Description of Afghanistan
Afghanistan is located in Central and South Asia, it is totally landlocked. It shares borders with Iran on the west, Pakistan on the south and on the east, and in the north with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. In the far northeastern part of the country it borders China.
The country of Afghanistan has long been a focal point for human migration and the Silk Road. There has been evidence found by archaeologists that date habitation of the area to the Middle Paleolithic time period. Urban civilization may have started in the area as early as either 3000 or 2000 BC. The country sits near an important geostrategic location as it connects Middle Eastern culture with the area of central Asia as well as the Indian subcontinent. There have been various peoples who have lived in this area throughout the ages. In addition, there have been many military campaigns through the area including a campaign by Alexander the great. The Arab Muslims and Genghis Khan led military campaigns as well as many western forces from the modern era. There have also been many major empires formed in this area throughout the years.
There have been excavations in the area of Afghanistan that show that humans were living in the area for at least 50,000 years. These excavations also show that there were farming communities in this area that were likely the first in the world. The country is a very important site for early historical activities, comparable to Egypt in terms of archaeological sites of historical value.
Exploration that has been completed in the 20th century shows that the country has been connected by trade and culture with its neighbors in the west, north, and east. Artifacts from several ages have all been found in the area. Civilization likely started in the area in 3000 BCE. After 2000 BCE there were several waves of semi-nomadic people from the central part of Asia who started to move south into the country. Many of these tribes moved even further south into India, west into Iran, and even into Europe using the area that is just north of Caspian.
In 330 BCE, Alexander the Great and his army arrived in the area when they defeated Darius III from Persia the year before. After the brief occupation of the area by Alexander, the Seleucid Empire took control of the area until 305 BCE. The Seleucid Empire gave up the majority of control of the area to the Maurya Empire as part of a treaty of alliance. The Mauryans held the area until 185 BCE.
From the 4th through the 19th centuries the area that is now Afghanistan was called Khorasan. Arab Muslims brought Islam to the area in the year 642 AD. This started to spread towards the east. There were some of the natives that accepted the religion while others revolted against it. The people of the country at the time had several religions including Jews, Muslims, Hindus, sun worshippers, Zoroastrians, and Buddhists as well as others.
During the Islamic Golden Age, the area that is now the country of Afghanistan became one of the main centers for Islam. All of the non-Muslim areas were Islamized by the 11th century by Mahmud of Ghazni. In the year 1219 AD Genghis Khan and his army overtook the region.
In the year 1995, the Taliban started bombing Kabul, but they were defeated by forces from Islamic State government who were governed by Ahmad Shah Massoud. The early victories by the Taliban in the year 1994 were followed by several defeats, which resulted in many losses. This led analysts to believe that the Taliban movement was over. However, Pakistan further supported the Taliban movement.
From the year 1996 through 2001 Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist group al-Qaeda became a state in the country of Afghanistan. Bin Laden sent recruits to fight against the United Front. There were over 3000 fighters from the regular Taliban army who were central Asian militants and Arabs. Of the 45,000 soldiers that were fighting against the Massoud forces in the middle of 2001, only 14,000 were Afghans.
In 2002, the Taliban was regrouping in Afghanistan and more coalition troops would enter the country of Afghanistan in support of the United States led war. The nation was able to start rebuilding and by the year 2009 the country has a version of a mediation court. In 2010, President Barack Obama announced that 30000 more soldiers would be deployed for a period of 2 years. The Taliban continue to be a problem in the country. However, the death of Bin Laden in 2011 has led to many prominent leaders of the movement to be assassinated as well.
The culture of the Afghans has been around for more than 2 millennia, with records tracing back to at least 500 BCE. The country is mostly nomadic and tribal with different areas of the country each having their own traditions. These traditions are a reflection of the multi-lingual and multi-cultural character of the country. The east and south regions have people that follow the Pashtun culture. This is an ancient way of life that is still preserved today. The remaining areas of the country are culturally Turkic and Persian. There are some non-Pashtuns that live close to the Pashtuns and have adopted some of their ways which is called Pashtunization. There are also some Pashtuns that have been Persianized. There are millions of Afghans who have lived in Iran and Pakistan for more than 30 years and they have been influenced by the cultures of these countries.
Afghans are a very prideful people. They display this pride in their ancestry, culture, and nation, as well as their religion and independence. These people have a large amount of tribe loyalty and they are very ready to use force in order to settle any type of dispute that may arise. It is estimated that there are around 60 Pashtun tribes in the area and around 2 to 3 million nomads in the country.
What About Tourism In Afghanistan?
It is probably unwise for a foreign tourist to visit Afghanistan at this time, because of the threat from the Taliban and local terrorist groups. According to a recent New York Times article, the Taliban have warned foreign tourists not to come visit Afghanistan if they are from one of the 50 countries that are part of the coalition supporting the official government.
