Badakhshan Province

Coordinates: 38°0′N 71°0′E / 38.000°N 71.000°E / 38.000; 71.000
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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; 71.000
Country Afghanistan
 • GovernorMohammad Ayub Khalid[1]
 • Deputy GovernorNisar Ahmad Ahmadi[2]
 • Total44,835 km2 (17,311 sq mi)
 • Total1,072,785
 • Density24/km2 (62/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+4:30 (Afghanistan Time)
Postal code
ISO 3166 codeAF-BDS
Main languagesPersian, Khowar, Kyrgyz, Shughni, Ishkashimi, Wakhi

Badakhshan Province (Persian 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]


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 was an independent country until late 18th century before 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, which allowed the Emanzai Tribe to rise in regional control. 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,[8] 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.[9]

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.[10]


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.[11] The percentage of births attended to by a skilled birth attendant increased from 1.5% in 2003 to 2% in 2011.[11]


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.[11] The overall net enrolment rate (6–13 years of age) increased from 46% in 2005 to 68% in 2011.[11]


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.[12][13] 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.[14] Recent geological surveys have indicated the location of other gemstone deposits, in particular rubies and emeralds.[15] It is estimated that the mines at Kuran wa Munjan District hold up to 1,290 tonnes of azure (lapis lazuli).[16] Exploitation of this mineral wealth could be key to the region's prosperity.[15]

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.[17]


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.[18] 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.[19]

Districts of Badakhshan Province
District Capital Population[4] Area
in km2
Ethnic groups
Arghanj Khwa 18,201 2,327 8 Majority Farsiwan (Tajiks, Aimaqs).[20]
Argo 88,616 1,059 84 145 villages. Majority Tajik, minority Turkmens.[20]
Baharak Baharak 32,551 324 101 51 villages. 100% Tajik.[20]
Darayim 69,618 585 119 101 villages. 100% Tajik.[20]
Fayzabad Fayzabad 77,154 497 155 175 villages. 100% Tajik.[20]
Ishkashim Ishkashim 15,677 1,415 11 43 villages. Predominantly Pamiris (Ishkashimi), few Tajik.[21]
Jurm Jorm 42,671 1225 35 75 villages. 100% Tajik[20]
Khash 43,046 243 177 21 villages. Majority Turkmen, minority Tajik[20]
Khwahan Khwahan 18,734 698 27 46 villages. Predominantly Tajik.[22]
Kishim Mashhad 91,407 767 119 100 villages. 100% Tajik[20]
Kohistan 18,733 494 38 13 villages. 100% Tajik[20]
Kuf Ab Qal`eh-ye Kuf 25,243 1,439 18 Predominantly Tajik, some Aimaq.
Keran wa Menjan Keran wa Menjan 10,761 4,712 2 42 villages. Predominantly Pamiri (Munji), few Tajiks.
Maimay (Darwaz-e Payin) Jamarj-e Bala 29,893 1,217 25 Predominantly Tajik, some Aimaq.
Nusay (Darwaz-e Bala) Nusay 26,173 1,589 16 16 villages. Tajik.[23]
Raghistan Ziraki 44,773 1,321 34 25 villages. 100% Tajik.[20]
Shahri Buzurg Shahri Buzurg 59,123 942 63 74 villages. 100% Tajik.[24]
Sheghnan Shughnan 31,487 1,968 16 28 villages. Predominantly Pamiri (Shughni).
Shekay Jarf 29,760 635 47 38 villages. Tajik, etc.[25]
Shuhada 39,061 1,244 31 62 villages. Predominantly Farsiwan (Tajik, Aimaq), few Pamiri (Ishkashimi).[26]
Tagab 31,753 1,401 23 Mixed Tajik and Baloch.
Tishkan 33,746 821 41 57 villages. 100% Tajik.[20]
Wakhan Khandud 16,873 10,930 2 110 villages. Majority Pamiri (Wakhi), minority Kyrgyz.
Warduj 24,712 684 36 45 villages. 100% Tajik.[20]
Yaftali Sufla 59,654 606 98 93 villages. 100% Tajik.[20]
Yamgan 29,096 1,744 17 39 villages. 100% Tajik[27]
Yawan 36,669 431 85 100% Tajik.
Zebak Zebak 8,902 2,057 4 62 villages. Majority Pamiri, minority Tajik.
Badakhshan 1,054,087 44,836 24 85.4% Farsiwan (Tajiks, Aimaqs),
7.2% Pamiris (Ishkashimi, Munji, Shughni, Wakhi),
5.4% Turkmens,
1.5% Baloch,
0.5% Kyrgyz.[note 1]

Notable people from Badakhshan[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mohammad Ayub Khalid was introduced as the governor of Badakhshan". 14 September 2023.
  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. Archived from the original on 20 December 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. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "The 2015 Insurgency in the North (2): Badakhshan's Jurm district under siege". 14 September 2015.
  10. ^ USGS. "M7.5 – 45 km E of Farkhar, Afghanistan". United States Geological Survey.
  11. ^ a b c d Archive, Civil Military Fusion Centre Archived 30 May 2014 at
  12. ^ Deer, William A.; Howie, Robert A, and Zussman, Joseph (1963) "Lapis lazuli" Rock-Forming Minerals Longman, London, OCLC 61975619
  13. ^ Lapis lazuli was also found in the Urals Mountains in Russia. Deer et al. above
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ a b "Afghanistan's gemstones" (PDF). Planet Earth. Winter 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 September 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2008.
  16. ^ Hamdard, Hidayatullah (20 January 2014). "Karzai assigns team to probe azure mine issue". Pajhwok Afghan News. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  17. ^ Mackenzie, James; Qadir Sediqi, Abdul (7 October 2018). "Afghanistan signs major mining deals in development push". Reuters. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  18. ^ "1 Badakhshan". Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  19. ^ Giustozzi, Antonio (August 2012). Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field. Hurst. ISBN 9781849042260.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ "Ishkashim District" (PDF).
  22. ^ "Khowahan District" (PDF).
  23. ^ "Nusay District" (PDF).
  24. ^ "Shahr-e-Bozorg District" (PDF).
  25. ^ Shekay District
  26. ^ "Shuhada District" (PDF).
  27. ^ "Yamgan District" (PDF).
  28. ^ DeWeese, Devin A. (4 May 2016). "Badakhshī, Nūr al-Dīn Jaʿfar". Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE.
  29. ^ "BADAḴŠĪ, MOLLĀ SHAH". Encyclopedia Iranica.
  1. ^ Note: "Predominantely" is interpreted as 99%, "majority" as 70%, "mixed" as 1/(number of ethnicities) and "minority" as 30%.

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]