Badakhshan is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, consisting of 28 districts. It is located in the north-east of the country, between the Hindu Kush and the Amu Darya. It is part of the Badakhshan region. Badakhshan’s name was given by the Sassanids and derives from the word badaxš (an official Sassanian title). The suffix of the name means the region belonged to someone with the title badaxš (analogous to Azerbaijan, Isfahan, Tehran, etc.). Feyzabad is the capital of Badakshan Province. Badakhshan is primarily bordered by Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province and Khatlon Province in Tajikistan to the north and east. In the east of the province a long spur called the Wakhan Corridor extends above northern Pakistan’s Chitral and Northern Areas to a border with China. The province has a total area of 44,059 km², most of which is occupied by the Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges. Badakhshan was a stopover on the ancient Silk Road trading path, and China has shown great interest in the province after the fall of the Taliban, helping to reconstruct roads and infrastructure in the province.
Economy: Despite massive mineral reserves, Badakhshan is one of the most destitute areas in the world. Opium poppy growing is the only real source of income in the province and Badakhshan has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world, due to the complete lack of health infrastructure, inaccessible locations, and bitter winters of the province. Recent geological surveys have indicated the location of other gemstone deposits, in particular rubies and emeralds. Exploitation of this mineral wealth could be key to the region’s prosperity.
- The following Pamiri languages are spoken in Badakhshan by certain populations of Tajiks:
- small Kyrgyz minorities
- nomadic and semi-nomadic Uzbeks and Pashtuns, who migrate over long distances.
The residents of the province are largely Sunni, but many of the Tajiks who are speakers of one of the Pamiri languages in the northeastern districts of the province are Ismaili.