Kabul (Dari and Pashto: کابل, Kābul) is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the province of the same name, located in the east of the country. According to official 2014 estimates, the city's population is 3,543,700.
Geography, demography and climate
The city itself occupies an area of approximately 554 km², but its limits are very uncertain due to poorly controlled peripheral town planning.
Kabul's population is estimated at 75,000 in 1900, about 150,000 in the 1930s, 513,000 at the 1972 census (1.3 million in Kabul province), 600,000 in 1978, and nearly 2 million four years later. The dramatic increase after 1978 was the result of an influx of people seeking shelter from the fighting between the Mojahedin in the provinces, Communist government troops and Soviet forces. The city currently has about 2.4 million inhabitants.
Kabul reflects the ethnic diversity of Afghanistan. Without being able to verify it by indisputable statistical surveys, it seems that the ethnic group best represented there is that of the Tajiks (40 or 45% of the total population), the Hazaras (25%), the Pashtuns (25 %), the remaining 5-10% being of various origins. Dari is mainly spoken in Kabul with a particular variant resulting from the mixing of populations and variants of Persian dialects: kâbolî.
Kabul enjoys a semi-arid continental climate tempered by altitude. Precipitation occurs mainly in winter from January to April while summers are very dry. It snows, sometimes heavily during the winter months, and nighttime temperatures are very low with average lows of −7.1°C in January (in the coldest part of winter, temperatures commonly reach −15°C to −20°C; in summer, daytime temperatures are high with average highs of 32.1°C in July).
Due to the complex geology of the Hindu Kush range and its foothills, the Kabul plain crossed by the Kabul river crossing the city is often subject to low and medium intensity earthquakes.
In 2020, flash floods, caused by torrential rains, in northern Kabul destroyed more than 500 homes. Initial figures put more than 100 dead and dozens injured.
At least three legendary tales relating to the founding of Kabul are known. The first relates to two tribes living in marshy areas who built a bridge (“poul”) on stones thrown into the marshes and covered with straw (“kâh”) so as not to hurt the hooves of horses, hence kâh -poul, from which Kabul derives. The second refers to a Persian calligraphic fantasy on the words goul (“flower”) and âb (“water”), hence g[âb]-oul from which Kabul would come. The third story always refers to a swamp where water was accumulating. A legendary character by the name of Farhâd is said to have opened with an ax a passage in the mountains in the direction of the East, thus forming the gorges of Tang-e Ghâro (en) towards which the waters would have flowed, thus drying up the plain of Kabul.
We can also place in the chapter of legends what Al-Biruni reports in his Book of India. The great physicist and mathematician wrote in fact that the Hindus had kings residing in Kabul, Turks who were said to be of Tibetan origin. The first of them, Barhatakîn, would have lived in a cave and would have been recognized thereafter as king, founder of the dynasty of Shahiyas of Kabul. On the other hand, when Al-Biruni evokes a "king" by the name of "Kank", we can recognize the name of the great Kushan emperor, Kanishka, whom