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South Asia :: Afghanistan Print
Page last updated on September 10, 2020
  • Introduction :: Afghanistan
  • Background field listing

    Ahmad Shah DURRANI unified the Pashtun tribes and founded Afghanistan in 1747. The country served as a buffer between the British and Russian Empires until it won independence from notional British control in 1919. A brief experiment in increased democracy ended in a 1973 coup and a 1978 communist countercoup. The Soviet Union invaded in 1979 to support the tottering Afghan communist regime, touching off a long and destructive war. The USSR withdrew in 1989 under relentless pressure by internationally supported anti-communist mujahidin rebels. A series of subsequent civil wars saw Kabul finally fall in 1996 to the Taliban, a hardline Pakistani-sponsored movement that emerged in 1994 to end the country's civil war and anarchy. Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, a US, Allied, and anti-Taliban Northern Alliance military action toppled the Taliban for sheltering Usama BIN LADIN.

    A UN-sponsored Bonn Conference in 2001 established a process for political reconstruction that included the adoption of a new constitution, a presidential election in 2004, and National Assembly elections in 2005. In December 2004, Hamid KARZAI became the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan, and the National Assembly was inaugurated the following December. KARZAI was reelected in August 2009 for a second term. The 2014 presidential election was the country's first to include a runoff, which featured the top two vote-getters from the first round, Abdullah ABDULLAH and Ashraf GHANI. Throughout the summer of 2014, their campaigns disputed the results and traded accusations of fraud, leading to a US-led diplomatic intervention that included a full vote audit as well as political negotiations between the two camps. In September 2014, GHANI and ABDULLAH agreed to form the Government of National Unity, with GHANI inaugurated as president and ABDULLAH elevated to the newly-created position of chief executive officer. The day after the inauguration, the GHANI administration signed the US-Afghan Bilateral Security Agreement and NATO Status of Forces Agreement, which provide the legal basis for the post-2014 international military presence in Afghanistan. After two postponements, the next presidential election was held in September 2019.

    The Taliban remains a serious challenge for the Afghan Government in almost every province. The Taliban still considers itself the rightful government of Afghanistan, and it remains a capable and confident insurgent force fighting for the withdrawal of foreign military forces from Afghanistan, establishment of sharia law, and rewriting of the Afghan constitution. In 2019, negotiations between the US and the Taliban in Doha entered their highest level yet, building on momentum that began in late 2018. Underlying the negotiations is the unsettled state of Afghan politics, and prospects for a sustainable political settlement remain unclear.

  • Geography :: Afghanistan
  • Location field listing
    Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran
    Geographic coordinates field listing
    33 00 N, 65 00 E
    Map references field listing
    Area field listing
    total: 652,230 sq km
    land: 652,230 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 42
    Area - comparative field listing
    almost six times the size of Virginia; slightly smaller than Texas
    Area comparison map: Area comparison map
    Land boundaries field listing
    total: 5,987 km
    border countries (6): China 91 km, Iran 921 km, Pakistan 2670 km, Tajikistan 1357 km, Turkmenistan 804 km, Uzbekistan 144 km
    Coastline field listing
    0 km (landlocked)
    Maritime claims field listing
    none (landlocked)
    Climate field listing
    arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers
    Terrain field listing
    mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest
    Elevation field listing
    mean elevation: 1,884 m
    lowest point: Amu Darya 258 m
    highest point: Noshak 7,492 m
    Natural resources field listing
    natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones, arable land
    Land use field listing
    agricultural land: 58.1% (2016 est.)
    arable land: 11.8% (2016) / permanent crops: 0.3% (2016) / permanent pasture: 46% (2016)
    forest: 2.07% (2016 est.)
    other: 39% (2016)
    Irrigated land field listing
    32,080 sq km (2012)
    Population distribution field listing
    populations tend to cluster in the foothills and periphery of the rugged Hindu Kush range; smaller groups are found in many of the country's interior valleys; in general, the east is more densely settled, while the south is sparsely populated
    Natural hazards field listing
    damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding; droughts
    Environment - current issues field listing
    limited natural freshwater resources; inadequate supplies of potable water; soil degradation; overgrazing; deforestation (much of the remaining forests are being cut down for fuel and building materials); desertification; air and water pollution in overcrowded urban areas
    Environment - international agreements field listing
    party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection
    signed, but not ratified: Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation
    Geography - note field listing
    landlocked; the Hindu Kush mountains that run northeast to southwest divide the northern provinces from the rest of the country; the highest peaks are in the northern Vakhan (Wakhan Corridor)
  • People and Society :: Afghanistan
  • Population field listing
    36,643,815 (July 2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 39
    Nationality field listing
    noun: Afghan(s)
    adjective: Afghan
    Ethnic groups field listing
    Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, other (includes smaller numbers of Baloch, Turkmen, Nuristani, Pamiri, Arab, Gujar, Brahui, Qizilbash, Aimaq, Pashai, and Kyrghyz) (2015)

