Herat Province

Herat is located on the western part of Afghanistan and has a covering area of 54,778 km²; the province is comprised of 15 districts which are further divided into more than 1,000 villages. The Herat City serves as an administrative capital of the province. As it is an agricultural province, all its water needs are served by Salma Dam situated in the province, which is fed by Hari River. The province holds two airports; Herat International Airport which is in the capital city and Shindand Air Base which is one of the largest Military airbases in the country.

It is considered as the second most populated province of the country with an approximate population of 2.250 million. The population is multi-ethnic but the majority of the population speaks Persian, 98% of the population speaks Dari & Pashtu while the remaining population speaks Turkemani & Uzbeki. The gender segregation of the province is 01:01.

Herat shares its border with local provinces like Badghis, Farah & Ghor. It also shares it border with two neighbouring countries, on the west of the province is Iran while Turkmenistan is on the north. This allocation makes the province an important trading region. It is expected that the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline (TAP) will pass from Herat that will connect Turkeministan to Pakistan and India.

The region of Herat also had been ruled by various empires from Tahirids to Timurids and even by Qajarids before becoming a part of the modern state of Afghanistan. The British arrived in the area in 19th century to hold the Russian and Persian influence in South Asia.  The province faced a number of battles; during the Soviet Invasion in 1980s the area remained under the control of Ismail Khan who was leading a local mujahidin group with the support of guerrillas. After the withdrawal of Soviet Forces, Ismail Khan became the governor of the province in 1989. Then in 1995 ,Taliban reached and took control over the province.

After the Afghan regime in 2005, a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) was established with the support of International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) & Italy for helping the local population. This helped in building schools and clinics in the province.

Mohammad Asif Rahimi is the present governor of the province. All the law enforcement activates in the province are monitored by Afghan National Police (ANP) while the Afghan Border Police (ABP) looks after all the border activities. Both ANP and ABP are led by a provincial police chief who represents Ministry of Interior in Kabul.

Herat is a rural province and 75% of its population lives in rural areas. Their primary source of income is Agriculture which contributes up to 85% of total economic activity.  The major agricultural item the province produce is Saffron. It is estimated that yearly the province cultivates approximately $16 million of saffron. As it hold international border with Turkmenistan and Iran and also has and international airport so this can help the province in increasing its trade.

Afghanistan and Italy did enter in a long term agreement on December 2012 under which they will be provided 150 million euros as a soft loan facility for developing infrastructure in Herat province. The first soft loan of US $ 32 million was provided for the upgrading the Herat Airport. The second soft loan, for the amount of US $ 100 million, was released in 2016 for the construction of 155 KM road between Herat & Chist-e-Sharif. Now Italy is evaluating the possibility of third soft loan having the worth of US $ 70 million for the construction of railroad between Herat & Mashad in Iran. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is also doing a feasibility study for the construction of a railroad between Herat & Turkmenistan.

The most popular sport of the province is football, while in the recent past cricket has also emerged and did gain a lot of popularity. The Herat provincial cricket team represents the province in domestic competitions.

The health and education sector of the province is still at the limp and requires some serious attention. The Herat University is Afghanistan’s second largest university with more than 10,000 students who are enrolled in more than 45 departments.

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