Seat of War in Asia. Map of Afghanistan from Surveys Made by British and Russian Officers up to 1875


This 1878 map depicts Afghanistan and portions of Central Asia, Persia, and British India based on surveys carried out by British and Russian officers up to 1875. An inset map shows the wider Asian context and notes distances from London of the most important places. The year 1878 is significant in the history of Afghanistan in that it marked the beginning of the Second Anglo-Afghan War, launched by a British invasion on November 21, 1878. The pretext for military action was the refusal of the Afghan government to admit the British envoy, Sir Neville Chamberlain, who had been dispatched to Kabul by the orders of Lord Lytton, the governor-general of India. The Afghan ruler Sher Ali Khan (reigned 1863−66 and 1868−79) had already and with some reluctance admitted into Kabul a Russian delegation led by General Nikolai Grigorevich Stoletov. In the context of the political rivalry that existed between Russia and Great Britain over the control of Central Asia, this preference toward Russia was a slight which, from the British perspective, could not be allowed to stand unchallenged. Major fighting in the Second Anglo-Afghan War did not cease until the Battle of Kandahar in September 1880, after which Afghanistan ceded control of its foreign affairs to the British government. Compiled and printed by the Office of the Chief of Engineers of the United States Army “for the information of the officers of the U.S. Army,” the map includes along its western edge markings indicating the latitude of a number of cities in the United States to be used as reference for its North American readers.

Last updated: January 8, 2018