Afghanistan: A torn paradise on earth
On vacation to Afghanistan. It sounds a bit crazy to many people. But Afghanistan has been a crossroads of different cultures for centuries. It was an important stopping place for travellers along the Silk Road. And that is still reflected in today’s culture and traditions. During a trip through Afghanistan, you will look beyond the hectic contemporary world and experience a beautiful country with a rich cultural history. In addition, you will be hospitably received by a curious people who are open to contact with the rest of the world.
Name: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Population: 34 million
Surface area: 652,864 km²
Language: Dari , Pashto
Neighbouring countries: China, Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan
Most trips start in the busy and overwhelming capital Kabul. Everywhere in the metropolis there are street stalls, local markets and beautiful mosques. Little reminds of the hippie era , but some travellers still recognise a few landmarks. Kabul is now a bustling city where you can experience modern Afghanistan.
Blue Mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif
One of the most famous buildings in Afghanistan is located in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif . The 15th century mosque gets its name from the many blue and turquoise tiles that you see on the outside. The site is also the tomb of Ali ibn Abu Talib , the son-in-law of the prophet Mohammed. The tomb is therefore a very sacred place for Muslims.
Bamiyan and Band-i- Amir
Perhaps the most beautiful place in Afghanistan is the Bamiyan region . In the middle of the country you will find the famous city of Bamiyan. Once the large Buddha statues stood here, in 2001 they were blown up by the Taliban. A few hours outside of Bamiyan you will find the Band-i- Amir National Park . Between these special mountain landscapes with deep blue lakes , all the problems of the country seem very far away. In winter you can even ski in this region. Who would have thought that?
Afghanistan is known as the hub of Central Asia. The country has a turbulent history with many conquests by many more different tribes. In about 300 BC, Alexander the Great conquered the area from the Persian Emperor Darius III. In the centuries that followed, Afghanistan moved from the Greek kingdoms via Buddhist influences from India to the Mongol rule of Genghis Khan and British influence at the beginning of the 20th century.
Afghanistan finally became independent in 1919. After a period of relative calm, a political coup in 1973 happened, followed five years later by the communist coup backed by the Soviet Union.
Civil war and after
The coup was the beginning of a long civil war that ended when the Soviets withdrew in 1989. After several civil wars, the country fell to the Taliban in 1996. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States started a war. Since then, the country has continued to suffer from the threat of the Taliban and remains largely unsettled. Peace negotiations continue to run between the Afghan government, the United States and the Taliban, but have so far not led to peace.
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