ID:19037 Section: Place

Updated:Monday 13th October 2014

Helmand Definition

(Wikipedia) - Helmand Province   (Redirected from Helmand) "Helmand" redirects here. For the river, see Helmand River. Helmand هلمند Country Capital Government  • Governor Area  • Total Population (2010)  • Total  • Density Time zone ISO 3166 code Main languages
Arghandab River Valley between Kandahar and Lashkar Gah
Map of Afghanistan with Helmand highlighted
Coordinates (Capital): 31°00′N 64°00′E / 31.0°N 64.0°E / 31.0; 64.0Coordinates: 31°00′N 64°00′E / 31.0°N 64.0°E / 31.0; 64.0
Lashkar Gah
Naeem Baloch
58,584 km2 (22,619 sq mi)
25/km2 (64/sq mi)
Pashto Dari

Helmand (hel-MUND; Pashto/Balochi: هلمند) or Hillmand is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in the south of the country. It is the largest provice by area, covering 58,584 square kilometres (20,000 sq mi) area, and third-largest by population, at 1,441,769 people. The province contains 14 districts, encompassing over 1,000 villages, and roughly 1.4 million settled and nomadic people. Lashkar Gah serves as the provincial capital.

Helmand was part of the Greater Kandahar region until made into a separate province by the Afghan government in the 20th century. The province has a domestic airport, located in the city of Lashkar Gah and is heavily used by NATO-led forces. The British Camp Bastion and U.S. Camp Leatherneck are located a short distance northwest of Lashkar Gah.

The Helmand River flows through the mainly desert region of the province, providing water for irrigation. The Kajaki Dam, which is one of Afghanistan''s major reservoirs, is located in the Kajaki district. Helmand is believed to be one of the world''s largest opium-producing regions, responsible for around 75% of the world''s total production. This is believed to be more than the whole of Burma, which is the second largest producing nation after Afghanistan. The region also produces the following: tobacco, sugar beets, cotton, sesame, wheat, mung beans, maize, nuts, sun flowers, onions, potato, tomato, cauliflower, peanut, apricot, grape, and melon.

  • 1 History
  • 2 NATO presence and the Karzai administration
  • 3 Politics and governance
  • 4 Transport and economy
  • 5 Healthcare
  • 6 Education
  • 7 Demographics
  • 8 Districts
  • 9 Politicians
  • 10 See also
  • 11 Gallery
  • 12 References
  • 13 External links

History History of Afghanistan
Indus valley civilization 2200–1800 BC
Oxus civilization 2100–1800 BC
Aryans 1700–700 BC
Medes 728–550 BC
Achaemenids 550–330 BC
Seleucids 330–150 BC
Mauryans 305–180 BC
Greco-Bactrians 256–125 BC
Indo-Greeks 180–130 BC
Indo-Scythians (Sakas) 155–80? BC
Indo-Parthians 20 BC – 50? AD
Kushans 135 BC – 248 AD
Sasanians 230–651
Kidarites 320–465
Hephthalites 410–557
Kabul Shahi 565–879
Principality of Chaghaniyan 7th–8th centuries
Rashidun Caliphate 652–661
Umayyads 661–750
Abbasids 750–821
Tahirids 821–873
Saffarids 863–900
Samanids 875–999
Ghaznavids 963–1187
Ghurids before 879–1215
Khwarezmids 1215–1231
Ilkhanate 1258–1353
Chagatai Khanate 1225–1370
Khiljis 1290–1320
Karts 1245–1381
Timurids 1370–1506
Arghuns 1479–1522
Mughals 1501–1738
Safavids 1510–1709
Hotaki Empire 1709–1738
Durrani Empire 1747–1826
Emirate of Afghanistan 1826–1919
Kingdom of Afghanistan 1919–1973
Republic of Afghanistan 1973–1978
Democratic Republic of Afghanistan 1978–1992
Islamic State of Afghanistan 1992–2001
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan 1996–2001
Interim/Transitional Administration 2001–2004
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan since 2004
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Further information: History of Afghanistan

The Helmand river valley is mentioned by name in the Avesta (Fargard 1:13) as Haetumant, one of the early centers of the Zoroastrian faith, in pre-Islamic Afghan history. However, owing to the preponderance of non-Zoroastrians before the Islamization of Afghanistan – particularly Hindus and Buddhists – the Helmand and Kabul regions were also known as "White India" in those days. Some Vedic scholars (e.g. Kochhar 1999) also believe the Helmand valley corresponds to the Sarasvati area mentioned in the Rig Veda as the homeland for the Indo-Aryan migrations into India, ca. 1500 BC.

