Transport in Afghanistan

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A Kam Air passenger plane at the Ahmad Shah Baba International Airport in Kandahar, Afghanistan Kam Air at Kandahar International Airport in 2012.jpg
A Kam Air passenger plane at the Ahmad Shah Baba International Airport in Kandahar, Afghanistan
Trucks on a highway in northern Afghanistan Trucks on the road in northern Afghanistan-2012.jpg
Trucks on a highway in northern Afghanistan

Transport in Afghanistan is done mostly by road, rail and air. [1] [2] Much of the nation's road network was built in the mid-20th century but left to ruin during the last two decades of that century due to war and political turmoil. Officials of the current Islamic Emirate have continued to improve the national highways, roads, and bridges. [3] In 2008, there were about 700,000 vehicles registered in Kabul. [4] [5] At least 1,314 traffic collisions were reported in 2022. [6]


Landlocked Afghanistan has no seaports, but the Amu River, which forms part of the nation's border with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, does have substantial traffic. Rebuilding and expanding its airports, roads, rail network, and land ports has led to rapid economic growth in recent years. There are 46 airports in Afghanistan as of 2021. [7]


Most major highways were asphalted around the mid-20th century with assistance from the United States and the Soviet Union. The Soviets built a highway and tunnel through the Salang pass in the 1960s, connecting northern and eastern Afghanistan. A highway connecting the principal cities of Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, Lashkar Gah, Kandahar, Ghazni, Kabul and Jalalabad, with links to highways in neighboring Pakistan originally formed the primary road system of Afghanistan.

A typical street scene in Kabul Street scene in Kabul-2012.jpg
A typical street scene in Kabul
The Salang Tunnel, a major north-south connection that cuts through the mountains in high elevation Inside the Salang Tunnel in November 2013.jpg
The Salang Tunnel, a major north-south connection that cuts through the mountains in high elevation
Khost-Gardez Pass in eastern Afghanistan K-G Pass in 2009.jpg
Khost-Gardez Pass in eastern Afghanistan
View of the Kabul-Jalalabad Road Kabul-Jalalabad Road pass.jpg
View of the Kabul-Jalalabad Road
Convoy of trucks on the Kabul-Kandahar Highway Convoy of trucks in Afghanistan.jpg
Convoy of trucks on the Kabul-Kandahar Highway

As of 2017, Afghanistan had 17,903 kilometers of paved roads and 17,000 kilometers of unpaved roads, for an approximate total road system of 34,903 kilometers. [7] Traffic in Afghanistan is right hand. In 2008, about 731,607 vehicles were registered in Kabul. [4] At least 1,314 traffic collisions were reported in December 2022. [6] Many vehicles in the country are driven without registration plates. The Afghan government passed a law banning the import of cars older than 10 years. Toyota Corolla has been the most widely used vehicle in the country since the mid-1990s. [5] Afghanistan recently began manufacturing its own cars for domestic consumers. [8] [9] Long distant road journeys are made in private cars, vans, trucks and buses. [10] [11] Many of the national roads are in need of serious repair due to damage caused by overloaded trucks. For this reason, tourists, business people and the upper class prefer using airline service for long distant travels. The national roads can also be dangerous due to accidents and lack of security forces.


The highway system is currently going through a reconstruction phase. Most of the regional roads are also being repaired or improved. For the last 30 years, the poor state of the Afghan transportation and communication networks has further fragmented and hampered the struggling economy.

The following is a partial list of the major highways in Afghanistan:

Official border crossing points

There are over a dozen official border crossing points all around Afghanistan. They include Abu Nasar Port in Farah Province, [13] Angur Ada in Paktika Province, Aqina in Faryab Province, Dand-aw-Patan in Paktia Province, Ghulam Khan in Khost Province, Hairatan in Balkh Province, Islam Qala in Herat Province, Ishkashim in Badakhshan Province, Sher Khan Bandar in Kunduz Province, Spin Boldak in Kandahar Province, Torghundi in Herat Province, Torkham in Nangarhar Province, and Zaranj in Nimruz Province. [14] [15] [16] The Afghanistan-China border crossing at Wakhjir Pass in the Wakhan District is under development since 2021. [17] [18]

