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South Asia :: Afghanistan
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  • Introduction :: AFGHANISTAN

  • 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 democracy ended in a 1973 coup and a 1978 communist counter-coup. 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 mujahedin 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 Osama BIN LADIN. The 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 re-elected in August 2009 for a second term. Despite gains toward building a stable central government, a resurgent Taliban and continuing provincial instability - particularly in the south and the east - remain serious challenges for the Afghan Government. 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.
  • Geography :: AFGHANISTAN

  • Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran
    33 00 N, 65 00 E
    total: 652,230 sq km
    land: 652,230 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    almost six time the size of Virginia; slightly smaller than Texas
    Area comparison map:
    total: 5,987 km
    border countries (6): China 91 km, Iran 921 km, Pakistan 2,670 km, Tajikistan 1,357 km, Turkmenistan 804 km, Uzbekistan 144 km
    0 km (landlocked)
    none (landlocked)
    arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers
    mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest
    lowest point: Amu Darya 258 m
    highest point: Noshak 7,485 m
    natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones, arable land
    agricultural land: 58.1%
    arable land 11.9%; permanent crops 0.2%; permanent pasture 46%
    forest: 2.1%
    other: 39.8% (2011 est.)
    32,080 sq km (2003)
    65.33 cu km (2011)
    total: 20.28 cu km/yr (1%/1%/98%)
    per capita: 823.1 cu m/yr (2005)
    damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding; droughts
    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
    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
    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

  • noun: Afghan(s)
    adjective: Afghan
    Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, other (includes smaller numbers of Baloch, Turkmen, Nuristani, Pamiri, Arab, Gujar, Brahui, Qizilbash, Aimaq, Pashai, and Kyrghyz)
    note: current statistical data on the sensitive subject of ethnicity in Afghanistan is 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 (2015)
    Afghan Persian or Dari (official) 50%, Pashto (official) 35%, Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen) 11%, 30 minor languages (primarily Balochi and Pashai) 4%, much bilingualism, but Dari functions as the lingua franca
    note: the Turkic languages Uzbek and Turkmen, as well as Balochi, Pashai, Nuristani, and Pamiri are the third official languages in areas where the majority speaks them
    Sunni Muslim 80%, Shia Muslim 19%, other 1%
    31,822,848 (July 2014 est.)
    0-14 years: 42% (male 6,793,832/female 6,579,388)
    15-24 years: 22.2% (male 3,600,264/female 3,464,781)
    25-54 years: 29.4% (male 4,771,323/female 4,586,963)
    55-64 years: 3.9% (male 603,197/female 622,539)
    65 years and over: 2.5% (male 371,753/female 428,808) (2014 est.)
    population pyramid:
    total dependency ratio: 93.1%
    youth dependency ratio: 88.4%
    elderly dependency ratio: 4.6%
    potential support ratio: 21.5% (2014 est.)
    total: 18.1 years
    male: 18.1 years
    female: 18.2 years (2014 est.)
    2.29% (2014 est.)
    38.84 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    14.12 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    -1.83 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    urban population: 26.3% of total population (2014)
    rate of urbanization: 3.96% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
    KABUL (capital) 4.436 million (2014)
    at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2014 est.)
    note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2010 est.)
    400 deaths/100,000 live births (2013 est.)
    total: 117.23 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 124.89 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 109.18 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)
    total population: 50.49 years
    male: 49.17 years
    female: 51.88 years (2014 est.)
    5.43 children born/woman (2014 est.)
    21.2% (2010/11)
    8.1% of GDP (2013)
    0.27 physicians/1,000 population (2013)
    0.5 beds/1,000 population (2012)
    urban: 89.9% of population
    rural: 56.1% of population
    total: 64.2% of population
    urban: 10.1% of population
    rural: 43.9% of population
    total: 35.8% of population (2012 est.)
    urban: 46.8% of population
    rural: 23.4% of population
    total: 29% of population
    urban: 53.2% of population
    rural: 76.6% of population
    total: 71% of population (2012 est.)
    0.03% (2013 est.)
    4,500 (2013 est.)
    300 (2013 est.)
    degree of risk: intermediate
    food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
    vectorborne disease: malaria
    animal contact disease: rabies
    note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2013)
    2.4% (2014)
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 38.2%
    male: 52%
    female: 24.2% (2015 est.)
    total: 9 years
    male: 11 years
    female: 7 years (2011)
    total number: 2,082,722
    percentage: 25.3%
    note: data on child labor in Afghanistan is uncertain and may be higher than the estimated 25.3% of children ages 5-14 derived from 2010-11 survey results; UNICEF estimated that 30% of children ages 5-14 in 2011 were engaged in child labor (2010/11 est.)
  • Government :: AFGHANISTAN

