The Panjshir Valley (also spelled Panjsheer or Panjsher; Persian: درهٔ پنجشير - Dare-ye Panjšēr; literally Valley of the Five Lions) is a valley in north-central Afghanistan, 150 km north of Kabul, near the Hindu Kush mountain range. Located in the Panjshir Province it is divided by the Panjshir River. The valley is home to more than 140,000 people, including Afghanistan's largest concentration of ethnic Tajiks. As of April 2004, it became the heart of Panjshir Province.
It was the site of the Panjshir offensives fought between the DRA and the Soviets against the mujahideen during the Soviet war in Afghanistan from 1980-1985. The valley again witnessed renewed fighting during the civil war in Afghanistan (1996–2001) between Taliban and the Northern Alliance under command by now national hero Ahmad Shah Massoud.
Afghanistan (i//; Persian: افغانستان; Pashto: Afġānistān), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked sovereign state forming part of Central Asia, South Asia, and to some extent Western Asia. It has a population of around 30 million inhabiting an area of approximately 652,000 km2 (252,000 sq mi), making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world. It is bordered by Pakistan in the south and the east, Iran in the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far northeast.
Afghanistan is a landlocked and mountainous country that is usually designated as being located in South Asia. It is sometimes described as being the center or heart of Asia, connecting South and East Asia with Central and Western Asia. The country is the 41st largest in the world in size. Kabul is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan, located in the Kabul Province. Strategically located at the crossroads of major trade routes, Afghanistan has attracted a succession of invaders since the sixth century BCE.
The Hindu Kush mountains, running northeast to southwest across the country, divide it into three major regions: 1) the Central Highlands, which form part of the Himalayas and account for roughly two thirds of the country's area; 2) the Southwestern Plateau, which accounts for one-fourth of the land; and 3) the smaller Northern Plains area, which contains the country's most fertile soil.
Land elevations generally slope from northeast to southwest, following the general shape of the Hindu Kush massif, from its highest point in the Pamir Mountains near the Chinese border to the lower elevations near the border with Iran. To the north, west, and southwest there are no mountain barriers to neighboring countries. The northern plains pass almost imperceptibly into the plains of Turkmenistan. In the west and southwest, the plateaus and deserts merge into those of Iran. Afghanistan is located on the Eurasian Tectonic Plate. The Wakhan Corridor and the rest of northeastern Afghanistan, including Kabul, are situated in a geologically active area. Over a dozen earthquakes occurred there during the twentieth century.