View of Shahr-i-Zohok (the "Red City") in Bamyan Province. The color comes from the red clay used in construction; the dry climate has allowed for the remarkable preservation.
Country Flag
Country Map
Special Country Products
Locator Map

Introduction

Background

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 was reelected in August 2009. In February 2020, the US and the Taliban signed the “US-Taliban Agreement,” which contained commitments by the US related to the withdrawal from Afghanistan of military forces of the US, its allies, and Coalition partners, as well as commitments by the Taliban related to counterterrorism, among other topics. Following a US drawdown of virtually all of its troops, a summer 2021 Taliban offensive quickly overran the country and the Taliban took over Kabul in August of 2021. 

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

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

Geographic coordinates

33 00 N, 65 00 E

Area

total: 652,230 sq km

land: 652,230 sq km

water: 0 sq km

country comparison to the world: 43

Area - comparative

almost six times the size of Virginia; slightly smaller than Texas

Area comparison map
Area comparison map

Land boundaries

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

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

highest point: Noshak 7,492 m

lowest point: Amu Darya 258 m

mean elevation: 1,884 m

Natural resources

natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 58.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 11.8% (2018)

permanent crops: 0.3% (2018)

permanent pasture: 46% (2018)

forest: 1.8% (2018 est.)

other: 40.1% (2018)

Irrigated land

24,930 sq km (2020)

Major lakes (area sq km)

salt water lake(s): Ab-e Istadah-ye Muqur (endorheic basin) - 520 sq km

Major rivers (by length in km)

Amu Darya (shared with Tajikistan [s], Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan [m]) - 2,620 km; Helmand river source (shared with Iran) - 1,130 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Indian Ocean drainage: Indus (1,081,718 sq km)
Internal (endorheic basin) drainage: Amu Darya (534,739 sq km); Tarim Basin (1,152,448 sq km)

Population distribution

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

damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding; droughts

Geography - note

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

Nationality

noun: Afghan(s)

adjective: Afghan

Ethnic groups

Current, reliable statistical data on ethnicity in Afghanistan are not available; Afghanistan's 2004 Constitution cited Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Turkman, Baluch, Pachaie, Nuristani, Aymaq, Arab, Qirghiz, Qizilbash, Gujur, and Brahwui ethnicities; Afghanistan has dozens of other small ethnic groups

Languages

Afghan Persian or Dari (official, lingua franca) 77%, Pashto (official) 48%, Uzbeki 11%, English 6%, Turkmani 3%, Urdu 3%, Pachaie 1%, Nuristani 1%, Arabic 1%, Balochi 1%, other <1% (2020 est.)

major-language sample(s):

کتاب حقایق جهان، مرجعی ضروری برای اطلاعات اولیە (Dari)

د دنیا د حقائېقو کتاب، بنیادی معلوماتو لپاره ضروری سرچینه- (Pashto)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

note 1: percentages sum to more than 100% because many people are multilingual

note 2: Uzbeki, Turkmani, Pachaie, Nuristani, Balochi, and Pamiri are the third official languages in areas where the majority speaks them

Dari audio sample:
Pashto audio sample:

Religions

Muslim 99.7% (Sunni 84.7 - 89.7%, Shia 10 - 15%), other <0.3% (2009 est.)

Age structure

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.)

2022 population pyramid
2022 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 84.6

youth dependency ratio: 80.2

elderly dependency ratio: 4.8

potential support ratio: 22.5 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 19.5 years

male: 19.4 years

female: 19.5 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 201

Birth rate

35.46 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 15

Death rate

12.33 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 13

Net migration rate

-0.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 103

Population distribution

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

urban population: 26.9% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 3.34% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

4.589 million KABUL (capital) (2023)

Sex ratio

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: 0.7 male(s)/female

total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2022 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

19.9 years (2015 est.)

note: data represents median age at first birth among women 25-49

Maternal mortality ratio

638 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 11

Infant mortality rate

total: 104.89 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 113.33 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 96.03 deaths/1,000 live births (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 1

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 53.65 years

male: 52.1 years

female: 55.28 years (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 227

Gross reproduction rate

2.21 (2023 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

18.9% (2018)

note:  percent of women aged 12-49

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 68.3% of population

total: 76.5% of population 70.2%

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 31.7% of population

total: 23.5% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

13.2% of GDP (2019)

Physicians density

0.25 physicians/1,000 population (2020)

