Northern Afghanistan begins the Central Asian steppe – grassy plains that reach all the way to Russia. This was a region that was relatively isolated from the rest of Afghanistan by the Hindu Kush until the Salang Tunnel was completed in mid-1960s. Mazar-e Sharif is the major city along with Kunduz and Faizabad in Northern Afghanistan. Many Uzbeks, Tajiks and Turkmen among others live in Northern Afghanistan.
Northern Afghanistan is the birthplace of the Northern Alliance that fought the Taliban during its reign in power (1996-2001). Uzbek warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum (currently serving as Afghanistan's First Vice-President) is a major political actor in Northern Afghanistan, especially around the city of Mazar-e Shariff. The Tajik Governor of Balkh, Atta Mohammed who often feuds with Dostum is also a major political figure in the North. Recent years have found the Taliban mounting a number of campaigns in the North of Afghanistan. And the Taliban actually seized control of the city of Kunduz for a number of weeks in Fall (late September-early October) 2015.
Northern Afghanistan experiences extreme temperatures – Extremely hot summers (as high as 43 degrees C) and freezing cold in the winter (as low as -10 degrees C).