Afghanistan Table of Contents

Large groups of Sunni Arab living in the vicinity of Bokhara in Central Asia fled to northeastern Afghanistan following Russian conquests in the nineteenth century. By the 1880s they were, with the Uzbek with whom they established close ties, the second most populous ethnic group in present day Kunduz, Takhar and Baghlan provinces. Smaller groups settled in scattered communities as far west as Maimana, Faryab Province.

The Arab are pastoralists who raise sheep and grow cotton and wheat. Some among the eastern groups make summer migrations of up to 300 kilometers to reach the lush high pastures in Badakhshan. Government development schemes, especially those which brought large numbers of Pushtun to the area in the 1940s, relegated the Arab to a small proportion of the population and the Arab ceased to hold a monopoly on long distance migration. Bilingual in Dari and Uzbeki, but speaking no Arabic, they continue to identify themselves as Arab although they have had no contact with the Arabs of the Middle East since the late fourteenth century.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress