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Herat

Herat (hĕrät´), city (1984 est. pop. 161,000), capital of Herat prov., NW Afghanistan, on the Hari Rud. The fertile river valley is renowned for its fruits, especially grapes. Herat has textile weaving and carpet industries and is a market for wool, carpets, dried fruits, and nuts. The city walls are gone, but the citadel remains, has been restored, and houses a national museum. Other landmarks include the Great Mosque (first built 12th cent.) and several exquisite minarets. Herat, whose inhabitants are mainly Tajiks, is also noted for its bazaars and its highly decorated gharries (horse-drawn cabs). Paved roads lead to the Turkmenistan border.

Herat, an ancient city, is identified with the Haroyu of the Vendidad (Zoroastrian priestly code), the Haraiva of Achaemenian inscriptions, and the Aria of the Greeks. Its strategic location on the trade route from Persia to India and on the caravan road from China and central Asia to Europe has long made Herat an object of contention among the powers of the day. Although taken by various conquerors, it remained under the Persian empire for several centuries. The Mongols under Jenghiz Khan devastated Herat in 1221. Timur took the city in 1383; under his later successors, Shah Rukh and Husayn, it enjoyed prosperity, and its court was a center of art and learning. The Uzbeks took Herat in the early 16th cent.; later it was disputed between the Persians and the rulers of an emerging Afghanistan. In the mid-19th cent., British pressure checked Persian claims to Herat, which in 1881 was taken by Abd ar-Rahman Khan and finally confirmed as part of a united Afghanistan. During the 1979–89 Soviet occupation, it was a military command center for Soviet forces.

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Herat

HERAT

Province and city in western Afghanistan.

Herat is both a province in northwestern Afghanistan and the name of the provincial capital of that province. In 2003 the population of the city of Herat was generally held to number about 180,000, although some estimates have the population much higher. Even using the lower figure, Herat is the third largest city in Afghanistan and the major city in the country's western region. Close to the Iranian border, the people in the province are largely Persian speakers, although some Turkomans live in the northern area.

Because of its strategic location, Herat has been a fortified town for several thousand years. Mention of it first appears in the Avesta, the holy book of the Zoroastrians (1500 b.c.e.), and scholars have conjectured that the name Herat may be a derivative of Aria, a province in the ancient Persian empire. Alexander the Great built Alexandria Ariorum on the site (330 b.c.e.). During the Afghan war of resistance (19781992), the city of Herat saw considerable fighting and suffered significant destruction. When the Najibullah government fell in 1992, Ismaʿil Khan, a commander in the Jamiʿat-e Islami, took control of the area.

The Taliban captured Herat in 1995, and Is-mail Khan and his fighters fled to Iran. The Taliban installed an administration imposing strict Islamic rule. When the Taliban fell in 2001, Ismaʿil Khan returned to Herat and was appointed governor of the province by the Hamid Karzai government. Herat now serves as a major smuggling route for foreign goods coming into Afghanistan, and for the export of Afghan opium.

See also afghanistan.


Bibliography

Adamec, Ludwig. Historical Dictionary of Afghanistan. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1991.

Ewans, Martin. Afghanistan: A Short History of Its People and Politics. New York: HarperCollins, 2002.

grant farr

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"Herat." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Herat." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/herat