    note: current statistical data on the sensitive subject of ethnicity in Afghanistan are not available, and ethnicity data from small samples of respondents to opinion polls are not a reliable alternative; Afghanistan's 2004 constitution recognizes 14 ethnic groups: Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Baloch, Turkmen, Nuristani, Pamiri, Arab, Gujar, Brahui, Qizilbash, Aimaq, and Pashai

    Languages field listing
    Afghan Persian or Dari (official) 77% (Dari functions as the lingua franca), Pashto (official) 48%, Uzbek 11%, English 6%, Turkmen 3%, Urdu 3%, Pashayi 1%, Nuristani 1%, Arabic 1%, Balochi 1% (2017 est.)

    note: data represent most widely spoken languages; shares sum to more than 100% because there is much bilingualism in the country and because respondents were allowed to select more than one language

    note: the Turkic languages Uzbek and Turkmen, as well as Balochi, Pashayi, Nuristani, and Pamiri are the third official languages in areas where the majority speaks them

    Religions field listing
    Muslim 99.7% (Sunni 84.7 - 89.7%, Shia 10 - 15%), other 0.3% (2009 est.)
    Age structure field listing
    0-14 years: 40.62% (male 7,562,703/female 7,321,646)
    15-24 years: 21.26% (male 3,960,044/female 3,828,670)
    25-54 years: 31.44% (male 5,858,675/female 5,661,887)
    55-64 years: 4.01% (male 724,597/female 744,910)
    65 years and over: 2.68% (male 451,852/female 528,831) (2020 est.)
    population pyramid: population pyramid
    Dependency ratios field listing
    total dependency ratio: 88.8
    youth dependency ratio: 75.3
    elderly dependency ratio: 4.8
    potential support ratio: 21 (2020 est.)
    Median age field listing
    total: 19.5 years
    male: 19.4 years
    female: 19.5 years (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 202
    Population growth rate field listing
    2.38% (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 28
    Birth rate field listing
    36.7 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 15
    Death rate field listing
    12.7 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 12
    Net migration rate field listing
    -0.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 99
    Population distribution field listing
    populations tend to cluster in the foothills and periphery of the rugged Hindu Kush range; smaller groups are found in many of the country's interior valleys; in general, the east is more densely settled, while the south is sparsely populated
    Urbanization field listing
    urban population: 26% of total population (2020)
    rate of urbanization: 3.37% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
    Major urban areas - population field listing
    4.222 million KABUL (capital) (2020)
    Sex ratio field listing
    at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2020 est.)
    Mother's mean age at first birth field listing
    19.9 years (2015 est.)

