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Herat Province

Coordinates: 34°00′N 62°00′E / 34.0°N 62.0°E / 34.0; 62.0
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
From the top, Landscape of Herat Province, Great Mosque of Herat, Cheheltan-Chisht
Map of Afghanistan with Herat highlighted
Map of Afghanistan with Herat highlighted
Detail map of Herat province
Detail map of Herat province
Coordinates (Capital): 34°00′N 62°00′E / 34.0°N 62.0°E / 34.0; 62.0
Country Afghanistan
 • GovernorNoor Mohammad Islamjar[1]
 • Deputy GovernorAbdul Qayyum Rohani
 • Total55,868 km2 (21,571 sq mi)
 • Total3,780,000
 • Density68/km2 (180/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+4:30 (Afghanistan Time)
Postal code
ISO 3166 codeAF-HER
Main languagesDari, Pashto, and others

Herat (Persian: 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 2,000 villages. It has a population of about 3,780,000, making it the second most populated province in Afghanistan behind Kabul Province.[2] The population is multi-ethnic but largely Persian-speaking. Herat dates back to the 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.[3]

The province of Herat shares a border with Iran in the west and Turkmenistan in the north, making it an important trading region. 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.


The region of Herat was historically part of Greater Khorasan, which was successively controlled by the Tahirids followed by the Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Ilkhanids, Timurids, Safavids, Hotakis, Afsharids, Durranis, Qajarids until it became part of the modern state of Afghanistan.

During the 19th century, the British arrived from southern Afghanistan as part of the "Great Game" and backed up the Afghans during one Persian siege and one capture of the city, the former in 1838, and the latter in 1856 in order to prevent Persian or Russian influence reaching deeper in South Asia, and also, more importantly, to protect Britain's colony in India as part of the Great Game. The situation in the province then remained quiet and uneventful until the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The province saw a number of battles during the 1980s Soviet war, and remained an active area of guerrilla warfare throughout, with local mujahideen commander Ismail Khan leading resistance against the Soviet-backed Afghan government. This continued until the Soviet Union withdrew all its forces in 1989.

When the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, Ismail Khan became the governor of the province, a position he retained until the Taliban forces from the south took control of the province in 1995. Following the ousting of the Taliban and establishment of the Karzai administration in late 2001, led by Hamid Karzai, Ismail Khan once again became governor of Herat.

Ismail Khan become a figure of controversy when the media began reporting that he was attempting to restrict freedom of the people, and that he was becoming more of an independent ruler as a warlord. He lost a son Mirwais Sadiq in 2004 during a fight with forces of other warlords. In response to this, the central government began expanding into the province with the newly trained Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Ismail Khan was ordered to leave his post to become a minister and live in Kabul.

After 2005, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) established a presence in the area to help assist the Afghan government. It was led by Italy. A multi-national Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) was also established to help the local population of the province. The United States established a consulate in Herat, trained Afghan security forces, and built schools and clinics.

Herat was one of the first seven areas that transitioned security responsibility from NATO to Afghanistan. On 21 July 2011, Afghan security forces assumed lead security responsibility from NATO. On the occasion, Minister of Defence Wardak told the audience, "this is our national responsibility to take over our security and defend our country."

In 2023, Herat was heavily impacted by two major earthquakes, one of which was 6.3-magnitude earthquake, and the other an aftershock. Combined, the earthquakes killed over 2,800 and injured thousands more in the province. It has been called Afghanistan's worst earthquake since 1998. Herat was hit by a third earthquake of 6.3 magnitude in just over a week. It killed 2 people and injured almost 150.[4]


The province is home to 90% of Afghanistan's Saffron production (a $12 million industry in 2014).[5] In 2015 the World Bank noted that saffron cultivation had provided Herat Province's farmers a steady source of income, jobs for both men and women, and a decreased dependency on poppy cultivation.[5]

With international borders to Iran and Turkmenistan and an international airport, trade could potentially play an important part in the economy of Herat Province.[6] Due to the lack of urbanization in Herat Province, around 75% of the population lives in rural areas and economic activity is correspondingly heavily reliant on agriculture and horticulture production (saffron, rugs, cumin, marble, animal skins and wool[6]) with around 82% of economic activity coming from these fields in 2011.[7] Marble manufacturing and light industry comprised the remaining areas of economic activity.[7]


The percentage of households with clean drinking water fell from 31% in 2005 to 28% in 2011.[8] The percentage of births attended to by a skilled birth attendant increased from 24% in 2005 to 25% in 2011.[8]


The overall literacy rate (6+ years of age) fell from 36% in 2005 to 25% in 2011.[8] The overall net enrolment rate (6–13 years of age) fell from 55% in 2005 to 52% in 2011.[8] Herat University is Afghanistan's second largest university with over 10,000 students, 14 faculties and 45 departments in 2014.


