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Bamyan province - right in the centre of Afghanistan - is one of its 34 provinces and in ancient times this region was well travelled because of its location along the trading routes between the Roman Empire, China and Asia.

Bamyan July Marianne Elliott at the head of Band i Amir small
Marianne Elliott at the head of Band-i-Amir.

And although it boasts many famous historical sites, including the famous Buddha niches with more than 3,000 caves around it, today the economy is largely agricultural. Bamyan itself is considered one of the most stable and secure provinces in Afghanistan, but it has been and continues to be affected by the conflict that surrounds it. 

Bamyan July The Shrine at Band i Amir small
The Shrine at Band-i-Amir.

New Zealand military and civilian personnel have worked in Bamyan province over the past decade to secure and support the reconstruction of the province. As New Zealand's military presence in Bamyan comes to an end, many in the province are once again looking to tourism as a potential source of income. 

Bamyan July Bamyan Province from the top of a Buddha niche small
Bamyan Province from the top of a Buddha niche.

Marianne Elliott is a human rights lawyer who worked for the United Nations in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007 and has written a book, Zen Under Fire, about her experiences there. Now she’s going back to visit friends – and to find out more about the burgeoning tourism industry there.