Kabul (city, Afghanistan), city, east central Afghanistan, capital of the country and its Kabul Province, on the Kabul River, situated at an altitude of more than 1676 m (more than 5500 ft). The nation’s chief economic and cultural center, it has long been of strategic importance because of its proximity to the Khyber Pass.

Manufactures of the city include textiles, processed food, chemicals, and wood products. Persian-speaking Tajiks are the predominant population group of Kabul, and Pushtuns are an important minority. The city is the seat of Kabul University (1932), the Afghan Institute of Technology (1951), the Institute of Industrial Management (1962), and schools of agriculture, commerce, and art.

An ancient community, Kabul rose to prominence in 1504, when it was made the capital of the Mughal Empire by the conqueror Babur. Delhi replaced it as the imperial capital in 1526, but Kabul remained an important Mughal center until it was captured, in 1738, by the Persian ruler Nadir Shah.

In 1747 Kabul became part of an independent Afghan state, and in the 1770s it replaced Kandahar as the capital of Afghanistan. It was a focus of British, Persian, and Russian rivalry for control of the Khyber Pass in the 19th century, when it was twice occupied (1839-42 and 1879-80) by British troops. The city grew as an industrial center after 1940. It was occupied by troops of the USSR in late 1979. Population (1982 estimate) 1,036,400.

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