Bamyan Province

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Road to Bamiyan
Road to Bamiyan
The location of Bamiyan Province within Afghanistan
The location of Bamiyan Province within Afghanistan
Coordinates: 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
 • Total 14,175 km2 (5,473 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 418,500
 • Density 30/km2 (76/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+4:30
ISO 3166 code AF-BAM
Main languages Persian (Hazaragi / Dari)

Bamyan Province (Persian: بامیان‎) can be translated as ‘The Place of Shining Light’; is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the centre of the country, with a population of about 418,500.[1] Its capital is also called Bamyan. Bamyan 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.

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.

Bamyan has several famous historical sites, including the famous Buddha statues with more than 3,000 caves around it, the Band-e Amir, Dara-i-Ajhdar, Gholghola and Zakhak ancient towns, the Feroz Bahar, Astopa, Klegan, Gaohargin, Kaferan and Cheldukhtaran.


Further information: History of Afghanistan
Bamyan Valley is home to the giant ancient Buddha statues, at least what is left of them after the Taliban destroyed them in 2001.

The region was ruled by the Medes before it fell to 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.

Band-e Amir in Bamyan Province

In 1709, when the Hotaki dynasty rose to power in Kandahar and defeated the Persian Safavids, Bamyan was under the Mughal Empire until Ahmad Shah Durrani made it become part of his new Durrani Empire, which became to what is now the modern state of Afghanistan. During the 1980s to the mid-1990s, the area was controlled by Hizb-i-wahdat leader Abdul Ali Mazari. In 1995, Bamyan was captured by the Taliban. They were toppled by US-led forces in late 2001.

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. The Band-e Amir lakes in western Bamyan province continue to be a tourist destination for Afghans and foreigners.

Bamyan is currently the base of operations for the New Zealand peacekeeping force, a Provincial Reconstruction Team codenamed Task Group Crib, which is part of the network of Provincial Reconstruction Teams throughout Afghanistan. It is recognised as one of the safest provinces in the country, which has allowed for civil rebuilding.[2]



Further information: List of governors of Bamyan

The current governor of the province is Habiba Sarabi, Afghanistan's first and, so far, only female governor; she was appointed in 2005.[3]


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



A boy collects potatoes. In the background stands the empty niche carved in the mountain where a giant Buddha statue stood more than 110 feet tall for 15 centuries until the Taliban blew it up six months prior to the 9/11 attacks on America

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]


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.


The population of Bamyan Province is around 418,500.[1] Ethnic Hazaras are the 90% majority, with 10% Tajiks,[13] followed by smaller number of Pashtuns and Tatars.[14]


Districts of Bamyan Province.
Districts of Bamyan Province
District Capital Population
(2003 CSO figures)[14]
Area[15] Notes
Bamyan Bamyan 70,028 Ethnic groups: Hazara, Tajik.
Kahmard Kahmard 31,042 Transferred from Baghlan in 2005.
Ethnic groups: Tajik, Hazara, Tatar, Pashtun.
Panjab Panjab 48,397 Ethnic groups: Hazara.
Sayghan Sayghan 23,215 Transferred from Baghlan and created within Kahmard District in 2005.
Ethnic groups: Tajik, Hazara.
Shibar Shibar 22,933 Ethnic groups: Hazara.
Waras Waras 82,119 Ethnic groups: Hazara
Yakawlang Nayak 100,158 Ethnic groups: Hazara.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Bamyan Province" (PDF). Central Statistics Office Afghanistan. Retrieved 2012-07-25. 
  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. ^ "Cultural and conflict Studies, Bamyan Province". Naval Postgraduate School. Retrieved 2012-07-25. 
  14. ^ a b "Bamyan Province". United Nations. Afghanistan's Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development. Retrieved 2012-07-25. 
  15. ^ Afghanistan Geographic & Thematic Layers[dead link]

External links[edit]