Herat Province

Last updated

Area of Herat in 2009.jpg
Scenery around the city of Herat
Herat in Afghanistan.svg
Map of Afghanistan with Herat highlighted
Herat province detail map.png
Detail map of Herat province
Coordinates(Capital): 34°00′N62°00′E / 34.0°N 62.0°E / 34.0; 62.0 Coordinates: 34°00′N62°00′E / 34.0°N 62.0°E / 34.0; 62.0
CountryFlag of Afghanistan.svg  Afghanistan
Capital Herat
   Governor Mohammad Asif Rahimi
  Total54,778.0 km2 (21,149.9 sq mi)
 (2021) [1]
  Density40/km2 (100/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+4:30 (Afghanistan Time)
ISO 3166 code AF-HER
Main languages Dari, Pashto and others

Herat (Pashto/Dari: هرات) is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan, located in the north-western part of the country. Together with Badghis, Farah, and Ghor provinces, it makes up the north-western region of Afghanistan. Its primary city and administrative capital is Herat City. The province of Herat is divided into about 17 districts and contains over 1,000 villages. It has a population of about 2,187,169, making it the second most populated province in Afghanistan behind Kabul Province. [1] The population is multi-ethnic but largely Persian-speaking.


The province of Herat shares a border with Iran in the west and Turkmenistan in the north, making it an important trading region. The Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline (TAPI) is expected to pass through Herat from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India in the south. The province has two airports, one is the Herat International Airport in the capital of Herat and the other is at the Shindand Air Base, which is one of the largest military bases in Afghanistan. The Salma Dam which is fed by the Hari River is also located in this province.


The region of Herat was historically part of Greater Khorasan, which was successively controlled by the Tahirids followed by the Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Ilkhanates, Timurids, Safavids, Hotakis, Afsharids, Durranis, Qajarids until it became part of the modern state of Afghanistan.

City of Herat, which is the capital of the province. View of Herat in 2009.jpg
City of Herat, which is the capital of the province.
An Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopter sits on the ramp at Shindand Air Base in 2011. Afghan Mi-17 on the ramp in Shindand-2011.jpg
An Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopter sits on the ramp at Shindand Air Base in 2011.

During the 19th century, the British arrived from southern Afghanistan as part of the "Great Game" and backed up the Afghans during one Persian siege and one capture of the city, the former in 1838, and the latter in 1856 in order to prevent Persian or Russian influence reaching deeper in South Asia, and also, more importantly, Britain's colony in India as part of the Great Game. The situation in province then remained quiet and uneventful until the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The province saw a number of battles during the 1980s Soviet war, and remained an active area of guerrilla warfare throughout, with local mujahideen commander Ismail Khan leading resistance against the Soviet-backed Afghan government. This continued until the Soviet Union withdrew all its forces in 1989.

When the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, Ismail Khan became the governor of the province, a position he retained until the Taliban forces from the south took control of the province in 1995. Following the ousting of the Taliban and establishment of the Karzai administration, led by Hamid Karzai, Ismail Khan once again became governor of Herat.

Ismail Khan become a figure of controversy when the media began reporting that he was attempting to restrict freedom of the people, and that he was becoming more of an independent ruler as a warlord. He lost a son Mirwais Sadiq in 2004 during a fight with forces of other warlords. In response to this, the central government began expanding into the province with the newly trained Afghan National Security Forces (ANFS). Ismail Khan was ordered to leave his post to become a minister and live in Kabul.

After 2005, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) established presence in the area to help assist the Afghan government. It is led by Italy. A multi-national Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) was also established to help the local population of the province. The United States established a consulate in Herat, trained Afghan security forces, built schools, and clinics.

Herat was one of the first seven areas that transitioned security responsibility from NATO to Afghanistan. On 21 July 2011, Afghan security forces assumed lead security responsibility from NATO. On the occasion, Minister of Defence Wardak told the audience, "this is our national responsibility to take over our security and defend our country."

