Kabul Geospatial Data

Land Cover at a global scale has been fairly difficult to obtain. The UN’s International Steering Committee for Global Mapping was disbanded in 2016. As of May 2019, their data is archived at Globalmaps.

Basic reference shapefiles:

KBL_contours_50m: topographic contours, 50-meter interval.


roads_2003: This file is now semi-historic. Current road centerlines are available from Open Streetmap. Comparison of this file with current OSM will show you how much Kabul has grown since 2003.

Time-specific shapefiles:

urban_1835: I built this file from the maps in Archibald Forbes 1892 account of the First Anglo-Afghan War. I also sketched out the walls_1835.
KBL_1920: estimated reconstruction of Kabul just before Amanullah’s Kabul Jadid Plan.
KBL_1964_GenPlan: the First GenPlan of Kabul, based on the model in the Municipality.
KBL_1970_GenPlan: the Second GenPlan, which I found explained in a UN report from the time.
KBL_1978_GenPlan: the Third GenPlan for Two Million.
KBL_1982: the actual city in 1982, based on a Soviet map.
KBL_Securistan_2005: the extent of security-related spaces in 2005.
KBL_NewDevt_2006: new development in Kabul between 2001 and 2006. These files need to be used in conjunction with the 2001 files to show the whole city at that time.

Suggestions for use:

1. Unzip the files in the directories where you want them to stay. Note that shapefiles are an old and fragile format; all the components of a shapefile need to be kept together in the same directory, at the same directory level, with exactly same filename before the dot. Example: one shapefile called “map” will have the following components: map.dbf, map.prj, map.shp, and map.shx. If you rename or move any of these files, the shapefile becomes unusable. I will eventially replace these with proper spatial databases in the Geopackage (.gpkg) format.
2. Please use the following projection to view the data accurately:
Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM), Zone 42 North, with the WGS84 datum(geoid). The EPSG code for this projection: 32642.