Sourced from Wikivoyage. Text is available under the CC-by-SA 3.0 license.
Derivative work by john2690. Other authors listed on source image page.
Bactria is a historic region in Central Asia, along the Silk Road. At times it has been an independent kingdom, at others part of Alexander's Empire, the Persian Empire or Mongol Empire. Most of it was part of the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union; today it is divided among Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan; part of Turkmenistan is close by to the west.
World Imaging
Bactria lies on one of the main trade routes between Central Asia and South Asia; the Salang Pass pass goes south from Bactria to Kabul across the Hindu Kush mountain range, and from Kabul the Khyber Pass leads to Pakistan and India. The region is a crossroads and many ethnic groups are represented; the largest group are the Tajiks, and the main local language is the Tajik dialect of Persian.
The map shows the region a few centuries BCE; at that time the Alexandrias were new but Bactres (now called Balkh) and Samarkand were already well-established cities.
The borders have varied with the history, but the core of region is a roughly U-shaped area of fertile plains bounded by mountains on three sides; the main cities now are Dushanbe in the northeast and Mazar-e-Sharif in the southwest. The mouth of the U is on the west side; Merv and Herat are to the west and reachable across relatively flat country. Swinging north from the mouth, Bukhara and Samarkand can also be reached; historically the region around those cities was known as Sogdia, and was the northernmost province of the Persian Empire.
A key geographic feature is the Amu Darya river, known in ancient times as the Oxus. It has been the northern border of Afghanistan since the days of the Great Game — the British and Russian Empires competing for influence in the region in the 19th century — and continues in the role today.
The main Silk Road route east toward China goes from Samarkand through the Ferghana Valley (on the north edge of the map) via Khujand, Kokand and Ferghana, then over a pass to Kashgar. Khujand is shown on the map as Alexandria Eschate which translates as "furthest Alexandria"; Alexander founded the city to protect his northern border. Another route from Bactria to China, historically much less used, starts near Ai-Khanoum on the map, follows one of the river valleys up into the Pamirs and along the Wakhan Corridor toward China. The Corridor is the region around the river valley that goes off the eastern edge of the map roughly halfway up.


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