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In Pictures

In pictures: Afghanistan's 'safest province'

Bamiyan may not be wracked by violence, but it continues to suffer from poverty and years of underdevelopment.
Last Modified: 28 Dec 2012 12:34

Ringed by snow-covered mountains, Bamiyan has often been called Afghanistan's "safest" province.

Its roads, paved for the first time in the central province's history, make Bamiyan's natural beauty and historical artifacts more accessible than ever. In interviews with Al Jazeera, residents of Bamiyan city and mountainside villages alike spoke proudly of their province's safety compared to the rest of the nation.

But despite Bamiyan's relative safety, poverty remains rampant. Nearly 70 percent of the province's roughly 418,000 people live on less than $25 per month.

"We continue to struggle, so many people are without jobs," said 19-year-old Zahra in Bamiyan city's Titanic Market area. 

The winter's snow brings with it a host of economic and health problems. Though paved roads now stretch from the provincial capital into the mountainsides, Zahra says streets within the province's snow-covered villages remain unpaved dirt. As temperatures drop, the harsh winter in Bamiyan puts much of the population at risk of malnutrition. 

In December, the first commercial flights to Bamiyan hoped to bring tourists from Japan and China to ski the mountains, climb the cliffs that housed what were once the world's largest free-standing Buddhas, and visit the picturesque "red city" of Shahr-e-Zohak.

But several hotels in Bamiyan city are closing for the winter because their pipes have frozen over, and the annual snow adds yet another difficulty for the struggling economy. Last year, a mere 2,500 Afghan tourists and 1,000 foreign tourists visited the province which is home to Afghanistan's first national park.

Locals have tried their best to boost tourism. For instance, in a bid to bring the skiing industry into their province, merchants in Bamiyan have made skis from wooden planks and leather straps.

And Gholam Sakhi, a 42-year-old tour guide, escorts hundreds of people up rocky cliff sides to see where Bamiyan's gargantuan stone Buddha statues once stood, before they were dynamited by the Taliban in 2001. Sakhi proudly offers to take pictures as tourists pose along the thin railing outside the caves where the statues once stood.

But development remains slow, and many in Bamiyan see a conundrum. Billions of dollars in foreign aid have been funneled into Afghanistan's much more dangerous eastern and southern provinces. "Perhaps if we blow something up, the world will pay attention to us," many in the province told Al Jazeera.


Ali M Latifi/Al Jazeera
The massive Buddha statues in Bamiyan, destroyed by the Taliban in 2001, predated Islam in Afghanistan by at least 200 years.


Abasin Azarm/Al Jazeera
The Buddhas were "a historical artifact for Afghanistan, but now another part of our history has been wiped away", says Gholam Sakhi, a native of Bamiyan who moved to Mazar-e-Sharif during the Taliban's rule.


Abasin Azarm/Al Jazeera
Monks once lived in small caves carved into the cliff sides where the Buddhas stood. The caves are home to some of the oldest oil paintings in the world.


Ali M Latifi/Al Jazeera
Six lakes make up Band-e-Amir, the site of Afghanistan's first national park. Although Bamiyan is picturesque and is often referred to as the "safest" province in Afghanistan, few tourists travel to the impoverished region.


Abasin Azarm/Al Jazeera
In preparation for the harsh winter, many people in Afghanistan's north and central provinces will sell off their livestock for firewood and food.


Ali M Latifi/Al Jazeera
Bamiyan may be safe, but it is also poor: nearly 70 percent of its population live on less than $25 per month.


Abasin Azarm/Al Jazeera
This market in Bamiyan city, the provincial capital, is known as "Titanic Market" by locals. Several hotels in Bamiyan city have closed for the winter because their pipes have frozen over.