  • 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
    note: the name "Afghan" originally refered 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
    Islamic republic
    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)
    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
    19 August 1919 (from UK control over Afghan foreign affairs)
    Independence Day, 19 August (1919)
    several previous; latest drafted 14 December 2003 - 4 January 2004, signed 16 January 2004, ratified 26 January 2004 (2012)
    mixed legal system of civil, customary, and Islamic law
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
    18 years of age; universal
    chief of state: President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ashraf GHANI (since 29 September 2014); First Vice President Abdul Rashid DOSTAM (since 29 September 2014); Second Vice President Sarwar DANESH (since 29 September 2014); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
    head of government: President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ashraf GHANI (since 29 September 2014); First Vice President Abdul Rashid DOSTAM (since 29 September 2014); Second Vice President Sarwar DANESH (since 29 September 2014); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
    cabinet: 25 ministers; note - ministers are appointed by the president and approved by the National Assembly
    elections: the president is elected by direct vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); if no candidate receives 50% or more of the vote in the first round of voting, the two candidates with the most votes will participate in a second round; first round of last election held on 5 April 2014 (second round held on 14 June 2014)
    election results: first round results - Abdullah ABDULLAH 45%, Ashraf GHANI Ahmadzai 31.6%, Zalmai RASOUL 11.4%, other 12%; second round - Ashraf GHANI 56.4, Abdullah ABDULLAH 43.6
    description: the bicameral National Assembly consists of the Meshrano Jirga or House of Elders (102 seats; 34 members indirectly elected by district councils to serve 3-year terms, 34 indirectly elected by provincial councils to serve 4-year terms, and 34 nominated by the president of which 17 must be women, 2 must represent the disabled, and 2 must be Kuchi nomads; members serve 5-year terms) and the Wolesi Jirga or House of People (no more than 250 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote to serve 5-year terms)
    note: the constitution allows the government to convene a constitutional Loya Jirga (Grand Council) on issues of independence, national sovereignty, and territorial integrity; it can amend the provisions of the constitution and prosecute the president; it is made up of members of the National Assembly and chairpersons of the provincial and district councils; no Loya Jirga of this type has ever been held, and district councils have never been elected
    elections: last held on 18 September 2010 (next expected in 2015)
    election results: results by party - NA; note - ethnicity is the main factor influencing political alliances; approximate percentage of seats by ethnic group - Pashtun 39%, Hazara 24%, Tajik 21%, Uzbek 6%, other 10% (including Aimak, Arab, Baloch, Nuristani, Pahhai, Turkmen, Turkic); women hold 69 seats
    highest court(s): 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
    note - the Ministry of Justice licensed 84 political parties as of December 2012
    other: religious groups, tribal leaders, ethnically based groups, Taliban
    ADB, 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, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OSCE (partner), SAARC, SACEP, SCO (dialogue member), SICA (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
    chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Ramin MANAWI (since 20 April 2015) Source: State Dipl. List; updated 22 June 2015 (GL)
    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
    chief of mission: Ambassador P. Michael MCKINLEY (since 6 January 2014)
    embassy: The Great Masood Road, Kabul
    mailing address: U.S. Embassy Kabul, APO, AE 09806
    telephone: [00 93] 0700 108 001
    FAX: [00 93] 0700 108 564
    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 two bands; the center of the emblem features a mosque with pulpit and flags on either side, below the mosque are 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 than any other country; the colors black, red, and green appeared on most of them
    lion; national colors: red, green, black
    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 Great) and mentioning the names of Afghanistan's ethnic groups
  • Economy :: AFGHANISTAN

  • Afghanistan's economy is recovering from decades of conflict. The economy has improved significantly since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 largely because of the infusion of international assistance, the recovery of the agricultural sector, and service sector growth. Despite the progress of the past few years, 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. Criminality, 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. The international community remains committed to Afghanistan's development, pledging over $67 billion at nine donors' conferences between 2003-10. In July 2012, the donors at the Tokyo conference pledged an additional $16 billion in civilian aid through 2015. Despite this help, the Government of Afghanistan will need to overcome a number of challenges, including low revenue collection, anemic job creation, high levels of corruption, weak government capacity, and poor public infrastructure. Afghanistan's growth rate slowed markedly in 2014. Newly elected President Ashraf GHANI is dedicated to instituting economic reforms. However, the drawdown of international security forces that occurred in 2014 will negatively effect economic growth, as a substantial portion of commerce, especially in the services sector, has catered to the ongoing international troop presence in the country.
    $61.69 billion (2014 est.)
    $59.75 billion (2013 est.)
    $57.68 billion (2012 est.)
    note: data are in 2014 US dollars
    $21.71 billion (2014 est.)
    3.2% (2014 est.)
    3.6% (2013 est.)
    14% (2012 est.)
    $2,000 (2014 est.)
    $2,000 (2013 est.)
    $1,900 (2012 est.)
    note: data are in 2013 US dollars
    country comparison to the world: 203
    21.1% of GDP (2014 est.)
    22.3% of GDP (2013 est.)
    22.5% of GDP (2012 est.)
    household consumption: 96.5%
    government consumption: 23.3%
    investment in fixed capital: 25.4%
    investment in inventories: 0%
    exports of goods and services: 18.1%
    imports of goods and services: -63.4%
    (2011 est.)
    agriculture: 24.6%
    industry: 21.8%
    services: 53.5%
    note: data exclude opium production (2012 est.)
    opium, wheat, fruits, nuts; wool, mutton, sheepskins, lambskins
    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
    7.7% (2012 est.)
    7.512 million (2012 est.)
    agriculture: 78.6%
    industry: 5.7%
    services: 15.7% (FY08/09 est.)
    35% (2008 est.)
    40% (2005 est.)
    36% (FY08/09)
    lowest 10%: 3.8%
    highest 10%: 24% (2008)
    revenues: $4.91 billion
    expenditures: $5.037 billion (2013 est.)
    22.6% of GDP (2013 est.)
    -0.6% of GDP (2013 est.)
    21 December - 20 December
    7.6% (2013 est.)
    7.2% (2012 est.)
    15.08% (31 December 2013 est.)
    15% (31 December 2012 est.)
    $6.121 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    $5.928 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $6.499 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    $6.351 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $-819.6 million (31 December 2012 est.)
    $-520.2 million (31 December 2011 est.)
    $-743.9 million (2011 est.)
    $346 million (2012 est.)
    $2.785 billion (2012 est.)
    $388.5 million (2011 est.)
    note: not including illicit exports or reexports
    opium, fruits and nuts, handwoven carpets, wool, cotton, hides and pelts, precious and semi-precious gems
    India 31.9%, Pakistan 28.5%, Tajikistan 7.5%, US 6.2% (2013)
    $6.39 billion (2012 est.)
    $5.154 billion (2011 est.)
    machinery and other capital goods, food, textiles, petroleum products
    Pakistan 28%, US 18.6%, Russia 7.6%, India 6.3%, Kazakhstan 4.5%, China 4.3% (2013)
    $6.442 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    $5.983 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    $1.28 billion (FY10/11)
    $2.7 billion (FY08/09)
    afghanis (AFA) per US dollar -
    55.38 (2013 est.)
    50.92 (2012 est.)
    46.75 (2011 est.)
    46.75 (2011 est.)
    46.45 (2010)
  • Energy :: AFGHANISTAN

