Lake Band-e-Amir, Afghanistan
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Lake Band-e-Amir, Afghanistan

© Creative Commons / Carl Montgomery

Afghanistan Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

652,225 sq km (251,773 sq miles).

Population

31.1 million (2013).

Population density

48 per sq km.

Capital

Kabul.

Government

Republic.

Head of state

President Hamid Karzai since December 2001 (officially elected as president in October 2004).

Head of government

President Hamid Karzai since December 2001 (officially elected as president in October 2004).

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz. Supplies may be seriously affected and powercuts frequent.

Once an essential part of the hippy trail, friendly, beautiful Afghanistan has sadly been destroyed by years of war and neglect. Home to plentiful countryside and the rugged Hindu Kush mountain range, travellers came for the clear mountain air and to see attractions like the giant Buddha statues of Bamiyan. However, the statues and many other monuments were destroyed under the catastrophic reign of the Taliban, a party of Islamic militants.

After 9/11, Afghanistan was accused of harbouring Osama Bin Laden and faced a heavy bombardment from the US which destroyed much of the country's infrastructure. With thousands of peace-keeping troops still occupying Kabul and pockets of fighting continuing in the south, it seems it will be some time before Afghanistan is restored to its former glory. Travellers are strongly advised against all travel to Afghanistan, as the threat from terrorist or criminal violence is extremely high. There is also widespread danger from mines throughout the country.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 23 April 2014

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all or all but essential travel to different parts of the country according to provincial region:

Kabul

  • the FCO advise against all travel to the Surobi, Paghman, Musayhi, Khak-e Jabbar and Chahar Asyab Districts of Kabul province

  • the FCO advise against all but essential travel to the city of Kabul

Northern Afghanistan

  • the FCO advise against all travel to Balkh, Kunduz, Badakhshan and the Baghlan-e Jadid District of Baghlan

  • the FCO advise against all but essential travel to Takhar, Faryab, Jawzjan, Samangan, Sari Pul and the remainder of Baghlan

Eastern Afghanistan

  • the FCO advise against all travel to Ghazni, Kapisa, Khost, Kunar, Laghman, Logar, Nangarhar, Nuristan, Paktika, Wardak and Paktya

  • the FCO advise against all but essential travel to Bamiyan, Parwan and Panjshir

Southern Afghanistan

  • the FCO advise against all travel to Helmand, Kandahar, Nimroz, Uruzgan and Zabul

Western Afghanistan

  • the FCO advise against all travel to Badghis and Farah, and the Shindand and Gozarah Districts of Herat province

  • the FCO advise against all but essential travel to Dai Kundi, Ghor and remaining districts in Herat

There is a high threat from terrorism and specific methods of attack are evolving and increasing in sophistication. There is a high threat of kidnapping throughout the country.

On the evening of 20 March 2014, the Serena Hotel in Kabul was attacked by 4 insurgents. Four foreign nationals were killed in the attack, along with six local nationals. The four insurgents were killed

On the morning of 11 March 2014 a western journalist was killed by two men on a motorcycle in the Wazir Akbar Khan areas of Kabul.

On the evening of 17 January 2014 the La Taverna Restaurant situated in Wazir Akhbar Khan area of Kabul was attacked by 3 insurgents using a suicide vest bomb and rifles. Thirteen foreign nationals were killed in the assault along with at least 3 local nationals, before Afghan Commandos were able to contain the situation. The 3 insurgents were killed.

As insurgents attempt to destabilise the ongoing transition of security to Afghan National Security Forces it is likely that attacks across Afghanistan will continue. If you travel to Afghanistan you should have adequate and continuous professional close security arrangements and review them regularly.

In March 2012 an Afghan government-controlled security force, the Afghan Public Protection Force (APPF), took over provision of most commercial security services in Afghanistan from private security companies. Only embassies and other accredited diplomatic missions are now allowed to use private security companies.

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