Abasin Azarm/Al Jazeera
The extensive fortified complex of Shahr-e-Zohak, often known as the "Red City" for the colour of the rocks it was built from, overlooks the eastern entry into the Bamiyan Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Abasin Azarm/Al Jazeera
Archaeological discoveries in Zohak reflect several cultures' presence: Western Turkic, early Islamic and Timurid.


Abasin Azarm/Al Jazeera
Because Bamiyan's roads are paved for the first time in its history, historical sites like Zohak - named for the serpent-haired king of ancient Persian literature - are more accessible than ever.


Abasin Azarm/Al Jazeera
But only 2,500 Afghan tourists and 1,000 foreign tourists visited the province last year.



images:
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captions:
The massive Buddha statues in Bamiyan, destroyed by the Taliban in 2001, predated Islam in Afghanistan by at least 200 years.;*;The Buddhas were "a historical artifact for Afghanistan, but now another part of our history has been wiped away", says Gholam Sakhi, a native of Bamiyan who moved to Mazar-e-Sharif during the Taliban(***)s rule. ;*;Monks once lived in small caves carved into the cliff sides where the Buddhas stood. The caves are home to some of the oldest oil paintings in the world.;*;Six lakes make up Band-e-Amir, the site of Afghanistan\(***)s first national park. Although Bamiyan is picturesque and is often referred to as the "safest" province in Afghanistan, few tourists travel to the impoverished region. ;*;In preparation for the harsh winter, many people in Afghanistan\(***)s north and central provinces will sell off their livestock for firewood and food.;*;Bamiyan may be safe, but it is also poor: nearly 70 percent of its population live on less than $25 per month.;*;This market in Bamiyan city, the provincial capital, is known as "Titanic Market" by locals. Several hotels in Bamiyan city have closed for the winter because their pipes have frozen over.;*;The extensive fortified complex of Shahr-e-Zohak, often known as the "Red City" for the colour of the rocks it was built from, overlooks the eastern entry into the Bamiyan Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. ;*;Archaeological discoveries in Zohak reflect several cultures\(***) presence: Western Turkic, early Islamic and Timurid.;*;Because Bamiyan\(***)s roads are paved for the first time in its history, historical sites like Zohak - named for the serpent-haired king of ancient Persian literature - are more accessible than ever.;*;But only 2,500 Afghan tourists and 1,000 foreign tourists visited the province last year. Daylife ID:
1356528808530
Photographer:
Ali M Latifi;*;Abasin Azarm;*;Abasin Azarm;*;Ali M Latifi;*;Abasin Azarm;*;Ali M Latifi;*;Abasin Azarm;*;Abasin Azarm;*;Abasin Azarm;*;Abasin Azarm;*;Abasin Azarm
Image Source:
Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
Bamiyan galleryhttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-galleryen-usAl Jazeerafeedback@daylife.com10Wed, 26 Dec 2012 13:33:29 GMTWed, 26 Dec 2012 14:07:26 GMT http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-gallery?image_id=01jwakyfBP1dH

The massive Buddha statues in Bamiyan, destroyed by the Taliban in 2001, predated Islam in Afghanistan by at least 200 years.

Wed, 26 Dec 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-gallery?image_id=01jwakyfBP1dHAli M LatifiAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

The massive Buddha statues in Bamiyan, destroyed by the Taliban in 2001, predated Islam in Afghanistan by at least 200 years.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-gallery?image_id=0c5ZeGN5OBfOG

The Buddhas were "a historical artifact for Afghanistan, but now another part of our history has been wiped away", says Gholam Sakhi, a native of Bamiyan who moved to Mazar-e-Sharif during the Taliban's rule.

Wed, 26 Dec 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-gallery?image_id=0c5ZeGN5OBfOGAbasin AzarmAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

The Buddhas were "a historical artifact for Afghanistan, but now another part of our history has been wiped away", says Gholam Sakhi, a native of Bamiyan who moved to Mazar-e-Sharif during the Taliban's rule.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-gallery?image_id=0aZ0a4X4BscLB

Monks once lived in small caves carved into the cliff sides where the Buddhas stood. The caves are home to some of the oldest oil paintings in the world.