A spokesman for the insurgents in Eastern and Northern Afghanistan said that it is part of their strategy to target foreign tourists that are from any country that has a military presence in Afghanistan. You are probably on that list of countries if you are reading this. Anyone from the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, etc. would be included.
The American government has a stern warning on the State Department website that says that no part of Afghanistan should be considered safe. The travel advisory says that there is a risk of assassination and kidnapping for any U.S. citizen visiting anywhere in the country.
Some tourists do still try to come to the country, but there are less and less tourists coming in.
One newlywed couple disappeared after spending two weeks in Afghanistan. They stayed in local guesthouses and tents and traveled on foot. It was probably a bad choice for a honeymoon. Their families have not heard from them since.
Another tourist couple that came to visit were from Russia and very wealthy. They hired an armored car, bodyguards, and stayed in a hotel that cost $356 per night in Kabul. They returned home safely.
There are hardly any tourist destinations that are as unique and exotic as Afghanistan, with some of the most beautiful mountain ranges, ancient Buddhist monuments, and gorgeous Islamic architecture. Still, that doesn’t justify the trip. It is just too unsafe for anyone to travel there and expect a safe return - at least without considerable protection, cost, and planning.
The downfall of the whole tourism industry really started in 2007 when the Taliban kidnapped an entire group of South Korean tourists. Two were killed and 19 were freed after being held for more than a month in captivity. In addition, South Korea agreed to withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan.
According to the deputy minister of tourism in Afghanistan, there are between 15,000 and 20,000 tourists that come in each year, and that number is going up by a couple of thousand each year.
Travel Warnings And Advisories
There are extensive travel warnings and advisories against visiting Afghanistan, on official government websites as well as commercial websites. There is major travel warning in bright red text on the Wikitravel page for Afghanistan, for instance.
The travel warning states that traveling anywhere in Afghanistan is extremely dangerous, and that independent sightseeing, tourism, or travel is highly discouraged because of the conflict between the government and the Taliban. Even though the government is supported by the United States government, it doesn’t have much control over big areas of the country. The Taliban kill nearly 20,000 innocent people a year. Even though parts of Kabul are safer from Taliban threats, the entire country is still a major war zone.
The travel warning goes on to instruct those thinking of going to the region to plan their trips meticulously and stay on top of the latest news and security situation throughout their visit.
Working In Afghanistan
A lot of foreigners are finding good work in Afghanistan as part of the reconstruction process. These foreign workers usually find work through the United Nations or other NGOs. Most of the good-paying jobs are Kabul. Kabul is also safer than other parts of the country. Local wages are not that great, especially when you venture outside of Kabul. Still, just because you are working there, does not mean you will be safe.
Stay Safe In Afghanistan
There isn’t any part of Afghanistan that should be considered safe or free from violence, and there is the potential for devastating violence throughout the entire country. There is the potential for danger and hostile acts, either purposeful or random, against Western nationals at any time. The Taliban, as well as al-Qa’ida and other hostile groups, are still active. The Afghan government has a limited ability to keep order and safeguard Afghan citizens and foreigners. Travel in any area of Afghanistan is unsafe because of military operations, kidnappings, banditry, armed conflict between tribal groups, and the potential for insurgent attacks, including attacks with IEDs. The security situation is unstable and volatile throughout the country, with the southeast seeing even more violence than other areas. The southern and eastern areas are the most unpredictable. Travel is strongly discouraged in these areas.
Hotels In Afghanistan
The Kabul Serena Hotel is a five-star rated hotel with excellent security. It is the most popular hotel in Kabul. Kabul is the safest city in the country.
Dozens of reviewers have described their experiences with the hotel on TripAdvisor. Customers have said that it is very nice place, that the ground and rooms are beautiful, and that the security is top-notch. One customer called it a “haven” in Kabul. The hotel is described as having spacious rooms and bathrooms, as well as a spa and all the amenities you’d expect from a five-star hotel. Guests praised the menu and restaurant options, as well.
However, there have been attacks on guests at hotel. It is not 100% safe there.
If you’ve ever thought about visiting in Afghanistan, it would probably be wiser to wait until the war has blown over. Right now, the country is a war zone, and any foreign tourist is going to be unsafe anywhere in the country. If you want to chance it, make sure that you have the budget to plan the trip meticulously, stay in the safest part of the safest city, and don’t travel in large groups. You should also allocate some of your budget for extra paid private security.
Some facts about Afghanistan
Gallery of Afghanistan
Afghanistan video guide
More information about Afghanistan
Climate of Afghanistan:
Top cities of Afghanistan
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