Balkh locates in the north of Afghanistan with Mazar-i-Sharif as its capital city. Its total area is 17,249km2. The province shares borders in the northeast with Tajikistan and in the north with Uzbekistan.
Balkh has over 4000-year long history and is regarded as the center of Buddhism, Islam, and Zoroastrianism. It also was an important stop on the silk road which was through regions of the Asian continent connecting the West and East from China to the Mediterranean Sea. Numerous historical sites and artifacts lies in the province. However, most of them are at the verge of collapse due to natural and human disaster. Because of war and poor economy, authorities have paid little attention to renovate them.
The population of Balkh province was reported at 1,298,300 in the year 2014. Due to historical reasons, Balkh has the reputation as home to various ethnicity including Pashton, Uzbek, Hazara, Tajik, Aimaq, Balouch, Arab, and others. The main language used here are Persian and Pashto.
Balkh is also a resource-rich province. Six-mines of petroleum have already been detected. In addition, other reserves of gas, salt, and others are also available in Balkh province.
The current governor of the province is Atta Muhammad Nur, who was in power since 2004. He is regarded as the most powerful political force in the Balkh Province and has exerted high level of control on Balkh.
But he still enjoys majority support in Balkh for securing the area’s stability and peaceful. His administration has successfully achieved poppy-free goal in Balkh Province in 2007. Previously, Balkh was one of the largest opium and poppy cultivation area.
J Lee, Jonathan L Lee: The "Ancient Supremacy": Bukhara, Afghanistan and the Battle for Balkh, 1731-1901 (Brill, 1996)