CultureConnect.com

 Afghanistan [Country Flag of Afghanistan]
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Afghanistan]

Afghanistan

Geography

[Top of Page]

Location: Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran

Geographic coordinates: 33 00 N, 65 00 E

Map references: Asia

Area:
total: 647,500 sq km
land: 647,500 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly smaller than Texas

Land boundaries:
total: 5,529 km
border countries: China 76 km, Iran 936 km, Pakistan 2,430 km, Tajikistan 1,206 km, Turkmenistan 744 km, Uzbekistan 137 km

Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims: none (landlocked)

Climate: arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers

Terrain: mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Amu Darya 258 m
highest point: Nowshak 7,485 m

Natural resources: natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones

Land use:
arable land: 12%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 46%
forests and woodland: 3%
other: 39% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 30,000 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding

Environment—current issues: soil degradation; overgrazing; deforestation (much of the remaining forests are being cut down for fuel and building materials); desertification

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban
signed, but not ratified: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation

Geography—note: landlocked

People

[Top of Page]

Population: 24,792,375 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 43% (male 5,425,510; female 5,216,954)
15-64 years: 54% (male 6,978,549; female 6,494,253)
65 years and over: 3% (male 357,780; female 319,329) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 4.21% (1998 est.)
note: this rate reflects the continued return of refugees

Birth rate: 42.37 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 17.4 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 17.14 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.12 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 143.63 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 46.83 years
male: 47.35 years
female: 46.29 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.01 children born/woman (1998 est.)

Nationality:
noun: Afghan(s)
adjective: Afghan

Ethnic groups: Pashtun 38%, Tajik 25%, Uzbek 6%, Hazara 19%, minor ethnic groups (Aimaks, Turkmen, Baloch, and others)

Religions: Sunni Muslim 84%, Shi'a Muslim 15%, other 1%

Languages: Pashtu 35%, Afghan Persian (Dari) 50%, Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen) 11%, 30 minor languages (primarily Balochi and Pashai) 4%, much bilingualism

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 31.5%
male: 47.2%
female: 15% (1995 est.)

Government

[Top of Page]

Country name:
conventional long form: Islamic State of Afghanistan; note—the self-proclaimed Taliban government refers to the country as Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
conventional short form: Afghanistan
local long form: Dowlat-e Eslami-ye Afghanestan
local short form: Afghanestan
former: Republic of Afghanistan

Data code: AF

Government type: transitional government

National capital: Kabul

Administrative divisions: 30 provinces (velayat, singular—velayat); Badakhshan, Badghis, Baghlan, Balkh, Bamian, Farah, Faryab, Ghazni, Ghowr, Helmand, Herat, Jowzjan, Kabol, Kandahar, Kapisa, Konar, Kondoz, Laghman, Lowgar, Nangarhar, Nimruz, Oruzgan, Paktia, Paktika, Parvan, Samangan, Sar-e Pol, Takhar, Vardak, Zabol
note: there may be two new provinces of Nurestan (Nuristan) and Khowst

Independence: 19 August 1919 (from UK control over Afghan foreign affairs)

National holiday: Victory of the Muslim Nation, 28 April; Remembrance Day for Martyrs and Disabled, 4 May; Independence Day, 19 August

Constitution: none

Legal system: a new legal system has not been adopted but all factions tacitly agree they will follow Shari'a (Islamic law)

Suffrage: undetermined; previously males 15-50 years of age

Executive branch: on 27 September 1996, the ruling members of the Afghan Government were displaced by members of the Islamic Taliban movement; the Islamic State of Afghanistan has no functioning government at this time, and the country remains divided among fighting factions
note: the Taliban have declared themselves the legitimate government of Afghanistan; the UN has deferred a decision on credentials and the Organization of the Islamic Conference has left the Afghan seat vacant until the question of legitimacy can be resolved through negotiations among the warring factions; the country is essentially divided along ethnic lines; the Taliban controls the capital of Kabul and approximately two-thirds of the country including the predominately ethnic Pashtun areas in southern Afghanistan; opposing factions have their stronghold in the ethnically diverse north—General DOSTAM's National Islamic Movement controls several northcentral provinces and Commander MASOOD controls the ethnic Tajik majority areas of the northeast