    note: median age at first birth among women 25-29

    Maternal mortality rate field listing
    638 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 11
    Infant mortality rate field listing
    total: 104.3 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 111.3 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 96.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 1
    Life expectancy at birth field listing
    total population: 52.8 years
    male: 51.4 years
    female: 54.4 years (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 228
    Total fertility rate field listing
    4.82 children born/woman (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 16
    Contraceptive prevalence rate field listing
    22.5% (2015/16)
    Drinking water source field listing
    improved: urban: 95.9% of population
    rural: 61.4% of population
    total: 70.2% of population
    unimproved: urban: 3.2% of population
    rural: 38.6% of population
    total: 38.6% of population (2017 est.)
    Current Health Expenditure field listing
    11.8% (2017)
    Physicians density field listing
    0.28 physicians/1,000 population (2016)
    Hospital bed density field listing
    0.4 beds/1,000 population (2017)
    Sanitation facility access field listing
    improved: urban: 83.6% of population
    rural: 43% of population
    total: 53.2% of population
    unimproved: urban: 16.4% of population
    rural: 57% of population
    total: 46.8% of population (2017 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate field listing
    <.1% (2018 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS field listing
    7,200 (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 113
    HIV/AIDS - deaths field listing
    <500 (2018 est.)
    Major infectious diseases field listing
    degree of risk: intermediate (2020)
    food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
    vectorborne diseases: Crimea-Congo hemorrhagic fever, malaria
    Obesity - adult prevalence rate field listing
    5.5% (2016)
    country comparison to the world: 176
    Children under the age of 5 years underweight field listing
    25% (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 17
    Education expenditures field listing
    4.1% of GDP (2017)
    country comparison to the world: 95
    Literacy field listing
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 43%
    male: 55.5%
    female: 29.8% (2018)
    School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education) field listing
    total: 10 years
    male: 13 years
    female: 8 years (2014)
    Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 field listing
    total: 17.6%
    male: 16.3%
    female: 21.4% (2017)
    country comparison to the world: 75
  • Government :: Afghanistan
  • Country name field listing
    conventional long form: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
    conventional short form: Afghanistan
    local long form: Jamhuri-ye Islami-ye Afghanistan
    local short form: Afghanistan
    former: Republic of Afghanistan
    etymology: the name "Afghan" originally referred to the Pashtun people (today it is understood to include all the country's ethnic groups), while the suffix "-stan" means "place of" or "country"; so Afghanistan literally means the "Land of the Afghans"
    Government type field listing
    presidential Islamic republic
    Capital field listing
    name: Kabul
    geographic coordinates: 34 31 N, 69 11 E
    time difference: UTC+4.5 (9.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
    daylight saving time: does not observe daylight savings time
    etymology: named for the Kabul River, but the river's name is of unknown origin
    Administrative divisions field listing
    34 provinces (welayat, singular - welayat); Badakhshan, Badghis, Baghlan, Balkh, Bamyan, Daykundi, Farah, Faryab, Ghazni, Ghor, Helmand, Herat, Jowzjan, Kabul, Kandahar, Kapisa, Khost, Kunar, Kunduz, Laghman, Logar, Nangarhar, Nimroz, Nuristan, Paktika, Paktiya, Panjshir, Parwan, Samangan, Sar-e Pul, Takhar, Uruzgan, Wardak, Zabul
    Independence field listing
    19 August 1919 (from UK control over Afghan foreign affairs)
    National holiday field listing
    Independence Day, 19 August (1919)
    Constitution field listing
    history: several previous; latest drafted 14 December 2003 - 4 January 2004, signed 16 January 2004, ratified 26 January 2004
    amendments: proposed by a commission formed by presidential decree followed by the convention of a Grand Council (Loya Jirga) decreed by the president; passage requires at least two-thirds majority vote of the Loya Jirga membership and endorsement by the president
    International law organization participation field listing
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
    Citizenship field listing
    citizenship by birth: no
    citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must have been born in - and continuously lived in - Afghanistan
    dual citizenship recognized: no
    residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years
    Suffrage field listing
    18 years of age; universal
    Executive branch field listing
    chief of state:

    President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ashraf GHANI (since 29 September 2014); CEO Abdullah ABDULLAH, Dr. (since 29 September 2014); First Vice President Abdul Rashid DOSTAM (since 29 September 2014); Second Vice President Sarwar DANESH (since 29 September 2014); First Deputy CEO Khyal Mohammad KHAN; Second Deputy CEO Mohammad MOHAQQEQ; note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

    head of government:

    President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ashraf GHANI (since 29 September 2014); CEO Abdullah ABDULLAH, Dr. (since 29 September 2014); First Vice President Abdul Rashid DOSTAM (since 29 September 2014); Second Vice President Sarwar DANESH (since 29 September 2014); First Deputy CEO Khyal Mohammad KHAN; Second Deputy CEO Mohammad MOHAQQEQ

    cabinet: Cabinet consists of 25 ministers appointed by the president, approved by the National Assembly
    elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 28 September 2019 (next to be held in 2024)
    election results: Ashraf GHANI declared winner by the Independent Election Commission on 18 February 2020; Ashraf GHANI 50.6%, Abdullah ABDULLAH, Dr. 39.5%, other 0.9%
    Legislative branch field listing
    description: bicameral National Assembly consists of:
    Meshrano Jirga or House of Elders (102 seats; 34 members indirectly elected by absolute majority vote in 2 rounds if needed by district councils to serve 3-year terms, 34 indirectly elected by absolute majority vote in 2 rounds if needed by provincial councils to serve 4-year terms, and 34 appointed by the president from nominations by civic groups, political parties, and the public, of which 17 must be women, 2 must represent the disabled, and 2 must be Kuchi nomads; presidential appointees serve 5-year terms)

