Provinces of Afghanistan

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On the Districts of Afghanistan page, I had a column of four-digit district codes from the Ministry of the Interior. The first two digits of those codes correspond with the province. On this page, I added the key to that correspondence.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter II-3 is dated 2011-12-15. For Afghanistan, a few codes have been changed in order to match the new preferred spellings of province names. Before this update, Lowgar was LOW, and Oruzgan was ORU.

The two newest provinces of Afghanistan are Daikondi and Panjshir. A 1990 estimate of the population of Daikondi was 127,661. A 2004 estimate of the population of Panjshir was 307,620. This change is shown in ISO 3166-2 Newsletter number I-7 (2005-09-13) and in FIPS Publication Change Notice No. 10 (2006-03-23).

The new provinces of Khowst and Nurestan were at least tentatively announced by 1994. They were reported in ISO 3166-2 Newsletter number I-6 (2004-03-08), and in FIPS Publication Change Notice No. 9 (2004-10-01).

Country overview: 

ISO codeAF
LanguagesPashtu (ps), Dari
Time zone+4:30


The external borders of Afghanistan have remained almost unchanged through the twentieth century. Its division into provinces, on the other hand, has changed frequently. The tendency has been to create more provinces over the years. Part of the border with Pakistan is in dispute.

Other names of country: 

The formal name of Afghanistan has changed several times recently. The new constitution, adopted on 2004-01-04, changed the name from "Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan" to "Islamic Republic of Afghanistan". In the past, the country was known as "Democratic Republic of Afghanistan", "Republic of Afghanistan", "Islamic State of Afghanistan", and (according to the Taliban) "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan". Some of the languages in the list below may need updating.

  1. Danish: Afghanistan
  2. Dutch: Afghanistan, Islamitische Republiek Afghanistan (formal)
  3. English: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (formal)
  4. Finnish: Afganistan
  5. French: Afghanistan, République f islamique d'Afghanistan (formal)
  6. German: Afghanistan n
  7. Icelandic: Afganistan
  8. Italian: Afghanistan m
  9. Norwegian: Afghanistan, Den islamske stat Afghanistan (formal) (Bokmål), Den islamske staten Afghanistan (formal) (Nynorsk)
  10. Portuguese: Afeganistão, República f Islâmica do Afeganistão m (formal)
  11. Pushto: Dowlat-e Eslami-ye Afghanestan (formal)
  12. Russian: Исламская Республика Афганистан (formal)
  13. Spanish: Afganistán, República f de Afganistán m (formal)
  14. Swedish: Afghanistan
  15. Turkish: Afganistan

Origin of name: 

Land of the Afghani (ethnic name)

Primary subdivisions: 

Afghanistan is divided into 34 velayat (provinces).

ProvinceHASCISOFIPSCodePcPopulationArea (km.²)Area (mi.²)Capital
BadakhshanAF.BDBDSAF011134805,500 44,059 17,011 Feyzabad
Badghis AF.BGBDGAF021933420,400 20,591 7,950 Qal'eh-ye Now
Baghlan AF.BLBGLAF031336762,500 21,118 8,154 Pol-e Khomri
Balkh AF.BKBALAF3016171,073,000 17,249 6,660 Mazar-e Sharif
Bamian AF.BMBAMAF052816379,200 14,175 5,473 Bamian
Daikondi AF.DKDAYAF413442391,000 8,088 3,123 Khadir
Farah AF.FHFRAAF062131428,800 48,471 18,715 Farah
Faryab AF.FBFYBAF071818840,400 20,293 7,835 Meymaneh
Ghazni AF.GZGHAAF0806231,040,100 22,915 8,847 Ghazni
Ghowr AF.GRGHOAF092732585,900 36,479 14,085 Chaghcharan
Helmand AF.HMHELAF102339782,100 58,584 22,619 Lashgar Gah
Herat AF.HRHERAF1120301,544,800 54,778 21,150 Herat
Jowzjan AF.JWJOWAF311719452,000 11,798 4,555 Sheberghan
Kabul AF.KBKABAF1301103,071,600 4,462 1,723 Kabul
Kandahar AF.KDKANAF232438990,100 54,022 20,858 Kandahar
Kapisa AF.KPKAPAF140212374,500 1,842 711 Mahmud-e-Eraqi
Khowst AF.KTKHOAF373225487,400 4,152 1,603 Khowst
Konar AF.KRKNRAF341028381,900 4,942 1,908 Asadabad
Kondoz AF.KZKDZAF241435833,300 8,040 3,104 Kondoz
Laghman AF.LALAGAF350927378,100 3,843 1,484 Mehtar Lam
Lowgar AF.LWLOGAF170514332,400 3,880 1,498 Pol-e 'Alam
Nangarhar AF.NGNANAF1808261,261,900 7,727 2,984 Jalalabad
Nimruz AF.NMNIMAF192243138,500 41,005 15,832 Zaranj
Nurestan AF.NRNURAF383029125,700 9,225 3,562 Kamdish
Oruzgan AF.OZURUAF392641297,200 22,696 8,763 Tarin Kowt
Paktia AF.PTPIAAF360722467,500 6,432 2,483 Gardez
Paktika AF.PKPKAAF292924369,100 19,482 7,522 Sharan
Panjshir AF.PJPANAF423315130,400 3,610 1,394 Bazarak
Parvan AF.PVPARAF400311560,800 5,974 2,307 Charikar
Samangan AF.SMSAMAF321520327,700 11,262 4,348 Aybak
Sar-e Pol AF.SPSARAF333121472,700 15,999 6,177 Sar-e Pol
Takhar AF.TKTAKAF261237827,500 12,333 4,762 Taloqan
Vardak AF.VRWARAF270413506,300 8,938 3,451 Maidanshahr
Zabol AF.ZBZABAF282540257,600 17,343 6,696 Qalat
34 provinces 22,097,900645,807249,347
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: Codes from ISO 3166-2.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • Code: Codes from Ministry of the Interior.
  • Pc: First two digits of postal code for province.
  • Population: 2006 estimates. Source: Central Statistics Office website.
  • Area: Source [4]

