South Asia :: Afghanistan

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.

Geography ::Afghanistan

People and Society ::Afghanistan

    noun: Afghan(s)
    adjective: Afghan
    Pashtun 42%, Tajik 27%, Hazara 9%, Uzbek 9%, Aimak 4%, Turkmen 3%, Baloch 2%, other 4%
    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%
    31,108,077 (July 2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 40
    0-14 years: 42.6% (male 6,733,097/female 6,520,116)
    15-24 years: 21.9% (male 3,479,696/female 3,346,154)
    25-54 years: 29.1% (male 4,623,203/female 4,440,635)
    55-64 years: 3.8% (male 585,629/female 605,018)
    65 years and over: 2.5% (male 360,395/female 414,134) (2013 est.)
    total dependency ratio: 96 %
    youth dependency ratio: 91.4 %
    elderly dependency ratio: 4.6 %
    potential support ratio: 21.7 (2013)
    total: 17.9 years
    male: 17.9 years
    female: 18 years (2013 est.)
    2.25% (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 42
    39.05 births/1,000 population (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 12
    14.35 deaths/1,000 population (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 7
    -2.16 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 166
    urban population: 23.5% of total population (2011)
    rate of urbanization: 4.41% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
    KABUL (capital) 3.097 million (2011)
    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: 0.97 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2013 est.)
    note: Median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2010 est.)
    460 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 23
    total: 119.41 deaths/1,000 live births
    country comparison to the world: 1
    male: 127.18 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 111.25 deaths/1,000 live births (2013 est.)
    total population: 50.11 years
    country comparison to the world: 219
    male: 48.81 years
    female: 51.47 years (2013 est.)
    5.54 children born/woman (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 8
    21.8% (2010)
    7.6% of GDP (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 70
    0.21 physicians/1,000 population (2009)
    0.4 beds/1,000 population (2010)
    urban: 78% of population
    rural: 42% of population
    total: 50% of population
    urban: 22% of population
    rural: 58% of population
    total: 50% of population (2010)
    urban: 60% of population
    rural: 30% of population
    total: 37% of population
    urban: 40% of population
    rural: 70% of population
    total: 63% of population (2010 est.)
    0.01% (2001 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 164
    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)
    2.2% (2008)
    country comparison to the world: 182
    32.9% (2004)
    country comparison to the world: 10
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 28.1%
    male: 43.1%
    female: 12.6% (2000 est.)
    total: 8 years
    male: 10 years
    female: 6 years (2009)
    total number: 3,252,243
    percentage: 25 %
    note: data on child labor in Afghanistan is uncertain and may be higher than the estimated 25% of children ages 5-14 derived from 2011 survey results; UNICEF estimated that 30% of children ages 5-14 in 2011 were engaged in child labor (2008 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
    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)
    sixth constitution drafted 14 December 2003 - 4 January 2004; signed 16 January 2004; ratified 26 January 2004
    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 Hamid KARZAI (since 7 December 2004); First Vice President Mohammad FAHIM Khan (since 19 November 2009); Second Vice President Abdul Karim KHALILI (since 7 December 2004); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
    head of government: President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid KARZAI (since 7 December 2004); First Vice President Mohammad FAHIM Khan (since 19 November 2009); Second Vice President Abdul Karim KHALILI (since 7 December 2004)
    cabinet: 25 ministers; note - ministers are appointed by the president and approved by the National Assembly
    (For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
    elections: the president and two vice presidents 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; election last held on 20 August 2009 (next to be held on 5 April 2014)
    election results: Hamid KARZAI reelected president; percent of vote (first round) - Hamid KARZAI 49.67%, Abdullah ABDULLAH 30.59%, Ramazan BASHARDOST 10.46%, Ashraf GHANI 2.94%; other 6.34%; note - ABDULLAH conceded the election to KARZAI following the first round vote
    the bicameral National Assembly consists of the Meshrano Jirga or House of Elders (102 seats, two-thirds of members elected from provincial councils for four-year terms, and one-third nominated by the president for five-year terms) and the Wolesi Jirga or House of People (no more than 250 seats; members directly elected for five-year terms)
    note: on rare occasions the government may convene a 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
    elections: last held on 18 September 2010 (next election expected in 2015)
    election results: results by party - NA; note - ethnicity is the main factor influencing political alliances; composition of Loya Jirga seats by ethnic groups - Pashtun 96, Hazara 61, Tajik 53, Uzbek 15, Aimak 8, Arab 8, Turkmen 3, Nuristani 2, Baloch 1, Pahhai 1, Turkic 1; 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, CICA, CP, ECO, EITI (candidate country), FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), 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 (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
    chief of mission: Ambassador Eklil Ahmad HAKIMI
    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
    chief of mission: Ambassador James B. CUNNINGHAM
    embassy: The Great Masood Road, Kabul
    mailing address: U.S. Embassy Kabul, APO, AE 09806
    telephone: [93] 0700 108 001
    FAX: [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
    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.
    $34.29 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 109
    $31.12 billion (2011 est.)
    $29.09 billion (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    $19.91 billion (2012 est.)
    10.2% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 8
    7% (2011 est.)
    8.4% (2010 est.)
    $1,100 (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 216
    $1,000 (2011 est.)
    $1,000 (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    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: 20%
    industry: 25.6%
    services: 54.4%
    note: data exclude opium production (2011 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
    15 million (2004 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 40
    agriculture: 78.6%
    industry: 5.7%
    services: 15.7% (FY08/09 est.)
    35% (2008 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 184
    40% (2005 est.)
    36% (FY08/09)
    lowest 10%: 3.8%
    highest 10%: 24% (2008)
    revenues: $2.249 billion
    expenditures: $3.974 billion (2012 est.)
    11.3% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 206
    -8.7% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 198
    21 December - 20 December
    10.2% (2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 200
    0.9% (2010 est.)
    15% (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 40
    15.15% (31 December 2011 est.)
    $5.928 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 90
    $5.307 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
    $6.351 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 120
    $5.671 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
    $363.6 million (31 December 2008 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 180
    $20.06 million (31 December 2007 est.)
    -$743.9 million (2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 106
    -$736 million (2010 est.)
    $376 million (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 179
    $388 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
    Pakistan 33.1%, India 24.9%, Tajikistan 8.7%, US 5.8% (2012)
    $6.39 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 117
    $5.154 billion (2011 est.)
    machinery and other capital goods, food, textiles, petroleum products
    Pakistan 25.8%, US 17.4%, Russia 8.4%, India 5.5%, China 5.4%, Kazakhstan 4.5%, Germany 4.3% (2012)
    $5.268 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 90
    $4.174 billion (2010 est.)
    $1.28 billion (FY10/11)
    country comparison to the world: 154
    $2.7 billion (FY08/09)
    afghanis (AFA) per US dollar -
    51 (2012 est.)
    46.75 (2011 est.)
    46.45 (2010)

