British forces occupied the city during the First Anglo-Afghan War from 1832 to
1842. They also occupied the city during the Second Anglo-Afghan War from 1878
to 1880. During the Soviet occupation of 1979 to 1989, Kandahar was originally
firmly under Soviet command until mujahideen fighters began to shake the Soviet
grip on the region. After the Soviet withdrawal, control changed several times.
At the end of 1994, the Taliban emerged from the city and set
out to conquer the south, east, and center of the country. Since the removal of
the Taliban in 2001, Kandahar came under the control of Gul Agha Sherzai, a
Pashtun warlord who had controlled the province and city before the Taliban came
to power, he is credited with permitting the same corruption that first fueled
the growth the Taliban. Central Afghan control remains little more than
Kandahar International Airport serves the population of
Kandahar as a method of traveling to far destinations. Kandahar Airport was
built in the 1960s with US financial and technical assistance under the United
States Agency for International Development program. Kandahar International
Airport has been used by the NATO forces to deliver troops and humanitarian
supplies since late 2001. The airport was severely damaged during the Soviet
attacks on the city during 1979-89 and again during the US raids in late 2001.
Repairs and upgrades also occurred during that period; the airport re-opened for
civilian use in late 2006.
Kandahar has a loose public bus system carrying passengers. The city has a small
public bus system that take commuters on daily routes to many destinations
throughout the city. Besides the buses, there are yellow taxicabs that litter
the city. Other traditional methods of ground transportation are also used.
Private vehicles are on the rise in Kandahar, with Toyota and Hyundai
dealerships opening in the city. More and more people are buying new cars as the
roads and highways are being improved.
Efforts to improve education in Afghanistan are
severely hampered without books, which are in short
supply. Lack of funding and political will has lead to
only small gains since the fall of the Taliban.
Education has moved somewhat upward in the rest of the
country, but southern states, like Kandahar, have seen
slow to no progress because of the continued fighting
and instability of the region. In 2006 alone, almost 150
educational institutes have closed in Kandahar province
alone, according to the education ministry. Regionally
more than 50 schools have been attacked this year. Over
60,000 students cannot attend school because of the risk
Kandahar University is the largest college or
university in the province. In partnership with the
Asia Foundation, the Kandahar University conducted a
pilot project that provided female high school graduates
with a four-month refresher course to prepare for the
college entrance examination. Kandahar University, for
example, currently has an enrollment of six women and
All of the 24 women who sat for the exam passed and have
been admitted to universities to study medicine,
engineering, economics, law, and agriculture. The
university is only one of two universities in Kandahar
that serve all of southern Afghanistan. The conditions
in the university or extremely poor, with no water,
limited power, and a closed library. The structures of
the University are very weak and unsafe. The university
is far behind the universities of the North because of
the violence, the two universities in southern
Afghanistan also receive very limited funding.
Economics and Trades
Kandahar had well-irrigated gardens and orchards and was
famous for its grapes, melons, and pomegranates, but these were made
inaccessible by land mines or destroyed outright in the conflict between the
Soviets and the mujahideen, Islamic guerrilla fighters during the Soviet
occupation. The city is of significant strategic importance in the region due to
the major airport built in the early 1970s with development funding from the
United States. The main source of trade is to Pakistan, Iran, and the United
States. Kandahar is an agricultural state.