capital and largest city of Afghanistan, Kabul is the nation's
leading cultural and economic center. The ancient city lies on the
Kabul River in a triangular-shaped valley between the steep Asmai
and Sherdawaza mountain ranges.
Kabul is a blend of old and new
buildings. In modern times the city has grown steadily. Roads
connect it to most Afghan provinces, to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan,
and Tajikistan to the north, and to Pakistan to the east. Much of
the old city has been destroyed and replaced with modern
construction. Industries include food-processing plants, rayon and
wool mills, a furniture factory, a foundry, and marble and lapis
Kabul has many historical monuments,
including the tombs of some of its rulers, and a number of fine
gardens. The Dar ol-Aman palace houses the parliament and
government departments. The University of Kabul was founded in
1931. Most of the population speaks Dari, a Persian dialect. Kabul
has existed for more than 3,000 years because of its location,
which commands the passes from both the north and south as well as
from Pakistan and India through the Khyber Pass. The city first
became a regional seat of government in the 8th century. In the
13th century considerable damage was inflicted by the Mongol
invader Genghis Khan.
Kabul was the home from 1504 to 1526 of
the emperor Baber, the founder of the Mughal Empire, and it
remained under Mughal rule until the city's capture in 1738 by
Nader Shah. Kabul has been Afghanistan's capital since 1776. This
city was the site of hostilities during both the first and second
Afghan Wars, from 1839 to 1842 and 1878 to 1880.
Kabul became the center of much military
and guerrilla activity during the Soviet Union's occupation of
Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989.