Postal codes: 

Afghan Post uses four-digit postal codes in which the first two digits represent a province in the range 10-43, and the last two digits represent a delivery zone, which can be a city if in the range 01-50, or a rural district if between 51 and 99.

Further subdivisions:

See the Districts of Afghanistan page.

Territorial extent: 

Badakhshan province contains the Wakhan (or Vakhan) Corridor, a narrow strip of land extending eastward to China.

The UN LOCODE page  for Afghanistan lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names: 

  1. Badghis: Persian badkhiz: home of the winds
  2. Nurestan: = land of the enlightened

Change history: 

  1. This is a table of the provinces of Afghanistan as of about 1950 (sources [5] and [6]).
ProvincePopulationCapitalCurrent divisions
Farah-Chakansur300,462FarahFarah, Nimruz
Kabul2,817,234KabulGhazni, Kabul, Parvan
Mazar-i-Sharif944,020Mazar-i-SharifBalkh, Jowzjan
10 provinces9,997,000  
  • Population: 1946 estimate. There were also
    an additional 2,000,000 Afghani nomads.
  • Current divisions: lists some of the current
    provinces located in the territory of the old provinces.
  1. By ~1957, the provinces of Ghazni (capital Ghazni), Girishk (Girishk), and Parvan (Charikar) had been formed.
  2. ~1958: Sheberghan province was formed.
  3. By 1964, the provinces of Badghis, Baghlan and Pul-i-Khumri, Bamian, Ghorat, Kalat, Kapisa, Konduz, Kunarha, Laghman, Lowgar, Nangarhar, Nimruz, Oruzgan, Paktia, Samangan, Talugan, and Wardak and Maiden had been formed, and Eastern, Kataghan, and Southern had disappeared in the process.
  4. 1964-04-30: Names of provinces changed as follows: Baghlan and Pul-i-Khumri became Baghlan; Ghorat became Ghor (Ghowr); Girishk became Helmand; Kalat became Zabul (Zabol); Kunarha became Konarha (Konar); Maimana became Faryab; Mazar-i-Sharif became Balkh; Shibarghan became Jowzjan; Talugan became Takhar; Wardak and Maiden became Wardak (Vardak).
  5. ~1970: Name of capital of Helmand changed from Bost to Lashgar Gah.
  6. ~1971: In 1966, the geographer of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the U.S. State Department wrote, "It has been proposed that a new province of Katawaz and Urugan be formed from part of Paktia Province." A development plan for Katawaz and Urugan was underway, so perhaps this proposal was to help administer the project. Katawaz-Urgun province is shown in the Times Atlas, 1971 edition. In later sources, Paktia province is restored to its original extent.
  7. ~1972: Name of capital of Ghowr changed from Qala Ahangaran to Chaghcharan; name of capital of Laghman changed from Tigri to Mehtar Lam; capital of Oruzgan moved from Qala-Hazar Qadam to Tarin Kowt.
  8. 1973-07-26: Formal name of country changed from Kingdom of Afghanistan to Republic of Afghanistan.
  9. ~1975: Name of Chakhansur province changed to Nimruz.
  10. ~1978: Capital of Kapisa moved from Tagab to Mahmud-e-Eraqi. Name of capital of Konar changed from Chigha Sarai to Asadabad. Formal name of country changed to Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.
  11. ~1982: Paktika province formed from parts of Ghazni and Paktia. The provinces of Afghanistan at that time were as follows.
BadghisAF02233,61321,858Qal'eh-ye Now
BalkhAF04580,14612,593Mazar-e Sharif
HelmandAF10517,64561,829Lashgar Gah
LaghmanAF16310,6507,210Mehtar Lam
LowgarAF17216,2414,652Baraki Barak
OruzganAF20444,16829,295Tarin Kowt
29 provinces13,086,690652,225
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • Population: 1979-06-23 census, from source [3].
  • Area: Source [1].
  1. ~1988: Many provincial boundaries adjusted. For example, northern Samangan, including the city of Kholm, transferred to Balkh.
  2. 1988-04: Sar-e Pol province formed from parts of Balkh (former FIPS code AF04), Jowzjan (AF12), and Samangan (AF25).
  3. 1988-07: Nurestan province formed from parts of Konar (former HASC code AF.KO, FIPS code AF15) and Laghman (AF.LM, AF16).
  4. ~1995: Khowst province split from Paktia (former AF.PA, AF21).
  5. ~1996: Capital of Lowgar moved from Baraki Barak to Pol-e 'Alam; capital of Paktika moved from Orgun to Sharan; capital of Vardak moved from Kowt-e-Ashrow to Maidanshahr. Probably later, capital of Baghlan moved from Baghlan to Pol-e Khomri. (This information is somewhat conjectural.)
  6. 2004-03-28: Daikondi province split from Oruzgan (former AF.OR, AF20).
  7. 2004-04-13: Panjshir province split from Parvan (former AF.PR, AF22). It includes the Panjshir Valley, north of Kabul. The formation of these two provinces was an administrative decision and has not been ratified by Parliament.
  8. 2004-06: According to the Afghanistan Information Management Service (AIMS, a UNDP offshoot), the president's office announced a change in administrative units from 32 to 34 provinces (addition of Daikondi and Panjshir), and from 329 to 397 districts. Several districts moved from one province to another.

