Afghanistan in the 1950s and ’60s

Fractured by internal conflict and foreign intervention for centuries, Afghanistan made several tentative steps toward modernization in the mid-20th century. In the 1950s and 1960s, some of the biggest strides were made toward a more liberal and westernized lifestyle, while trying to maintain a respect for more conservative factions. Though officially a neutral nation, Afghanistan was courted and influenced by the U.S. and Soviet Union during the Cold War, accepting Soviet machinery and weapons, and U.S. financial aid. This time was a brief, relatively peaceful era, when modern buildings were constructed in Kabul alongside older traditional mud structures, when burqas became optional for a time, and the country appeared to be on a path toward a more open, prosperous society. Progress was halted in the 1970s, as a series of bloody coups, invasions, and civil wars began, continuing to this day, reversing almost all of the steps toward modernization taken in the 50s and 60s. Note: This post originally mischaracterized life expectancy in Afghanistan in the 1950s. We regret the error.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Patrick Aventurier / Getty

    A Quarry of Lights in Southern France

    In Les Baux-de-Provence, a former limestone quarry has been transformed into an immersive multimedia exhibit space dedicated to art and music.

  • Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

    The Aftermath of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique and Zimbabwe

    Last week, one of the most devastating storms to hit Africa in decades killed more than 750 people and destroyed thousands of structures, roads, and farms.

  • Anurak Pongpatimet / Shutterstock

    National Puppy Day Photos

    In the spirit of the day, I am obligated to share these adorable images of pups around the world.

  • Christian Palma / AP

    Photos of the Week: Underwater Restaurant, Holi Colors, Wonderland Eurasia

    Nowruz celebrations in Iraq, terrible flooding in Mozambique, springtime in China and England, mourning in New Zealand, flower fields in California, floodwaters across the midwestern U.S., and much more