A short history of Nuristan

Nuristan in 1977 was a closed province of Afghanistan, situated in the North-Eastern part of the country along the border with Pakistan, which is formed by the river Kunar.  A special visa was needed to visit this province. Nuristan was formerly called Kafiristan and its inhabitants Kafirs (more or less meaning “unbelievers”). The present name – which means Land of the Light –  dates from the conquest by Abdur Rahman Khan, emir of Afghanistan, in 1895 when Islam became the predominant religion. Before then the inhabitants were mostly Hindoes also practicing heretic rituals.

For more history see also Wikipedia. The Nuristani are recognisable by their woolen flat headgear; they speak their own languages (there are 5 of them) of which Nuristani is the most important. They live in wooden houses , beautifully carved and are even more independant and proud than the other Afghans. They had always put up a fierce resistance against foreign invaders. Their main source of income came from agriculture and cattle breeding as well as some trade with Pakistan.