Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ethnic Groups of Afghanistan

Numbering between 13 million and 15 million, in southeastern Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan. Pashtuns are also known as Pushtuns or Pakhtuns. Until the term Afghan came to mean any native of Afghanistan, Pashtuns were called Afghans. Pashtuns are the majority of the population in Afghanistan and the largest ethnic minority in Pakistan .Pashtuns are organized into more than 50 tribes, each divided into sub tribes, clans, and subclans.
Tajiks comprise between 27-34% of the population of Afghanistan. They predominate three of the largest cities in Afghanistan (Kabul, Mazar-e Sharif, and Ghazni) and the northern and western provinces of Balkh, Parwan, Kapisa, Panjshir, Baghlan, Takhar, Badakhshan, and Ghor, large parts of Konduz Province, and they predominate in the city of Herat and large parts of Farah Province. In addition, Tajiks live in all other cities and provinces in Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan, the Tajiks do not organize themselves by tribes and refer to themselves by their region, province, city, town, or village they are from; such as Badakhshani, Baghlani, Mazari, Panjsheri, Kabuli, Herati, etc.Physically, most Tajiks resemble the Mediterranean stock. The average Tajik has dark hair and eyes with medium to fair skin. Light hair and eyes are relatively common, particularly in northern regions such as Badakhshan
The Hazaras are a Persianized Eurasian people who reside mainly in the Hazarajat region. The Hazara seem to have Mongolian origins with some admixture from surrounding indigenous groups. Linguistically the Hazara speak a dialect of Persian and sometimes their variant is interspersed with more Mongolian words. It is commonly believed by many Afghans that the Hazara are descendants of Genghis Khan's army, which marched into the area during the 12th century.
Most likely the Uzbeks migrated with a wave of Turkic invaders and intermingled with local Iranian tribes over time to become the ethnic group they are today. By the 1500s the Uzbeks had settled throughout Central Asia and reached Afghanistan following the conquests of Muhammad Shaybani. Most Uzbeks are Sunni Muslim and are closely related to the Turkmen who can also be found in Afghanistan. The Uzbeks of Afghanistan are usually bilingual, fluent in both Persian and Uzbek.
The Turkmen are the smaller Turkic group who can also be found in neighboring Turkmenistan, Iran particularly around Mashad and Pakistan. Largely Sunni Muslim, their origins are very similar to that of the Uzbeks. Unlike, the Uzbeks, however, the Turkmen are traditionally a nomadic people (though they were forced to abandon this way of life in Turkmenistan itself under Soviet rule).
The Bloch ate another Iranian ethnic group that numbers around 200,000 in Afghanistan. They are most likely an offshoot of the Kurds and reached Afghanistan sometime between 1000 and 1300 BCE. Mainly pastoral and desert dwellers, the Baloch are also Sunni Muslim.
The Nuristani are an Indo-Iranian people, representing a fourth independent branch of the Aryan peoples (Indo-Aryan, Iranian, Nuristani, and Dardic), who live in isolated regions of northeastern Afghanistan as well as across the border in the district of Chitral in Pakistan. They speak a variety of Nuristani languages. Better known historically as the Kafirs of what was once known as Kafiristan (land of pagans), they were forcibly converted to Islam during the rule of Amir Abdur Rahman and their country was renamed "Nuristan", meaning "Land of Light" (as in the light of Islam). Many Nuristanis believe that they are the descendants of Alexander the Great's ancient Greeks, but there is a lack of genetic evidence for this and they are more than likely an isolated pocket of early Aryan invaders.They are largely Sunni Muslims.

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