    Wolesi Jirga or House of People (250 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote to serve 5-year terms)

    Meshrano Jirga - district councils - within 5 days of installation; provincial councils - within 15 days of installation; presidential appointees - within 2 weeks after the presidential inauguration
    Wolesi Jirga - last held on 20 October 2018) (next to be held in 2023)
    election results:
    Meshrano Jirga - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; composition - men 84, women 18, percent of women 17.6%
    Wolesi Jirga - percent of vote by party NA; seats by party - NA; composition - NA
    note: the constitution allows the government to convene a constitutional Loya Jirga (Grand Council) on issues of independence, national sovereignty, and territorial integrity; it consists of members of the National Assembly and chairpersons of the provincial and district councils; a Loya Jirga can amend provisions of the constitution and prosecute the president; no constitutional Loya Jirga has ever been held, and district councils have never been elected; the president appointed 34 members of the Meshrano Jirga that the district councils should have indirectly elected
    Judicial branch field listing
    highest courts: Supreme Court or Stera Mahkama (consists of the supreme court chief and 8 justices organized into criminal, public security, civil, and commercial divisions or dewans)
    judge selection and term of office: court chief and justices appointed by the president with the approval of the Wolesi Jirga; court chief and justices serve single 10-year terms
    subordinate courts: Appeals Courts; Primary Courts; Special Courts for issues including narcotics, security, property, family, and juveniles
    Political parties and leaders field listing

    note - the Ministry of Justice licensed 72 political parties as of April 2019 

    International organization participation field listing
    ADB, CICA, CP, ECO, EITI (candidate country), FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OSCE (partner), SAARC, SACEP, SCO (dialogue member), UN, UNAMA, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
    Diplomatic representation in the US field listing
    Ambassador Roya RAHMANI (since 24 November 2018)
    chancery: 2341 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 483-6410
    FAX: [1] (202) 483-6488
    consulate(s) general: Los Angeles, New York, Washington, DC
    Diplomatic representation from the US field listing
    chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Ross WILSON (since 18 January 2020)
    telephone: [00 93] 0700 108 001
    embassy: Bibi Mahru, Kabul
    mailing address: U.S. Embassy Kabul, APO AE 09806
    FAX: [00 93] 0700 108 564
    Flag description field listing
    three equal vertical bands of black (hoist side), red, and green, with the national emblem in white centered on the red band and slightly overlapping the other 2 bands; the center of the emblem features a mosque with pulpit and flags on either side, below the mosque are Eastern Arabic numerals for the solar year 1298 (1919 in the Gregorian calendar, the year of Afghan independence from the UK); this central image is circled by a border consisting of sheaves of wheat on the left and right, in the upper-center is an Arabic inscription of the Shahada (Muslim creed) below which are rays of the rising sun over the Takbir (Arabic expression meaning "God is great"), and at bottom center is a scroll bearing the name Afghanistan; black signifies the past, red is for the blood shed for independence, and green can represent either hope for the future, agricultural prosperity, or Islam

    note: Afghanistan had more changes to its national flag in the 20th century - 19 by one count - than any other country; the colors black, red, and green appeared on most of them

    National symbol(s) field listing
    lion; national colors: red, green, black
    National anthem field listing
    name: "Milli Surood" (National Anthem)
    lyrics/music: Abdul Bari JAHANI/Babrak WASA

    note: adopted 2006; the 2004 constitution of the post-Taliban government mandated that a new national anthem should be written containing the phrase "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greatest) and mentioning the names of Afghanistan's ethnic groups

  • Economy :: Afghanistan
  • Economy - overview field listing

    Despite improvements in life expectancy, incomes, and literacy since 2001, Afghanistan is extremely poor, landlocked, and highly dependent on foreign aid. Much of the population continues to suffer from shortages of housing, clean water, electricity, medical care, and jobs. Corruption, insecurity, weak governance, lack of infrastructure, and the Afghan Government's difficulty in extending rule of law to all parts of the country pose challenges to future economic growth. Afghanistan's living standards are among the lowest in the world. Since 2014, the economy has slowed, in large part because of the withdrawal of nearly 100,000 foreign troops that had artificially inflated the country’s economic growth.

    The international community remains committed to Afghanistan's development, pledging over $83 billion at ten donors' conferences between 2003 and 2016. In October 2016, the donors at the Brussels conference pledged an additional $3.8 billion in development aid annually from 2017 to 2020. Even with this help, Government of Afghanistan still faces number of challenges, including low revenue collection, anemic job creation, high levels of corruption, weak government capacity, and poor public infrastructure.