As of 2020, the total population of the province is about 2,187,169, the majority of which live in rural parts.[2] According to Afghanistan's Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development:

Around three quarters (77%) of the population of Hirat lives in rural districts while just under a quarter (23%) lives in urban areas. Around 50% of the population is male and 50% is female. Dari and Pashtu are spoken by 98% of the population and 97.7% of the villages. Languages spoken by the remaining population are Turkmeni and Uzbeki.[9]
Hirat province also has a population of Kuchis or nomads whose numbers vary in different seasons. In winter 98,506 individuals, or 4.1% of the overall Kuchi population, stay in Hirat living in 166 communities. Around Three quarters (75%) of these are short-range partially migratory, 12% are long-range partially migratory and 13% are settled. Half of migratory communities of both categories migrate within the winter area, as well as in the summer area. The most important summer areas for the short range migratory Kuchi are Kushki Sangi, Farsi, Adreskan, Kushk Kohna, Kushk Robad, Pashtun Zarghun, Shindand, Guzara, Chisht Sharif, Obeh, Kohistan and Karukh districts of Herat province (in decreasing order of importance). The long-range migratory Kuchi are predominantly fully migratory. Their summer areas are in Ghor province. The Kuchi population in the summer is 112311 individuals.[9]

Population by districts[edit]

Districts of Herat

The province is divided into 16 districts and contains over 1,000 villages.

Districts of Herat Province
District Capital Population[10] Area
in km2
Number of villages and ethnic groups
Adraskan 60,716 8,113 7 Tajiks & Pashtuns
Chishti Sharif 26,838 1,626 17 predominately Tajiks
Farsi 34,676 2,194 16 Predominantly Tajiks
Ghoryan 101,878 7,934 13 Both Tajiks & Pashtuns
Gulran 106,420 5,544 19 Both Tajiks & Pashtuns & minority others
Guzara 165,940 2,455 68 Predominately Tajiks
Herat Herat 574,276 234 2,452 Predominately Tajiks minority Pashtuns, few Hazaras, Uzbeks, Turkmens and others.[11]
Injil/Enjil 276,479 896 308 Predominately Tajiks
Karukh 72,530 2,123 34 Predominately Tajiks
Kohsan 61,513 2,688 23 Tajiks, Pashtuns, Baloch people
Kushk 141,585 2,959 48 .Predominately Tajiks
Kushki Kuhna 51,682 1,817 28 Predominately Tajiks
Obe 85,836 2,427 35 Majority Tajiks minority Uzbeks, few Pashtuns.
Pashtun Zarghun 113,329 2,196 52 Majority Tajiks, minority Pashtuns.
Shindand Shindand 202,395 15,760 13 Pashtuns & Tajiks
Zinda Jan 64,569 2,542 25 Predominantly Tajiks, few Pashtuns.
Herat 2,140,662 55,869 38 78%-80% Tajiks, 15% Pashtuns, 1.3% Uzbeks, 0.9% Turkmens, 0.2% Hazaras, 0.1% Balochi.[note 1]
  1. ^ Note: "Predominantely" or "dominated" is interpreted as 99%, "majority" as 70%, "mixed" as 1/(number of ethnicities), "minority" as 30% and "few" or "some" as 1%.


Football is the popular sport in Herat Province, and in recent years cricket is also growing in popularity. The Province is represented in domestic competitions by the Herat Province cricket team. Afghanistan's national sport Buzkashi and a number of other sports are also played in the region.

Notable people[edit]


Herat International Airport

In December 2012, Afghanistan and Italy signed a "long term agreement" including a €150 million soft loan facility for infrastructure projects in Herat Province. In 2014 the agreement for a first soft loan worth about US$32 million was agreed for the upgrade of the Herat airport. In 2016 a second soft loan agreement worth about US$100 million was signed between Afghanistan and Italy for the construction a 155 km road between Herat and Chist-e Sharif. Italy also agreed to assess the possibility of a third soft loan worth about US$70 million for completing the railroad connection between Herat and Mashad in Iran. The Asian Development Bank is also implementing a feasibility study for the construction of a railway connection between Herat and Turkmenistan.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "د هرات ولايت نوي والي او مرستیال والي معرفي او دندې یې پيل کړې – الاماره پښتو".
  2. ^ a b c "Estimated Population of Afghanistan 2021–22" (PDF). nsia.gov.af. National Statistic and Information Authority (NSIA). April 2021. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 24, 2021. Retrieved June 29, 2021.
  3. ^ The Best Attractions In Herat Province www.destimap.com, accessed 8 October 2023
  4. ^ "Afghanistan hit by 6.3 magnitude earthquake - its third in days". Sky News. Retrieved 2023-10-15.
  5. ^ a b "Saffron: A Major Source of Income and an Alternative to Poppy". World Bank. 2015-01-19. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  6. ^ a b Jawed, Mohammad Ali; Hakimi, Harun (2012-04-16). "Herat trade on the up and up". Asia Times Online. Archived from the original on 2012-04-16. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  7. ^ a b Fischer, David (2014-08-27). "Herat Economic Corridor Could Catalyze Growth in Western Afghanistan". DAI Publications. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  8. ^ a b c d "Herat". cimicweb.org. 2014-05-31. Archived from the original on 2014-05-31. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  9. ^ a b "B. Demography and Population" (PDF). United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and Afghanistan Statistical Yearbook 2006, Central Statistics Office. Afghanistan's Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-21. Retrieved 2011-01-12.
  10. ^ ""Estimated Population of Afghanistan 2021–22" (PDF). April 2021" (PDF). National Statistic and Information Authority (NSIA). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2021-06-24. Retrieved 2021-08-17.
  11. ^ Thomas Gouttierre, Center for Afghanistan Studies, University of Nebraska at Omaha; Matthew S. Baker, Stratfor (2003). "2003 National Geographic Population Map" (PDF). National Geographic Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 27, 2008. Retrieved 2011-04-11.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

External links[edit]