Bamyan Province

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Various places in Bamyan province
Various places in Bamyan province
The location of Bamiyan province within Afghanistan
The location of Bamiyan province within Afghanistan
Coordinates (Capital): 34°45′N 67°15′E / 34.75°N 67.25°E / 34.75; 67.25Coordinates: 34°45′N 67°15′E / 34.75°N 67.25°E / 34.75; 67.25
Country  Afghanistan
Capital Bamyan
 • Governor Habiba Sarabi
 • Total 14,175 km2 (5,473 sq mi)
Population (2013)[1]
 • Total 425,500
 • Density 30/km2 (78/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+4:30
ISO 3166 code AF-BAM
Main languages Dari

Bamyan Province (Persian: 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. The province is divided into six districts, with the town of Bamyan serving as its capital. The province has a population of about 425,500.[1] 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". In antiquity, central Afghanistan was strategically placed to thrive from the Silk Road caravans which criss-crossed the region trading between the Roman Empire, China, Central and South Asia. Bamyan was a stopping off point for many travellers. It was here where 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 famous Buddha statues with more than 3,000 caves around it, the Band-e Amir National Park, Dara-i-Ajhdar, Gholghola and Zakhak ancient towns, the Feroz Bahar, Astopa, Klegan, Gaohargin, Kaferan and Cheldukhtaran.


Further information: History of Afghanistan

The region was ruled by the Achaemenids. In 330 BC, Alexander the Great seized the area but left it to Seleucids to rule. The area south of the Hindu Kush was given to the Mauryas who introduced Buddhism. It became the site of an early Buddhist monastery from which Bamyan takes its name from the Sanskrit varmayana ("coloured"). 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.

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 war in Afghanistan, the Hazara rebel leader Abdul Ali Mazari began spreading influence. He was supported by Iranian politicians. 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 Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Taliban government). They were toppled by US-led forces in late 2001.

Recent history[edit]

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

The Buddhist remains 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.[2] 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.

Politics and governance[edit]

The current governor of the province is Habiba Sarabi, Afghanistan's first and, so far, only female governor; she was appointed in 2005.[3] The town of Bamyan serves as the capital of the province. All law enforcement activities throughout the province are controlled by the Afghan National Police (ANP) along with the Afghan Local Police (ALP). The provincial police chief represents the Ministry of the Interior in Kabul. The ANP is backed by other Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), including the NATO-led forces.


Further information: Transport in Afghanistan

As of May 2014, the province was served by Bamyan Airport in Bamyan which had regularly scheduled direct flights to Kabul.[4]


Further information: Economy of Afghanistan


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.[5]


Prior to the Soviet invasion of 1979 the province attracted many tourists.[6] Although this number is considerably fewer now,[7] 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'[8] 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.[6] The province hosts the Afghan Ski Challenge, a 7 km downhill race over ungroomed and powdered snow,[9] founded by Swiss journalist and skier Christoph Zurcher. Tissot, the Swiss watch manufacturer, is the principle sponsor.[10]


Further information: Education in Afghanistan

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.[11] It was later refurbished by New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Teams[12] following the fall of the Taliban.


Further information: Demographics of Afghanistan
Districts of Bamyan province

The total population of Bamyan province is around 425,500.[1] It is a multi-ethnic tribal society. According to the Naval Postgraduate School, the ethnic groups of the province are as follows: 67.4% Hazara; 16% Sadat; 15.7% Tajik; 0.5% Tatar; 0.2% Qizilbash; and 0.1% Pashtun.[13]


Districts of Bamyan Province
District Capital Population Area Ethnic groups
Bamyan Bamyan 70,028 Hazara, Tajik.
Kahmard Kahmard 31,042 Tajik, Hazara, Tatar, Pashtun.
Panjab Panjab 48,397 Hazara
Sayghan Sayghan 23,215 Tajik, Hazara.
Shibar Shibar 22,933 Hazara.
Waras Waras 82,119 Hazara
Yakawlang Nayak 100,158 Hazara.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Settled Population of Bamyan province by Civil Division, Urban, Rural and Sex-2012-13". Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Central Statistics Organization. Retrieved 2014-10-19. 
  2. ^ John Pike (2003-09-22). "Bamian". Retrieved 2013-10-09. 
  3. ^ British Broadcasting Corporation : Putting Bamyan Back on the Map Retrieved 2009-08-18
  4. ^ 2014 Timetable,
  5. ^ Fueling Growth,health and Prosperity. International Potato Center[when?]
  6. ^ a b 6 May 2011 Afghanistan’s Bamiyan hopes to attract skiers
  7. ^ Bamyam tourism
  8. ^ Boone, Jon (27 April 2010) Afghanistan – the new skiing destination
  9. ^ (27 Feb, 2012) Afghanistan set to host second national ski race
  10. ^ Levinson, Charles (March 6, 2012) Since Skiing Came to Afghanistan, It Has Been Pretty Much All Downhill
  11. ^ Recknagel, Charles (2001-12-31). "Afghanistan: Dream Of Hazara University Destroyed By War (Part 2) - Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty © 2011". Retrieved 2011-02-13
  12. ^ John Pike (2003-09-22). "Bamian". Retrieved 2011-02-13
  13. ^ "Bamyan Province" (PDF). Program for Culture & Conflict Studies. Naval Postgraduate School. Retrieved 2014-10-20. 

External links[edit]