1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kohistan

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KOHISTAN, a tract of country on the Peshawar border of the North-West Frontier Province of India. Kohistan means the “country of the hills” and corresponds to the English word highlands; but it is specially applied to a district, which is very little known, to the south and west of Chilas, between the Kagan valley and the river Indus. It comprises an area of over 1000 sq. m., and is bounded on the N.W. by the river Indus, on the N.E. by Chilas, and on the S. by Kagan, the Chor Glen and Allai. It consists roughly of two main valleys running east and west, and separated from each other by a mountain range over 16,000 ft. high. Like the mountains of Chilas, those in Kohistan are snow-bound and rocky wastes from their crests downwards to 12,000 ft. Below this the hills are covered with fine forest and grass to 5000 or 6000 ft., and in the valleys, especially near the Indus, are fertile basins under cultivation. The Kohistanis are Mahommedans, but not of Pathan race, and appear to be closely allied to the Chilasis. They are a well-built, brave but quiet people who carry on a trade with British districts, and have never given the government much trouble. There is little doubt that the Kohistanis are, like the Kafirs of Kafiristan, the remnants of old races driven by Mahommedan invasions from the valleys and plains into the higher mountains. The majority have been converted to Islam within the last 200 years. The total population is about 16,000.

An important district also known as Kohistan lies to the north of Kabul in Afghanistan, extending to the Hindu Kush. The Kohistani Tajiks proved to be the most powerful and the best organized clans that opposed the British occupation of Kabul in 1879–80. Part of their country is highly cultivated, abounding in fruit, and includes many important villages. It is here that the remains of an ancient city have been lately discovered by the amir’s officials, which may prove to be the great city of Alexander’s founding, known to be to the north of Kabul, but which had hitherto escaped identification.

The name of Kohistan is also applied to a tract of barren and hilly country on the east border of Karachi district, Sind.