The area was part of Arachosia and a frequent target for conquest because of its strategic location in Asia, which connects Southern, Central and Southwest Asia. It was inhabited by ancient peoples and governed by the Medes before falling to the Achaemenids. It was invaded in 330 BC by Alexander the Great and became part of the Seleucid Empire. Later, it came under the influence of the Indian emperor Ashoka, who erected a pillar there with a bilingual inscription in Greek and Aramaic. The territory was referred to as part of Zabulistan and ruled by the sun-worshipping Zunbils before the Muslim Arabs arrived in the 7th century, who were led by Abdur Rahman bin Samara. It later fell to the Saffarids of Zaranj and saw the first Muslim rule. Mahmud of Ghazni made it part of the Ghaznavids in the 10th century, who were replaced by the Ghurids.

Grishk Dam, built by the United States around the 1960s.

After the destructions caused by Genghis Khan and his Mongol army in the 13th century, the Timurids established rule and began rebuilding Afghan cities. From about 1383 until his death in 1407, it was governed by Pir Muhammad, a grandson of Timur. By the early 16th century, it fell to Babur. However, the area was often contested by the Shia Safavids and Sunni Mughals until the rise of Mir Wais Hotak in 1709. He defeated the Safavids and established the Hotaki dynasty. The Hotakis ruled it until 1738 when the Afsharids defeated Shah Hussain Hotaki at what is now Old Kandahar.

In 1747, it finally submitted to Ahmad Shah Durrani and since then remained part of the modern state of Afghanistan. Some fighting took place during the 19th century Anglo-Afghan wars between the British and the local Afghans. In 1880, the British assisted the forces of Abdur Rahman Khan in re-establishing Afghan rule over the warring tribes. The area stayed calm for 100 years until the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Helmand was the center of the USAID program in the 1960s to develop the Helmand and Arghandab Valley Authority (HAVA) – it became known locally as "little America". The program laid out tree-lined streets in Lashkar Gah, built a network of irrigation canals and constructed a large hydroelectric dam. The development program was abandoned when pro-Soviet Union forces seized power in 1978, although much of the province is still irrigated by the HAVA.

NATO presence and the Karzai administration Further information: Helmand province campaign

More recently the USAID program has contributed to a counter-narcotics initiative called the Alternative Livelihoods Program (ALP) in the province. It pays communities to work to improve their environment and economic infrastructure as an alternative to opium poppy farming. The project undertakes drainage and canal rehabilitation projects. In 2005 and 2006, there were problems in getting promised finance to communities and this is a source of considerable tension between the farmers and the Coalition forces

It was announced in January 2006 in the British Parliament that International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) would replace the U.S. troops in the province as part of Operation Herrick. The British 16 Air Assault Brigade would be the core of the force in Helmand Province. British bases were located in the districts of Sangin, Lashkar Gah and Gereshk. British forces were replaced in Sangin by elements of the United States Marine Corps I Marine Expeditionary Force Forward.

Camp Leatherneck

As of Summer 2006, Helmand was one of the provinces involved in Operation Mountain Thrust, a combined NATO-Afghan mission targeted at Taliban fighters in the south of the country. In July 2006, this offensive mission essentially stalled in Helmand as NATO, primarily British, and Afghan troops were forced to take increasingly defensive positions under heavy insurgent pressure. In response, British troop levels in the province were increased, and new encampments were established in Sangin and Gereshk. Fighting has been particularly heavy in the districts of Sangin, Naway, Nawzad and Garmsir. There were reports that the Taliban saw Helmand province as a key testing area for their ability to take and hold Afghan territory from NATO-led Afghan National Security Forces. Commanders on the ground have described the situation as the most brutal conflict the British Army has been involved in since the Korean War.

Locals drive on the new 12-kilometer road built by Afghans partnered with Marine and British engineer mentors. The new road was completed five months ahead of schedule and built entirely by Afghans.

In Autumn 2006, British troops started to reach "cessation of hostilities" agreements with local Taliban forces around the district centers where they had been stationed earlier in the summer. Under the terms of the agreement, both sets of forces were to withdraw from the conflict zone. This agreement from the British forces implied that the strategy of holding key bases in the district, as requested by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, was essentially untenable with the current levels of British troop deployment. The agreement was also a setback for Taliban fighters, who were desperate to consolidate their gains in the province, but were under heavy pressure from various NATO offensives.

A U.S. Marine greeting local children working in an opium poppy field in 2011.

News reports identified the insurgents involved in the fighting as a mix of Taliban fighters and warring tribal groups who are heavily involved in the province''s lucrative opium trade. Given the amount of drugs produced in the area, it is likely that foreign drug traffickers are also involved.

Fighting continued throughout the winter, with British and allied troops taking a more pro-active stance against the Taliban insurgents. Several operations were launched including the more recent Operation Silicone at the start of spring. In May 2007, Mullah Dadullah, one of the Taliban''s top commanders, along with 11 of his men were killed by NATO-led Afghan forces in Helmand.

Afghan National Police station in Lashkar Gah.

In April 2008, about 1,500 2nd Battalion 7th Marines occupied over 300 square miles (800 km2) of Helmand River valley and neighboring Farah Province. The operation was to set up forward operation bases and train the Afghan National Police in an area with little or no outside support.

