Afghan (ethnonym)

Names of territories during the Islamic Caliphate of the 7th century and onward.
Bactrian document in the Greek script from the 4th century mentioning the word Afghan (αβγανανο): "From Ormuzd Bunukan to Bredag Watanan, the chief of the Afghans"
A 19th century Lithography collection showing two Afghan Durrani soldiers.

The ethnonym Afghan (Persian/Pashto: افغانی) has been used historically to refer to a member of the Pashtuns.

- Afghan (ethnonym)

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Pashtun men in Kandahar, Afghanistan
A map of Pashtun tribes
Tents of Afghan nomads in Badghis Province who are known in Pashto language as Kuchian. They migrate from region to region depending on the season (transhumance).
The Arachosia Satrapy and the Pactyan people during the Achaemenid Empire in 500 BCE
Head of a Saka warrior
Pactyans, present day Pashtunistan. The Oriental Empires about 600 B.C., Historical Atlas by William Shepherd (1923-26)
Heads of two males, discovered in Hadda (Pashto: هډه) 10km south of Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Dated 3-4th century CE.
Bactrian document in the Greek script from the 4th century mentioning the word Afghan (αβγανανο): "To Ormuzd Bunukan from Bredag Watanan, the chief of the Afghans"
Afghan Amir Sher Ali Khan (in the center with his son) and his delegation in Ambala, near Lahore, in 1869
Leader of the non-violent Khudai Khidmatgar, also referred to as "the Red shirts" movement, Bacha Khan, standing with Mohandas Gandhi
Malala Yousafzai, a Pashtana, recipient of 2014 Nobel Peace Prize
American diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad with Taliban officials Abdul Ghani Baradar, Abdul Hakim Ishaqzai, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai and Suhail Shaheen
President Hamid Karzai and Abdul Rahim Wardak
From left to right: Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai; Anwar ul-Haq Ahady; and Abdullah Abdullah
Imran Khan, Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician and former Prime Minister, belongs to the Niazi tribe.
Pashtun-inhabited areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan (green) in 1980
Ethnolinguistic groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 1982
Pashtun female festive dress in Faryab, Afghanistan
Khattak dance involves running and whirling. It is mainly performed in and around the Peshawar area of Pakistan.
Mahmud Tarzi, son of Ghulam Muhammad Tarzi, became the pioneer of Afghan journalism for publishing the first newspaper Seraj al Akhbar.
Shahid Afridi, former captain of the Pakistan national cricket team
Buzkashi in Afghanistan
The Bodhisattva and Chandeka, Hadda, 5th century CE
The Friday Mosque in Kandahar. Adjacent to it is the Shrine of the Cloak(also known as Kirka Sharif), and the tomb of Ahmad Shah Durrani, the 18th century Pashtun conqueror who became the founding father of Afghanistan.
Men doing Islamic salat (praying) outside in the open in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan
Two Pashtane (Pashtun women) from Kuch i tribe pictured in 1967 on the Helmand river (د هلمند سيند)
Queen Soraya of Afghanistan
Zarine Khan, Indian model and actress in Bollywood films

Pashtuns (, or ; پښتانه, ), also called Pakhtuns or Pathans and historically known as Afghans, are an Iranian ethnic group who are native to Central Asia and South Asia.


Afghans (افغانان, ) or Afghan people are nationals or citizens of Afghanistan, or people with ancestry from there.

Population of the Afghan diaspora worldwide
Ethnolinguistic groups in Afghanistan and its surroundings (1982)

Afghanistan is made up of various ethnicities, of which the Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks are the largest; the pre-nation state, historical ethnonym Afghan was used to refer to a member of the Pashtuns, an ethnicity that traditionally resides in the modern Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.


Landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and South Asia.

