Farah, Afghanistan

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Farah is located in Afghanistan
Location in Afghanistan
Coordinates: 32°20′37″N 62°7′10″E / 32.34361°N 62.11944°E / 32.34361; 62.11944Coordinates: 32°20′37″N 62°7′10″E / 32.34361°N 62.11944°E / 32.34361; 62.11944
Country Afghanistan
ProvinceFarah Province
 • MayorAbdul Rahim Ishaqzai
2,461 ft (750 m)
 • City54,000
 • Urban
Time zoneUTC+4:30

Farah (Pashto / Dari Persian: فراه) is the capital of Farah Province in southwestern Afghanistan. It is located on the Farah River, close to the border with Iran. It is one of the largest cities of western Afghanistan in terms of population, at 54,000. The Farah Airport is located in the area.

Land use[edit]

Farah is located in western Afghanistan between Kandahar and Herat, close to the border with Iran, although it lacks a direct road connection with the latter. Farah has a very clear grid of roads distributed through the higher density residential areas. However barren land (35%) and vacant plots (25%) are the largest land uses and combine for 60% of total land use.[3]


Part of a series on the
History of Afghanistan
"Interior of the palace of Shauh Shujah Ool Moolk, Late King of Cabul"
Related historical names of the region

Ancient history[edit]

The Citadel at Farah is probably one of a series of fortresses constructed by Alexander the Great, the city being an intermediate stop between Alexandria Arachosia (modern Kandahar) and Herat, the location of another of Alexander's fortresses.[4][5] The ‘Alexandria’ prefix was added to the city's name when Alexander came in 330 BC.

Under the Parthian Empire, Farah fell under the satrapy of Aria, and was one of its key cities.[6] It is thought to be Phra, mentioned by Isidorus Characenus in the 1st century AD,[7] or Alexandria Prophthasia mentioned by Pliny the Elder, Stephanus of Byzantium (Stephanus also called it Phrada (Φράδα))[8] and the 4th century Peutinger Map.

In the 5th century CE Farah was one of the major strongholds on the eastern frontier of the Sassanid Empire.[9]


The region was historically part of Khorasan province and was controlled by the Tahirids followed by the Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Khwarazmshahs, Ilkhanates, Timurids, Khanate of Bukhara, and Saffavids until the early-18th century when it became part of the Afghan Hotaki dynasty followed by the Durrani Empire.

Islam was introduced in the region during the 7th century and later the Saffarid dynasty took control of Farah. During the 10th century, Mahmud of Ghazni took possession of the city, followed by the Ghurids in the 12th century. Genghis Khan and his army passed through in the 13th century, and the city fell to the Timurids. It was controlled by the Safavids until 1709, when they were defeated by the Hotaki Afghan forces of Mirwais Hotak. It became part of the Durrani Empire in the mid 18th century. Farah was seized by Sultan Jan, then ruler of Herat, but re-captured by Dost Mohammad Khan on July 8, 1862.[10]

Soviet-Afghan War[edit]

At the start of the Soviet invasion, Farah was, along with Herat, Shindand, and Kandahar, occupied by the Soviet 357th and 66th Motorized Rifle Divisions (MRD).[11]

The mujahideen established themselves in the Farah area in 1979. They maintained a presence in the city until they were forced out in 1982, and established a stronghold at the nearby mountain Lor Koh, which they renamed Sharafat Koh ("Honor Mountain"). Primary among the Farah mujahideen groups was the Sharafat Kuh Front.[12]

Civil war to present[edit]

Afghan girls sing songs to U.S. service members during a visit to the orphanage in Farah City June 19, 2012.

Following the collapse of the Soviet-backed government of Najibullah in 1992, Ismail Khan returned to power in Herat, and came to control Farah, as well as the other surrounding provinces of Ghor and Badghis, until Herat fell to the Taliban in 1995.[13]

The roads in Farah province have seen massive improvement since May 2005. The education system has been greatly improved and a great number of illegal weapons have been collected and destroyed in the province by the Provincial Reconstruction Team. The United States built a base at Farah Airport, which also houses the Afghan National Security Forces (ANFS).