    In 2017 Afghanistan's growth rate was only marginally above that of the 2014-2016 average. The drawdown of international security forces that started in 2012 has negatively affected economic growth, as a substantial portion of commerce, especially in the services sector, has catered to the ongoing international troop presence in the country. Afghan President Ashraf GHANI Ahmadzai is dedicated to instituting economic reforms to include improving revenue collection and fighting corruption. The government has implemented reforms to the budget process and in some other areas. However, many other reforms will take time to implement and Afghanistan will remain dependent on international donor support over the next several years.

    GDP (purchasing power parity) field listing
    $69.45 billion (2017 est.)
    $67.65 billion (2016 est.)
    $66.21 billion (2015 est.)

    note: data are in 2017 dollars

    country comparison to the world: 101
    GDP (official exchange rate) field listing
    $20.24 billion (2017 est.)
    GDP - real growth rate field listing
    2.7% (2017 est.)
    2.2% (2016 est.)
    1% (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 124
    GDP - per capita (PPP) field listing
    $2,000 (2017 est.)
    $2,000 (2016 est.)
    $2,000 (2015 est.)

    note: data are in 2017 dollars

    country comparison to the world: 209
    Gross national saving field listing
    22.7% of GDP (2017 est.)
    25.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
    21.4% of GDP (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 78
    GDP - composition, by end use field listing
    household consumption: 81.6% (2016 est.)
    government consumption: 12% (2016 est.)
    investment in fixed capital: 17.2% (2016 est.)
    investment in inventories: 30% (2016 est.)
    exports of goods and services: 6.7% (2016 est.)
    imports of goods and services: -47.6% (2016 est.)
    GDP - composition, by sector of origin field listing
    agriculture: 23% (2016 est.)
    industry: 21.1% (2016 est.)
    services: 55.9% (2016 est.)

    note: data exclude opium production

    Agriculture - products field listing
    opium, wheat, fruits, nuts, wool, mutton, sheepskins, lambskins, poppies
    Industries field listing
    small-scale production of bricks, textiles, soap, furniture, shoes, fertilizer, apparel, food products, non-alcoholic beverages, mineral water, cement; handwoven carpets; natural gas, coal, copper
    Industrial production growth rate field listing
    -1.9% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 181
    Labor force field listing
    8.478 million (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 61
    Labor force - by occupation field listing
    agriculture: 44.3%
    industry: 18.1%
    services: 37.6% (2017 est.)
    Unemployment rate field listing
    23.9% (2017 est.)
    22.6% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 194
    Population below poverty line field listing
    54.5% (2017 est.)
    Household income or consumption by percentage share field listing
    lowest 10%: 3.8%
    highest 10%: 24% (2008)
    Budget field listing
    revenues: 2.276 billion (2017 est.)
    expenditures: 5.328 billion (2017 est.)
    Taxes and other revenues field listing
    11.2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 210
    Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) field listing
    -15.1% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 217
    Public debt field listing
    7% of GDP (2017 est.)
    7.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 202
    Fiscal year field listing
    21 December - 20 December
    Inflation rate (consumer prices) field listing
    5% (2017 est.)
    4.4% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 171
    Current account balance field listing
    $1.014 billion (2017 est.)
    $1.409 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 48
    Exports field listing
    $784 million (2017 est.)
    $614.2 million (2016 est.)

