Herāt (/hɛˈrɑːt/; Persian/Pashto: هرات) is the third-largest city of Afghanistan. It has a population of about 436,300, and serves as the capital of Herat Province, situated in the fertile valley of the Hari River in the western part of the country. It is linked with Kandahar, Kabul, and Mazar-i-Sharif via Highway 1 or the ring road. It is further linked to the city of Mashhad in neighboring Iran through the border town of Islam Qala, and to Mary in Turkmenistan to the north through the border town of Torghundi.
Herat dates back to Avestan times and was traditionally known for its wine. The city has a number of historic sites, including the Herat Citadel and the Musalla Complex. During the Middle Ages Herat became one of the important cities of Khorasan, as it was known as the Pearl of Khorasan. It has been governed by various Afghan rulers since the early 18th century. In 1717, the city was invaded by the Hotaki forces until they were expelled by the Afsharids in 1729. After Nader Shah's death and Ahmad Shah Durrani's rise to power in 1747, Herat became part of Afghanistan. It witnessed some political disturbances and military invasions during the early half of the 19th century but the 1857 Treaty of Paris ended hostilities of the Anglo-Persian War.
Herat lies on the ancient trade routes of the Middle East, Central and South Asia, and today is a regional hub in western Afghanistan. The roads from Herat to Iran, Turkmenistan, and other parts of Afghanistan are still strategically important. As the gateway to Iran, it collects high amount of customs revenue for Afghanistan. It also has an international airport. The city has high residential density clustered around the core of the city. However, vacant plots account for a higher percentage of the city (21%) than residential land use (18%) and agricultural is the largest percentage of total land use (36%). Today the city is considered to be relatively safe.
From top: Overview of Herat city; The Friday Mosque; Citadel of Herat
The Pearl of Khorasan
Location in Afghanistan
|• Total||182 km2 (70 sq mi)|
|Elevation||920 m (3,020 ft)|
|• Density||2,400/km2 (6,200/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+4:30 (Afghanistan Standard Time)|
Herat dates back to ancient times (its exact age remains unknown). During the period of the Achaemenid Empire (ca. 550-330 BC), the surrounding district was known as Haraiva (in Old Persian), and in classical sources the region was correspondingly known as Aria (Areia). In the Zoroastrian Avesta, the district is mentioned as Haroiva. The name of the district and its main town is derived from that of the chief river of the region, the Herey River (Old Dari Hereyrud, "Silken Water"), which traverses the district and passes some 5 km (3.1 mi) south of modern Herāt. Herey is mentioned in Sanskrit as yellow or golden color equivalent to Persian "Zard" meaning Gold (yellow). The naming of a region and its principal town after the main river is a common feature in this part of the world—compare the adjoining districts/rivers/towns of Arachosia and Bactria.
The district Aria of the Achaemenid Empire is mentioned in the provincial lists that are included in various royal inscriptions, for instance, in the Behistun inscription of Darius I (ca. 520 BC). Representatives from the district are depicted in reliefs, e.g., at the royal Achaemenid tombs of Naqsh-e Rustam and Persepolis. They are wearing Scythian-style dress (with a tunic and trousers tucked into high boots) and a twisted Bashlyk that covers their head, chin and neck.
Hamdallah Mustawfi, composer of the 14th century work The Geographical Part of the Nuzhat-al-Qulub writes that:
Herāt was the name of one of the chiefs among the followers of the hero Narīmān, and it was he who first founded the city. After it had fallen to ruin Alexander the Great rebuilt it, and the circuit of its walls was 9000 paces.
Herodotus described Herat as the bread-basket of Central Asia. At the time of Alexander the Great in 330 BC, Aria was obviously an important district. It was administered by a satrap called Satibarzanes, who was one of the three main Persian officials in the East of the Empire, together with the satrap Bessus of Bactria and Barsaentes of Arachosia. In late 330 BC, Alexander captured the Arian capital that was called Artacoana. The town was rebuilt and the citadel was constructed. Afghanistan became part of the Seleucid Empire after Alexander died.