On May 7, 2009, thousands of Afghan villagers shouting "Death to America" and "Death to the Government" protested in Farah City over American bomber air strikes on May 4 that killed 147 civilians. Clashes with police started when people from the three villages struck by US B1-bombers brought 15 newly discovered bodies in a truck to the house of the provincial governor. Four protesters were wounded when police opened fire. Going by the account of survivors, the air raid was not a brief attack by several aircraft acting on mistaken intelligence, but a sustained bombardment in which three villages were pounded to pieces.[14] An Afghan government investigation concluded on May 16, 2009 with the Afghan Defense Ministry announcing an official death toll of 140 villagers. A copy of the government's list of the names and ages of each of the 140 dead showed that 93 of those killed were children, and only 22 were adult males.[15]

On 20 November 2009 it was reported that a suicide bomber on a motorcycle detonated near a market in Farah Naz city, killing 17 people and wounding 29.[16] Mullah Hayatullah was the Taliban commander for Farah province and was reported to be known to run suicide training camps.[16]

During late evening of 14 May 2018, Taliban fighters stormed the city from multiple directions.[17] By 15 May 2018, the Taliban, during their annual spring offensive, captured Farah from the Afghan government, with only the provincial governor's compound remaining under the control of Afghan forces.[18] However, by 16 May Afghan Armed Forces, along with elements of the US Armys 2-12th infantry regiment belonging to the 4th infantry division along with several interpreters backed by the United States Air Force recaptured the city, while fighting moved on to the outlying areas of it. National Directorate of Security headquarters have been razed during the fighting. Taliban fighters have claimed that they withdrew after achieving their objectives and capturing weapon and equipment stockpiles. On May 16, government security forces backed by US air support reasserted control over Farah after driving the Taliban out of the city center. The security forces then conducted a clearing operation. Abdul Basir Salangi, governor of Farah province, said that the clashes left at least 25 members of the government security forces and five civilians dead, and at least 300 Taliban fighters were also killed.[19]

On 28 May 2020, the Taliban killed seven policemen in Farah in an attack on a police post during which eight Taliban militants were also killed.[20] The attack was conducted just after the end of the three-day Eid ceasefire announced by the Taliban in the country, which lasted from 24 to 26 May 2020.


Recent statistics (2015) showed the city population of about 54,000.[21] Pashtuns form the overwhelming majority of the city, comprising ca. 70 to 80%. The Tajiks at 15% and the remaining Balochis.[22] More than 80% of the province consists of ethnic Pashtuns (excluding Kuchi nomades) followed by Tajiks as second largest group residing mainly in Farah city and Baluchis as third group. The primary Pashtun tribes in Farah province are the Eshaqzai, Alizai, Barakzai, and Nurzai.[23] However, the Kuchi nomads, a Pashtun group, make a sizeable population in winter.[24]

The provincial dominant language is Pashto and Dari (Afghan Persian) Pashto is spoken by around 80%, followed by around 10%-15% Dari.[25]

Economy and transportation[edit]

The city is a major trading and farming center in this area.

The Farah Airport is located next to the city and as of May 2014 had regularly scheduled flights to Herat.

There are secondary roads in different directions from the city. As of 2010 Farah City had 30 km of paved roads, 136 km of gravel roads and 150 km of unpaved roads.[26] The major road is Route 515 which connects Farah to the Ring Road. Both roads were improved in 2009 in coordination with several ISAF countries.


The city is served by Farah City Hospital.


Farah has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification: BWh). In winter there is more rainfall than in summer. The average annual temperature in Farah is 20.0 °C (68.0 °F). About 78 mm (3.07 in) of precipitation falls annually.

