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Kabul (käˈbo͝ol, kəbo͞olˈ), city (1997 est. pop. 1,500,000), capital of Afghanistan and of Kabul prov. and its largest city and economic and cultural center, E Afghanistan, on the Kabul River. It is strategically located in a high narrow valley, wedged between mountain ranges that command the main approaches to the Khyber Pass. A tunnel under the Hindu Kush mountains links Kabul with the Tajikistan border. The city's chief products are woolen and cotton cloth, beet sugar, ordnance, and furniture, but a continuing state of war between 1979 and 1996 limited production, and the city's industry, infrastructure, and economy are still recovering.

Kabul's old section, with its narrow, crooked streets, contains extensive bazaars; the modern section has administrative and commercial buildings. An educational center, Kabul has a university (est. 1931), colleges, and a fine museum. Also in the city are Babur's tomb and gardens; the mausoleum of Nadir Shah; the Minar-i-Istiklal (column of independence), built in 1919 after the Third Afghan War; the tomb of Timur Shah (reigned 1773–93); the fort of Bala Hissar, destroyed by the British in 1879 to avenge the death of their envoy in Kabul; the Arg, a citadel built after the destruction of Bala Hissar and now used as the presidential palace; the former royal palace, now ruined; and several important mosques. Bala Hissar anchors the ancient city walls, sometimes called the Great Wall of Kabul; the walls' remnants run atop the Sher Darwaza mountain.

Kabul's history dates back more than 3,000 years, although the city has been destroyed and rebuilt on several different sites. Conquered by Arabs in the 7th cent., it was overshadowed by Ghazni and Herat until Babur made it his capital (1504–26). It remained under Mughal rule until its capture (1738) by Nadir Shah of Persia. It succeeded Kandahar as Afghanistan's capital in 1773. During the Afghan Wars a British army took (1839) Kabul. In 1842 the withdrawing British troops were ambushed and almost annihilated after the Afghans had promised them safe conduct; in retaliation another British force partly burned Kabul. The British again occupied the city in 1879, after their resident and his staff were massacred there.

On Dec. 23, 1979, Soviet armed forces landed at Kabul airport to help bolster a Communist government. Kabul became the Soviet command center, but was little damaged by the ten-year conflict. In Feb., 1989, Soviet forces withdrew from the city. In spring of 1992 the government of Mohammad Najibullah collapsed, and Kabul fell to guerrilla armies. Destruction of the city increased as the coalition of guerrilla forces broke into rival warring factions, and much of Kabul was damaged by fighting. The capital has undergone considerable reconstruction since 2002, but many building remain in ruins.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the capital of Afghanistan; the political, economic, and cultural center of the country, as well as the administrative center of Kabul Province.

Kabul is located in the valley of the Kabul River (altitude, 1, 820 m) in an oasis where the Asmai and Sherdar-waza mountains rise. The climate is subtropical and continental; the average temperature in January is 1°C, and in July, 26°C. Yearly precipitation averages 317 mm. Population of Greater Kabul, 480, 400 (1969). The mayor, who is appointed by the government, directs the administration of the city.

Historical survey. The city is first mentioned, under the name “Kabura” or “Karur,” by Ptolemy in the second century a.d. Kabul was part of the Kushan empire and later of the Ephthalite tribal union. After the disintegration of this union in the sixth century a.d. local rulers, the shahs of Kabul, governed the city. During the period of the Arab conquests Kabul was nominally subordinate to the caliph Muawiyah I (who ruled from 661 to 680). In the ninth century the Saffarids conquered Kabul; after their fall in 900, the city was successively ruled by the Samanids, the Ghaznavids, and the Timurids. Genghiz Khan destroyed the city in the 13th century. Under Baber, who conquered the city in 1504, Kabul became the capital of the Mogul Empire. Nadir Shah captured the city in 1738. In 1747 the city became part of the Durrani State and was named its capital in 1773. After the collapse of the Durrani state in 1818, Kabul became the center around which Afghanistan subsequently took shape. British forces seized the city in 1839 during the first Anglo-Afghan war (1838–42). At the end of 1841 a massive anti-British insurrection rose in Kabul and British troops were forced to abandon the city at the beginning of 1842. Kabul was again subjected to British occupation during the second Anglo-Afghan war (1878–80). At the end of the war the emir Abdur Rahman made Kabul the capital of the Afghan state. In February 1919, Emir Amanullah Khan proclaimed Afghanistan’s independence in Kabul.