Most sources suggest that Herat was predominantly Zoroastrian in the pre-Islamic period. It became part of the Parthian Empire in 167 BC. In the Sasanian period (226-652), Harēv is listed in an inscription on the Ka'ba-i Zartosht at Naqsh-e Rustam; and Hariy is mentioned in the Pahlavi catalogue of the provincial capitals of the empire. In around 430, the town is also listed as having a Christian community, with a Nestorian bishop.
In the last two centuries of Sasanian rule, Aria (Herat) had great strategic importance in the endless wars between the Sasanians, the Chionites and the Hephthalites who had been settled in the northern section of Afghanistan since the late 4th century.
At the time of the Arab invasion in the middle of the 7th century, the Sasanian central power seemed already largely nominal in the province in contrast with the role of the Hephthalites tribal lords, who were settled in the Herat region and in the neighboring districts, mainly in pastoral Bādghis and in Qohestān. It must be underlined, however, that Herat remained one of the three Sasanian mint centers in the east, the other two being Balkh and Marv. The Hephthalites from Herat and some unidentified Turks opposed the Arab forces in a battle of Qohestān in 651-52 AD, trying to block their advance on Nishāpur, but they were defeated
When the Arab armies appeared in Khorāsān in the 650s AD, Herāt was counted among the twelve capital towns of the Sasanian Empire. The Arab army under the general command of Ahnaf ibn Qais in its conquest of Khorāsān in 652 seems to have avoided Herāt, but it can be assumed that the city eventually submitted to the Arabs, since shortly afterwards an Arab governor is mentioned there. A treaty was drawn in which the regions of Bādghis and Bushanj were included. As did many other places in Khorāsān, Herāt rebelled and had to be re-conquered several times.
Another power that was active in the area in the 650s was Tang dynasty China which had embarked on a campaign that culminated in the Conquest of the Western Turks. By 659-661, the Tang claimed a tenuous suzerainty over Herat, the westernmost point of Chinese power in its long history. This hold however would be ephemeral with local Turkish tribes rising in rebellion in 665 and driving out the Tang.
In 702 AD Yazid ibn al-Muhallab defeated certain Arab rebels, followers of Ibn al-Ash'ath, and forced them out of Herat. The city was the scene of conflicts between different groups of Muslims and Arab tribes in the disorders leading to the establishment of the Abbasid Caliphate. Herat was also a centre of the followers of Ustadh Sis.
...Arab armies carrying the banner of Islam came out of the west to defeat the Sasanians in 642 AD and then they marched with confidence to the east. On the western periphery of the Afghan area the princes of Herat and Seistan gave way to rule by Arab governors but in the east, in the mountains, cities submitted only to rise in revolt and the hastily converted returned to their old beliefs once the armies passed. The harshness and avariciousness of Arab rule produced such unrest, however, that once the waning power of the Caliphate became apparent, native rulers once again established themselves independent. Among these the Saffarids of Seistan shone briefly in the Afghan area. The fanatic founder of this dynasty, the coppersmith's apprentice Yaqub ibn Layth Saffari, came forth from his capital at Zaranj in 870 AD and marched through Bost, Kandahar, Ghazni, Kabul, Bamiyan, Balkh and Herat, conquering in the name of Islam.
The region of Herāt was under the rule of King Nuh III, the seventh of the Samanid line—at the time of Sebük Tigin and his older son, Mahmud of Ghazni. The governor of Herāt was a noble by the name of Faik, who was appointed by Nuh III. It is said that Faik was a powerful, but insubordinate governor of Nuh III; and had been punished by Nuh III. Faik made overtures to Bogra Khan and Ughar Khan of Khorasan. Bogra Khan answered Faik's call, came to Herāt and became its ruler. The Samanids fled, betrayed at the hands of Faik to whom the defence of Herāt had been entrusted by Nuh III. In 994, Nuh III invited Alp Tigin to come to his aid. Alp Tigin, along with Mahmud of Ghazni, defeated Faik and annexed Herāt, Nishapur and Tous.
