The WAKHAN CORRIDOR (Pashto : دهلېز واخان Dahléz
Wāxān) is the narrow strip of territory in northeastern Afghanistan
that extends to
China and separates
Pakistan . The
corridor, wedged between the
Pamir Mountains to the north and the
Karakoram range to the south, is about 350 km (220 mi) long and
13–65 kilometres (8–40 mi) wide. From this high mountain valley
the Panj and Pamir Rivers emerge and form the
Amu Darya . A trade
route through the valley has been used by travellers going to and from
East , South and
Central Asia since antiquity. The term "Wakhan
Corridor" can also refer to this constituent valley and the historical
trade route through it. The closure of the Afghan-Chinese border
crossing at the
Wakhjir Pass , on the east end of the
has left the valley bereft of trade.
As of 2010, the
Wakhan Corridor had 12,000 inhabitants. The northern
part of the
Wakhan is also referred to as the Pamir.
* 1 Geography
* 2 History
* 3 See also
* 4 References
* 4.1 Citations
* 4.2 Sources
* 5 External links
For more details on this topic, see
Wakhjir Pass , and Pamir
Mountains . Lake Victoria , the
Great Pamir , May 2nd, 1874,
Thomas Edward Gordon
Wakhan Corridor forms the panhandle of Afghanistan's Badakhshan
Province . At its western entrance near the Afghan town of Ishkashim ,
the corridor is 18 km (11 mi) wide. The western third of the corridor
varies from 13–30 km (8–19 mi) in width and widens to 65 km (40
mi) in the central Wakhan. At its eastern end, the corridor forks
into two prongs that wrap around a salient of Chinese territory,
forming the two countries' 92 km (57 mi) boundary. The
Wakhjir Pass ,
on the southeastern prong, is about 300 km (190 mi) from Ishkashim.
The easternmost point of the northeastern prong is about 350 km (220
mi) from Ishkashim. On the Chinese side of the border is Tashkurgan
Tajik Autonomous County of
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region .
The northern border is formed by the
Pamir River and Lake
the west and the high peaks of the
Pamir Mountains in the east. To the
north is Tajikistan's
Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous region .
In the south, the corridor is bounded by the high mountains of the
Hindu Kush and
Karakoram . The
Broghol and Irshad Passes along the
southern flank offer access, respectively, to
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and
Gilgit Baltistan on Pakistan's side of the border. The Dilisang Pass
The corridor is higher in the east (the
Wakhjir Pass is 4,923 m
(16,152 ft) in elevation) and descends to about 3,037 m (9,964 ft) at
Ishkashim. The Wakhjir River emerges from an ice cave on the Afghan
side of the
Wakhjir Pass and flows west, joining the Bozai Darya near
the village of
Bozai Gumbaz and forms the
Wakhan River . The Wakhan
River then joins the
Pamir River near
Kala-i-Panj to form the Panj
River , which then flows out of the
Wakhan Corridor at Ishkashim.
The Chinese consider the valley east of
Wakhjir Pass on the Chinese
Taghdumbash Pamir to be part of
Wakhan Corridor. The
high mountain valley is about 100 km (60 mi) long. This valley,
through which the Tashkurgan River flows, is generally about 3–5 km
(2–3 mi) wide and less than 1 km (0.6 mi) at its narrowest point.
This entire valley on the Chinese side is closed to visitors; however,
local residents and herders from the area are permitted access.
The Russian-India border, c. 1865, before the creation of the
Although the terrain is extremely rugged, the Corridor was
historically used as a trading route between
Badakhshan and Yarkand .
It appears that
Marco Polo came this way. The Portuguese Jesuit
Bento de Goes crossed from the
China between 1602 and
1606. In May 1906, Sir
Aurel Stein explored the
Wakhan and reported
that at that time, 100 pony loads of goods crossed annually to China.
There were further crossings in 1874 by Captain T.E. Gordon of the
British Army, in 1891 by
Francis Younghusband , and in 1894 by Lord
Early travellers used one of three routes:
* A northern route led up the valley of the
Pamir River to Zorkul
Lake, then east through the mountains to the valley of the Murghab
River , then across the
Sarikol Range to
* A southern route led up the valley of the
Wakhan River to the
Wakhjir Pass to China. This pass is closed for at least five months a
year and is only open irregularly for the remainder.