Politics and governance

Security control of Herat Province Security control of Herat Province transfered back to Afghan hands (5963484487).jpg
Security control of Herat Province

The current governor of the province is Mohammad Asif Rahimi, and before him was Fazlullah Wahidi who had succeeded Daud Shah Saba in 2013.

The provincial Police Chief, who leads the regular Afghan National Police (ANP) and the Afghan Border Police (ABP), is responsible for all law enforcement activities. The Police Chief represents the Ministry of the Interior in Kabull.


The province is home to 90% of Afghanistan's Saffron production (a $12 million industry in 2014). [2] In 2015 the World Bank noted that saffron cultivation had provided Herat Province's farmers a steady source of income, jobs for both men and women, and a decreased dependency on poppy cultivation. [2]

With international borders to Iran and Turkmenistan and an international airport, trade could potentially play an important part in the economy of Herat Province. [3] Due to the lack of urbanization in Herat Province, around 75% of the population lives in rural areas and economic activity is correspondingly heavily reliant on agriculture and horticulture production (saffron, rugs, cumin, marble, animal skins and wool [3] ) with around 82% of economic activity coming from these fields in 2011. [4] Marble manufacturing and light industry comprised the remaining areas of economic activity. [4]


The percentage of households with clean drinking water fell from 31% in 2005 to 28% in 2011. [5] The percentage of births attended to by a skilled birth attendant increased from 24% in 2005 to 25% in 2011. [5]


The overall literacy rate (6+ years of age) fell from 36% in 2005 to 25% in 2011. [5] The overall net enrolment rate (6–13 years of age) fell from 55% in 2005 to 52% in 2011. [5] Herat University is Afghanistan's second largest university with over 10,000 students, 14 faculties and 45 departments in 2014.


Districts of Herat Herat districts.png
Districts of Herat

As of 2020, the total population of the province is about 2,187,169, the majority of which live in rural parts. [1] According to Afghanistan's Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development:

"Around three quarters (77%) of the population of Hirat lives in rural districts while just under a quarter (23%) lives in urban areas. Around 50% of the population is male and 50% is female. Dari and Pashtu are spoken by 98% of the population and 97.7% of the villages. Languages spoken by the remaining population are Turkmeni and Uzbeki. [6]
Hirat province also has a population of Kuchis or nomads whose numbers vary in different seasons. In winter 98,506 individuals, or 4.1% of the overall Kuchi population, stay in Hirat living in 166 communities. Around Three quarters (75%) of these are short-range partially migratory, 12% are long-range partially migratory and 13% are settled. Half of migratory communities of both categories migrate within the winter area, as well as in the summer area. The most important summer areas for the short range migratory Kuchi are Kushki Sangi, Farsi, Adreskan, Kushk Kohna, Kushk Robad, Pashtun Zarghun, Shindand, Guzara, Chisht Sharif, Obeh, Kohistan and Karukh districts of Herat province (in decreasing order of importance). The long-range migratory Kuchi are predominantly fully migratory. Their summer areas are in Ghor province. The Kuchi population in the summer is 112311 individuals." [6]

Population by districts

The province is divided into about 17 districts and contains over 1,000 villages.

Districts of Herat Province
DistrictCapitalPopulation [7] AreaNumber of villages and ethnic groups
Adraskan 52,20010,070 km299% Tajik [8]
Chishti Sharif 23,10099% Tajik [8]
Farsi 29,80099% Tajik [8]
Ghoryan 32,5007,385 km270% Pashtun, 20% Tajik [8]
Gulran 91,50050% Pashtun, 40% Tajik, 10% other [8]
Guzara 142,70090% Tajik [8]
Herat Herat 436,300 Tajik, Hazara, Pashtun, Uzbek, Turkmen and others. [9]
Injil/Enjil 237,800 Tajik majority, Pashtun minority [8]
Karukh 62,00090% Tajik [8]
Kohsan 52,900 Tajik, Pashtun [8]
Kushk 121,0002,909 km2 Tajik Majority [8]
Kushki Kuhna 44,4001,671 km2 Tajik majority [8]
Obe 73,6002,634 km2 Tajik majority [8]
Pashtun Zarghun 97,500 Tajik majority, Pashtun minority [8]
Shindand Shindand 173,80070% Pashtun [8]
Zinda Jan 55,500Mostly Tajik [8]