Climate data for Farah
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 14.9
Average low °C (°F) −0.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 18
Source: Climate-Data.org,Climate data

Books relating to Farah[edit]

Little has been written about Farah; some fleeting references can be found in works related to Afghanistan or works that focus on the Great Game Politics of the UK and the Russian Empire during the 19th century. However, 2011 saw the publication of Words in the Dust[27] by author Trent Reedy, who was one of the first American soldiers to enter Farah in 2004. His book, while fiction, is set in Farah City and the wider province.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The State of Afghan Cities report 2015". Archived from the original on 2015-10-31.
  2. ^ "Settled Population of Farah province by Civil Division, Urban, Rural and Sex-2012-13" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  3. ^ "The State of Afghan Cities report 2015". Archived from the original on 2015-10-31. Retrieved 2015-10-20.
  4. ^ Caii Plinii secundi Naturalis historiae libri XXXVII interpretatione et notis illustravit Joannes Harduinus in usum Delphini Jean Hardouin, Pline l'Ancien, Hardouin page 698.
  5. ^ Ralph Griffiths, George Edward Griffiths The Monthly Review May 1749-September 1803 Page 514
  6. ^ A manual of ancient history. Clarendon, 1880
  7. ^ William Woodthorpe Tarn "The Greeks in Bactria and India", 2010 p.14
  8. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium, Ethnica, Ph670.21
  9. ^ Balland, Daniel. "FARAÚH". In Ehsan Yarshater (ed.). Encyclopædia Iranica (Online ed.). United States: Columbia University. Archived from the original on 2008-05-27. Retrieved January 2008. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  10. ^ The Kingdom of Afghanistan: A Historical Sketch. By George P. Tate. Bennet, Coleman & Co, Bombay, 1911. p213-4
  11. ^ Robin D. S. Higham, Frederick W. Kagan. The military history of the Soviet Union. Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. ISBN 0-312-29398-4, ISBN 978-0-312-29398-7
  12. ^ Ali Ahmad Jalali, Lester W. Grau. Afghan guerrilla warfare: in the words of the Mujahideen fighters. Zenith Imprint, 2002. ISBN 0-7603-1322-9, ISBN 978-0-7603-1322-0
  13. ^ Neamatollah Nojumi, Dyan E. Mazurana, Elizabeth Stites. After the Taliban: life and security in rural Afghanistan. Rowman & Littlefield, 2009. ISBN 0-7425-4032-4, ISBN 978-0-7425-4032-3
  14. ^ Afghans riot over air-strike atrocity
  15. ^ U.S. strikes killed 140 villagers: Afghan probe
  16. ^ a b Roggio, Bill. "Suicide Bomber strikes in Western Afghanistan." 20 November 2009. Long War Journal. Accessed at: http:.net//www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2009/11/suicide_bomber_strik_3.php
  17. ^ Karimi, Storay. "Taliban battle into west Afghan city in new crisis for government". U.S. Retrieved 2018-05-16.
  18. ^ Sukhanyar,Jawad and Nordland, Rod. "Taliban Claim They’ve Taken Control of Western Afghan City, Farah." 15 May 2018. The New York Times. Accessed at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/15/world/asia/afghanistan-taliban-farah-.html
  19. ^ Taliban abandons effort to capture Farah city. al Jazeera. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  20. ^ "14 Afghan forces killed in 'Taliban attacks' after ceasefire ends". May 28, 2020 – via today.rtl.lu.
  21. ^ "The State of Afghan Cities report 2015". Archived from the original on 2015-10-31.
  22. ^ "2003 National Geographic Population Map" (PDF). Thomas Gouttierre, Center For Afghanistan Studies, University of Nebraska at Omaha; Matthew S. Baker, Stratfor. National Geographic Society. 2003. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
  23. ^ "Farah Provincial Overview". Program for Conflict and Culture Studies. Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). Retrieved 2013-01-13.
  24. ^ "Provincial Development Plan, Farah Provincial Profile" (PDF). Afghanistan Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 December 2010.
  25. ^ https://my.nps.edu/web/ccs/farah
  26. ^ National Area-Based Development Programme, Farah Provincial Profile,"Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2015-09-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  27. ^ Trent Reedy, Words in the Dust, Arthur A. Levine 2011

External links[edit]