Economic survey Even in the most ancient times caravan routes passed along the valley of the Kabul River. Today, Kabul lies at the junction of highways connecting it with Pakistan and India (through Jalalabad and further on through the Khyber Pass), Iran (through Kandahar and Herat), and the Soviet Union, the city is also the site of an international airport. Kabul is an important commercial center: the bulk of Afghanistan’s foreign trade passes through it. The country’s principal banks, the offices of foreign firms, and the boards of directors of the most important commercial joint-stock companies are located in Kabul. The city’s major industries are metalworking, woodworking, leather and footwear, food processing, and building materials. An automobile plant and a factory making prefabricated houses have been constructed with the cooperation of the USSR.

Architecture. The old part of the city has been significantly reconstructed (according to a master plan worked out in 1965 by the architect Seraj with the participation of Soviet specialists), but narrow, crooked streets, built with clay and lined with wooden frame houses, still remain. The fortress of Bala Hissar sits on a hill (its walls probably date from the fifth century but have been frequently rebuilt). Structures in Kabul’s new areas include the royal residence (20th century), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the mausoleum of Mohammed Nadir Shah (20th century), the Hotel Intercontinental (1960’s), Zarnegar Park, and residential areas with precast large-panel houses. Kabul’s monuments include Independence Column (Monar-i Esteqlal) the Column of Deliverance (MonariNejat, 1929), and a monument in honor of the victory near Mai wand in 1880 (Abidaii Maiwand, 1950’s; architect, Seraj). The airport is located in the north-northeastern section of the city (1962; designed by Soviet specialists).

Educational, scientific, and cultural institutions. Kabul is the site of the University of Kabul, the Polytechnic Institute (built with Soviet assistance), the Afghan Academy of History and Philology (Pashto Tolyna), the National Academy of Sciences, the Kabul Archaeological Museum, the Public Library (120, 000 volumes), and four dramatic theaters (De Pohini Nindara, De Kabul Nindara, Arub Nindara, and Zeinab Nindara).


Mohammed Ali. A New Guide to Afghanistan, 3rd ed. Lahore, 1958.
Mohammed Naser. Kabul segodnia. Kabul, 1970. (Written in Pashto.)
Dupree, N. H. An Historical Guide to Afghanistan. Kabul, 1971.



a river in Afghanistan and Pakistan; the largest right tributary of the Indus.

The Kabul is 460 km long. Its sources are on the slopes of the Koh-i Baba Range. At its upper reaches the river is mountainous; downstream it crosses the Jalalabad intermontane depression and, beginning at the city of Peshawar, it flows through a hilly plain. The water level begins to rise in March, reaching its maximum discharge in June and July from the melting mountain snows. Rains cause flooding in autumn. At the middle course of the river the average water discharge is approximately 200 cu m per sec (maximum, 1,500–1,600 cu m per sec). The Kabul is used for irrigation and timber rafting. It is navigated in a section 120 km from its mouth (in Pakistan). The cities of Kabul and Jalalabad (Afghanistan) are located on the river, and the city of Peshawar (Pakistan), in the basin.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


, Kabol
1. the capital of Afghanistan, in the northeast of the country at an altitude of 1800 m (5900 ft.) on the Kabul River: over 3000 years old, with a strategic position commanding passes through the Hindu Kush and main routes to the Khyber Pass; destroyed and rebuilt many times; capital of the Mogul Empire from 1504 until 1738 and of Afghanistan from 1773; university (1932). Pop.: 3 288 000 (2005 est.)
2. a river in Afghanistan and Pakistan, rising in the Hindu Kush and flowing east into the Indus at Attock, Pakistan. Length: 700 km (435 miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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