Tents of Afghan nomads in the northern Badghis province of Afghanistan. Early peasant farming villages came into existence in Afghanistan about 7,000 years ago.
The extent of the Indus Valley Civilization during its mature phase
A "Bactrian gold" Scythian belt depicting Dionysus, from Tillya Tepe in the ancient region of Bactria
Approximate maximum extent of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom, formed by the fragmentation of Alexander the Great's Empire, circa 180 BCE
Saffarid rule at its greatest extent under Ya'qub ibn al-Layth al-Saffar
Mongol invasions and conquests depopulated large areas of Afghanistan
Map of the Hotak Empire during the Reign of Mirwais Hotak, 1715.
Map of the Hotak Empire at its height in 1728. Disputed between Hussain Hotak (Centered in Kandahar) and Ashraf Hotak (centered in Isfahan)
Portrait of Ahmad Shah Durrani c. 1757.
Afghan tribesmen in 1841, painted by British officer James Rattray
Map of Afghanistan (Emirate) and surrounding nations in 1860, following the conquest of [[Principality of Qandahar|
Kandahar]], and before the conquest of Herat.
Emir Amanullah invaded British India in 1919 and proclaimed Afghanistan's full independence thereafter. He proclaimed himself King of Afghanistan in June 1926.
King Zahir, the last reigning monarch of Afghanistan, who reigned from 1933 until 1973.
Development of the civil war from 1992 to late 2001
U.S. troops and Chinooks in Afghanistan, 2008
A map of Afghanistan showing the 2021 Taliban offensive
Taliban fighters in Kabul on a captured Humvee following the 2021 fall of Kabul.
The mountainous topography of Afghanistan
Köppen climate map of Afghanistan
The snow leopard was the official national animal of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
A 2005 CIA map showing traditional Afghan tribal territories. Pashtun tribes form the world's largest tribal society.
Ethnolinguistic map of Afghanistan (2001)
Blue Mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif is the largest mosque in Afghanistan
UNESCO Institute of Statistics Afghanistan Literacy Rate population plus15 1980–2018
The Daoud Khan Military Hospital in Kabul is one of the largest hospitals in Afghanistan
The Arg (the Presidential palace) in Kabul
U.S. representative Zalmay Khalilzad (left) meeting with Taliban leaders, Abdul Ghani Baradar, Abdul Hakim Ishaqzai, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, Suhail Shaheen, unidentified. Doha, Qatar on 21 November 2020.
Afghanistan is divided into 34 provinces, which are further divided into a number of districts
Workers processing pomegranates (anaar), which Afghanistan is famous for in Asia
Afghan rugs are one of Afghanistan's main exports
Afghan saffron has been recognized as the world's best
Lapis lazuli stones
Afghanistan electricity supply 1980–2019
Band-e Amir National Park
The Minaret of Jam is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, currently under threat by erosion and flooding
The Salang Tunnel, once the highest tunnel in the world, provides a key connection between the north and south of the country
An Ariana Afghan Airlines Airbus A310 in 2006
An Afghan family near Kholm, 1939 – most Afghans are tribal
A house occupied by nomadic kochi people in Nangarhar Province
Kabul skyline, displaying both historical and contemporary buildings
A traditional Afghan embroidery pattern
The Afghan rubab
Non (bread) from a local baker, the most widely consumed bread in Afghanistan
Haft Mewa (Seven Fruit Syrup) is popularly consumed during Nowruz in Afghanistan
The ancient national sport of Afghanistan, Buzkashi

Some scholars suggest that the root name "Afghān" is derived from the Sanskrit word Aśvakan or Assakan which was the name used for ancient inhabitants of the Hindu Kush.


Now eastern Afghanistan and the Peshawar Valley in present-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.

Rigveda (padapatha) manuscript in Devanagari, early 19th century. The red horizontal and vertical lines mark low and high pitch changes for chanting.

According to some scholars, the name Aśvakan or Aspasioi is preserved in the modern ethnonym Afghan (historically used for Pashtuns; also used in Afghanistan), and the tribal name Esapzai (whose Arabized form is Yusufzai).


Capital and largest city of Afghanistan, located in the eastern section of the country.

