Muslim state of Anterior Asia. The name Afgh ā nist ā n (seat of the Afgh ā n) does not correspond to the ethnographic conditions (there are numerous non-Afghan populations within the borders, and many Afghan tribes outside), and has only been in use since the middle of the century. XVIII, when the supremacy of the Afghāni was affirmed over the other races.
Afgh ā n is a word of literary origin, for which there are certain documents only from the century. XI onwards; various explanations have been given (‘Ασσακάνοι, Ασπάσιοι, by Arriano,’ Αστακηνοί and Ιππάσιοι by Strabo, A ś waka of Mah ā bh ā rata, etc.), none of which is historically and philologically persuasive. See Ethnography below.
Delimitation and extension. – Afghānistān borders N. with the Soviet republics of the Turkmen, Uzbeks and Tāgīk (formerly Khānati of Khīvā and Bokhārā and Russian Turkestān), to the West with Persia, to E. and S. with Kashmīr, with the territory of the independent tribes of the Indian border, with the Northwest Frontier Province of India and with Belūcistān.
Surface, about 700,000 sq. Km. It is located between 29 ° 50 ‘and 38 ° 35’ of lat. N., and 61 ° 20 ‘and about 72 ° of long. E. (74 ° 50 ′ calculating the territory language of Wakhān). Maximum width, from NE. to SW., 1150 km. approximately; maximum length, from the border near Herāt to the Khaibar pass, about 950 km.
SE only. Afghānistān has well-defined natural boundaries with the mountains of the Independent Territory and N. with the mū Daryā. To O., NO. and S. its territory is confused with the surrounding regions, hence the frequent conflicts with the neighbors.
Population statistics. – The population of Afghānistān was estimated by the most recent European authors of 6-8 million residents; approximate figures of the Afghan government give 12 million, and an Indian author even speaks of 15; it seems in any case not less than 10. Censuses are lacking, given the difficulty of carrying them out in inaccessible regions, among riotous people, and the impossibility (for religious reasons) of reviewing women. Even for cities there are unsafe figures; the most reliable are: Kābul 100-150.000, Qandahār 50.000 (60.000 with the suburbs), Herāt 120.000, Mazār-i Sherīf 46.000. It is certain that the population is increasing; around 1910 the safest sources gave only 4-5 million.
On the distribution of languages, official Indian statistics give: Tāgīk 900.000, Afghāni (in Afghānistān) 2 million or 2.5 million. Figures are lacking on the Kāfiri and the Turco-Mongols; the Citrāli are estimated to be 1,622,000. Pashto is said to be spoken by about 3.5 million people, but Persian, the official language, is also gaining ground as a spoken language. Here are some rough figures on the tribes:
The Afghāni are all Muslims, and overwhelmingly Sunnis (of the ḥanafite rite). The Shiites, according to a private Afghan source, would be half a million, of which 20,000 in Kābul. The Hazāra, the Qizilbāsh, the Kayāni of Herāt and Sīstān, the mountaineers of the Hindū Kush (largely Ismā‛īliti and Mawlā’ī) and various tribes of the Indian border belong to this sect. The Hindus, who are found in the main cities (in Kābul there would be 30,000) are all immigrants from India in recent times. King Aman Ullāh abolished the restrictions imposed on them, equating them with Muslims in civil rights and public employment, and forbidding the killing of the cows they venerate, in order to propitiate public opinion in India. There is a lack of figures on the small Jewish colonies of various cities, especially of N. The Kāfiri (v.) Probably conserve, in the less accessible regions, their ancient religion, which contains traces of the cult of fire and Brahmanic sacrifices. Christian missionaries are not admitted to Afghānistān, and there are no indigenous Christians there.
The state. Historical and administrative divisions. – Afghānistān is divided into nine provinces; five are first class, or vil ā yet: Kābul, Herāt, Qandahār (capital cities of the same name), Afghan Turkestān (capital Mazār-i Sherīf), and Katāghān-Badakhshān (capital Fā’iḍābād). The minor provinces are those of Gelālābād, Khōst, Farāh and Maimanah (v.) They are administered by governors (n ā ‘ib al – ḥ uk ū mah in the vil ā yet, h ā kim – ia ‛ there in the secondary provinces). For Afghanistan political system, please check equzhou.
The subdivision of the state into well-defined provinces was begun by Dōst Muḥammad (died in 1863), who began the subjugation, carried out by Shēr ‛Alī in 1866, of the region to S. of Amū Daryā, where there were numerous semi-independent small states. The minor states of Shignān, Roshān, and Wakhān depended on the ruler of Badakhshān. One of the first acts of ‛Abd ar-Raḥmān (1879-1901) was to administratively divide Badakhshān from Turkestān, to break the turbulence in the region. The khānate of Qunduz or Kunduz, the most important in S. of the mū Daryā, ruled by a m ī r, with over 30,000 sq. km. of surface, it has passed for the most part to Badakhshān. O. of Kunduz was the khānate of Khulm, a city which had fallen due to the transfer of the local administration to Tāshqurghān. A series of small khānati also existed in W of Balkh: the Uzbek one of Āqcia, at 64 km. from Balkh, and more to O. Andkhūi, Shibirghān, Saripul and Maimanah, already populous and turbulent, now decayed (see Hamilton, Afghanistan, p. 250).