Two huge Buddha images from the 3rd or 4th century, which were 38 and 55 m high, once stood in Bamian. In March 2001, the Taliban blew up the Buddhas. Other historical sites in Afghanistan that have been destroyed or nearly destroyed during decades of conflict include the world’s second tallest minaret at Jam (dating from the 12th century), the Haji Piyada Mosque in the Balkh region and the blue-tiled mausoleum of the Queen Gauhar Shads in western Herat. The gradual restoration of this and other sites has now begun.
- Topmbadirectory: Offers information about politics, geography, and known people in Afghanistan.
The capital Kabul has suffered greatly from the civil war and air raids of recent years. About a third of public buildings and 40% of houses were destroyed. Historical structures, mosques and monuments are few – at least Babur’s tomb still stands in the Garden of Babur, formerly known as one of the most beautiful gardens in Asia. The state museum in Kabul, which once had one of the largest antiquities collections in Asia, was also badly damaged. Only about a third of the collections survived the ravages of war. Reconstruction of the museum has recently started.
Made up of two huge mountain ranges, the wild and remote Hindu Kush lies in the Nuristan region northeast of Kabul.
Traditional souvenirs include lambskin and suede coats and jackets, Turkmen hats, Kandahar embroidery, Istaff pottery, Herat glass, nomadic jewellery, hand-knotted carpets and rugs, Nuristan wood carvings, silk, brass, copper and silver work.
Afghan cuisine is very similar to Indian. Most restaurants in Kabul offer specialties such as pilafs, kebabs, bolani and ashak as well as international dishes. The main ingredients of Afghan cuisine are rice and mutton and nan (Afghan flatbread). Traditional dishes and chai (tea) can be found in chaikhanas (tea houses) everywhere.
There are a few hotels in Kabul, such as the Inter-Continental Hotel, that meet more or less western standards. The few accommodations outside of Kabul are generally of a very low standard.
Islam (majority: Sunnis (80%)); Minority groups of Shias, Hindus, Jews and Sikhs.
Social Rules of Conduct
Close-knit tribal communities with clearly defined roles for women and men prevail outside of Kabul. Religion and tradition play an important role within the family. It is considered an insult to show the soles of your feet. Guest rooms are unheard of, and guests share space with family. Women should cover their shoulders and wear pants or long skirts. The handshake is accepted as a greeting, although traditionally one hugs to greet one another. Smoking is widespread and cheap by European prices. It is a compliment when the host offers you a cigarette. (Further information in the Islam chapter in the appendix.) Photography: Be careful when choosing a subject,
Best travel time
Although Afghanistan is on the same latitude as the southern United States, it is much cooler due to the altitude. At altitudes above 2500 m, winter prevails almost all year round, above 4000 m life is impossible. In the southern highlands, summers are hot and winters are severe. Across the country, there are large temperature fluctuations between day and night, summer and winter.
Area (sq km)
38,928,346 (Source: homosociety)
Population density (per square km)
Population statistics year
Main emergency number