As far as British interests were concerned, Abdur Rahman answered
their prayers: a forceful, intelligent leader capable of welding
his divided people into a state; and he was willing to accept
limitations to his power imposed by British control of his country's
foreign affairs and the British buffer state policy. His twenty-one-year
reign was marked by efforts to modernize and establish control
of the kingdom, whose boundaries were delineated by the two empires
bordering it. Abdur Rahman turned his considerable energies to
what evolved into the creation of the modern state of Afghanistan.
He achieved this consolidation of Afghanistan in three ways.
He suppressed various rebellions and followed up his victories
with harsh punishment, execution, and deportation. He broke the
stronghold of Pashtun tribes by forcibly transplanting them. He
transplanted his most powerful Pashtun enemies, the Ghilzai, and
other tribes from southern and south-central Afghanistan to areas
north of the Hindu Kush with predominantly non-Pashtun populations.
Finally, he created a system of provincial governorates different
from old tribal boundaries. Provincial governors had a great deal
of power in local matters, and an army was placed at their disposal
to enforce tax collection and suppress dissent. Abdur Rahman kept
a close eye on these governors, however, by creating an effective
intelligence system. During his reign, tribal organization began
to erode as provincial government officials allowed land to change
hands outside the traditional clan and tribal limits.
name Afghanistan conventional long form Islamic State of
Afghanistan conventional short form Afghanistan local long
form Dowlat-e Eslami-ye Afghanestan local short form Afghanestan former Republic of Afghanistan
- total: 647,500 sq km land: 647,500 sq km water: 0 sq km
- mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest
- arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers
- landlocked; the Hindu Kush mountains that run northeast to southwest divide
the northern provinces from the rest of the country; the highest peaks are in
the northern Vakhan (Wakhan Corridor)
- 1,200 km note: chiefly Amu Darya, which handles vessels up to 500 DWT (2001)
Natural hazards - damaging earthquakes
occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding; droughts
Courtesy: The Library of Congress - Country Studies
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