Energy ::Afghanistan

Communications ::Afghanistan

    13,500 (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 198
    17.558 million (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 51
    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)
    223 (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 199
    1 million (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 101
    Internet access is growing through Internet cafes as well as public "telekiosks" in Kabul (2005)

Transportation ::Afghanistan

Military ::Afghanistan

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): 16,147 (Pakistan) (2012)
    IDPs: 492,777 (mostly Pashtuns and Kuchis displaced in the south and west due to drought and instability) (2013)
    current situation: Afghanistan is a source transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking, although domestic trafficking is more prevalent than transnational trafficking; Afghan men are subjected to forced labor and debt bondage in Iran, Pakistan, Greece, Turkey, and the Gulf states; Afghan women and girls are forced into prostitution and domestic servitude in Pakistan, Iran, and India, while women and girls from the Philippines, Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, and China are reportedly sexually exploited in Afghanistan; children are increasingly subjected to forced labor in carpet-making factories, domestic servitude, forced begging, and commercial sexual exploitation; some children are sold to settle debts
    tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Afghanistan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons; anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts have improved, though official complicity in human trafficking remains a problem; the first known convictions were made under the government's 2008 anti-trafficking law; Afghanistan has not developed or employed systematic procedures to identify trafficking victims or refer them to protective services and continues to rely on NGOs to provide the vast majority of victim assistance; the government has not made discernible progress in preventing human trafficking or protecting victims but has adopted an anti-trafficking action plan (2013)
    world's largest producer of opium; while poppy cultivation was relatively stable at 119,000 hectares in 2010, a poppy blight affecting the high cultivation areas in 2010 reduced potential opium production to 3,200 metric tons, down over 40 percent from 2009; 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; vulnerable to drug money laundering through informal financial networks; regional source of hashish (2011)