Wed, 26 Dec 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-gallery?image_id=0aZ0a4X4BscLBAbasin AzarmAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

Monks once lived in small caves carved into the cliff sides where the Buddhas stood. The caves are home to some of the oldest oil paintings in the world.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-gallery?image_id=02k5fTlcWU7Q8

Six lakes make up Band-e-Amir, the site of Afghanistan's first national park. Although Bamiyan is picturesque and is often referred to as the "safest" province in Afghanistan, few tourists travel to the impoverished region.

Wed, 26 Dec 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-gallery?image_id=02k5fTlcWU7Q8Ali M LatifiAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

Six lakes make up Band-e-Amir, the site of Afghanistan's first national park. Although Bamiyan is picturesque and is often referred to as the "safest" province in Afghanistan, few tourists travel to the impoverished region.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-gallery?image_id=0byv118fEx5iY

In preparation for the harsh winter, many people in Afghanistan's north and central provinces will sell off their livestock for firewood and food.

Wed, 26 Dec 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-gallery?image_id=0byv118fEx5iYAbasin AzarmAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

In preparation for the harsh winter, many people in Afghanistan's north and central provinces will sell off their livestock for firewood and food.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-gallery?image_id=06ilaW6gn33XL

Bamiyan may be safe, but it is also poor: nearly 70 percent of its population live on less than $25 per month.

Wed, 26 Dec 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-gallery?image_id=06ilaW6gn33XLAli M LatifiAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

Bamiyan may be safe, but it is also poor: nearly 70 percent of its population live on less than $25 per month.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-gallery?image_id=08z4aGH0ky0cu

This market in Bamiyan city, the provincial capital, is known as "Titanic Market" by locals. Several hotels in Bamiyan city have closed for the winter because their pipes have frozen over.

Wed, 26 Dec 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-gallery?image_id=08z4aGH0ky0cuAbasin AzarmAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

This market in Bamiyan city, the provincial capital, is known as "Titanic Market" by locals. Several hotels in Bamiyan city have closed for the winter because their pipes have frozen over.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-gallery?image_id=02Uh2fe4yN9AU

The extensive fortified complex of Shahr-e-Zohak, often known as the "Red City" for the colour of the rocks it was built from, overlooks the eastern entry into the Bamiyan Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Wed, 26 Dec 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-gallery?image_id=02Uh2fe4yN9AUAbasin AzarmAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

The extensive fortified complex of Shahr-e-Zohak, often known as the "Red City" for the colour of the rocks it was built from, overlooks the eastern entry into the Bamiyan Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-gallery?image_id=0cTS8xO4DVdNG

Archaeological discoveries in Zohak reflect several cultures' presence: Western Turkic, early Islamic and Timurid.

Wed, 26 Dec 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-gallery?image_id=0cTS8xO4DVdNGAbasin AzarmAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

Archaeological discoveries in Zohak reflect several cultures' presence: Western Turkic, early Islamic and Timurid.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-gallery?image_id=0gv815T38W9oO

Because Bamiyan's roads are paved for the first time in its history, historical sites like Zohak - named for the serpent-haired king of ancient Persian literature - are more accessible than ever.

Wed, 26 Dec 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-gallery?image_id=0gv815T38W9oOAbasin AzarmAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

Because Bamiyan's roads are paved for the first time in its history, historical sites like Zohak - named for the serpent-haired king of ancient Persian literature - are more accessible than ever.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-gallery?image_id=08DI3vv6r97Ba

But only 2,500 Afghan tourists and 1,000 foreign tourists visited the province last year.

Wed, 26 Dec 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Bamiyan-gallery?image_id=08DI3vv6r97BaAbasin AzarmAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

But only 2,500 Afghan tourists and 1,000 foreign tourists visited the province last year.



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