Football is the popular sport in Herat Province, and in recent years cricket is also growing in popularity. The Province is represented in domestic competitions by the Herat Province cricket team. Afghanistan's national sport Buzkashi and a number of other sports are also played in the region.

Notable people


Herat International Airport Plane of Pamir Airways at Herat Airport in 2010.jpg
Herat International Airport

In December 2012, Afghanistan and Italy signed a "long term agreement" including a Euro 150 million soft loan facility for infrastructure projects in Herat Province. In 2014 the agreement for a first soft loan worth about US$32 million was agreed for the upgrade of the Herat airport. In 2016 a second soft loan agreement worth about US$100 million was signed between Afghanistan and Italy for the construction a 155 km road between Herat and Chist-e Sharif. Italy also agreed to assess the possibility of a third soft loan worth about US$70 million for completing the railroad connection between Herat and Mashad in Iran. The Asian Development Bank is also implementing a feasibility study for the construction of a railway connection between Herat and Turkmenistan.

See also

Related Research Articles

Herat City in Afghanistan

Herāt is the third-largest city of Afghanistan. In 2020, it had an estimated population of 574,276, and serves as the capital of Herat Province, situated in the fertile valley of the Hari River in the western part of the country. It is linked with Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif via Highway 1 or the ring road. It is further linked to the city of Mashhad in neighboring Iran through the border town of Islam Qala, and to Mary in Turkmenistan to the north through the border town of Torghundi.

Ismail Khan Afghan politician

Mohammad Ismail Khan is an Afghan politician, who served as Minister of Energy and Water from 2005 to 2013. He was previously the governor of Herat Province. He is widely known as a warlord because of his rise to power during the Soviet–Afghan War when he controlled a large mujahideen force, mainly his fellow Tajiks from western Afghanistan. He is a key member of the political party Jamiat-e Islami and was a member of the now defunct United National Front party.

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1979 Herat uprising

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  1. 1 2 3 "Estimated Population of Afghanistan 2021-22" (PDF). nsia.gov.af. National Statistic and Information Authority (NSIA). April 2021. Retrieved June 29, 2021.
  2. 1 2 "Saffron: A Major Source of Income and an Alternative to Poppy". World Bank. 2015-01-19. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  3. 1 2 Jawed, Mohammad Ali; Hakimi, Harun (2012-04-16). "Herat trade on the up and up". Asia Times Online. Archived from the original on 2012-04-16. Retrieved 2019-08-13.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  4. 1 2 Fischer, David (2014-08-27). "Herat Economic Corridor Could Catalyze Growth in Western Afghanistan". DAI Publications. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "Herat". cimicweb.org. 2014-05-31. Archived from the original on 2014-05-31. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  6. 1 2 "B. Demography and Population" (PDF). United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and Afghanistan Statistical Yearbook 2006, Central Statistics Office. Afghanistan's Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-21. Retrieved 2011-01-12.
  7. "Settled Population of Herat province by Civil Division, Urban, Rural and Sex-2012-13" (PDF). Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Central Statistics Organization. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 "Hirat, A socio-economic and Demographic Profile Houshold listing - 2003" (PDF). 2003.
  9. "2003 National Geographic Population Map" (PDF). Thomas Gouttierre, Center For Afghanistan Studies, University of Nebraska at Omaha; Matthew S. Baker, Stratfor. National Geographic Society. 2003. Retrieved 2011-04-11.

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