Badakhshan Province

Badakhshan Province
Badakhshan province of Afghanistan.jpg
Naw shakh.jpg
Different districts of Badakhshan Province
Map of Afghanistan with Badakhshan highlighted
Map of Afghanistan with Badakhshan highlighted
Coordinates: 38°0′N 71°0′E / 38.000°N 71.000°E / 38.000; 71.000Coordinates: 38°0′N 71°0′E / 38.000°N 71.000°E / 38.000; 71.000
Country Afghanistan
 • GovernorMaulvi Abdul Ghani Faiq[1]
 • Deputy GovernorNisar Ahmad Ahmadi[2]
 • Total44,059 km2 (17,011 sq mi)
 • Total1,072,785
 • Density24/km2 (63/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+4:30 (Afghanistan Time)
ISO 3166 codeAF-BDS
Main languagesDari, Khowar, Kyrgyz, Shughni, Munji, Ishkashimi, Wakhi, Persian

Badakhshan Province (Persian/Uzbek: بدخشان, Badaxšān) is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in the northeastern part of the country. It is bordered by Tajikistan's Gorno-Badakhshan in the north and the Pakistani regions of Lower and Upper Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan in the southeast. It also has a 91-kilometer (57-mile) border with China in the east.

It is part of a broader historical Badakhshan region, parts of which now also lie in Tajikistan and China. The province contains 22 districts, over 1,200 villages and approximately 1 055 000 [1] people.[5] Fayzabad serves as the provincial capital. Resistance activity has been reported in the province since the 2021 Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.[6][7]


Badakhshan's name comes from the Middle Persian word "badaxš", which is an official title. The word "ān" is a suffix which demonstrates a place's name; therefore the word "badaxšān" means a place belonging to a person called "badaxš".[8]

During the Sassanids' reign it was called "bidix", and in Parthian times "bthšy". In Sassanid manuscripts found in Ka'ba-ye Zartosht it was called "Bałasakan". In Chinese sources from the 7th century onwards it was called "Po-to-chang-na".


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.

Badakhshan is bordered by Takhar Province to the west, Panjshir Province to the south west, Nuristan Province to the south, Tajikistan to the north and east (that nation's Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province and Khatlon Province), China through a long spur called the Wakhan Corridor to the east, and Pakistan to the south-east (Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan). The total area of Badakhshan is 44,059 square kilometres (17,011 sq mi), most of which is occupied by the Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges.

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.


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.[9]

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,[10] 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.[11]

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.[12]


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.[13] The percentage of births attended to by a skilled birth attendant increased from 1.5% in 2003 to 2% in 2011.[13]


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


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.[14][15] 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.[16] Recent geological surveys have indicated the location of other gemstone deposits, in particular rubies and emeralds.[17] It is estimated that the mines at Kuran wa Munjan District hold up to 1,290 tonnes of azure (lapis lazuli).[18] Exploitation of this mineral wealth could be key to the region's prosperity.[17]

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.[19]


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
Children in Badakhshan

As of 2020, the population of the province is about 1,054,087, constituting a multi-ethnic rural society.[5] Dari-speaking Tajiks make up the majority followed by a few Uzbeks, Hazaras, Pashtuns, Kyrgyz, Qizilbash, and others.[20] 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.

60.1% of the population lived below the national poverty line, one of the higher figures in the country.[21]


Districts of Badakhshan Province Flag of Afghanistan,
District Capital Population[4] Area Villages
Ethnic groups
Arghanj Khwa 18,520 Tajik.[22]
Argo 90,165 1,032 km2 145 villages.Tajik.[22]
Baharak Baharak 33,119 328 km2 51 villages. Tajik.[22]
Darayim 70,834 570 km2 101 villages. Tajik.[22]
Fayzabad Fayzabad 78,757 514 km2 175 villages. Tajik.[22]
Ishkashim Ishkashim 15,951 1,123 km2 43 villages.[23]
Jurm Jorm 43,445 1286 km2 75 villages. Tajik[22]
Khash 43,798 264 km2 21 villages. Tajik[22]
Khwahan Khwahan 19,060 80 km2 46 villages. Tajik.[24]
Kishim Mashhad 93,004 264 km2 100 villages. Tajik[22]
Kohistan 19,061 13 villages. Tajik[22]
Kuf Ab Qal`eh-ye Kuf 25,684 Tajik
Keran wa Menjan Keran wa Menjan 10,949 1,588 km2 42 villages. 100% Tajik.[25]
Maimay Jamarj-e Bala 30,416
Nusay Nusay 26,631 4,589 km2 16 villages. Tajik.[26]
Raghistan Ziraki 45,556 25 villages. Tajik.[22]
Shahri Buzurg Shahri Buzurg 60,155 956 km2 74 villages.[27]
Sheghnan Shughnan 27,750 3528 km2 28 villages. Khowar, Tajik and Qizilbash.[28]
Shekay Jarf 30,280 1,700 km2 38 villages. Tajik, etc.[29]
Shuhada 39,742 1,521 km2 62 villages. 99% Tajik and 1% others.[30]
Tagab 32,307
Tishkan 34,336 812 km2 57 villages. Tajik.[22]
Wakhan Khandud 17,167 10,953 km2 110 villages. Tajik.[31][dubious ]
Warduj 25,144 929 km2 45 villages. Tajik.[22]
Yaftali Sufla 60,695 605 km2 93 villages. Tajik.[22]
Yamgan 29,604 1,779 km2 39 villages. 100% Tajik[32]
Yawan 37,310
Zebak Zebak 9,057 1,521 km2 62 villages. 99% Tajik and 1% others.[33]