The Afghanistan-Tajikistan bridge at Sher Khan Bandar-Panji Poyon connects by road Afghanistan and Tajikistan. It was built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in 2007. [19] The two countries are also connected by the smaller Tajik–Afghan bridge at Tem-Demogan. The Afghanistan–Uzbekistan Friendship Bridge connects Afghanistan by road with Uzbekistan. The Delaram-Zaranj Highway was constructed with Indian assistance and was inaugurated in January 2009. [20]

Taxis, auto rickshaws and urban public transport

Auto rickshaws in Jalalabad Jalalabad street with rickshaws.jpg
Auto rickshaws in Jalalabad

Due to the lack of public urban transport systems, taxis and auto rickshaws are highly popular in the major cities, the latter especially in Jalalabad. Kabul demanded a much needed public transport system in the 21st century with a rapid increase in traffic and population, but many projects were canceled or did not complete. The municipality finally launched the city's first in decades, a bus system accompanied by bus stops, in March 2021. [21] Many urban dwellers ride motorcycles, scooters and bicycles, particularly in Herat, Farah, Lashkar Gah and Kandahar.


Afghanistan has a total of four railway connections with neighboring countries. [1]

Afghanistan-Iran rail connections

A rail line from Khaf in Iran to the city of Herat in Afghanistan has been under construction since 2006. [22] The Iranian line is a 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge. [23] It was reported in December 2020 that the Herat-Khaf railway, which is 225 km long, had reached the Ghoryan District in Herat Province of Afghanistan. [24] [25] [26] [27] [28]

Afghanistan-Turkmenistan rail connections

A 10-kilometer-long 1,520 mm (4 ft 11+2732 in) broad gauge line extends from Serhetabat in Turkmenistan to the town of Torghundi in Afghanistan, which is about 115 km to the north of Herat. An upgrade of this Soviet-built line, to renovate and connect the line from Torghundi to Herat, began in 2017. [29]

A second rail connection between the two countries is that which extends from Aqina dry port in Faryab Province of Afghanistan, via Imamnazar to Atamyrat (a.k.a. Kerki), where it connects with the Turkmen rail network. [30] The line extends from Aqina south to Andkhoy in Afghanistan, which is approximately 58 kilometres (36 mi) long. [31] [32] [33] It will be extended from Andkhoy in the future to other parts of Afghanistan. [34] [35]

Afghanistan-Uzbekistan rail connections

Freight train in Balkh Province Freight train in northern Afghanistan-2012.jpg
Freight train in Balkh Province

There is a 75-kilometer-long rail line between Uzbekistan and the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, all of which is built to 1,520 mm (4 ft 11+2732 in) broad gauge. [36] The line begins from Termez and crosses the Amu Darya river on the Soviet-built Afghanistan–Uzbekistan Friendship Bridge, finally reaching a site next to the Mazar-i-Sharif Airport. A survey is being conducted in extending the line to Kabul and then to Peshawar. [37] [38] [39]

Other borders

There are no rail links to Pakistan, China or Tajikistan.


Civil aviation

Ariana Afghan Airlines Airbus A310-300. A-310 Ariana Afghan Airlines (4245010533).jpg
Ariana Afghan Airlines Airbus A310-300.

Air transport in Afghanistan is provided by the state-owned flag carrier Ariana Afghan Airlines (AAA), as well as the privately owned Kam Air. Domestic flights are available at a number of airports, with international flights taking place to and from Kabul International Airport. Ariana Afghan Airlines operates international flights from Kabul to Delhi, Dubai, Islamabad, Riyadh, and Urumqi, [40] [41] while Kam Air operates international flights to Almaty, Ankara, Delhi, Dushanbe, Islamabad, Istanbul, Jeddah, Kuwait, Sharjah, and Tashkent.

Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport MAZAR-E SHARIF INT. AIRPORT - panoramio.jpg
Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport

Following the 2021 fall of Kabul and the reestablishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, most international flights were suspended. Domestic flights officially resumed in January 2022. [42] Prior to the change in government, airlines such as Air India, Emirates, Gulf Air, Iran Aseman Airlines, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Turkish Airlines operated a number of international flights from airports throughout the country. Currently only three foreign airlines are operating in Afghanistan. They include Pakistan's PIA and the Iranian carrier Mahan Air, which provides links to Mashhad and Tehran. Indian carriers Air India and SpiceJet are expected to resume operations to Kabul in the near future. [43]

Major airports in Afghanistan include:



Military aviation

Military aviation in Afghanistan had its origins in the 1920s with assistance provided by the British Empire and the Soviet Union. Changing political influence in the country resulted in aircraft orders and military assistant changing between the world superpowers after the Second World War, principally between NATO and the Soviet Union. The current aerial warfare service of Afghanistan is the Afghan Air Force.