    note: not including illicit exports or reexports

    country comparison to the world: 170
    Exports - partners field listing
    India 56.5%, Pakistan 29.6% (2017)
    Exports - commodities field listing
    opium, fruits and nuts, handwoven carpets, wool, cotton, hides and pelts, precious and semi-precious gems, and medical herbs
    Imports field listing
    $7.616 billion (2017 est.)
    $6.16 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 113
    Imports - commodities field listing
    machinery and other capital goods, food, textiles, petroleum products
    Imports - partners field listing
    China 21%, Iran 20.5%, Pakistan 11.8%, Kazakhstan 11%, Uzbekistan 6.8%, Malaysia 5.3% (2017)
    Reserves of foreign exchange and gold field listing
    $7.187 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $6.901 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 85
    Debt - external field listing
    $2.84 billion (FY/)
    country comparison to the world: 144
    Exchange rates field listing
    afghanis (AFA) per US dollar -
    7.87 (2017 est.)
    68.03 (2016 est.)
    67.87 (2015)
    61.14 (2014 est.)
    57.25 (2013 est.)
  • Energy :: Afghanistan
  • Electricity access field listing
    population without electricity: 18,999,254 (2012)
    electrification - total population: 84.1% (2016)
    electrification - urban areas: 98% (2016)
    electrification - rural areas: 79% (2016)
    Electricity - production field listing
    1.211 billion kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 146
    Electricity - consumption field listing
    5.526 billion kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 119
    Electricity - exports field listing
    0 kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 96
    Electricity - imports field listing
    4.4 billion kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 42
    Electricity - installed generating capacity field listing
    634,100 kW (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 138
    Electricity - from fossil fuels field listing
    45% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 159
    Electricity - from nuclear fuels field listing
    0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 32
    Electricity - from hydroelectric plants field listing
    52% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 34
    Electricity - from other renewable sources field listing
    4% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 111
    Crude oil - production field listing
    0 bbl/day (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 101
    Crude oil - exports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 82
    Crude oil - imports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 84
    Crude oil - proved reserves field listing
    0 bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 99
    Refined petroleum products - production field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 110
    Refined petroleum products - consumption field listing
    35,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 117
    Refined petroleum products - exports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 124
    Refined petroleum products - imports field listing
    34,210 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 97
    Natural gas - production field listing
    164.2 million cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 79
    Natural gas - consumption field listing
    164.2 million cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 108
    Natural gas - exports field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 57
    Natural gas - imports field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 81
    Natural gas - proved reserves field listing
    49.55 billion cu m (1 January 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 62
    Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy field listing
    9.067 million Mt (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 111
  • Communications :: Afghanistan
  • Telephones - fixed lines field listing
    total subscriptions: 127,794
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 135
    Telephones - mobile cellular field listing
    total subscriptions: 21,976,355
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 63 (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 53
    Telecommunication systems field listing
    general assessment: progress has been made on Afghanistan's first limited fixed-line telephone service and nationwide optical fiber backbone; aided by the presence of multiple providers, mobile-cellular telephone service continues to improve swiftly; the Afghan Ministry of Communications and Information claims that more than 90% of the population live in areas with access to mobile cellular service; moderate growth through 2024, assuming stable governance and improving economic environment (2020)
    domestic: less than 1 per 100 for fixed-line teledensity; 63 per 100 for mobile-cellular; an increasing number of Afghans utilize mobile-cellular phone networks (2018)
    international: country code - 93; multiple VSAT's provide international and domestic voice and data connectivity (2019)
    note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated
    Broadcast media field listing
    state-owned broadcaster, Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA), operates a series of radio and television stations in Kabul and the provinces; an estimated 174 private radio stations, 83 TV stations, and about a dozen international broadcasters are available (2019)
    Internet country code field listing
    Internet users field listing
    total: 4,717,013
    percent of population: 13.5% (July 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 86
    Broadband - fixed subscriptions field listing
    total: 15,999
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 160
  • Military and Security :: Afghanistan
  • Military and security forces field listing
    Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) comprised of military, police, and other security elements: Afghan National Army ((ANA), Afghan Air Force, Afghan Special Security Forces, Afghanistan National Army Territorial Forces (ANA-TF)), Afghan National Police (Ministry of Interior), Afghan Local Police (Ministry of Interior), and the National Directorate of Security (2020)
    Military expenditures field listing
    1.2% of GDP (2019)
    1% of GDP (2018)
    0.9% of GDP (2017)
    1% of GDP (2016)
    1% of GDP (2015)
    country comparison to the world: 100
    Military and security service personnel strengths field listing

    the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have approximately 180,000 active personnel (173,000 Army; 7,000 Air); est. 150,000 Afghan National Police