Herat was a great trading centre strategically located on trade routes from Mediterranean to India or to China. The city was noted for its textiles during the Abbasid Caliphate, according to many references by geographers. Herāt also had many learned sons such as Ansārī. The city is described by Estakhri and Ibn Hawqal in the 10th century as a prosperous town surrounded by strong walls with plenty of water sources, extensive suburbs, an inner citadel, a congregational mosque, and four gates, each gate opening to a thriving market place. The government building was outside the city at a distance of about a mile in a place called Khorāsānābād. A church was still visible in the countryside northeast of the town on the road to Balkh, and farther away on a hilltop stood a flourishing fire temple, called Sereshk, or Arshak according to Mustawfi.
Herat was a part of the Taherid dominion in Khorāsān until the rise of the Saffarids in Sistān under Ya'qub-i Laith in 861, who, in 862, started launching raids on Herat before besieging and capturing it on 16 August 867, and again in 872. The Saffarids succeeded in expelling the Taherids from Khorasan in 873.
The Sāmānid dynasty was established in Transoxiana by three brothers, Nuh, Yahyā, and Ahmad. Ahmad Sāmāni opened the way for the Samanid dynasty to the conquest of Khorāsān, including Herāt, which they were to rule for one century. The centralized Samanid administration served as a model for later dynasties. The Samanid power was destroyed in 999 by the Qarakhanids, who were advancing on Transoxiana from the northeast, and by the Ghaznavids, former Samanid retainers, attacking from the southeast.
Sultan Maḥmud of Ghazni officially took control of Khorāsān in 998. Herat was one of the six Ghaznavid mints in the region. In 1040, Herat was captured by the Seljuk Empire. Yet, in 1175, it was captured by the Ghurids of Ghor and then came under the Khawarazm Empire in 1214. According to the account of Mustawfi, Herat flourished especially under the Ghurid dynasty in the 12th century. Mustawfi reported that there were "359 colleges in Herat, 12,000 shops all fully occupied, 6,000 bath-houses; besides caravanserais and mills, also a darwish convent and a fire temple". There were about 444,000 houses occupied by a settled population. The men were described as "warlike and carry arms", and they were Sunni Muslims. The great mosque of Herāt was built by Ghiyas ad-Din Ghori in 1201. In this period Herāt became an important center for the production of metal goods, especially in bronze, often decorated with elaborate inlays in precious metals.
Herat was invaded and destroyed by Genghis Khan's Mongol army in 1221. The city was destroyed a second time and remained in ruins from 1222 to about 1236. In 1244 a local prince Shams al-Din Kart was named ruler of Herāt by the Mongol governor of Khorāsān and in 1255 he was confirmed in his rule by the founder of the Il-Khan dynasty Hulagu. Shams al-Din founded a new dynasty and his successors, especially Fakhr-al-Din and Ghiyath al-Din, built many mosques and other buildings. The members of this dynasty were great patrons of literature and the arts. By this time Herāt became known as the pearl of Khorasan.
If any one ask thee which is the pleasantest of cities, Thou mayest answer him aright that it is Herāt. For the world is like the sea, and the province of Khurāsān like a pearl-oyster therein, The city of Herāt being as the pearl in the middle of the oyster.— Rumi, 1207–1273 A.D.
