Smaller Bamyan Buddha from base, Afghanistan

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Bamyan Province is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the centre of the country. Its capital is also called Bamyan. The majority of the population are Hazaras, with 16% Sadat, 25% Tajiks, and Pashtuns and Tatars in smaller numbers. Bamyan is the largest province in the Hazarajat region of Afghanistan, and is the cultural capital of the Hazara ethnic group that predominates in the area.
In antiquity, central Afghanistan was strategically placed to thrive from the Silk Road caravans which criss-crossed the region trading between the Roman Empire, China, Central and South Asia. Bamyan was a stopping off point for many travellers. It was here where elements of Greek, Persian and Buddhist art were combined into a unique classical style, known as Greco-Buddhist art.
Bamyan has several famous historical sites, including the famous Buddha statues with more than 3,000 caves around it, the Band-i-Amir, Dara-i-Ajhdar, Gholghola and Zakhak ancient towns, the Feroz Bahar, Astopa, Klegan, Gaohargin, Kaferan and Cheldukhtaran. These are the most ancient and important sites that need to be restored and protected.
 
Bamyan was the site of an early Buddhist monastery from which Bamyan takes its name from the Sanskrit varmayana ("coloured"). Many statues of Buddha are carved into the sides of cliffs facing Bamyan city. The two most prominent of these statues were standing Buddhas, now known as the Buddhas of Bamyan, measuring 55 and 37 meters high respectively, that were the largest examples of standing Buddha carvings in the world. They were probably erected in the 4th or 5th century A.D. They were cultural landmarks for many years and are listed among UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. In March 2001 the Taliban government decreed that the statues were idolatrous and ordered them to be demolished with anti-aircraft artillery and explosives.
The Buddhist remains at Bamyan were included on the 2008 World Monuments Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites by the World Monuments Fund. It is hoped that the listing will put continued national and international attention on the site as a whole (including, but not limited to, the statues) in order to ensure its long-term preservation, and to make certain that future restoration efforts maintain the authenticity of the site and that proper preservation practices are followed.
 
Bamyan is also known as the capital of Daizangi and for its natural beauty. The Band-e Amir lakes in western Bamyan province continue to be a tourist destination for Afghans.
 
Bamyan is currently the base of operations for the New Zealand peacekeeping force, a Provincial Reconstruction Team codenamed Task Group Crib, which is part of the network of Provincial Reconstruction Teams throughout Afghanistan. It is recognised as one of the safest provinces in the country, which has allowed for civil rebuilding.
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