Afghanistan: Culture of Geography

Thank you doctor Hunt. Good day ladies and gentlemen. The first I wish to express my thanks to the cultural arts consortium for inviting me, to present this lecture today. And second I wish to thank you the audience for your interest in attending and I look forward to your participation. My talk will be on the culture of Afghanistan. There are many cultures in Afghanistan but they share three common components tribal, code, Islam and impact of geography. The last geography has to find people:

Afghanistan is roughly the size of Texas. In terms of its mountainous terrain and extreme climate of hot summers and cold winters, you can compare to Wyoming. Afghanistan is divided by the Hindu mountains. These mountains first divide the country in half diagonally and then divided it, again, into two concentric circles.

First, the Hindu Kush mountains runs northeast dividing the country into three major regions

  • The Central Highlands, parts of the Himalayas an account to roughly two-thirds op the country’s area
  • The Southwestern Plateau, accounts for another quarter of the land mass and ;
  • The smaller Northern Plains contains the country’s most fertile soil.
  • Second, the Central Highlands formed by the Hindu Kush expands outward east to west into a vast almost circular mountainous plateau with peaks rising between 12,000 and 19,000 feet in height. There is little human habitation here. Historically, it has served as a sanctuary for the ethnic Hazaras. Most Afghans live in settlement – cities, towns, and villages – that encircle this plateau.

    So, here we have a topographical physical map of Afghanistan. In City indicates first bites North, east, south, west then the expansion in the Central Highlands. The northern area being the to fertile area the country and the South and the Southwest be in the desert. And human habitation will be confined around this central plateau. To give you an idea, here is a view of Hindu Kush among world’s, highest mountain tops. Here is a view a Hindu Kush from the valley. In the city of the capital city of Kabul.

    Like the central highlands, the south and west to the country is also sparsely-populated. The area is part of the registan desert, a registan is a is a Persian word meaning “land of sand”. And this is a sand that is very different from what most people are familiar with in the West. It is almost as finest talcum, so here is an example of motorized vehicle sinking into the sand. The talcum so fine he gets into the motors, getting gas tank, gets into the goggles even if you put to extra protection by taking say what cost and inserting around the goggles tried to keep in his quality. So, there is very few a habitation. But in this region it is noted for what’s called:

  • The “winds of 120 days” its northerly wind that blows across the western and southern regions of Afghanistan during the months of June to September.
  • This wind is accompanied by intense heat, drought, and sandstorms.
  • Dust and whirlwinds appear occur during the summer months been flattened southern parts that were just looking at. And the storms rise in the early afternoon cutie achieve a velocity between sixty and 110 miles an hour.
  • So, an example, here is a dust storm, sandstorm site from here the one size of a mountain as it is approaching the military base in southern Afghanistan. Now this is an aerial view from satellites by NASA, Aqua and Terra. Showing you the full extent that some of this sandstorms can achieve. This is the border of Afghanistan with Pakistan, Here is Afghan, here is Pakistan, and the whole southern area engulfing Helmand kandahar province, is experience a sandstorm assignment fundamental are phenomenal other size. This is the Afghanistan’s for all northern plain. Afghanistan as you can see, has is vulnerable to try because it only has four principal rivers. You have in the north Amadara in the West you have a hairy road, and in the Southwest you had to Helmand and in the east there is Kabul River.

    Now, only 12% of all Afghanistan is vulnerable and that area is dependent, on, winter, snow and spring rains for the water. But it employs 79% of the labor force. Now, what is the impact of geography on the Afghan cultures. It first and most importantly from which all things flow:

  • It prevented emergence of a large land-owning class as in Pakistan, India, and Iran.
  • At least Eighty percent of people live in villages that are self-sufficient communities dependent on subsistence level agriculture and pastoralism.
  • Villages run their own affairs with little outside interference; functioning as independent on city-states; jealous of their freedom and their separateness.
  • This fosters egalitarianism, group, solidarity, and the need for group consensus.
  • Now, these villages, here is picture for layout of an Afghan village. It is built for protection so you have the walls and sometimes the enclosures can be so large that would in a given compound. You can have a mask, you can have staples, you can have up a small ochry. But how to the a villages come about?

    Historically villages are established by organic growth, They get their start when people (usually relatives) brought or were given land where they then built their houses. Over time these grow in size but it is individuals who start it; there is no decision by a village to split because it is too large. In mountainous regions where resources are are limited people may migrate out, often to cities, if there is no room for expansion or there are not enough resources to support a family. A slightly different case arises in qala communities where all the household are part of a single large single structure that is subdivided over time.

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