Kabul is the capital of Afghanistan as well as its largest city. Located in the eastern section of the country, the population of Kabul is about 4.7 million, making Kabul is the world’s 64th largest city. Kabul is divided into 18 districts.
Kabul is located high up in a narrow valley between the Hindu Kush mountains and is estimated to be over 3,500 years old. The city is at a strategic location along the trade routes of South and Central Asia, and was a key location along the ancient Silk Road.
Kabul has been part of the Achaemenids, followed by the Seleucids, Mauryans, Kushans, Kabul Shahis, Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Khwarazmians, Qarlughids, Khaljis, Timurids, and Mughals until finally becoming part of the Durrani Empire in 1747.
Kabul became the capital of Afghanistan during the reign of Timur Shah Durrani, the son of Ahmad Shah Durrani. In the early 19th century, the British occupied the city but after establishing foreign relations they were compelled to withdraw all forces from Afghanistan. The city was occupied by the Soviets in 1979 but they too abandoned it after the 1988 Geneva Accords were signed. Today coalition forces led by the USA maintain a defacto occupation the city.
Since the removal of the Taliban from power in late 2001, the city gradually began rebuilding itself with assistance from the international community. Despite the many terrorist attacks by anti-state elements, the city is growing and developing.
Approximately 20,000 foreign tourists visit Afghanistan annually. Major hotels in Kabul include; the Serena Hotel, the Inter-Continental, and the Safi Landmark Hotel above the Kabul City Center. There are also a number of other, less well known hotels. However, most visitors prefer lodging at guest houses, which are found all over the city. The better and safer ones are in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood where the embassies are located.
The old section of Kabul is filled with bazaars lining its narrow, crooked streets. Tourist attractions include: the National Museum of Afghanistan, the ruined Darul Aman Palace, the tomb of Mughal Emperor Babur at Bagh-e Babur, Chehlstoon Park, the Minar-i-Istiqlal (Column of Independence) built in 1919 after the Third Afghan War, the tomb of Timur Shah Durrani, and the imposing Id Gah Mosque that was completed in 1893. Other places of interest include Kabul City Center, which is Kabul’s first shopping mall, the shops around Flower Street and Chicken Street, Wazir Akbar Khan district, Kabul Golf Club, Kabul Zoo, Abdul Rahman Mosque, Shah-Do Shamshira Mosque, the National Gallery of Afghanistan, the National Archives of Afghanistan, Afghan Royal Family Mausoleum, the OMAR Mine Museum, Bibi Mahro Hill, Kabul Cemetery, and Paghman Gardens. Also of interest is Tappe-i-Maranjan, a nearby hill where Buddhist statues and Graeco-Bactrian coins from the 2nd century BC have been found.
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