Timur took Herat in 1380 and he brought the Kartid dynasty to an end a few years later. The city reached its greatest glory under the Timurid princes, especially Sultan Husayn Bayqara who ruled Herat from 1469 until May 4, 1506. His chief minister, the poet and author in Persian and Turkish, Mir Ali-Shir Nava'i was a great builder and patron of the arts. Under the Timurids, Herat assumed the role of the main capital of an empire that extended in the West as far as central Persia. As the capital of the Timurid empire, it boasted many fine religious buildings and was famous for its sumptuous court life and musical performance and its tradition of miniature paintings. On the whole, the period was one of relative stability, prosperity, and development of economy and cultural activities. It began with the nomination of Shahrokh, the youngest son of Timur, as governor of Herat in 1397. The reign of Shahrokh in Herat was marked by intense royal patronage, building activities, and promotion of manufacturing and trade, especially through the restoration and enlargement of the Herat's bāzār. The present Musallah Complex, and many buildings such as the madrasa of Goharshad, Ali Shir mahāl, many gardens, and others, date from this time. The village of Gazar Gah, over two km northeast of Herat, contained a shrine which was enlarged and embellished under the Timurids. The tomb of the poet and mystic Khwājah Abdullāh Ansārī (d. 1088), was first rebuilt by Shahrokh about 1425, and other famous men were buried in the shrine area. Herat was shortly captured by Kara Koyunlu between 1458–1459.
In 1507 Herat was occupied by the Uzbeks but after much fighting the city was taken by Shah Isma'il, the founder of the Safavid dynasty, in 1510 and the Shamlu Qizilbash assumed the governorship of the area. Under the Safavids, Herat was again relegated to the position of a provincial capital, albeit one of a particular importance. At the death of Shah Isma'il the Uzbeks again took Herat and held it until Shah Tahmasp retook it in 1528. The Persian king, Abbas was born in Herat, and in Safavid texts, Herat is referred to as a'zam-i bilād-i īrān, meaning "the greatest of the cities of Iran". In the 16th century, all future Safavid rulers, from Tahmasp I to Abbas I, were governors of Herat in their youth.
By the early 18th century Herat was governed by various Hotaki and Abdali Afghans. After Nader Shah's death in 1747, Ahmad Shah Durrani took possession of the city and became part of the Durrani Empire.
In 1824, Herat became independent for several years when the Afghan Empire was split between the Durranis and Barakzais. The Persians invaded the city in 1838, but the British helped the Afghans in repelling them. In 1856, they invaded again, and briefly managed to retake the city; it led directly to the Anglo-Persian War. In 1857 hostilities between the Persians and the British ended after the Treaty of Paris was signed, and the Persian troops withdrew from Herat.
One of the greatest tragedies for the Afghans and Muslims was the British invasion of, and subsequent destruction of the Islamic Musallah complex in Herat in 1885. The officially stated reason was to get a good line of sight for their artillery against Russian invaders who never came. This was but one small sidetrack in the Great Game, a century-long conflict between the British Empire and the Russian Empire in 19th century.
In the 1960s, engineers from the United States built Herat Airport, which was used by the Soviet forces during the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Even before the Soviet invasion at the end of 1979, there was a substantial presence of Soviet advisors in the city with their families.
Between March 10 and March 20, 1979, the Afghan Army in Herāt under the control of commander Ismail Khan mutinied. Thousands of protesters took to the streets against the Khalq communist regime's oppression led by Nur Mohammad Taraki. The new rebels led by Khan managed to oust the communists and take control of the city for 3 days, with some protesters murdering any Soviet advisers. This shocked the government, who blamed the new administration of Iran following the Iranian Revolution for influencing the uprising. Reprisals by the government followed, and between 3,000 and 24,000 people (according to different sources) were killed, in what is called the 1979 Herat uprising, or in Persian as the Qiam-e Herat. The city itself was recaptured with tanks and airborne forces, but at the cost of thousands of civilians killed. This massacre was the first of its kind since the country's independence in 1919, and was the bloodiest event preceding the Soviet–Afghan War.
Herat received damage during the Soviet–Afghan War in the 1980s, especially its western side. The province as a whole was one of the worst-hit. In April 1983, a series of Soviet bombings damaged half of the city and killed around 3,000 civilians, described as "extremely heavy, brutal and prolonged". Ismail Khan was the leading mujahideen commander in Herāt fighting against the Soviet-backed government.
