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Herat

Administration
Full nameHerāt
Native nameهرات
Settlement typeCity
CountryAfghanistan
ProvinceHerat Province
Geography
Elevation3018.4 ft (920 m)
Demography
Total Population397456 (2006)
Other information
Time zoneAfghanistan Standard Time (UTC+4:30)

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Herāt (Persian / ) is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan. The city is linked with Kandahar and Mazar-e-Sharif via highway 1 or the ring road that stretches across the country. It is also linked to the city of Mashad in Iran through the Islam Qala border town or border checkpoint.

Situated in a fertile area, Herāt dates back to the Avestan times and was traditionally known for its wine. The city has a number of historic sites, including the Citadel of Alexander and the Mosallah Complex. During the Middle Ages Herāt became one of the important cities of Khorasan, as it was known as the pearl of Khorasan. It was made independent in 1717 from the Safavid dynasty by the Afghans until 1736 when the Hotaki dynasty was defeated by the Afsharids, which finally became part of the Durrani Empire in 1747. It saw some actions during the 19th century Anglo-Afghan wars. Much of the city has been spared from destructions that occurred in other cities of Afghanistan during the 1978-present wars.

Herāt lies on the ancient trade routes of the Middle East, Central and South Asia. The roads from Herāt to Iran, Turkmenistan, and other parts of Afghanistan are still strategically important. As the gateway to Iran, it collects the highest amount of customs revenue for Afghanistan. The city has an airport which is planned to be turned into an international airport.


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