Kabul is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan, located in the eastern section of the country. It is also a municipality, forming part of the greater Kabul Province, and divided into 22 districts. According to estimates in 2020, the population of Kabul is 4.222 million, which includes all the major ethnic groups of Afghanistan. Afghanistan's only city with a population of over 1 million, Kabul serves as its political, cultural and economical center. Kabul is located high up in a narrow valley between the Hindu Kush mountains, with an elevation of 1,790 metres making it one of the highest capitals in the world. The city is said to be over 3,500 years old, mentioned since at least the time of the Achaemenid Empire. Located at crossroads in Asia - roughly halfway between Istanbul in the west and Hanoi in the east - it is in a strategic location along the trade routes of South and Central Asia, and a key location of the ancient Silk Road. It has been part of the Achaemenids followed by the Seleucids, Mauryans, Kushans, Kabul Shahis, Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Khwarazmians, Qarlughids, Khaljis, Timurids, Mughals, and Hotaks, until finally becoming part of the Durrani Empire in 1747. The city was occupied by the Soviets in 1979 but they too abandoned it after the 1988 Geneva Accords were signed. A civil war in the 1990s between various rebel groups destroyed much of the city, resulting in many casualties. From late 2001 the city has been continuously rebuilt.
Kabul is known for its gardens, bazaars, and palaces.
Data and Facts
- Kabul became the capital of Afghanistan in 1776
- It was the fifth fastest-growing city in the world as of 2012
- The origin of Kabul, who built it and when, is largely unknown
- Has an elevation of 5,876 feet above sea level, making it one of the world’s highest cities
Kabul Municipality is led by the mayor, a presidential appointee, and is responsible for supervision of construction and the provision of basic services and urban management. Urban planning is the responsibility of the Ministry of Urban Development Affairs. Although there have been investments in urban services since 2002, the poor state of urban infrastructure has, in the face of rapid population growth, resulted in many Kabul residents without access to adequate basic services.In response to urban growth, additional municipal districts have been created as needed. Past initiatives to address urban growth have had limited success, with much of this expansion taking place in an informal, unplanned manner, thereby presenting problems for future service provision. In the meantime, the inhabitants of Kabul show great resourcefulness in how they manage to provide for their families, secure access to basic services, and earn a livelihood in a very challenging urban environment.
The municipality's administrative structure consists of 17 departments under a mayor. Like other provincial municipalities in Afghanistan, the municipality of Kabul deals with city affairs such as construction and infrastructure. The city districts (nāhia) collect certain taxes and issue building licenses. Each city district has a district head appointed by the mayor, and leads six major departments in the district office. The neighborhood organization structure at the nahia level is called a gozar. A wakil-e gozar is a person chosen to represent a community within a city district.
Kabul's Chief of Police is Lt. Gen. Abdul Rahman Rahimi. The police are part of the Afghan National Police (ANP) under the Ministry of Interior and are arranged by city districts. The Police Chief is selected by the Interior Minister and is responsible for all law enforcement activities throughout the Kabul province.
The war-torn city began to see some positive development as many expatriate Afghans returned to the country. The city's population grew from about 500,000 in 2001 to over 3 million in recent years. Many foreign embassies re-opened, and the city has been recovering ever since.
As of 2014, the Afghan National Security Forces have been in charge of security in and around the city. Kabul is periodically the scene of deadly bombings carried out mostly by the Taliban but also by the Haqqani network, ISIL, and other anti-state groups. Since 2010, a series of manned checkpoints called the Ring of Steel has operated in the city.
The city has experienced rapid urbanization with an increasing population. Many informal settlements have been built. Since the late 2000s, numerous modern housing complexes have been built, many of which are gated and secured, to serve a growing Afghan middle class. Some of these include Aria City and Golden City . Some complexes have been built out-of-town, such as the Omid-e-Sabz township , Qasaba/Khwaja Rawash township , and Sayed Jamaludin township .
A major ambitious $80 billion project called «Kabul New City» aims to develop a large modern township of homes and businesses on 1,700 acres of land to the north of Kabul and Bagram in Parwan Province.