Bagram Air Base was originally constructed during the 1950s. It then saw significant expansion during Soviet and later NATO military operations in the region. Its facilities are capable of landing large aircraft such as Boeing 747, Lockheed C-5 Galaxy and Antonov An-124. As a legacy of Soviet and NATO military operations, a large number of military airfields and heliports can be found throughout the country. However, not all of these are in use, and in varying states of repair.


India-Iran-Afghanistan transport corridor map, which provides access to Chabahar Port in Iran. India-Iran-Afghanistan transit corridor map.svg
India-Iran-Afghanistan transport corridor map, which provides access to Chabahar Port in Iran.

The chief inland waterway of land-locked Afghanistan is the Amu River which forms part of Afghanistan's northern boundary. The river handles barge traffic up to about 500 metric tons. The main river ports are located at Hairatan in Balkh Province and Sher Khan Bandar in Kunduz Province.


There are petroleum pipelines from Bagram into Uzbekistan and Shindand into Turkmenistan. These pipelines have been in disrepair and disuse for years. There are 180 kilometers of natural gas pipelines. The Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI) for delivering natural gas from Turkmenistan to India (via Afghanistan and Pakistan) is still under development as of 2022.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Economy of Afghanistan</span> National economy

The economy of Afghanistan is listed as 103rd in the world in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) based on purchasing power parity (PPP). With a population of nearly 40 million people, Afghanistan's GDP (PPP) stands at around $77 billion with an exchange rate of $20 billion (2020), and the GDP (PPP) per capita is about $2,000. Its total external debt is 1.4 billion as of 2022. The Afghan economy continues to improve due to the influx of expats, improvement of national infrastructure, establishment of more trade routes with neighboring and regional countries, and expansion of the nation's agriculture and mining sectors.

The Kabul–Kandahar Highway (NH0101) is 483-kilometer (300 mi) long that links Afghanistan's two largest cities, Kabul and Kandahar. It starts from Dashte Barchi in Kabul and passes through Maidan Shar, Saydabad, Ghazni, and Qalat until it reaches Aino Mina in Kandahar. It is currently being rehabilitated at different locations. This highway is a key portion of Afghanistan's national highway system or "National Highway 1". The entire highway between Kabul and Kandahar has no mountain passes but there are many mountains nearby in some places. Approximately 35 percent of Afghanistan's population lives within 50 km (31 mi) of the Kabul to Kandahar portion of the Ring Road.

Pamir Airways was a privately owned airline headquartered in Kabul, Afghanistan, operating scheduled passenger flights out of Kabul International Airport. The company name is derived from the Pamir Mountains and translates "roof of the world".

Bakhtar Afghan Airlines is an airline from Afghanistan, which offers domestic flights. The company was founded in 1967 as Bakhtar Airlines, a name it kept until 1985, when it was renamed Bakhtar Afghan Airlines by Pashtun governments. In 1985 the company absorbed Ariana Afghan Airlines and became Afghanistan's sole airline company. In 1988 the Ariana and Bakhtar brands merged. However, the airline relaunched in 2020.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Herat International Airport</span> Airport in Herat

Herat International Airport, also known as Khwaja Abdullah Ansari International Airport, is located 10.5 km (6.5 mi) southeast of the city of Herat in western Afghanistan, east of the Herat-Farah road, close to Guzara in the Guzara District of the Herat Province. It is Afghanistan's fourth largest commercial airport after the Kabul International Airport in Kabul, the Ahmad Shah Baba International Airport in Kandahar and the Mawlana Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi International Airport in Mazar-i-Sharif.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Afghanistan International Bank</span> Local commercial bank in Afghanistan

Afghanistan International Bank (AIB) is the largest bank in Afghanistan and the only Afghan bank with international transfer to all countries, with its head office in Kabul. The bank has thirty seven branch offices in the major cities of the country. AIB has international shareholders, two Afghan business groups, one Afghan/American business group. It opened in 2004.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kunduz Airport</span> Airport in Kunduz, Afghanistan