After the communist government's collapse in 1992, Khan joined the new government and he became governor of Herat Province. The city was relatively safe and it was recovering and rebuilding from the damage caused in the Soviet–Afghan War. However, on September 5, 1995, the city was captured by the Taliban without much resistance, forcing Khan to flee. Herat became the first Persian-speaking city to be captured by the Taliban. The Taliban's strict enforcement of laws confining women at home and closing girls' schools alienated Heratis who are traditionally more liberal and educated, like the Kabulis, than other urban populations in the country. Two days of anti-Taliban protests occurred in December 1996 which was violently dispersed and led to the imposition of a curfew.
After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, on November 12, 2001, it was captured from the Taliban by forces loyal to the Northern Alliance and Ismail Khan returned to power (see Battle of Herat). In 2004, Mirwais Sadiq, Aviation Minister of Afghanistan and the son of Ismail Khan, was ambushed and killed in Herāt by a local rival group. More than 200 people were arrested under suspicion of involvement.
In 2005, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) began establishing bases in and around the city. Its main mission was to train the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and help with the rebuilding process of the country. Regional Command West, led by Italy, assisted the Afghan National Army (ANA) 207th Corps. Herat was one of the first seven areas that transitioned security responsibility from NATO to Afghanistan. In July 2011, the Afghan security forces assumed security responsibility from NATO.
Due to their close relations, Iran began investing in the development of Herat's power, economy and education sectors. In the meantime, the United States built a consulate in Herat to help further strengthen its relations with Afghanistan. In addition to the usual services, the consulate works with the local officials on development projects and with security issues in the region.
Herat has a cold semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSk). Precipitation is very low, and mostly falls in winter. Although Herāt is approximately 240 m (790 ft) lower than Kandahar, the summer climate is more temperate, and the climate throughout the year is far from disagreeable, although winter temperatures are comparably lower. From May to September, the wind blows from the northwest with great force. The winter is tolerably mild; snow melts as it falls, and even on the mountains does not lie long. Three years out of four it does not freeze hard enough for the people to store ice. The eastern reaches of the Hari River, including the rapids, are frozen hard in the winter, and people travel on it as on a road.
India, Iran and Pakistan operate their consulate here for trade, military and political links.
Of the more than dozen minarets that once stood in Herāt, many have been toppled from war and neglect over the past century. Recently, however, everyday traffic threatens many of the remaining unique towers by shaking the very foundations they stand on. Cars and trucks that drive on a road encircling the ancient city rumble the ground every time they pass these historic structures. UNESCO personnel and Afghan authorities have been working to stabilize the Fifth Minaret.
The population of Herat numbered approximately 436,300 in 2013. The city houses a multi-ethnic society and speakers of the Persian language are in the majority. There is no current data on the precise ethnic composition of the city's population, but according to a 2003 map found in the National Geographic Magazine, Persian-speaking Tajik and Farsiwan peoples form the overwhelming majority of the city, comprising around 80% of the population. The remaining population comprises Pashtuns (10%), Hazaras (2%), Uzbeks (2%) and Turkmens (1%).
Persian is the native language of Herat and the local dialect – known by natives as Herātī – belongs to the Khorāsānī cluster within Persian. It is akin to the Persian dialects of eastern Iran, notably those of Mashhad and Khorasan Province, which borders Herat. This Persian dialect serves as the lingua franca of the city. The second language that is understood by many is Pashto, which is the native language of the Pashtuns. The local Pashto dialect spoken in Herat is a variant of western Pashto, which is also spoken in Kandahar and southern and western Afghanistan. Religiously, Sunni Islam is practiced by the majority, while Shias make up the minority.