Legislative branch: non-functioning as of June 1993

Judicial branch: non-functioning as of March 1995, although there are local Shari'a (Islamic law) courts throughout the country

Political parties and leaders: Taliban (Religious Students Movement), Mohammad OMAR; United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan [comprised of Jumbesh-i-Melli Islami (National Islamic Movement), Abdul Rashid DOSTAM; Jamiat-i-Islami (Islamic Society), Burhanuddin RABBANI and Ahmad Shah MASOOD; and Hizbi Wahdat-Khalili faction (Islamic Unity Party), Abdul Karim KHALILI]; other smaller parties are Hizbi Islami-Gulbuddin (Islamic Party), Gulbuddin HIKMATYAR faction; Hizbi Islami-Khalis (Islamic Party), Yunis KHALIS faction; Ittihad-i-Islami Barai Azadi Afghanistan (Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan), Abdul Rasul SAYYAF; Harakat-Inqilab-i-Islami (Islamic Revolutionary Movement), Mohammad Nabi MOHAMMADI; Jabha-i-Najat-i-Milli Afghanistan (Afghanistan National Liberation Front), Sibghatullah MOJADDEDI; Mahaz-i-Milli-Islami (National Islamic Front), Sayed Ahamad GAILANI; Hizbi Wahdat-Akbari faction (Islamic Unity Party), Mohammad Akbar AKBARI; Harakat-i-Islami (Islamic Movement), Mohammed Asif MOHSENI

Political pressure groups and leaders: tribal elders represent traditional Pashtun leadership; Afghan refugees in Pakistan, Australia, US, and elsewhere have organized politically; Peshawar, Pakistan-based groups such as the Coordination Council for National Unity and Understanding in Afghanistan (CUNUA), Ishaq GAILANI; Writers Union of Free Afghanistan (WUFA), A. Rasul AMIN; Mellat (Social Democratic Party), leader NA

International organization participation: AsDB, CP, ECO, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Intelsat, IOC, IOM (observer), ITU, NAM, OIC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WMO, WToO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
note: embassy operations suspended 21 August 1997
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant)
chancery: 2341 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 234-3770
FAX: [1] (202) 328-3516
consulate(s) general: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US: the US embassy in Kabul has been closed since January 1989 due to security concerns

Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and black with a gold emblem centered on the three bands; the emblem features a temple-like structure with Islamic inscriptions above and below, encircled by a wreath on the left and right and by a bolder Islamic inscription above, all of which are encircled by two crossed scimitars
note: the Taliban uses a plain white flag

Economy

[Top of Page]

Economy—overview: Afghanistan is an extremely poor, landlocked country, highly dependent on farming and livestock raising (sheep and goats). Economic considerations have played second fiddle to political and military upheavals during more than 18 years of war, including the nearly 10-year Soviet military occupation (which ended 15 February 1989). During the war one-third of the population fled the country, with Pakistan and Iran sheltering a combined peak of more than 6 million refugees. Now, only 750,000 registered Afghan refugees remain in Pakistan and about 1.2 million in Iran. Another 1 million have probably moved into and around urban areas within Afghanistan. Gross domestic product has fallen substantially over the past 18 years because of the loss of labor and capital and the disruption of trade and transport. Much of the population continues to suffer from insufficient food, clothing, housing, and medical care. Inflation remains a serious problem throughout the country, with one estimate putting the rate at 240% in Kabul in 1996. Numerical data are likely to be either unavailable or unreliable.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$19.3 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: NA%

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$800 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 53%
industry: 28.5%
services: 18.5% (1990)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 240% (1996 est.)

