Herat


Herat
/he raht"/, n.
a city in NW Afghanistan. 62,000.

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also spelled  Harāt 
 city in western Afghanistan, lying on the Harīrūd (river), directly south of the Selseleh-ye Safīd Kūh (Paropamisus Range), at an altitude of 3,026 ft (922 m). Herāt is the focus of one of the country's most densely populated and fertile agricultural areas, irrigated from the Harīrūd. It is a highway crossroads and is the economic centre of western Afghanistan.

      Several ancient cities have stood near the site of Herāt, including one built by the Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great. Arabs captured Herāt in 660 AD, and it became a centre of the Muslim world. An invasion by Mongols in the 13th century inflicted great suffering on the city, and Timur (Tamerlane), the Turkic conqueror, took it in about 1393. Herāt's greatest era was during the Timurid rule, when it was a centre of science and culture. Later the city was contested by the Persians and Afghans and changed hands several times before it permanently became part of Afghanistan in 1863. Following the Soviet military intervention in 1979, Soviet forces gained control of the city from Afghan guerrillas in early 1980 and established a military command there.

      Herāt is dominated by an ancient citadel and has a 15th-century mosque; it is dotted with numerous ruins, including exquisitely decorated minarets. A shrine held in high veneration is the tomb of the poet and saint ʿAbdollāh Anṣārī, situated on rising ground north of the city; it was built by Shāh Rokh Mīrzā, grandson of Timur.

      Herāt has wide main streets, extensive bazaars, and some light industry, including handicrafts, textile weaving, cotton ginning, and rice, flour, and oilseed milling. There is an active trade in Karakul furs. An airport is nearby. Pop. (2006 est.) 349,000.

also spelled  Harāt 

      velāyat (province) in western Afghanistan, 23,668 sq mi (61,301 sq km) in area, with its capital at Herāt city. It is bounded by Iran (west), by Turkmenistan and the Afghan province of Bādghīsāt (north), by Ghowr Province (east), and by Farāh Province (south). Herāt is relatively flat except in the east, where the western outliers of the Hindu Kush range penetrate; the largest of these is the Selseleh-ye Safīd Kūh (Paropamisus Range). The province is traversed from east to west by the Harīrūd (river), along which most of the people live in agricultural oases. The capital, located in the largest oasis, is a centre of Afghan trade with Iran and Turkmenistan and is connected by roads with the neighbouring provinces.

      The region corresponding to modern Herāt province has been fought over by many foreign conquerors throughout history. The Macedonian Alexander the Great took it; later it was held by Parthians, Kushāns, Persians, and Hephthalites. In the 7th century Herāt fell to the Arabs, and it was conquered by the Mongols in the 13th century. Various other peoples contested its possession until its annexation by a unified Afghanistan in 1747. In 1980 a Soviet mechanized army division crossed the border from Turkmenistan (then Turkmen S.S.R.) and passed through Herāt city en route to Qandahār city. Intermittent heavy fighting continued in Herāt province in the early 1980s.

      The Harīrūd Valley is one of the nation's richest agricultural areas, producing grain, cotton, fruit, and other crops. The province is not entirely agricultural, however; petroleum is produced at Tīr Pol, in the west, and there is some light industry at Herāt city. The people of Herāt are predominantly Tajiks and Durrānī Pashtuns in the oases, with semi-nomadic Dari-speaking peoples in the deserts and mountains. Pop. (2006 est.) 1,578,200.

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Universalium. 2010.

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