    (2019 est.)
    Military equipment inventories and acquisitions field listing
    the Afghan Army and Air Force inventory is mostly a mix of Soviet-era and more modern US equipment; since 2010, the US is the leading supplier of arms to Afghanistan, followed by Russia (2019 est.)
    Military service age and obligation field listing
    18 is the legal minimum age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2017)
    Military - note field listing
    since early 2015, the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan known as Resolute Support Mission (RSM) has focused on training, advising, and assisting Afghan government forces; as of mid-2020, RSM includes about 16,000 troops from 38 countries (June 2020)
  • Transportation :: Afghanistan
  • National air transport system field listing
    number of registered air carriers: 4 (2015)
    inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 20 (2015)
    annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 1,929,907 (2015)
    annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 33,102,038 mt-km (2015)
    Civil aircraft registration country code prefix field listing
    YA (2016)
    Airports field listing
    46 (2020)
    country comparison to the world: 94
    Airports - with paved runways field listing
    total: 29 (2020)
    over 3,047 m: 4
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 8
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 12
    914 to 1,523 m: 2
    under 914 m: 3
    Airports - with unpaved runways field listing
    total: 17 (2020)
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 7
    914 to 1,523 m: 4
    under 914 m: 5
    Heliports field listing
    1 (2020)
    Pipelines field listing
    466 km gas (2013)
    Roadways field listing
    total: 34,903 km (2017)
    paved: 17,903 km (2017)
    unpaved: 17,000 km (2017)
    country comparison to the world: 93
    Waterways field listing
    1,200 km (chiefly Amu Darya, which handles vessels up to 500 DWT) (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 58
    Ports and terminals field listing
    river port(s): Kheyrabad, Shir Khan
  • Terrorism :: Afghanistan
  • Terrorist groups - home based field listing
    al-Qa'ida (AQ): aim(s): eject Western influence from the Islamic world, unite the worldwide Muslim community, overthrow governments perceived as un-Islamic, and ultimately, establish a pan-Islamic caliphate under a strict Salafi Muslim interpretation of sharia
    area(s) of operation: maintains established networks and a longtime operational presence in Afghanistan, especially in the south, northwest, and northeast near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border; continues to view Afghanistan as a safe haven for its leadership (2019)
    Islamic Jihad Union (IJU): aim(s): drive NATO forces out of Afghanistan and destabilize the country; overthrow the Government of Uzbekistan
    area(s) of operation: conducts attacks in collaboration with other extremist groups, including the Taliban and al-Qa'ida, against NATO and Afghan forces across the country, especially in the northern and eastern Paktika, Paktia, and Nangarhar provinces
    note:  IJU is a splinter movement of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU); IJU emerged in the early 2000s after internal splits over goals; IMU is focused on Central Asia, but the IJU sought a more global focus   (2019)
    Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU):
    aim(s): enhance its networks and secure territory in Afghanistan to establish a secure presence from which it can pursue its historic goal of establishing an Islamic state in the Fergana Valley, a fertile valley spread across eastern Uzbekistan, southern Kyrgyzstan, and northern Tajikistan
    area(s) of operation: operates mostly in the north along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, with its heaviest presence in Badakhshan Province, where IMU has operated paramilitary training camps and bases
    note: the IMU is fractured and mostly supports ISIS-K although some members have continued working with the Taliban and al-Qa'ida (2019)
    Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham-Khorasan (ISIS-K):
    aim(s): establish an Islamic caliphate in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of Central Asia; counter Westerners and Shia Muslims
    area(s) of operation: strongholds in Nangarhar and Kunar provinces near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and operating in Laghman, Jowzjan provinces with pockets of support throughout Afghanistan
    note: recruits from among the local population, Central Asian extremists in Afghanistan, and other militant groups, such as Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, the Afghan Taliban, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan; ISIS-K and Afghan Taliban forces have fought sometimes over control of territory or because of political or differences (2019)
    Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP):
    aim(s): drive foreign troops from Afghanistan; remove Pakistani forces from Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and, ultimately, overthrow the Pakistan Government to implement TTP's strict interpretation of sharia
    area(s) of operation:
    headquartered in several eastern Afghanistan provinces near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border; operates primarily along the northeastern Afghanistan-Pakistan border, especially in Kunar and Paktika provinces, where TTP has established sanctuaries (2019)
    Terrorist groups - foreign based field listing
    al-Qa'ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS): aim(s):  unite local jihadist movements in the Indian subcontinent, pursue the overthrow of local governments, exacerbate tensions between Hindus and Muslims, establish an Islamic caliphate in the Indian subcontinent
    area(s) of operation:
    heaviest presence is in Afghanistan, especially in the eastern and southern regions, where most of the Afghan-based leaders are located
    note: targets primarily Afghan military and security personnel and US interests (2019)
    Haqqani Taliban Network (HQN): aim(s): expel US and Coalition forces and replace the Afghan Government with an Islamic state operating according to a strict Salafi Muslim interpretation of sharia under the Afghan Taliban
    area(s) of operation: stages attacks from Kurram and North Waziristan Agency in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) across from Afghanistan's southeastern border; operational throughout the country, especially in Kabul and Paktiya and Khost provinces
    note: plays a leading role in planning and executing high-profile attacks against Afghan personnel, NATO's Resolute Support Mission, US and Coalition Forces, and other US and Western interests; strong ties with al-Qa'ida (2019)
    Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM): aim(s): enhance its networks and paramilitary training in Afghanistan and, ultimately, incorporate Kashmir into Pakistan; establish an Islamic state in Kashmir
    area(s) of operation: maintains paramilitary training camps in eastern Afghanistan (2019)
    Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami (HUJI): im(s): seeks the annexation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and the expulsion of foreign forces from Afghanistan; implement sharia in Afghanistan
    area(s) of operation: operations throughout Afghanistan, targeting primarily Afghan Government personnel and Coalition forces; has supplied fighters to the Taliban (2019)
    Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps -- Qods Force (IRGC-QF):