The city once had a Jewish community. About 280 families lived in Herat as of 1948, but most of them moved to Israel that year, and the community disappeared by 1992. There are four former synagogues in the city's old quarter, which were neglected for decades and fell into disrepair. In the late 2000s, the buildings of the synagogues were renovated by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, and at this time, three of them were turned into schools and nurseries, the Jewish community having vanished. The Jewish cemetery is being taken care of by Jalil Ahmed Abdelaziz.
Herat International Airport was built by engineers from the United States in the 1960s and was used by the Soviet Armed Forces during the Soviet–Afghan War in the 1980s. It was bombed in late 2001 during Operation Enduring Freedom but had been rebuilt within the next decade. The runway of the airport has been extended and upgraded and as of August 2014 there were regularly scheduled direct flights to Delhi, Dubai, Mashad, and various airports in Afghanistan. At least five airlines operated regularly scheduled direct flights to Kabul.
Rail connections to and from Herat were proposed many times, during The Great Game of the 19th century and again in the 1970s and 1980s, but nothing came to life. In February 2002, Iran and the Asian Development Bank announced funding for a railway connecting Torbat-e Heydarieh in Iran to Herat. This was later changed to begin in Khaf in Iran, a 191 km (119 mi) railway for both cargo and passengers, with work on the Iranian side of the border starting in 2006. Construction is underway in the Afghan side and it was estimated to be completed by March 2018. There is also the prospect of an extension across Afghanistan to Sher Khan Bandar.
The AH76 highway connects Herat to Maymana and the north. The AH77 connects it east towards Chaghcharan and north towards Mary in Turkmenistan. Highway 1 (part of Asian highway AH1) links it to Mashhad in Iran to the northwest, and south via the Kandahar–Herat Highway to Delaram.
Herat is referred to as a'zam-i bilād-i īrān (the greatest of the cities of Iran) and Isfahan as khulāsa-yi mulk-i īrān (the choicest part of the realm of Iran).
| Capital of Timurid dynasty
The 1979 Herat uprising was an insurrection that took place in and around the town of Herat, Afghanistan in March 1979. It included both a popular uprising and a mutiny of Afghan Army troops against the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA). The communist regime at first appealed to its Soviet allies for help, but the Soviet leadership declined to intervene. After the insurgents seized and held the city for about a week, the regime was able to retake it with its own forces, and the subsequent aerial bombardment and recapture of Herat left up to 25,000 of its inhabitants dead.2001 uprising in Herat
The 2001 uprising in Herat was a coordinated insurrection and uprising in the Afghan city of Herat as part of the United States war in Afghanistan. The city was captured on November 12 by Northern Alliance forces as well as Special Forces of the United States, the United Kingdom and the Islamic Republic of Iran.2013 attack on U.S. consulate in Herat
The U.S. consulate in Herat, Afghanistan was attacked on September 13, 2013 by a group of Taliban militants. Reports indicated that the assault began at 5:30 am on the front gate of the consulate. A large truck drove up to the Consulate's primary vehicle entry point and detonated a massive improvised explosive charge, causing extensive damage. A minivan carrying an assault team armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades arrived and opened fire, moving into the Consulate compound. Then, the driver of the minivan ignited a bomb inside the minivan, which exploded a short time afterwards. Eight Afghan members of the consulate's guard force and one Afghan police officer were killed. An unknown number of bystanders were wounded. A gun battle ensued, and all seven attackers were killed. No Americans were killed or seriously injured. The Department of State awarded Heroism Awards to several of the consulate's defenders.The Taliban took credit for the attack in an emailed statement.In a press release, the United Nations condemned the attack "in the strongest terms."2014 attack on Indian consulate in Herat
The Indian consulate in Herat, Afghanistan was attacked on 23 May 2014 by four heavily armed militants, three days before the inaugural ceremony of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India.2017 Herat bombing
On June 6, 2017, a bomb explosion outside the Jama Masjid, a historic mosque in the western city of Herat in Afghanistan killed at least 7 civilians, and wounded at least 15 others.2017 Herat mosque attack
On August 1, 2017, two suicide bombers entered a Shi'ite mosque named "Jadwadia" in Herat, Afghanistan during an evening prayer session. After throwing explosives into the crowd, one of the two men detonated his vest. The remaining attacker continued firing on the crowd before detonating his vest as well. The attack caused 33 casualties and left 66 people injured. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.Adraskan District
Adraskan is a district in the central part of Herat Province in Afghanistan. It is bordered to the west by Iran, to the north by Ghoryan District, Zinda Jan District, Guzara District, Pashtun Zarghun District and Obe District, to the east by Farsi District and to the south by Shindand District.