  • 833.1 million kWh (2011 est.)
    3.021 billion kWh (2011 est.)
    0 kWh (2013 est.)
    2.246 billion kWh (2011 est.)
    489,100 kW (2011 est.)
    23.5% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    0% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    76.5% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    0% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    1,950 bbl/day (2012 est.)
    0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    NA bbl (1 January 2013 est.)
    0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    50,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    36,250 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    140 million cu m (2012 est.)
    140 million cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    49.55 billion cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
    8.552 million Mt (2012 est.)
  • Communications :: AFGHANISTAN

  • 13,500 (2012)
    18 million (2012)
    general assessment: limited fixed-line telephone service; an increasing number of Afghans utilize mobile-cellular phone networks
    domestic: aided by the presence of multiple providers, mobile-cellular telephone service continues to improve rapidly; the Afghan Ministry of Communications and Information claims that more than 90 percent of the population live in areas with access to mobile-cellular services
    international: country code - 93; multiple VSAT's provide international and domestic voice and data connectivity (2012)
    state-owned broadcaster, Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA), operates a series of radio and television stations in Kabul and the provinces; an estimated 150 private radio stations, 50 TV stations, and about a dozen international broadcasters are available (2007)
    48 (station types NA) (2009)
    16 (1 state-run station and 15 registered private stations) (2009)
    223 (2012)
    1 million (2009)
  • Transportation :: AFGHANISTAN

  • 52 (2013)
    total: 23
    over 3,047 m: 4
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
    914 to 1,523 m: 2
    under 914 m: 2 (2013)
    total: 29
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 13
    914 to 1,523 m: 6
    under 914 m:
    6 (2013)
    9 (2013)
    gas 466 km (2013)
    total: 42,150 km
    paved: 12,350 km
    unpaved: 29,800 km (2006)
    1,200 km; (chiefly Amu Darya, which handles vessels up to 500 DWT) (2011)
    river port(s): Kheyrabad, Shir Khan
  • Military :: AFGHANISTAN

  • Afghan National Security Forces: Afghan National Army, Afghan Air Force, Afghan National Police, Afghan Local Police (2015)
    18 is the legal minimum age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2012)
    males age 16-49: 7,056,339
    females age 16-49: 6,653,419 (2010 est.)
    males age 16-49: 4,050,222
    females age 16-49: 3,797,087 (2010 est.)
    male: 392,116
    female: 370,295 (2010 est.)
    NA% (2012)
    4.74% of GDP (2011)
    NA% (2010)
  • Transnational Issues :: AFGHANISTAN

  • Afghan, Coalition, and Pakistan military meet periodically to clarify the alignment of the boundary on the ground and on maps; 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 (country of origin): 241,641 (Pakistan) (2015)
    IDPs: 964,200 (mostly Pashtuns and Kuchis displaced in the south and west due to drought and instability) (2015)
    world's largest producer of opium; poppy cultivation increased 7 percent, to a record 211,000 hectares in 2014 from 198,000 hectares in 2013 while eradication dropped sharply; relatively low opium yields due to poor weather kept potential opium production—6,300 metric tons—below the record set in 2007; 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; vulnerable to drug money laundering through informal financial networks; illicit cultivation of cannabis and regional source of hashish