The salient features of the Afghan territory are essentially connected to a morphological factor and a climatic factor. The first is constituted by the presence of an imposing mountain range that rises in the center of the country with an EW direction; the second is characterized by aridity, which is compensated for by a certain wealth of river waters coming from the mountain ranges. These belong to the Hindukush system, which in the easternmost section, where there is the connection with the Pamir and the Karakoram, goes up to over 7000 m above sea level, assuming majestic shapes, with extensive glacial phenomena; in the central section the Kuh-i-Baba massif (5143 m) serves as château-d’eaux, center and summit of the country. Towards the W the chain is formed by more and more open and sloping digitations in the alluvial plains which, to the S and N respectively, represent the continuation of the Iranian plateau, between the Tigris and the Indus, and of the so-called Bactrian, the region crossed by the ‘ Amudarja. The further westward extension of the chain (Paropamisus) structurally continues in Kopet Dağ, Iran. Other reliefs close the country to the E and SE: they are the Suleiman mountains, bundles of folds that constitute the morphological “step” between the Iranian plateau and the Indus plains. The mountain ranges of Afghanistan are due to bending that occurred between the Secondary and the Tertiary and rise among the rigid, peneplanate masses of the plains. There are different formations, but above all schistose; extensive are also the plateaus of Mesozoic sandstone. Large fractures are at the origin of the valleys that furrow the chains, whose passes are high but not excessively harsh, especially in West. Visit barblejewelry.com for regions in Asia.
TERRITORY: HUMAN GEOGRAPHY
The population of Afghanistan perfectly reflects the natural conditions. The average density is 48.36 residents / km², but the distribution of the population is very irregular, because it essentially depends on the availability of water: in fact, it goes from 4 residents / km² of the southern desert regions to approx. 789 residents / km² in the province of Kābul. The most populated areas therefore correspond to the valleys of the main rivers that flow down from the central reliefs: Kābul, Arghandāb, Helmand, Harīrūd, Murgab, Surkhab, Ghorband. The sedentary lifestyle in these valleys, where the villages (often of the fortified type, qal’ah) follow one another along the beautiful irrigated green bands of the valley floor, it has ancient origins that are connected to the first Neolithic civilizations of agricultural foundation, which then developed on the important caravan routes (such as the famous “Silk Road”) that once crossed Afghanistan. The sedentary lifestyle is opposed by nomadism, which is an imposing phenomenon here. With their herds the nomads (kuči) they move seasonally between the arid plains and the central reliefs in search of pastures; some of them are also dedicated to agricultural activities (semi-sedentary). Most Afghans belong to the Pashtun ethnic group (40%), made up of Pashto-speaking populations, who move between the Hindukush and the Indus plains ignoring the political border between Pakistan and Afghanistan (this is the origin of the Afghan claims and of the conflicts that have arisen between the two countries). In the Afghans, precisely because of the function of the country’s crossroads, there are traces of numerous mixes with different Central Asian peoples, such as the Turks and the Turkish-Mongols. Groups of Turkish origin form large fractions of the Afghan population: (2%) of northwestern Afghanistan. Another large group is that of the Hazari (10%), descendants of Mongol hordes, settled in the Hindukush (Hazarajat) valleys. More similar to the Afghans are the Tajiks (36%), who live in the Kābul area and in the northern part of the country and are classified as Iranians. Finally, there are Arab and Kyrgyz minorities. Tribal groups have left the northern areas of more recent colonization, many nomads have embarked on the path of sedentary lifestyle; the countryside has depopulated. By far the most important city is Kābul, the largest economic, political and cultural center of the country, the connecting point of the main communication routes. The other major cities are: Herāt, in the western sector of Afghanistan, an ancient Timurid capital; Kandahār, the second largest city in the country by number of residents, a communications hub and historic center on the edge of Rīgestān; Ghazni, the ancient capital of the gasnavid empire. In the northern part, the main cities are Mazār-e Sharīf, which has pre-eminent economic functions throughout Bactria, and the centers in the process of industrialization of Baghlan, Kondūz and Pul-i-Khumri; under development is Jalālābād. The most populous centers are however found in the oases, at the mouth of the main valleys, and constitute the nodes of communications that from E to W, along the foot of the central chains, unite the various parts of the country with each other and with the Indus valley.. The control of communication routes, internal and external, has long been at the center of fierce clashes, often regulated by illegal practices. The nerve centers for the connection with Pakistan, through the SE crossings, and Turkmenistan, to the N, economic-political partners of the various local groups alternating in power, have been divided over the years as a counterpart of armaments and fuel, precious goods for a country perpetually at war. And it is precisely the internal war between the different Muslim factions, which has continued to upset the country, to make it difficult to draw a certain demographic picture. It is estimated that more than 6 million refugees have fled from Afghanistan with hundreds of thousands of victims caused by about twenty years of war, first against the Soviets, then internal between the different ethnic-religious groups. In the period 2002-2005 about 2.7 million people returned to their homeland.