Notable people from Badakhshan

See also


  1. ^ "د نږدې شلو ولایاتو لپاره نوي والیان او امنیې قوماندانان وټاکل شول". 7 November 2021.
  2. ^ Ahmadi, Esmatullah (22 August 2021). "Drug addicts' collection campaign starts in Badakhshan".
  3. ^ "Afghanistan Provinces".
  4. ^ a b "Estimated Population of Afghanistan 2021-22" (PDF). National Statistic and Information Authority (NSIA). April 2021. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 June 2021. Retrieved 21 June 2021.
  5. ^ a b "Estimated Population of Afghanistan 2020-21" (PDF). Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, National Statistics and Information Authority. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 July 2020. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  6. ^ "Afghanistan's National Resistance Front formally announces guerrilla war against the Taliban from Badakhshan". India Narrative. 27 October 2021. Retrieved 19 December 2021.
  7. ^ Kohzad, Nilly (15 December 2021). "What Does the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan Have to Offer?". The Diplomat. Retrieved 19 December 2021.
  8. ^ "BADAKŠĀN". (آنلاین ed.). Archived from the original on 2 January 2009.
  9. ^ Eilers, W. "BADAKŠĀN". Encyclopædia Iranica (Online ed.). United States: Columbia University. Archived from the original on 2 January 2009. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  10. ^ Hansen, Cole; Dennys, Christian; Zaman, Idrees (1 February 2009). "Conflict analysis: Baharak district, Badakhshan province" (PDF). Chr. Michelsen Institute. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 May 2014. Retrieved 4 December 2022.
  11. ^ "The 2015 Insurgency in the North (2): Badakhshan's Jurm district under siege". 14 September 2015.
  12. ^ USGS. "M7.5 – 45 km E of Farkhar, Afghanistan". United States Geological Survey.
  13. ^ a b c d Archive, Civil Military Fusion Centre Archived 30 May 2014 at
  14. ^ Deer, William A.; Howie, Robert A, and Zussman, Joseph (1963) "Lapis lazuli" Rock-Forming Minerals Longman, London, OCLC 61975619
  15. ^ Lapis lazuli was also found in the Urals Mountains in Russia. Deer et al. above
  16. ^ Entekhabi-Fard, Camelia (15 October 2002). "Northern Alliance Veteran Hopes Emeralds Are Key Part of Afghanistan's Economic Recovery". Eurasia Insight. Archived from the original on 8 July 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
  17. ^ a b "Afghanistan's gemstones" (PDF). Planet Earth. Winter 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 September 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2008.
  18. ^ Hamdard, Hidayatullah (20 January 2014). "Karzai assigns team to probe azure mine issue". Pajhwok Afghan News. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  19. ^ Mackenzie, James; Qadir Sediqi, Abdul (7 October 2018). "Afghanistan signs major mining deals in development push". Reuters. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  20. ^ "1 Badakhshan". Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  21. ^ Giustozzi, Antonio (August 2012). Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field. ISBN 9781849042260.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m نت, العربية (15 January 2019). "تاجیک‌های افغانستان را بشناسید". العربية نت (in Persian). Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  23. ^ "Ishkashim District" (PDF).
  24. ^ "Khowahan District" (PDF).
  25. ^ "Keran Wa Menjan District" (PDF).
  26. ^ "Nusay District" (PDF).
  27. ^ "Shahr-e-Bozorg District" (PDF).
  28. ^ "Sheghnan District" (PDF).
  29. ^ Shekay District
  30. ^ "Shuhada District" (PDF).
  31. ^ "Wakhan District" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  32. ^ "Yamgan District" (PDF).
  33. ^ "Zibak District" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  34. ^ DeWeese, Devin A. (4 May 2016). "Badakhshī, Nūr al-Dīn Jaʿfar". Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE.
  35. ^ "BADAḴŠĪ, MOLLĀ SHAH". Encyclopedia Iranica.

Further reading

  • Burhanuddin Kushkaki. Rāhnamā-yi Qaṭaghan va Badakhshān. Kabul: Vizarat-i Ḥarbiyah, 1923.
  • Jan-Heeren Grevemeyer: Herrschaft, Raub und Gegenseitigkeit: Die politische Geschichte Badakhshans 1500–1883, Otto Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1982
  • Wolfgang Holzwarth: Segmentation und Staatsbildung in Afghanistan: Traditionale sozio-politische Organisation in Badakhshan, Wakhan und Sheghnan In: Berliner Institut für vergleichende Sozialforschung [Red.: Kurt Greussing u. Jan-Heeren Grevemeyer] (Hrsg.): Revolution in Iran und Afghanistan – mardom nameh – Jahrbuch zur Geschichte und Gesellschaft des Mittleren Orients Syndikat, Frankfurt am Main 1980, ISBN 3-8108-0147-X.

External links

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