Badakhshan Province

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Badakhshan Province

ولایت بدخشان
Different districts of Badakhshan Province
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
 • GovernorMohammad Zakaria Sawda
 • Total44,059 km2 (17,011 sq mi)
 • Total1,054,087
 • Density24/km2 (62/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+4:30 (Afghanistan Time)
ISO 3166 codeAF-BDS
Main languagesDari, Khowar, Kyrgyz, Shughni, Munji, Ishkashimi, Wakhi, Persian

Badakhshan Province (Dari/Pashto: بدخشان ولایت), Badaxšān wilāyat) is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in the farthest north-eastern part of the country between Tajikistan and Pakistan's Gilgit-Baltistan region. It shares a 56.5-mile (91 km) border with China.

It is part of a broader historical Badakhshan region. The province contains 22 to 28 districts, over 1,200 villages and approximately 1,054,087 people.[2] Fayzabad serves as the provincial capital.


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 primarily bordered by Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province and Khatlon Province in Tajikistan to the north and east. In the east of the province a long spur called the Wakhan Corridor extends above northern Pakistan's Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan to a border with China. The province has a total area of 44,059 square kilometres (17,011 sq mi), most of which is occupied by the Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges.

Badakhshan was a stopover on the ancient Silk Road trading path and China has shown great interest in the province since the fall of the Taliban, helping to reconstruct roads and infrastructure.

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.


The Achaemenid Empire conquered the area in the 1st millennium BC. 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.[3]

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,[4] 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.[5]

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.[6]

Politics and governance[edit]

The current Governor of the province is Shah Waliullah Adeeb.[7] His predecessors were Munshi Abdul Majid and Baz Mohammad Ahmadi. The borders with neighboring Tajikistan, China, and Pakistan are monitored by the Afghan Border Police (ABP). All law enforcement activities throughout the province are handled by the Afghan National Police (ANP). A provincial Police Chief is assigned to lead both the ANP and the ABP. The Police Chief represents the Ministry of the Interior in Kabul. The ANP is backed by the military, including the NATO-led forces.

Fayzabad, the capital of Badakhshan province, sits on the Kokcha River and has an approximate population of 50,000. The chief commercial and administrative center of northeast Afghanistan and the Pamir region, Fayzabad also has rice and flour mills.


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.[8] The percentage of births attended to by a skilled birth attendant increased from 1.5% in 2003 to 2% in 2011.[8]


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.[8] The overall net enrolment rate (6–13 years of age) increased from 46% in 2005 to 68% in 2011.[8]


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.[9][10] 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.[11] Recent geological surveys have indicated the location of other gemstone deposits, in particular rubies and emeralds.[12] It is estimated that the mines at Kuran wa Munjan District hold up to 1,290 tonnes of azure (lapis lazuli).[13] Exploitation of this mineral wealth could be key to the region's prosperity.[12]

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.[14]


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, which is a multi-ethnic rural society.[2] Dari-speaking Tajiks make up the majority followed by a few Uzbeks, Hazaras, Pashtuns, Kyrgyz, Qizilbash, and others.[15] 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.

Historical population estimates for Badakhshan province are as follows:[16]


Emblem of Afghanistan,| Districts of Badakhshan Province| Flag of Afghanistan,
District Capital Population[17] Area Villages
Ethnic groups
Arghanj Khwa 12,000 Tajik.[18]
Argo 83,999 1,032 km2 145 villages.Tajik.[18]
Baharak Baharak 33,012 328 km2 51 villages. Tajik.[18]
Darayim 72,000 570 km2 101 villages. Tajik.[18]
Fayzabad Fayzabad 96,826 514 km2 175 villages. Tajik.[18]
Ishkashim Ishkashim 12,566 1,123 km2 43 villages.[19]
Jurm 51,714 1286 km2 75 villages. Tajik[18]
Khash 15,436 264 km2 21 villages. Tajik[18]
Khwahan Khwahan 27,000 80 km2 46 villages. Tajik.[20]
Kishim Mashhad 71,262 264 km2 100 villages. Tajik[18]
Kohistan 12,000 13 villages. Tajik[18]
Kuf Ab Qal`eh-ye Kuf 16,000 Tajik
Keran wa Menjan Keran wa Menjan 8,084 1,588 km2 42 villages. 100% Tajik.[21]
Maimay Jamarj-e Bala 12,000
Nusay Nusay 31,195 4,589 km2 16 villages. Tajik.[22]
Raghistan Ziraki 37,000 25 villages. Tajik.[18]
Shahri Buzurg Shahri Buzurg 80,000 956 km2 74 villages.[23]
Sheghnan Shughnan 27,750 3528 km2 28 villages. Khowar, Tajik and Qizilbash.[24]
Shekay Jarf 27,000 1,700 km2 38 villages. Tajik, etc.[25]
Shuhada 26,430 1,521 km2 62 villages. 99% Tajik and 1% others.[26]
Tagab 22,000
Tishkan 26,850 812 km2 57 villages. Tajik.[18]
Wakhan Khandud 14,657 10,953 km2 110 villages. Tajik.[27]
Warduj 16,609 929 km2 45 villages. Tajik.[18]
Yaftali Sufla 60,000 605 km2 93 villages. Tajik.[18]
Yamgan 30,000 1,779 km2 39 villages. 100% Tajik[28]
Yawan 27,000
Zebak Zebak 26,430 1,521 km2 62 villages. 99% Tajik and 1% others.[29]

Notable people from Badakhshan[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Statoids".
  2. ^ a b c "Estimated Population of Afghanistan 2020-21" (PDF). Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, National Statistics and Information Authority. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  3. ^ Eilers, W. "BADAKŠĀN". Encyclopædia Iranica (Online ed.). United States: Columbia University. Archived from the original on 2 January 2009. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  4. ^ Conflict analysis: Baharak district, Badakhshan province,
  5. ^
  6. ^ USGS. "M7.5 – 45 km E of Farkhar, Afghanistan". United States Geological Survey.
  7. ^ "Database – Who is who in Afghanistan?". Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d Archive, Civil Military Fusion Centre, Archived 30 May 2014 at
  9. ^ Deer, William A.; Howie, Robert A, and Zussman, Joseph (1963) "Lapis lazuli" Rock-Forming Minerals Longman, London, OCLC 61975619
  10. ^ Lapis lazuli was also found in the Urals Mountains in Russia. Deer et al. above
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ a b "Afghanistan's gemstones" (PDF). Planet Earth. Winter 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 September 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2008.
  13. ^ Hamdard, Hidayatullah (20 January 2014). "Karzai assigns team to probe azure mine issue". Pajhwok Afghan News. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  14. ^ Mackenzie, James; Qadir Sediqi, Abdul (7 October 2018). "Afghanistan signs major mining deals in development push". Reuters. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  15. ^ "1 Badakhshan". Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  16. ^ Andrew Ross ( "Afghanistan Geographic & Thematic Layers". Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  17. ^ "Badakhshan Province". Government of Afghanistan and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ Ishkashim District
  20. ^ Khowahan District
  21. ^ Keran Wa Menjan District
  22. ^ Nusay District
  23. ^ Shahr-e-Bozorg District
  24. ^ Sheghnan District
  25. ^ Shekay District
  26. ^ Shuhada District
  27. ^ Wakhan District
  28. ^ Yamgan District
  29. ^ Zibak District
  30. ^ DeWeese, Devin A. (4 May 2016). "Badakhshī, Nūr al-Dīn Jaʿfar". Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE.
  31. ^ "Encyclopedia Iranica, BADAḴŠĪ, MOLLĀ SHAH".

Further reading[edit]

  • 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[edit]