The population was estimated at 52,200 in 2012. The district is large; the eastern part is much more populated than the west. The Adraskan River flows from east to south through Adraskan. The main road from Herat to Kandahar passes in a north-south direction through the district center, the ancient town of Adraskan.Chishti Sharif District
Chishti Sharif District is the most easterly district in Herat Province, Afghanistan, situated along the Hari River and one of its northern tributaries. It borders with Obe District to the west, Badghis Province to the north and Ghor Province to the east and south. The population was estimated at 23,100 in 2012. The district administrative center is the village of Chishti Sharif.Farsi District
Farsi (Persian: ولایت فارسی) is a district the west of Herat Province, Afghanistan. It borders on Obe District to the north, Adraskan District to the west, Shindand District to the south and Ghor Province to the south and east. The population was estimated at 29,800 in 2012. The district center is the village of Farsi.Greater Khorasan
Khorasan (Middle Persian: Xwarāsān; Persian: خراسان Xorāsān, Persian pronunciation: [xoɾɒːˈsɒːn] listen ), sometimes called Greater Khorasan, is a historical region lying in northeast of Greater Persia, including part of Central Asia and Afghanistan. The name simply means "East, Orient" (literally "sunrise") and loosely includes the territory of the Sasanian Empire north-east of Persia proper. Early Islamic usage often regarded everywhere east of so-called Jibal or what was subsequently termed 'Iraq Ajami' (Persian Iraq), as being included in a vast and loosely-defined region of Khorasan, which might even extend to the Indus Valley and Sindh. During the Islamic period, Khorasan along with Persian Iraq were two important territories. The boundary between these two was the region surrounding the cities of Gurgan and Qumis (modern Damghan). In particular, the Ghaznavids, Seljuqs and Timurids divided their empires into Iraqi and Khorasani regions.
The main cities of Khorasan in the Islamic period were Balkh and Herat (now in Afghanistan), Mashhad and Nishapur (now in northeastern Iran), Merv and Nisa (now in southern Turkmenistan), and Bukhara and Samarkand (now in southern Uzbekistan). The cities of Merv and Nisa have since been abandoned but the other cities remain integral parts of their respective states. The term Khorasan tended to further extend from these urban centers into the rural regions of their respective west, east, north and south. Sources from the 10th-century onwards refer to areas in the south of the Hindu Kush as the Khorasan Marches, forming a frontier region between Khorasan and Hindustan.Greater Khorasan is today sometimes used to distinguish the larger historical region from the modern Khorasan Province of Iran (1906–2004), which roughly encompassed the western half of the historical Greater Khorasan.Gulran District
Gulran District is situated in northwestern part of Herat province, Afghanistan and borders Iran to the west, Turkmenistan to the north, Kushk District to the east, and Zinda Jan District and Kohsan District to the south. The population is 91,500 (2012). The district center is the village of Gulran. There are no mountains in the district.Guzara District
Guzara (Gozareh) District is situated in the center of Herat Province, Afghanistan, 10 km south of Herat. It borders Injil District to the north, Pashtun Zarghun District to the east, Adraskan District to the south and Zinda Jan District to the west. The district center Guzara (Gozareh) is on the main road Herat-Kandahar.Herat District
Herat District is a district of Herat Province, Afghanistan. The capital lies at Herat city.Herat Province
Herat (Pushtu/Dari: هرات) is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan, located in the western part of the country. Together with Badghis, Farah, and Ghor provinces, it makes up the north-western region of Afghanistan. Its primary city and administrative capital is Herat City. The province of Herat is divided into about 17 districts and contains over 1,000 villages. It has a population of about 1,780,000, making it the second most populated province in Afghanistan behind Kabul Province. The population is multi-ethnic but largely Persian-speaking.
