Kandahar, Afghanistan

Capital of Kandahar province with a population of 250,000. The country's second largest city and chief trade center, Kandahar is a market for sheep, wool, cotton, food grains, fresh and dried fruit, and tobacco. It has an international airport and is linked by road with Kabul, Herat, Quetta, and the Central Asian Republics of the former USSR. Woolen cloth, felt, and silk are manufactured. The surrounding irrigated region produces fine fruits, especially grapes, and the city has plants for canning, drying, and packing fruit. Kandahar was founded by Alexander the Great (4th century B.C.). India and Persia long fought over the city, which was strategically located on the trade routes of central Asia. It was conquered by Arabs in the 7th century and by the Turkic Ghaznavids in the 10th cent. Genghis Khan sacked it in the 12th century, after which it became a major city of the Karts (Mongol clients) until their defeat by Tamerlane in 1383. Babur, founder of the Mughal empire of India, took Kandahar in the 16th century. It was later contested by the Persians and by the rulers of emerging Afghanistan, who made it the capital (1748 - 1773) of their newly independent kingdom. British forces occupied Kandahar during the First Afghan War (1839 - 1842) and from 1879 to 1881. The old city was laid out by Ahmad Shah and is dominated by his octangular, domed mausoleum. There are also numerous mosques (one said to contain the Prophet Muhammad's cloak) and bazaars. Modern Kandahar adjoins the old city. It has a technical college. Together with Peshawar, Pakistan, Kandahar is the principal city of the Pashtun people. During the Soviet military occupation of 1979 to 1989, Kandahar was the site of a Soviet command. A major prize, it changed hands several times until the fall of the Najibullah government in 1992.


Kandahar Airport
Kandahar Airport, built in 1970s and to become the largest airport in Central Asia was built with US financial and technical assistance under the US International Development Program. The airport was severely damaged during the Russian attacks on the city during 1979-89 and again during the US raids in 2001.

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