As has been the case throughout its history, Kabul’s economy depends to a large degree on trade, and its bazaars are renowned throughout the region. As part of a process of modernization during the first half of the 20th century, investments were made in various industrial enterprises, including textile mills and a mechanized brick-production plant. In the 1960s the area of Bagrāmī east of the city was designated an industrial area, although this suffered extensive damage and looting by factional fighters in 1993–94. While decades of conflict left many factories idle or in ruins, a soft-drink bottling plant and a 22-acre industrial park were inaugurated in 2006. The World Bank authorized US$25 million for the Kabul Urban Reconstruction Project which closed in 2011. Over the last decade, the United States has invested approximately $9.1 billion into urban infrastructure in Afghanistan. The wars since 1978 have limited the city's economic productivity but after the establishment of the Karzai administration since late 2001, local economic developments have included a number of indoor shopping malls. The first of these was the Kabul City Center, opened 2005. Others have also opened in recent years including Gulbahar Center, City Walk Mall and Majid Mall.
The park has professional management for the daily maintenance of public roads, internal streets, common areas, parking areas, 24 hours perimeter security, access control for vehicles and persons.A number of factories operate there, including the $25 million Coca-Cola bottling plant and the Omaid Bahar juice factory.
According to Transparency International, the government of Afghanistan is the third most-corrupt in the world. Experts believe that the poor decisions of Afghan politicians contribute to the unrest in the region. This also prevents foreign investment in Afghanistan, especially by Western countries.
Business Extent of Disclosure Index data was reported at 8.000 NA in Dec 2019. This stayed constant from the previous number of 8.000 NA for Dec 2018. Afghanistan’s AF: Business Extent of Disclosure Index data is updated yearly, averaging 1.000 NA from Dec 2005 to 2019, with 15 observations. The data reached an all-time high of 8.000 NA in 2019 and a record low of 1.000 NA in 2017. Afghanistan’s AF: Business Extent of Disclosure Index data remains active status in CEIC and is reported by the World Bank. Delay in Obtaining An Electrical Connection data was reported at 111.300 Day in Dec 2014. This records an increase from the previous number of 45.800 Day for Dec 2008. Afghanistan’s AF: Delay in Obtaining An Electrical Connection data is updated yearly, averaging 78.550 Day from Dec 2008 to 2014, with 2 observations. The data reached an all-time high of 111.300 Day in 2014 and a record low of 45.800 Day in 2008. Afghanistan’s AF: Delay in Obtaining An Electrical Connection data remains active status in CEIC and is reported by the World Bank. Depth of Credit Information Index: 0=Low To 8=High data was reported at 0.000 NA in Dec 2019. This stayed constant from the previous number of 0.000 NA for Dec 2018. Afghanistan’s AF: Depth of Credit Information Index: 0=Low To 8=High data is updated yearly, averaging 0.000 NA from Dec 2013 to 2019, with 7 observations. The data reached an all-time high of 0.000 NA in 2019 and a record low of 0.000 NA in 2019. Afghanistan’s AF: Depth of Credit Information Index: 0=Low To 8=High data remains active status in CEIC and is reported by the World Bank. The data is categorized under Global Database’s Afghanistan – Table AF.World Bank.WDI: Business Environment.
The Hamid Karzai International Airport is located 25 km from the center of Kabul, which has always served as the country's main airport. It is a hub to Ariana Afghan Airlines, the national carrier of Afghanistan, as well as private airlines such as Afghan Jet International, East Horizon Airlines, Kam Air, Pamir Airways, and Safi Airways. Regional airlines such as Air India, SpiceJet, flydubai, Emirates, Gulf Air, Mahan Air, Pakistan International Airlines, Turkish Airlines and others also have regularly scheduled flights to the airport. As part of the approved major Deh Sabz «Kabul New City development project that kicked off in 2015, a light rail service is being planned during the mid-term development period.
The AH76 highway connects Kabul north towards Charikar, Pol-e Khomri and Mazar-i-Sharif 310 km , with leading roads to Kunduz 250 km . The AH77 highway goes west towards Bamiyan Province 150 km and Chaghcharan in the central mountains of Afghanistan. To the south-west, the Kabul-Ghazni Highway goes to Ghazni 130 km and Kandahar 460 km . To the south, the Kabul-Gardez Highway connects it to Gardez 100 km and Khost.
To the east, the Kabul-Jalalabad Highway goes to Jalalabad 120 km and across the border to Peshawar. Much of the road network in downtown Kabul consists of square or circle intersections . Once all roads lead to it, and in the 16th century was called the «navel of Kabul. Salang Watt is the main road to the north-west, whereas Asamayi Watt and Seh Aqrab is the main road to western Kabul.
