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Kandahar or Qandahar (both: kăn´dəhär´), city (1989 est. pop. 203,000), capital of Kandahar prov., S Afghanistan. The country's second largest city and chief trade center, Kandahar is a market for sheep, wool, cotton, food grains, fresh and dried fruit, and tobacco. It has an international airport and is linked by road with Kabul, Herat, Quetta, and the nations of Central Asia. Woolen cloth, felt, and silk are manufactured. The surrounding irrigated region produces fine fruits, especially grapes, and the city has plants for canning, drying, and packing fruit.

The old city was laid out by Ahmad Shah during the 18th cent. and is dominated by his octangular, domed mausoleum. There are also numerous mosques (one said to contain the Prophet Muhammad's cloak) and bazaars. Modern Kandahar adjoins the old city. It has a technical college. Together with Peshawar, Pakistan, Kandahar is the principal city of the Pashto people, and it was the religious headquarters of the Taliban, the austere Islamic fundamentalist movement.

Kandahar was founded by Alexander the Great (4th cent. BC). India and Persia long fought over the city, which was strategically located on the trade routes of central Asia. It was conquered by Arabs in the 7th cent. and by the Turkic Ghaznavids in the 10th cent. Jenghiz Khan sacked it in the 12th cent., after which it became a major city of the Karts (Mongol clients) until their defeat by Timur in 1383. Babur, founder of the Mughal empire of India, took Kandahar in the 16th cent. It was later contested by the Persians and by the rulers of emerging Afghanistan, who made it the capital (1748–73) of their newly independent kingdom. British forces occupied Kandahar during the First Afghan War (1839–42) and from 1879 to 1881. During the Soviet military occupation of 1979–89, Kandahar was the site of a Soviet command. A major prize, it changed hands several times until the fall of the Najibullah government in 1992. The Kandahar area has been the scene of significant fighting between Taliban and its allies and U.S. forces and their allies since the fall of the Taliban government in 2001.

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Afghan city and province.

Located in southern Afghanistan, the province of Kandahar has a population of approximately 700,000, most of whom are Durrani Pushtuns. The city of Kandahar is the provincial capital and the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 200,000. It was Afghanistan's original capital. Centrally situated on trade routes between the Iranian plateau and the Indian sub-continent, Kandahar has been an important city for centuries and has played a major role in the history of Afghanistan. Most of the leaders of Afghanistan have come from the Pushtun tribes in the Kandahar area.

During the War of Resistance (19781992), Kandahar was the scene of intense fighting and much of the city was destroyed. Almost half of the population of the province fled to neighboring Pakistan during the war, but most subsequently returned.

Kandahar played a central role in the Taliban movement (19962001). Although Kabul remained the capital of Afghanistan, Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban government, kept his residence in Kandahar.


Adamec, Ludwig. Historical Dictionary of Afghanistan, 2d edition. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 1997.

Rubin, Barnett R. The Fragmentation of Afghanistan: State Formation and Collapse in the International System. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002.

grant farr

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Kandahar (Qandahar) City and provincial capital in s Afghanistan, c.480km (300mi) sw of Kabul. Because of its location on important trade routes, it was occupied by many foreign conquerors before becoming the capital of the independent Afghani kingdom (1747–73). It was the scene of fighting after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and became the headquarters of the Taliban in the 1990s. It is a commercial centre for the surrounding region. Pop. (2002 est.) 339,200.

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Kandahar ★★ 2001

Nafas (Pazira) and her family emigrated to Canda from Afghanistan, although they were forced to leave behind Nafas's crippled sister. Now, the sister has vowed to commit suicide rather than live any long under Taliban rule and Nafas returns to try and save her. But journeying to Kandahar is a maze of obstacles and restrictions. Farsi and English. 85m/C VHS, DVD . IA Nelofer Pazira, Hassan Tantai, Sadou Teymouri; D: Mohsen Makhmalbaf; W: Mohsen Makhmalbaf; C: Ebraheem Ghafouri; M: Mohammad Reza Darvishi.