In June 2009, Operation Panther''s Claw was launched with the stated aim of securing control of various canal and river crossings and establishing a lasting ISAF presence in an area described by Lt. Col. Richardson as "one of the main Taliban strongholds" ahead of the 2009 Afghan presidential election.

In July 2009, around 4,000 U.S. Marines pushed into the Helmand River valley in a major offensive to liberate the area from Taliban insurgents. The operation, dubbed Operation Khanjar (Operation Dagger), was the first major push since U.S. President Obama''s request for 21,000 additional soldiers in Afghanistan, targeting the Taliban insurgents.

In February 2013, BBC reported that corruption occurs in Afghan National Police bases, with some bases arming children, using them as servants and sexually abusing them; in early March 2013, the New York Times reported that government corruption is rampant with routine accusations against the police of shaking down and sexually abusing civilians causing loyalty to the government to be weaker.

Politics and governance Further information: List of governors of Helmand and Politics of Afghanistan

The current Governor of the province is Naeem Baloch. His predecessor was Mohammad Gulab Mangal. The city of Lashkar Gah is the capital of Helmand province. All law enforcement activities throughout the province are controlled by the Afghan National Police (ANP). Helmand''s border with neighboring Balochistan province of Pakistan is monitored and protected by the Afghan Border Police (ABP), which is part of the ANP. The border is called the Durand Line and is known to be one of the most dangerous in the world due to heavy militant activities and illegal smugglings. A provincial Police Chief is assigned to lead both the ANP. The Police Chief represents the Ministry of the Interior in Kabul. The ANP is backed by other Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), including the NATO-led forces.

Transport and economyAn Antonov An-225 Mriya at Camp Bastion

Bost Airport serves the population of Helmand for domestic flights to other parts of the country. It is designed for civilian use. NATO-led forces are heavily using the airport at Camp Bastion, where Camp Leatherneck is located nearby.

There is no rail service. Primary roads include the ring road passes through Helmand from Kandahar to Delaram. There is a major north-south route (Highway 611) that goes from Lashkar Gah to Sangin. About 33% of Helmands roads are not passable during certain seasons and in some areas there are no roads at all.

Farming is the main source of income for the majority. This includes agriculture and animal husbandry. Animals include cows, sheep, goats, and chicken. Donkeys and camels are used for labor. The province has a potential for fishery. The region produce the following: Opium, tobacco, sugar beets, cotton, sesame, wheat, mung beans, maize, nuts, sub flowers, onions, potato, tomato, cauliflower, peanut, apricot, grape, and melon.


The percentage of households with clean drinking water fell from 28% in 2005 to 3% in 2011. The percentage of births attended to by a skilled birth attendant increased from 2% in 2005 to 3% in 2011.


The overall literacy rate (6+ years of age) increased from 5% in 2005 to 12% in 2011. The overall net enrolment rate (6–13 years of age) fell from 6% in 2005 to 4% in 2011.

DemographicsEthnolinguistic groups of AfghanistanDistricts of Helmand Province

The population of Helmand Province is roughly 1.4 million, which includes about 879,500 settled people and large number of Kuchi nomads who inhabit the province seasonally. It is mostly a tribal and rural society, with the native ethnic Pashtuns being the majority, followed by Baloch, Tajiks, Hazaras and others as the minority. There may also be small number of Hindus and Sikhs who run businesses in the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah. The Pashtuns are divided into the following tribes: Barakzai (32%), Nurzai (16%), Alakozai (9%), and Eshaqzai (5.2%). All the inhabitants practice Sunni Islam except the small number of Hazaras who are Shi''as and the Sikhs who follow Sikhism.

Districts Districts of Helmand Province District Capital Population Area Number of villages and ethnic groups
Baghran 129,947 3,124 km2 38 villages. Pashtun.
Dishu 29,005 9,485 km2 80% Pashtun and 20% Baloch
Garmsir 107,153 10,345 km2 112 villages. Pashtun.
Kajaki 119,023 1,976 km2 220 villages 100% Pashtun
Khanashin (Reg) 17,333 13,153 km2 Pashtun
Lashkargah Lashkar Gah 201,546 998 km2 160 villages. Pashtun.
Marjah Marjah 2,300 km2 95% Pashtun, 5% Tajik and Hazara.
Musa Qala Musa Qala 138,896 1,694 km2 Pashtun
Nad Ali 235,590 4,564 km2 90% Pashtun, 10% Turkmen and


Nahri Saraj 166,827 1,543 km2 97 villages. Pashtun
Nawa-I-Barakzayi 300,000 4135 km2 350 villages. Pashtun
Nawzad 108,258 4,135 km2 100% Pashtun
Sangin Sangin 66,901 508 km2 99% Pashtun, 1% Hazara, Tajik and Arab.
Washir 31,476 4,319 km2 Pashtun
  • Dad Mohammad Khan
  • Sher Mohammed Akhundzada
  • Engineer Mohammad Daoud

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