Construction will take five years and it will run from Char Asiab via Ahmad Shah Baba Mina, Deh Sabz , the AH76 highway, Paghman and back to Char Asyab. In September 2017, the head of the Kabul Municipality announced that 286 meters of pedestrian overpass footbridges will be built in eight busy areas in the near future. Under the Kabul Urban Transport Efficiency Improvement Project that was signed in 2014 and backed by the World Bank, the city has seen widespread improvements in road conditions, including the building of new pedestrian sidewalks, drainage systems, lighting and asphalted road surfaces. Although a nationwide bus service is available from Kabul, flying is safer, especially for foreigners.
An electric trolleybus system operated in Kabul from February 1979 to 1992 using the Škoda fleet built by a Czechoslovak company . The last trolleybus came to a halt in late 1992 due to warfare - much of the copper overhead wires were later looted but a few of them, including the steel poles, can still be seen in Kabul today. In June 2017 Kabul Municipality unveiled plans for a new bus rapid transit system, the first major urban public transportation scheme.
The concept of technology innovation lab was first introduced in Afghanistan in 2012 by Internews. They held their first event in the month of January of that year in Kabul, and, it was followed through a similarly designed second event in the capital in 2013. Technology innovation labs are needed for capacity development of the IT sector of Afghanistan and therefore the concept of iLabs is fruitful. However, what is concerning is that this initiative was not initiated by the Afghan government, the Afghan national civil societies or the academia in the country. This suggests the limitations of innovative capacity of our institutions or indicates a traditional approach by the international organizations where they not only fund such initiatives but also bring and introduce the idea in the country. However, this also takes our attention to the sincerity of these organizations’ in promoting innovation and new ideas in the country, which is contradictory to the concept of this particular event.
Another important issue that the event organizers and donor agencies need to address, is the expansion of this event beyond Kabul. They have done that this year and it will be important to see these events in other major cities of Afghanistan. The event needs creativity in itself in order to make it different than the previous years’ events.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
The Ministry of Education led by Ghulam Farooq Wardak is responsible for the education system in Afghanistan.Public and private schools in the city have reopened since 2002 after they were shut down or destroyed during fighting in the 1980s to the late 1990s. Boys and girls are strongly encouraged to attend school under the Karzai administration but many more schools are needed not only in Kabul but throughout the country. The Afghan Ministry of Education has plans to build more schools in the coming years so that education is provided to all citizens of the country.
Afghanistan has an estimated population of 31.6 million, of which nearly 77% lives in rural settings (Central Statistic Organization 2018 population estimates).Afghanistan has the second lowest health worker density in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR), with a ratio of 4.6 medical doctors, nurses and midwives per 10 000 people, considerably below the threshold for critical shortage of 23 health care professionals per 10 000. This ﬁgure breaks down to 1.2 doctors, 2.1 nurses and 1.3 midwives per 10 000 people.
Afghanistan’s critical health workforce shortage is a result of historic underinvestment in education and training, migration, lack of infrastructure and equipment and poor remuneration.Other challenges also include lack of opportunities for career advancement, staff absenteeism, moonlighting, and weak management.Ongoing insecurity, harsh geographical terrain, cultural and socio-economic barriers have also contributed to the overall shortage as well as gender and geographic imbalances in the health workforce. As per the global pattern, many health workers (especially specialists and female doctors) prefer to work in Kabul and other regional centres for a notably better standard of life (i.e. security, employment, transportation, health care and education for their children). In addition, the historic policies limiting girls’ education (during the Taliban regime from 1995 to 2001) affecting health workforce production are still felt and encountered today, especially in more rural provinces.
here is a substantial variation in the level of quality of care provided by primary care facilities in Afghanistan, and room for improvement is observed in all areas, especially patient histories and physical examinations of patients <5 years of age, communication and time spent with patients.
The lack of female providers has long been seen as an access and comfort issue for female patients in Afghanistan. The lack of female providers is also a quality of care issue for female patients. Female providers in Afghanistan may be more sensitive to the needs of female patients, and adult females can interact freely with each other, whereas sex discordant adults face constraints in their interactions that may hinder the ability of a provider to deliver high quality care.
2011 surveys show that 57 percent of Afghans say they have good or very good access to clinics or hospitals, and Afghans themselves pay approximately 75% of health care costs directly.
Cricket is the dominant sport in Kabul with 2 of the 3 sports stadiums reserved for cricket.