    aim(s):  initially supported anti-Taliban initiatives that complemented US goals in 2001, however, it gradually adopted an anti-NATO/anti-Afghan government strategy and began supplying financial assistance, training, and weapons to the Taliban
    area(s) of operations:  Taliban-dominated areas of Afghanistan

    Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM): aim(s): annex the state of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan and expel international forces from Afghanistan.
    area(s) of operation: historically operated in Afghanistan's eastern provinces (2019)
    Jaysh al Adl: aim(s): enhance its operational networks and capabilities for staging cross-border attacks into Iran
    area(s) of operation: operational in the greater Balochistan area, where fighters stage attacks targeting Iranian security forces
    note: formerly known as Jundallah (2019)
    Lashkar i Jhangvi (LJ): aim(s): enhance its networks and paramilitary training in Afghanistan; exterminate Shia Muslims, rid the Afghanistan-Pakistan region of Western influence
    area(s) of operation:
    headquartered in the east; operates paramilitary training camps near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border across from the central area of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) region; operatives conduct operations mostly against targets in Pakistan, but also in Afghanistan; ties with al-Qa'ida and the Taliban (2019)
    Lashkar-e Tayyiba (LT): aim(s): annex the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan and foment Islamic insurgency in India; attack Western, Indian, and Afghan interests in Afghanistan; support the Taliban's return to power; enhance its recruitment networks and paramilitary training in Afghanistan, and, ultimately, install Islamic rule throughout South Asia
    area(s) of operation:
    mostly focused on Indian troops and civilian targets, particularly in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, but has also targeted Coalition forces in Afghanistan; maintains several facilities, such as paramilitary training camps, medical clinics serving locals, and schools for youths; targets Pashtun youth for recruitment in the Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) region (2019)
  • Transnational Issues :: Afghanistan
  • Disputes - international field listing

    Afghan, Coalition, and Pakistan military meet periodically to clarify the alignment of the boundary on the ground and on maps and since 2014 have met to discuss collaboration on the Taliban insurgency and counterterrorism efforts; Afghan and Iranian commissioners have discussed boundary monument densification and resurvey; Iran protests Afghanistan's restricting flow of dammed Helmand River tributaries during drought; Pakistan has sent troops across and built fences along some remote tribal areas of its treaty-defined Durand Line border with Afghanistan which serve as bases for foreign terrorists and other illegal activities; Russia remains concerned about the smuggling of poppy derivatives from Afghanistan through Central Asian countries

    Refugees and internally displaced persons field listing
    refugees (country of origin): 72,194 (Pakistan) (2018)
    IDPs: 2.993 million (mostly Pashtuns and Kuchis displaced in the south and west due to natural disasters and political instability) (2019)
    Illicit drugs field listing
    world's largest producer of opium; poppy cultivation increased 63 percent, to 328,304 hectares in 2017; while eradication increased slightly, it still remains well below levels achieved in 2015; the 2017 crop yielded an estimated 9,000 mt of raw opium, a 88% increase over 2016; the Taliban and other antigovernment groups participate in and profit from the opiate trade, which is a key source of revenue for the Taliban inside Afghanistan; widespread corruption and instability impede counterdrug efforts; most of the heroin consumed in Europe and Eurasia is derived from Afghan opium; Afghanistan is also struggling to respond to a burgeoning domestic opiate addiction problem; a 2015 national drug use survey found that roughly 11% of the population tested positive for one or more illicit drugs; vulnerable to drug money laundering through informal financial networks; illicit cultivation of cannabis and regional source of hashish (2018)