Kushan Empire
Buddha statue at the museum in Kabul, early 1st millennium
Map showing names of the regions during the 7th century.
Humayun with his father Babur, emperors of the Mughal Empire
Old painting showing the Great Wall of Kabul
Shujah Shah Durrani, the last Durrani King, sitting at his court inside the Bala Hissar
Chihil Sutun Palace (also known as "Hendaki"), one of numerous palaces built by the Emir in the 19th century
Etching of Kabul by an Italian artist, 1885
Dilkusha Palace, built in European style in the 1900s
The river bank in the center of Kabul in the 1960s
People and traffic in a part of Kabul, 1976
Center of Kabul in 1979; the Pul-e Khishti bridge crosses the Kabul River to the old city in the south bank
Taj Beg Palace in 1987, the Soviet Army headquarters during the Soviet–Afghan War
Kabul's Jada-e Maiwand in 1993, showing destruction caused by the civil war.
Modern high-rises built in the 2010s
Night scene in Kabul in 2016 looking northeast, with Koh-e 'Aliabad on the left and Koh-e Asamai on the right
Qargha dam and lake
A view of some of the mountains that surround Kabul
Location of Kabul Municipality within Kabul Province
Young Afghan men and women at a rock music festival inside the Gardens of Babur
Houses built on mountains
Afghan girls in Kabul in 2012
Ghazi Stadium
Arg, the Presidential Palace in Kabul
Marketplace in central Kabul
Inside an antiquity shop in Kabul's famous Chicken Street (Kochi Murgha)
Studio of Radio Kabul in the 1950s
The Kabul Bird Market (Ka Foroshi)
National Museum of Afghanistan
Afghanistan National Archives
Bibi Mahro Park
Italian baroque style of Shah Do Shamshira
Tomb of Timur Shah Durrani (early 19th century rebuilt)
Flightline at Hamid Karzai International Airport (Kabul International Airport), 2012
Traffic in Kabul city center in 2013
A Toyota Corolla (E100) at a security checkpoint in 2010
Kabul Medical University
Kabul Education University of Rabbani
Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan Hospital
16th-century mosque inside the Gardens of Babur
The Taq-e Zafar in Paghman
The Minaret of Knowledge and Ignorance,<ref>{{lang-prs|منار علم و جهل}}</ref> built in the 1920s on a hill in Deh Mazang, commemorating king Amanullah's victory over the Mullah-e Lang in the Khost rebellion
Mausoleum of emir Abdur Rahman Khan, Zarnegar Park
Minaret of the Unknown Corps, memorial of the 1880 Battle of Maiwand
Buddhist stupa of Guldara
Royal Mausoleum at Maranjan hill
The Tang-e Gharu canyon east of Kabul
Traditional hill dwellings
"Old Mikroyan", 1960s built
Ministry of Finance and Khyber Restaurant (1966)
Pamir Cinema building (Agricultural Development Bank)
thumb|Pashtany Bank and the brutalist Kabul Tower
Andarabi Road dwellings on the riverbank
Apartments built in the 2000s with contemporary Afghanese style
Kabul city announced open calls through the Kabul municipality’s HP and its Facebook page, to participate in town meeting and planning process
Kabul mayor Mohammad Daud Sultanzoy speaking with league management during the inauguration ceremony of first ever internet-based solid waste discussion league in 2021
A memorandum of understanding signed by Kabul City mayor Ahmad Zaki Sarfaraz and Nagoya Institute of Technology executive director in 2019

Ahmad Shah Durrani, commander of 4,000 Abdali Afghans, asserted Pashtun rule in 1747 and further expanded his new Afghan Empire.

Mughal Empire

Early modern Islamic empire in South Asia.

The empire at its greatest extent in c. 1700 under Aurangzeb ((r. 1658 – 1707))
Akbar holds a religious assembly of different faiths in the Ibadat Khana in Fatehpur Sikri.
Group portrait of Mughal rulers, from Babur to Aurangzeb, with the Mughal ancestor Timur seated in the middle. On the left: Shah Jahan, Akbar and Babur, with Abu Sa'id of Samarkand and Timur's son, Miran Shah. On the right: Aurangzeb, Jahangir and Humayun, and two of Timur's other offspring Umar Shaykh and Muhammad Sultan. Created c. 1707–12
Horsemen of the invading Maratha Empire
Shah Alam II on horseback
Portrait of Bahadur Shah II
Coin of Aurangzeb, minted in Kabul, dated 1691/2
Miniature painting - Portrait of an Old Mughal Courtier Wearing Muslin
Muslim Lady Reclining or An Indian Girl with a Hookah, painted in Dacca, 18th century
Ruins of the Great Caravanserai in Dhaka.
Ghulam Hamdani Mushafi, the poet first believed to have coined the name "Urdu" around 1780 AD for a language that went by a multiplicity of names before his time.
Mir Taqi Mir, an Urdu poet of the 18th century Mughal Empire
The Taj Mahal in the 1870s
Badshahi Mosque, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
Buland Darwaza in Fatehpur Sikiri, Agra, India
Lalbagh Fort aerial view in Dhaka, Bangladesh
Shalimar Bagh in Srinagar, Kashmir, India
Illustration by the 17th-century Mughal artist Ustad Mansur
"Alexander Visits the Sage Plato in His Mountain Cave"; illustration by the 16th-century Indian artist Basawan, in a folio from a quintet of the 13th-century Indian poet Amir Khusrau Dihlavi
Folio from Farhang-i-Jahangiri, a Persian dictionary compiled during the Mughal era.
Mughal matchlock rifle, 16th century.
Mughal musketeer, 17th century.
The remnants of the empire in 1751

Babur used this formation at the First Battle of Panipat in 1526, where the Afghan and Rajput forces loyal to the Delhi Sultanate, though superior in numbers but without the gunpowder weapons, were defeated.

