Alexander the Great founded Kandahar city in the 4th century BC, around the ancient city of Mundigak, which was settled in about 3000 BC. The city changed hands numerous times following its founding, being fought over by the Arabs, Persians, Indians and Mongols.
In 1743 Ahmad Shah Durrani, a Pashtun and the founder of Afghanistan, took control of Kandahar and made it the capital until the 1780s. The city was occupied by the British in the 19th century during the Anglo-Afghan Wars, and once again by the Soviets throughout the 1980s.
Following the Russian withdrawal warlords jostled for control of the city in the ensuing bloody Civil War. The Taliban seized Kandahar in 1994 without a single shot fired, self-proclaimed saviours from the rampant banditry and rape that was gripping the country. Although Kabul remained the capital, the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, ruled the country from Kandahar.
Shortly after the start of the War on Terror, the regime officially fell in a final clash with US Special Forces at the Kandahar Airfield in December 2001. Over 10, 000 International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops remain at the airfield and across the south, having suffered significant losses while fighting the insurgency. The warlords and the drug trade also erode their efforts. Whichever way you look at it, Kandahar’s chequered past is likely to continue well into the future.