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Farah, Afghanistan

An Afghan boy and his father walk their cattle along a street in Farah City, May 12, 2012.
An Afghan boy and his father walk their cattle along a street in Farah City, May 12, 2012.
Farah is located in Afghanistan
Location in Afghanistan
Country  Afghanistan
Province Farah Province
Elevation 2,297 ft (650 m)
Population (2012)[1]
 • City 108,400
 • Urban 54,000[2]
Time zone UTC+4:30

Farah (Pashto/Persian: فراه) is the capital of Farah Province, located in western Afghanistan. It has a population of about 108,400,[1] and is mainly ethnic Pashtun people.[3] It is about the 16th largest city of the country in terms of population. The Farah Airport is located in the area.


  • Land Use 1
  • History 2
    • Ancient history 2.1
    • Medieval 2.2
    • Soviet-Afghan War 2.3
    • Civil war to present 2.4
  • Demography 3
  • Economy and transportation 4
  • Healthcare 5
  • Climate 6
  • Books relating to Farah 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Land Use

Farah is located in western Afghanistan, close to Herat and Iran, although it lacks a direct road connection with the latter. Farah has a very clear grid of roads distributed through the higher density residential areas. However barren land (35%) and vacant plots (25%) are the largest land uses and combine for 60% of total land use.[4]


Ancient history

The Citadel at Farah is probably one of a series of fortresses constructed by Alexander the Great, the city being an intermediate stop between Herat, the location of another of Alexander's fortresses, and Kandahar.[5][6] The ‘Alexandria’ prefix was added to the city’s name when Alexander came in 330 BC.

Under the Parthian Empire, Farah fell under the satrapy of Aria, and was one of its key cities.[7] It is thought to be Phra, mentioned by Isidorus Characenus in the 1st century AD. In the 5th century CE Farah was one of the major strongholds on the eastern frontier of the Sassanid Empire.[8]


The region was historically part of Khorasan province and was controlled by the Tahirids followed by the Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Khwarazmshahs, Ilkhanates, Timurids, Khanate of Bukhara, and Saffavids until the early-18th century when it became part of the Afghan Hotaki dynasty followed by the Durrani Empire.

Islam was introduced in the region during the 7th century and later the Saffarid dynasty took control of Farah. During the 10th century, Mahmud of Ghazni took possession of the city, followed by the Ghurids in the 12th century. Genghis Khan and his army passed through in the 13th century, and the city fell to the Timurids. It was controlled by the Safavids until 1709, when they were defeated by the Hotaki Afghan forces of Mirwais Hotak. It became part of the Durrani Empire in the mid 18th century. Farah was seized by Sultan Jan, then ruler of Herat, but re-captured by Dost Mohammad Khan on July 8, 1862.[9]

Soviet-Afghan War

At the start of the Soviet invasion, Farah was, along with Herat, Shindand, and Kandahar, occupied by the Soviet 357th and 66th Motorized Rifle Divisions (MRD).[10]

The mujahideen established themselves in the Farah area in 1979. They maintained a presence in the city until they were forced out in 1982, and established a stronghold at the nearby mountain Lor Koh, which they renamed Sharafat Koh ("Honor Mountain"). Primary among the Farah mujahideen groups was the Sharafat Kuh Front.[11]

Civil war to present

Afghan girls sing songs to U.S. service members during a visit to the orphanage in Farah City June 19, 2012.

Following the collapse of the Soviet-backed government of Najibullah in 1992, Ismail Khan returned to power in Herat, and came to control Farah, as well as the other surrounding provinces of Ghor and Badghis, until Herat fell to the Taliban in 1995.[12]

The roads in Farah province have seen massive improvement since May 2005. The education system has been greatly improved and a great number of illegal weapons have been collected and destroyed in the province by the Provincial Reconstruction Team. The United States built a base at Farah Airport, which also houses the Afghan National Security Forces (ANFS).