Herat province shares border with Iran in the west and Turkmenistan in the north, making it an important trading province. The Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline (TAPI) is expected to pass through Herat from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India in the south. The province has two airports, one is the Herat International Airport in the capital of Herat and the other is at the Shindand Air Base, which is one of the largest military bases in Afghanistan. The Salma Dam which is fed by the Hari River is also located in this province.Khwaja Abdullah Ansari
Abu Ismaïl Abdullah al-Herawi al-Ansari or Abdullah Ansari of Herat (1006–1088) (Persian: خواجه عبدالله انصاری) also known as Pir-i Herat (پیر هرات) "Sage of Herat", was a Persian Sufi saint of Arab origin who lived in the 11th century in Herat (then Khorasan, now Herat province, Afghanistan). One of the outstanding figures in Khorasan in the 5th/11th century: commentator of the Qur'an, traditionist, polemicist, and spiritual master, known for his oratory and poetic talents in Arabic and Persian.Kushk District
Kushk District is situated in the northern part of Herat Province, Afghanistan and may also may be referred to as Rubat-i-Sangin or Rabat-e-Sangi. It borders Turkmenistan to the north, Gulran District to the west, Zinda Jan District, Injil District and Karukh District to the south and Kushki Kuhna District to the east. The population is 121,000 (2012).The main road from Herat to Kushka in Turkmenistan passes through the district, along the Kushk River. Torghundi is the main border crossing town.Pashtun Zarghun District
Pashtun Zarghun District (Pashto: پښتون زرغون ولسوالی / Persian: ولسوالی پشتون زرغون), formerly known as Posht-e Zirghān or Posht-e Zirghūn (Persian: پشت زرغون), is situated in the central part of Herat Province, Afghanistan in the valley of the Hari River. The district center is Pashtun Zarghun.Shindand District
Shīnḍanḍ District (شیندند, formerly known as Sabzwār, سبزوار) is one of the 16 districts of Herat Province, in western Afghanistan, and is situated in the southern part of that province. It borders Adraskan District to the north, Ghor Province to the east and Farah Province to the south and west. The population was 173,800 (as of 2012). The district center is the town of Shindand, which boasts a very active market area. Shindand Air Base is located near the town. The main Herat-Kandahar road passes through the district. The Zerkoh Valley is in the district.Zendeh Jan District
The Zinda Jan District is located in the central part of Herat Province in Afghanistan. It borders Gulran and Kushk districts to the north, Injil and Guzara districts to the east, Adraskan District to the south and Ghoryan and Kohsan districts to the west. The population is 55,500 (2012 year). The district center is the town of Zendeh Jan, situated in the valley of the Hari River.
|Climate data for Herāt|
|Record high °C (°F)||24.4
|Average high °C (°F)||9.1
|Daily mean °C (°F)||2.9
|Average low °C (°F)||−2.9
|Record low °C (°F)||−26.7
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||51.6
|Average rainy days||6||8||8||7||2||0||0||0||0||1||3||5||40|
|Average snowy days||2||2||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||6|
|Average relative humidity (%)||72||69||62||56||45||34||30||30||34||42||55||67||50|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||149.3||153.5||202.5||235.7||329.6||362.6||378.6||344.8||323.2||274.0||235.0||143.1||3,131.9|
|Source: NOAA (1959–1983)|
Fourteen largest cities in Afghanistan by population
|Theory and analysis|