Other names of subdivisions: 

  1. Place names in the vernacular are written in Arabic characters. There are various methods for transliteration from Arabic to Latin alphabets, producing fairly predictable variant names.
  2. Badakhshan: Badahšan (variant); Badakhchão (Portuguese); Badakhschan (German)
  3. Badghis: Badghes, Badghisat, Badgis (variant)
  4. Baghlan: Baglan, Bughlan (variant); Kataghan (obsolete +)
  5. Balkh: Balh (variant); Mazar-i-Sharif, Mazar (obsolete +)
  6. Bamian: Bamiyan (French); Bamyan (variant)
  7. Daikondi: Daikundi, Daykondi, Daykundi (variant)
  8. Faryab: Fariab (variant); Maimana, Meymaneh (obsolete +)
  9. Ghazni: Gazni (variant)
  10. Ghowr: Gawr, Ghore, Ghour, Ghur (variant); Ghor (French)
  11. Helmand: Girishk (obsolete); Hilmand, Hilmend (variant)
  12. Herat: Hirat (variant)
  13. Jowzjan: Jaozjan, Jawzjan, Jozjan, Juzjan (variant); Jouzjan (French); Shibarghan (obsolete +)
  14. Kabul: Cabul (Portuguese); Kâbil (Turkish); Kabol (variant); Kaboul (French)
  15. Kandahar: Qandahar (obsolete)
  16. Kapisa: Kapesa (variant)
  17. Khowst: Khost (variant)
  18. Konar: Konarha, Kunar, Kunarha (variant)
  19. Kondoz: Konduz, Kunduz, Qonduz, Qunduz (obsolete)
  20. Laghman: Lagman (variant)
  21. Lowgar: Lawghar, Loghar (variant); Logar (French)
  22. Nangarhar: Nangerhar, Ningrahar (variant); Eastern Province (obsolete)
  23. Nimruz: Neemroze, Nimrod, Nimrooz, Nimroze (variant); Nimroz (French); Chakhansur (obsolete)
  24. Nurestan: Nooristan, Nuristan (variant); Nuristão (Portuguese)
  25. Oruzgan: Urozgan (variant); Uruzgan (French)
  26. Paktia: Paktiya (variant); Paktya (French variant); Southern Province (obsolete)
  27. Panjshir: Panjsher (variant)
  28. Parvan: Parwan (French); Charikar (obsolete +)
  29. Sar-e Pol: Sar-e Pul, Saripol, Sari Pul (variant)
  30. Takhar: Taher, Takar (variant)
  31. Vardak: Maydan-Wardak, Meydan-Wardag, Verdak, Wardag, Wardak (variant); Wardak and Maiden (obsolete)
  32. Zabol: Zabul, Zubul (variant); Zaboul (French variant)

+ = (name applied to a larger area containing the province)


  1. [1] "Ershiyi (21) Shiji Shijie Diming Lu", Beijing, 2001.
  2. [2] "Afghanistan: A Shredded Tapestry ", Permanent Committee on Geographical Names, London, 2001, says that the spelling Konduz is obsolete and Kondoz should now be used, and that the capital of Nurestan is Kamdish.
  3. [3], retrieved 2005-04-01, is a spreadsheet with population data attributed to "LGA(CSO) CENSUS 1979" (CSO is probably Central Statistics Office).
  4. [4] Afghanistan Geographic & Thematic Layers , a webpage of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, is an interface to Programme Management Information System (ProMIS). To find province areas, click on "Administration" in the navigation bar, then "32 Provinces", then "Provinces", then click on one of the provinces shown on the map.
  5. [5] Encyclopædia Britannica World Atlas, Chicago, 1957.
  6. [6] Kratkaya Geograficheskaya Entsiklopediya, Moscow, 1960.
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