Labor force:
total: 7.1 million
by occupation: agriculture and animal husbandry 67.8%, industry 10.2%, construction 6.3%, commerce 5.0%, services and other 10.7% (1980 est.)

Unemployment rate: 8% (1995 est.)

Budget:
revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA

Industries: small-scale production of textiles, soap, furniture, shoes, fertilizer, and cement; handwoven carpets; natural gas, oil, coal, copper

Electricity—capacity: 494,000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 655 million kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 37 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: wheat, fruits, nuts, karakul pelts; wool, mutton

Exports:
total value: $80 million (1996 est.)
commodities: fruits and nuts, handwoven carpets, wool, cotton, hides and pelts, precious and semi-precious gems
partners: FSU, Pakistan, Iran, Germany, India, UK, Belgium, Luxembourg, Czechoslovakia

Imports:
total value: $150 million (1996 est.)
commodities: food and petroleum products; most consumer goods
partners: FSU, Pakistan, Iran, Japan, Singapore, India, South Korea, Germany

Debt—external: $2.3 billion (March 1991 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA; about $45 million in UN aid plus additional bilateral aid and aid in kind (1997)
note: US provided $450 million in bilateral assistance (1985-93); US continues to contribute to multilateral assistance through the UN programs of food aid, immunization, land mine removal, and a wide range of aid to refugees and displaced persons

Currency: 1 afghani (AF) = 100 puls

Exchange rates: afghanis (Af) per US$1—17,000 (December 1996), 7,000 (January 1995), 1,900 (January 1994), 1,019 (March 1993), 850 (1991); note—these rates reflect the free market exchange rates rather than the official exchange rate, which was fixed at 50.600 afghanis to the dollar until 1996, when it rose to 2,262.65 per dollar, and finally became fixed again at 3,000.00 per dollar on April 1996

Fiscal year: 21 March—20 March

Communications

[Top of Page]

Telephones: 31,200 (1983 est.)

Telephone system:
domestic: very limited telephone and telegraph service
international: satellite earth stations—1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) linked only to Iran and 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean Region)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 6, FM 0, shortwave 2

Radios: 1.8 million (1996 est.); note—about 60% of families own a radio

Television broadcast stations: NA
note: one television station run by Jumbesh faction provides intermittent service

Televisions: 100,000 (1993 est.)

Transportation

[Top of Page]

Railways:
total: 24.6 km
broad gauge: 9.6 km 1.524-m gauge from Gushgy (Turkmenistan) to Towraghondi; 15 km 1,524-m gauge from Termiz (Uzbekistan) to Kheyrabad transshipment point on south bank of Amu Darya

Highways:
total: 21,000 km
paved: 2,793 km
unpaved: 18,207 km (1996 est.)

Waterways: 1,200 km; chiefly Amu Darya, which handles vessels up to about 500 DWT

Pipelines: petroleum products—Uzbekistan to Bagram and Turkmenistan to Shindand; natural gas 180 km

Ports and harbors: Kheyrabad, Shir Khan

Airports: 44 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 11
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
under 914 m: 2 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 33
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 14
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 10 (1997 est.)

Heliports: 3 (1997 est.)

Military

[Top of Page]

Military branches: NA; note—the military does not exist on a national basis; some elements of the former Army, Air and Air Defense Forces, National Guard, Border Guard Forces, National Police Force (Sarandoi), and tribal militias still exist but are factionalized among the various groups

Military manpower—military age: NA years of age

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: NA

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: NA

Military manpower—reaching military age annually:
males: NA

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $NA

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: NA%

Transnational Issues

[Top of Page]

Disputes—international: support to Islamic militants worldwide by some factions; question over which group should hold Afghanistan's seat at the UN

Illicit drugs: world's second-largest illicit opium producer after Burma (cultivation in 1997—39,150 hectares, a 3% increase over 1996; potential production in 1997—1,265 metric tons, a 3% increase over 1996) and a major source of hashish