* A central route branched off the southern route through the Little
Pamir to the Murghab River valley.
The corridor is in part a political creation from The Great Game
between the United Kingdom and
Russian Empire . In the north, an
agreement between the empires in 1873 effectively split the historic
Wakhan by making the Panj and Pamir Rivers the border
Afghanistan and the
Russian Empire . . In the south, the
Durand Line agreement of 1893 marked the boundary between British
India and Afghanistan. This left a narrow strip of land ruled by
Afghanistan as a buffer between the two empires, which became known as
Wakhan Corridor in the 20th century.
The corridor has been closed to regular traffic for over a century
and there is no modern road. There is a rough road from Ishkashim to
Sarhad-e Broghil built in the 1960s, but only rough paths beyond.
These paths run some 100 km (60 mi) from the road end to the Chinese
border at Wakhjir Pass, and further to the far end of the Little
Jacob Townsend has speculated on the possibility of drug smuggling
China via the
Wakhan Corridor and Wakhjir Pass,
but concluded that due to the difficulties of travel and border
crossings, it would be minor compared to that conducted via
Badakhshan Autonomous Province or through Pakistan,
both having much more accessible routes into China.
The government of
Afghanistan has asked the People\'s Republic of
China on several occasions to open the border in the
for economic reasons or as an alternative supply route for fighting
Taliban insurgency . The Chinese have resisted, largely due to
unrest in its far western province of
Xinjiang , which borders the
corridor. In December 2009 , it was reported that the United States
China to open the corridor.
* ^ A B C D E F G International Boundary Study of the
Afghanistan–USSR Boundary (1983) by the US Bureau of Intelligence
and Research Pg. 7
* ^ Wong, Edward (27 October 2010). "In Icy Tip of Afghanistan, War
Seems Remote". The New York Times. Retrieved October 28, 2010.
* ^ Aga Khan Development Network (2010):
Wakhan and the Afghan
* ^ "Lake Victoria, Great Pamir, May 2nd, 1874"
* ^ The pass was crossed by a couple in 1950 and by a couple in
2004. See J.Mock and K. O\'Neil: Expedition Report
* ^ A B FACTBOX-Key facts about the
Reuters . June
* ^ A B
. news.sina.com.cn (in Chinese).
Global Times . 2011-07-07. Retrieved
* ^ (Chinese) 小资料：瓦罕走廊 2009-05-05
* ^ 环球时报 (2009-05-07).
china.huanqiu.com (in Chinese).
Global Times . Retrieved 2017-02-04.
* ^ Stein, Mark Aurel (1907). Ancient Khotan. p. 32.
* ^ The Travels of
Marco Polo Book 1 Chapter 32
* ^ Shahrani, M. Nazif (1979 and 2002) p.37
* ^ Keay, J. (1983). When Men and Mountains Meet. pp. 256–7. ISBN
* ^ Younghusband, F. (1896, republished 2000) "The Heart of a
Continent" ISBN 978-1-4212-6551-3
* ^ "Geographical Journal" (July to September 1896)
* ^ Townsend, J. (June 2005)
China and Afghan Opiates: Assessing
the Risk Chapter 4
* ^ Jacobs, Frank (5 December 2011). "A Few Salient Points". The
New York Times.
* ^ J. Mock and K. O\'Neil (2004): Expedition Report
* ^ United Nations Environment Programme (2003)
* ^ "
China and Afghan Opiates: Assessing the Risk" (Chapter 4).
China to open
Wakhan corridor route. The
Hindu . June 11, 2009 Archived January 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
China mulls Afghan border request.
BBC News Online . June 12,
South Asia Analysis Group: Paper No. 3579, 31 December 2009
Archived June 13, 2010, at the
Wayback Machine .
* Shahrani, M. Nazif (2002). The Kirghiz and Wakhi of Afghanistan:
Adaptation to Closed Frontiers and War (2nd ed.). University of
Washington Press . ISBN 978-0-295-98262-5 .
Wikimedia Commons has media related to WAKHAN CORRIDOR .
* CIA Relief Map
Wakhan Development Partnership, a project working to improve the
lives of the people of
Wakhan since 2003
* We Took the Highroad in
Afghanistan National Geographic November
1950 - Story of the first modern crossing of the