were two 6th-century monumental statues of Vairocana Buddha and Gautama Buddha carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley of central Afghanistan, 130 kilometres (81 mi) northwest of Kabul at an elevation of 2,500 metres (8,200 ft). Carbon dating of the structural components of the Buddhas has determined that the smaller 38 m (125 ft) "Eastern Buddha" was built around 570 AD, and the larger 55 m (180 ft) "Western Buddha" was built around 618 AD, which would date both to the time when the Hephthalites ruled the region.

Habiba Sarābi

Dr. Habiba Sarābi is a hematologist, politician, and reformer of the post-Taliban reconstruction of Afghanistan. In 2005, she was appointed as Governor of Bamyan Province by President Hamid Karzai, which made her the first Afghan woman to become a governor of any province in the country. She previously served as Afghanistan's Minister of Women's Affairs as well as Minister of Culture and Education. Sarabi has been instrumental in promoting women's rights and representation and environment issues. She belongs to the ethnic Hazara people of Afghanistan. Her last name is sometimes spelled Sarobi.

Band-e Amir National Park

Band-e Amir National Park a national park located in the Bamyan Province of central Afghanistan. It is a series of six deep blue lakes separated by natural dams made of travertine, a mineral deposit. The lakes are situated in the Hindu Kush mountains at approximately 3000 m of elevation, west of the famous Buddhas of Bamiyan.

Buddhism in Afghanistan

Buddhism in Afghanistan was one of the major religious forces in the region during pre-Islamic era. The religion was widespread south of the Hindu Kush mountains. Buddhism first arrived in Afghanistan in 305 BC when the Greek Seleucid Empire made an alliance with the Indian Maurya Empire. The resulting Greco-Buddhism flourished under the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom and the later Indo-Greek Kingdom in modern northern Pakistan and Afghanistan. Greco-Buddhism reached its height under the Kushan Empire, which used the Greek alphabet to write its Bactrian language.

Religion in Afghanistan Religions in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is an Islamic republic, in which most citizens follow Islam. As much as 90% of the population follows Sunni Islam. According to The World Factbook, Sunni Muslims constitute between 84.7 - 89.7% of the population, and Shia Muslims between 10 - 15%. 0.3% follow other minority religions.

Hezbe Wahdat Afghan political party

Hezb-e Wahdat-e Islami Afghanistan, shortened to Hezb-e Wahdat, is an Afghan political party founded in 1989. Like most contemporary major political parties in Afghanistan, Hezb-e Wahdat is rooted in the turbulent period of the anti-Soviet resistance movements in Afghanistan in the 1980s. It was formed to bring together nine separate and mostly inimical military and ideological groups into a single entity.

Tourism in Afghanistan

Tourism in Afghanistan, developed with government help in the early 1970s, had revived to approximately 20,000 visitors annually by 2016 despite decades of war. Prior to the Taliban takeover in August 2021, Afghan embassies issued between 15,000 and 20,000 tourist visas annually. A valid passport with visa is required for entrance into Afghanistan. In 1999, the United Nations estimated the daily cost of staying in Kabul at $70 USD.

Sayyid Ali Beheshti was a leader of the Shia Hazara ethnic group of Afghanistan, who became president of the Shura-yi Enqelabi-yi Ettefaq-i Islami-yi Afghanistan. Born in Bamyan province, Beheshti was educated in Iraq where he became a modarres. In the 1960s he returned to Afghanistan and founded a madrasah in Waras, which became his stronghold. He also was a speaker at the Afghan parliament, until the communists took power in 1978.

Bamyan University

Bamyan University is a public university in Bamyan, central Afghanistan.

The persecution of Hazara people refers to discrimination against the Hazaras, who are mostly from Afghanistan, primarily from the central regions of Afghanistan, known as Hazarajat. Significant communities of Hazara people also live in Quetta, Pakistan, and in the city of Mashad, Iran, as part of the Hazara and Afghan diasporas.

Afghanistan is uniquely situated as a throughway of cultures throughout its history due to it geographic placement in South Asia. Afghanistan's location lends porous borders to trade routes between the East and West, while the Silk Road providing a vector for Buddhism and Hellenistic culture and even Egyptian influences from the west, renders an amalgamation of culture and art. Perpetual invasion and conflict has rendered a cyclic continuum of renaissance and destruction of art and culture in Afghanistan.


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  15. 2014 Timetable, Archived 2018-10-03 at the Wayback Machine
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