City in Afghanistan, capital of Kandahar province, and the second city in Afghanistan, 450 km/280 mi southwest of Kabul; population (2001 est) 329,000. The city is 1,005 m/3,297 ft above sea level and stands on plateau with an annual rainfall of only 150 mm/6 in, but is irrigated by the Tarnak and other rivers. It is a trading centre, with wool and cotton factories, and other industries which include silk and felt. The city is a market for other agricultural products, including wool, tobacco, grains, fresh and dried fruit, and livestock, especially sheep. The city was severely damaged in the 1980s as a result of hostilities between Soviet-occupying forces and Afghan guerrillas. Further damage occurred in 2001 when the city, as the last major stronghold of the Taliban government, was under attack by the Northern Alliance supported by US and British forces during the war on terror. The Taliban forces in Kandahar surrendered in December 2001.
Kandahar is linked to Kabul and Herat in Afghanistan and Quetta in Pakistan by road, and is served by an international airport.
The city is sometimes said to have been established by Alexander the Great during the 4th century BC, though it has also been claimed to have been included in the earlier Persian Empire of Darius I the Great. It later came under the control of a succession of rulers, including Arabs, Turks, Mongols, Moguls, and Persians. In 1747 the city was made the first capital of an independent Afghanistan by Ahmad Shah Durrani, whose octagonal, domed mausoleum remains a feature of the city; most of the modern inhabitants are Pathans (Pashtuns) of the Durrani tribe. The city was occupied by the British during the Afghan Wars 1839–42, and 1879–81.
Other distinctive features of the city include the Kirqah mosque, believed to contain the cloak of the prophet Muhammad, and the ruins of old Kandahar, with inscriptions by the Mogul emperor Babur and his grandson, the emperor Akbar.
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