On May 7, 2009, thousands of Afghan villagers shouting "Death to America" and "Death to the Government" protested in Farah City over American bomber air strikes on May 4 that killed 147 civilians. Clashes with police started when people from the three villages struck by US B1-bombers brought 15 newly discovered bodies in a truck to the house of the provincial governor. Four protesters were wounded when police opened fire. Going by the account of survivors, the air raid was not a brief attack by several aircraft acting on mistaken intelligence, but a sustained bombardment in which three villages were pounded to pieces.[13] An Afghan government investigation concluded on May 16, 2009 with the Afghan Defense Ministry announcing an official death toll of 140 villagers. A copy of the government's list of the names and ages of each of the 140 dead showed that 93 of those killed were children, and only 22 were adult males.[14]

On 20 November 2009 it was reported that a suicide bomber on a motocycle detonated near a market in Farah Naz city, killing 17 people and wounding 29.[15] [15]


The city of Farah has a population of about 108,400.[1] However the recent statistics (2015) showed the city population of about 54,000. [16] Pashtuns form the overwhelming majority of the city, comprising ca. 90%. The remaining are Balochis at 7% and Tajiks at 3%.[3]

Economy and transportation

The city is a major trading and farming center in this area.

The Farah Airport is located next to the city and as of May 2014 had regularly scheduled flights to Herat.

There are secondary roads in different directions from the city. As of 2010 Farah City had 30 km of paved roads, 136 km of gravel roads and 150 km of unpaved roads.[17] The major road is Route 515 which connects Farah to the Ring Road. Both roads were improved in 2009 in coordination with several ISAF countries.


The city is served by Farah City Hospital.


Farah has a hot semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSh) with hot summers and cold winters. Precipitation is low, and mostly falls in winter.

Climate data for Farah
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 28.3
Average high °C (°F) 14.6
Daily mean °C (°F) 7.2
Average low °C (°F) 0.9
Record low °C (°F) −10.5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 24.3
Average rainy days 4 4 4 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 19
Average relative humidity (%) 60 58 53 50 38 30 29 31 32 38 43 50 42.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 204.3 198.1 236.3 253.3 333.4 360.6 358.9 345.8 318.2 288.4 251.1 201.9 3,350.3
Source: NOAA (1960-1983) [18]

Books relating to Farah

Little has been written about Farah; some fleeting references can be found in works related to Afghanistan or works that focus on the Great Game Politics of the UK and the Russian Empire during the 19th century. However, 2011 saw the publication of Words in the Dust[19] by author Trent Reedy, who was one of the first American soldiers to enter Farah in 2004. His book, while fiction, is set in Farah City and the wider province.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Settled Population of Farah province by Civil Division, Urban, Rural and Sex-2012-13" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-10-20. 
  2. ^ "The State of Afghan Cities report 2,015". 
  3. ^ a b "2003 National Geographic Population Map" (PDF). Thomas Gouttierre, Center For Afghanistan Studies,  
  4. ^ "The State of Afghan Cities report 2015". 
  5. ^ Caii Plinii secundi Naturalis historiae libri XXXVII interpretatione et notis illustravit Joannes Harduinus in usum Delphini Jean Hardouin, Pline l'Ancien, Hardouin page 698.
  6. ^ Ralph Griffiths, George Edward Griffiths The Monthly Review May 1749-Sept. 1803 Page 514
  7. ^ A manual of ancient history. Clarendon, 1880
  8. ^ Balland, Daniel. "FARAÚH". In  
  9. ^ George P. Tate. The Kingdom of Afghanistan: A Historical Sketch. BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2009. ISBN 1-115-58401-4, ISBN 978-1-115-58401-2
  10. ^ Robin D. S. Higham, Frederick W. Kagan. The military history of the Soviet Union. Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. ISBN 0-312-29398-4, ISBN 978-0-312-29398-7
  11. ^ Ali Ahmad Jalali, Lester W. Grau. Afghan guerrilla warfare: in the words of the Mujahideen fighters. Zenith Imprint, 2002. ISBN 0-7603-1322-9, ISBN 978-0-7603-1322-0
  12. ^ Neamatollah Nojumi, Dyan E. Mazurana, Elizabeth Stites. After the Taliban: life and security in rural Afghanistan. Rowman & Littlefield, 2009. ISBN 0-7425-4032-4, ISBN 978-0-7425-4032-3
  13. ^ Afghans riot over air-strike atrocity
  14. ^ U.S. strikes killed 140 villagers: Afghan probe
  15. ^ a b Roggio, Bill. "Suicide Bomber strikes in Western Afghanistan." 20 November 2009. Long War Journal. Accessed at:
  16. ^ "The State of Afghan Cities report 2015". 
  17. ^ National Area-Based Development Programme, Farah Provincial Profile,
  18. ^ "Farah Climate Normals 1961-1990".  
  19. ^ Trent Reedy, Words in the Dust, Arthur A. Levine 2011

External links

  • Watanafghanistan:Pictures from Farah
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