Total population
1,593,418 (2021)
4% of the population of Afghanistan[a][2][3][4]
Aimaq dialect of Persian, Pashto[5]
Predominantly Sunni Islam[6]
Related ethnic groups
Hazaras, Moghols, Tajiks, and Pashtuns[5]

The Aimaq (Persian: ایماق, romanizedAimāq) or Chahar Aimaq (چهار ایماق), also transliterated as Aymaq, Aimagh, Aimak and Aymak, are a collection of Sunni and mostly Persian-speaking[7] nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes.[8] They live mostly in the central and western highlands of Afghanistan, especially in Ghor and Badghis. Aimaqs were originally known as chahar ("four") Aymaqs: Jamshidi, Aimaq Hazara, Firozkohi and Taymani.[9] The Timuri, which is a separate tribe but is sometimes included among Aimaqs, which is known as Aimaq-e digar ("other Aimaq").[10]

The Aimaq speak several subdialects of the Aimaq dialect of the Persian language, but some southern groups of Taymani, Firozkohi, and northeastern Timuri Aimaqs have adopted the Pashto language.[11]


The word "Aimaq" is derived from the Turkic-Mongolic word "Oymaq" that means "tribe" and "group of tribes".[7][9] Aimaq Hazara and Timuri are closest to the Turco-Mongols since they are semi-nomadic tribes and some of them live in yurts, whereas other Aimaqs live in traditional black tents.[12][better source needed]

Origin and culture

The Aimaqs claim different origins based on their tribal background. Some claim to be descended from the troops of Genghis Khan.[13] Other tribes such as the Taymani and Firozkohi claim descent from Pashtun tribes.[14]

The Aimaq are largely nomadic to semi-nomadic goat and sheep herders. They also trade with villages and farmers during migrations for pastures for their livestock. The material culture and foodstuffs of the Aimaq include skins, carpets, milk, dairy products and more. They trade these products to settled peoples in return for vegetables, grains, fruits, nuts, and other types of foods and goods.[13]


Further information: Demographics of Afghanistan and Ethnic groups in Afghanistan

CIA map showing the territory of the settlement of ethnic groups and subgroups in Afghanistan (2005)

Estimates of the Aimaq population vary between 250,000 and 500,000. They are largely Sunni Muslims except for the Jamshidi who are mainly Ismaili Shia in the main and in contrast to the Hazaras, who are mostly Shia Muslims.[15]

See also


  1. ^ The last census in Afghanistan was conducted in 1979, and was itself incomplete. Due to the ongoing conflict in the country, no official census has been conducted since.[1]


  1. ^ "Population Matters". 3 March 2016.
  2. ^ World Population Review (19 September 2021). ""Afghanistan Population 2021"".
  3. ^ "Distribution of Afghan population by ethnic group 2020". 20 August 2021.
  4. ^ "Afghan Ethnic Groups: A Brief Investigation". 14 August 2011.
  5. ^ a b Janata, A. "AYMĀQ". In Yarshater, Ehsan (ed.). Encyclopædia Iranica (Online ed.). United States: Columbia University.
  6. ^ "Aimaq". Minority Rights Group. Retrieved 28 July 2021.
  7. ^ a b "AYMĀQ – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  8. ^ Tom Lansford -A bitter harvest: US foreign policy and Afghanistan 2003 Page 25 "The term Aimaq means "tribe" but the Aimaq people actually include several different ethnic groups. The classification has come to be used for a variety of nonaligned nomadic tribes"
  9. ^ a b Spuler, B. (2012-04-24), "Aymak", Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, Brill, retrieved 2023-07-14
  10. ^ Vogelsang, Willem (2002). The Afghans. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 37–. ISBN 9780631198413. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
  11. ^ Vogelsang, Willem (2002). The Afghans. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 18. ISBN 0631198415. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  12. ^ "A Sociological Study of the Hazara Tribe in Baluchistan (An Analysis of Socio-Cultural Change)" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-10-09.
  13. ^ a b Winston, Robert, ed. (2004). Human: The Definitive Visual Guide. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 432. ISBN 0-7566-0520-2.
  14. ^ Janata, A. "Aymāq". Archived from the original on 29 April 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2021. A Kākaṛ Pashtun from Baluchistan, Tayman, formed a coalition in Ḡūr around 1650. The traditional chiefs of the northern Fīrūzkūhī, Zay Ḥākem, claim descent from Ačakzay Pashtun ancestors.
  15. ^ "Afghanistan". Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008.

Further reading