Name of Afghanistan

Tents of Afghan nomads in Badghis Province of Afghanistan. They are known in Pashto language as Kuchans, who migrate from region to region depending on the season.
The Afghan Lodi dynasty of North India
A Lithography collection made by James Rattray in the early 1800s shows the name Afghaunistan on the front cover.

The name Afghānistān (, Afġānestān ; افغانستان Afġānistān ) means "land of the Afghans", which originates from the ethnonym Afghan.


Founded, in New York City.

March 4, President William McKinley
Display in celebration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee on Alma Place in Coleraine, County Londonderry, Ulster
October 6, Ethiopian flag.
October: USS Baltimore (C-3) in Hawaii
Women study at École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
Marion Davies
Ludwig Erhard
Judith Anderson
Marian Anderson
Lefty O'Doul
Lester B. Pearson
Princess Mary
Einar Gerhardsen
Odd Hassel
Anthony Eden
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Tadeusz Reichstein
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Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco
Walter Pidgeon
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Louis Brière de l'Isle
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Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
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Isidora Goyenechea
Plaek Phibunsongkhram

September 12 – Battle of Saragarhi: Twenty-one Sikhs of the 36th Sikhs regiment of the British Indian Army defend an army post to the death, against 10,000 Afghan and Orakzai tribesmen, in the Tirah Campaign on the North-West frontier of the British Raj (modern-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan).


Historical region inhabited by the indigenous Pashtun people of modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan in Central and South Asia, wherein Pashtun culture, the Pashto language, and Pashtun national identity have been based.

Pashtun children, indigenous to the Pashtunistan region
The area during 500 B.C. was recorded as Arachosia and inhabited by a people called the Pactyans.
Coronation of Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1747 by a 20th-century Afghan artist, Abdul Ghafoor Breshna.
King Amanullah Khan, son of Habibullah Khan and grandson of Abdur Rahman Khan.
Bacha Khan (left) with Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi
Ayub Khan, President of Pakistan from 1958 to 1969, belonged to the Pashtun Tareen tribe of Haripur.
Kalam, Swat District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
A village in Kunar Province of Afghanistan
Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan
A village in Khost Province, Afghanistan
The shrine of Hassan Abdal in the Arghandab District of Kandahar Province in Afghanistan.
Asadabad, capital of Kunar Province in Afghanistan
Pech River Valley
Watapur District of Kunar Province
Branches of the Kunar River meet in Nangarhar Province
Kabul River in Jalalabad, Afghanistan
Khyber Pass in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
People attending Khost University in Khost, Afghanistan
Ghazni Province, Afghanistan
Afghan Border Police (ABP) in Paktika Province
Kuchi people in Paktia Province of Afghanistan
Hanna Lake in Quetta, Pakistan
Dahla Dam in Kandahar Province
Kandahar Province, Afghanistan
Helmand River in Helmand Province, Afghanistan

The native or indigenous people of Pashtunistan are the Pashtuns (also known as Pakhtuns, Pathans and historically as ethnic Afghans), an Iranic ethnic group.


The Yusufzai or Yousafzai (یوسفزی, ), also referred to as the Esapzai (ايسپزی, ), or "Yusufzai Afghans" historically, are one of the largest tribes of ethnic Pashtuns.

Yusufzai Afghans in a Hill Tract (1895)
Babur crossing the Kunar River on a raft, west of Bajaur
Patthargarh fort outside Najibabad, which was founded by Najib ad-Dawlah Yusufzai in Rohilkhand, India
Najib ad-Dawlah and Shuja-ud-Daula, marching on the left of Ahmad Shah Durrani, who is riding a brown horse, during the Third Battle of Panipat
Flag of the state of Swat
Flag of the state of Dir

The name of the Aśvakan or Assakan is also the origin of the ethnonym Afghān, which has been historically used for all Pashtuns.