Balkh Province

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Balkh Province is a province in northern Afghanistan, probably the most important of the north. Its capital, Mazar-e-Sharif, is the second largest city of the country. The province was the traditional stronghold of Abdul Rashid Dostum, who may have gone into exile in Turkey.

Most of its northern border is with Uzbekistan, although it also touches Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. On the west are Jowzjan and Sar-e-Pul Provinces. Samangan Province is to the south and southeast, while the eastern border is mostly with Kunduz Province, with some frontage to Baghlan Province.

The Amu Darya River goes through the province. It is crossed by the Friendship Bridge, from Termez in Uzbekistan; the bridge carries not just road traffic but one of the short railways into Afghanistan to a purpose-built unloading town at Hayratan. This is a major supply route into Afghanistan.

Balkh University is in the province, which, at times, was the only institution of higher learning active in the country.