Kunduz Airport is located about 5 miles (8.0 km) southeast of Kunduz, the capital of Kunduz Province in Afghanistan. It is a domestic airport under the country's Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation (MoTCA), and serves the population of Kunduz Province. Security in and around the airport is provided by the Afghan National Security Forces.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jalalabad Airport</span> Airport in Jalalabad, Afghanistan

Jalalabad Airport, also known as Nangarhar Airport, is located next to the Kabul–Jalalabad Road, about 3 miles (4.8 km) southeast of Jalalabad, which is the capital of Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan. It is a domestic airport under the country's Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation (MoTCA), and serves the population of not only Nangarhar but also neighboring Kunar, Nuristan and Laghman provinces. It is also used by the Ministry of Defense for military purposes. Security in and around the airport is provided by the Afghan National Security Forces.

Khost Airport, also known as Khost International Airport, is located in the eastern section of Khost, which is the capital of Khost Province in Afghanistan. It is under the country's Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation (MoTCA), and is used for domestic and international flights. The Ministry of Defense also uses it for emergency relief purposes such when the recent earthquake occurred in the area.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rail transport in Afghanistan</span> Afghan railway system

Afghanistan has three railway lines in the north of the country. The first is between Mazar-i-Sharif and the border town of Hairatan in Balkh province, which then connects with Uzbek Railways of Uzbekistan. The second links Torghundi in Herat province with Turkmen Railways of Turkmenistan. The third is between Turkmenistan and Aqina in Faryab province of Afghanistan, which extends south to the city of Andkhoy. The country currently lacks a passenger rail service, but a new rail link from Herat to Khaf in Iran for both cargo and passengers was recently completed. Passenger service is also proposed in Hairatan – Mazar-i-Sharif section and Mazar-i-Sharif – Aqina section.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Afghanistan Ring Road</span> Road in Afghanistan

National Highway 01 or NH01, formally called the Ring Road, is a 2,200 kilometres (1,400 mi) two-lane road network circulating inside Afghanistan, connecting the following major cities (clockwise): Kabul, Maidan Shar, Ghazni, Kandahar, Delaram, Herat, Maymana, Sheberghan, Mazar-i-Sharif, Puli Khumri and back to Kabul. It has extensions that connect Jalalabad, Bamyan, Khost, Lashkargah, Zaranj, Farah, Islam Qala, Torghundi, and Kunduz. It is part of AH1, the longest route of the Asian Highway Network. National Highway 01 consists of four major sections, NH0101 to NH0104, linking the major economic centers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Energy in Afghanistan</span> Overview of the production, consumption, import and export of energy and electricity in Afghanistan

Energy in Afghanistan is provided by hydropower followed by fossil fuel and solar power. Currently, less than 50% of Afghanistan's population has access to electricity. This covers the major cities in the country. Many rural areas do not have access to adequate electricity but this should change after the major CASA-1000 project is completed.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tourism in Afghanistan</span>

Tourism in Afghanistan is regulated by the Ministry of Information and Culture. There are at least 350 tourism companies operating in Afghanistan. Tourism was at its peak before the 1978 Saur Revolution, which was followed by the decades of war. Between 2013 and 2016, Afghan embassies issued between 15,000 and 20,000 tourist visas annually.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">COVID-19 pandemic in Afghanistan</span> Ongoing viral pandemic in Afghanistan

The COVID-19 pandemic in Afghanistan is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. The virus was confirmed to have spread to Afghanistan when its index case, in Herat, was confirmed on 24 February 2020.

This article documents the timeline of the COVID-19 pandemic in Afghanistan.

2021 (MMXXI) was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar, the 2021st year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 21st year of the 3rd millennium and the 21st century, and the 2nd year of the 2020s decade.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Kandahar (2021)</span> 2021 conflict in Kandahar

The Battle of Kandahar began on 9 July 2021, as Taliban insurgents assaulted the city to capture it from the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). After heavy fighting for weeks the city's defenses had started to dissolve in August. This allowed the Taliban to enter and overrun most of the city on 12 August 2021, including the Sarposa prison, which included the release of over 1,000 prisoners, and ultimately the capture of the city. However, the siege for the nearby airport continued, where government loyalists held out until being evacuated on 16 August.


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