Hospital bed density

0.4 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 88.2% of population

rural: 52% of population

total: 61.4% of population

unimproved: urban: 11.8% of population

rural: 48% of population

total: 38.6% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: intermediate (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: Crimea-Congo hemorrhagic fever, malaria

note: Afghanistan is one of two countries with endemic wild polio virus (the other is Pakistan) and considered high risk for international spread of the disease; before any international travel, anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccine series; before travel to any high-risk destination, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults who previously completed the full, routine polio vaccine series receive a single, lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 0.01 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0.01 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 183

Tobacco use

total: 23.3% (2020 est.)

male: 39.4% (2020 est.)

female: 7.2% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 62

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 4.2%

women married by age 18: 28.3% (2017 est.)

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 37.3%

male: 52.1%

female: 22.6% (2021)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 10 years

male: 13 years

female: 8 years (2018)

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 20.2%

male: 18.6%

female: 26.4% (2021 est.)

Environment

Environment - current issues

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

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection

signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 53.17 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 8.67 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 90.98 megatons (2020 est.)

Climate

arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers

Land use

agricultural land: 58.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 11.8% (2018)

permanent crops: 0.3% (2018)

permanent pasture: 46% (2018)

forest: 1.8% (2018 est.)

other: 40.1% (2018)

Urbanization

urban population: 26.9% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 3.34% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0.45% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 12

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: intermediate (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: Crimea-Congo hemorrhagic fever, malaria

note: Afghanistan is one of two countries with endemic wild polio virus (the other is Pakistan) and considered high risk for international spread of the disease; before any international travel, anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccine series; before travel to any high-risk destination, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults who previously completed the full, routine polio vaccine series receive a single, lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine

Food insecurity

severe localized food insecurity: due to civil conflict, population displacement, and economic slowdown - between November 2021 and March 2022, during the winter lean season, the food insecurity situation was expected to deteriorate and the number of people in "Crisis" or above was likely to increase to 22.8 million, about 35% more than during the same season in 2020/21; following the developments of August 2021 in the country, the international aid flows, an important element of public spending, were halted; the food security situation and agricultural livelihoods in the country is likely to significantly deteriorate in the coming months due to cumulative and cascading impact of multiple shocks, including weather, conflict, economic crisis and the lingering effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic (2022)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 5,628,525 tons (2016 est.)

Major lakes (area sq km)

salt water lake(s): Ab-e Istadah-ye Muqur (endorheic basin) - 520 sq km

Major rivers (by length in km)

Amu Darya (shared with Tajikistan [s], Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan [m]) - 2,620 km; Helmand river source (shared with Iran) - 1,130 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Indian Ocean drainage: Indus (1,081,718 sq km)
Internal (endorheic basin) drainage: Amu Darya (534,739 sq km); Tarim Basin (1,152,448 sq km)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 203.4 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 169.5 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 20 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

65.33 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: formerly Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

conventional short form: Afghanistan

local long form: formerly Jamhuri-ye Islami-ye Afghanistan

local short form: Afghanistan

former: Islamic 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

the United States does not recognize the Taliban government

Capital

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

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

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

National holiday

Independence Day, 19 August (1919)

Constitution

history: last ratified in 2004

amendments: formerly 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

Legal system

before the Taliban's takeover of Kabul in August 2021, Afghanistan had a mixed legal system of civil, customary, and Islamic (sharia) law; after August 2021, the Taliban’s so-called “interim government” has claimed to be implementing its own interpretation of Islamic law, partially based on the Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence.

(2021)

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; formerly accepted ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

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

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state:

president (vacant); note – before 15 August, 2021, the president was both chief of state and head of government; President Ashraf GHANI departed the country on 15 August 2021; on 7 September 2021, the Taliban announced Mullah Mohammad HASSAN Akhund as the so-called “acting Prime Minister” of a so-called “interim government”; as of November 2021, the group had announced three acting so-called “Deputy Prime Ministers”: Mullah Abdul Ghani BERADER, Mullah Abdul Salam HANAFI, and Maulawi Abdul KABIR



head of government: president (vacant); note - President Ashraf GHANI departed the country on 15 August 2021; on 7 September 2021, the Taliban announced Mullah Mohammad HASSAN Akhund as the acting Prime Minister of an interim Taliban government; the US does not recognize the Taliban government; as of November 2021, the group had announced three acting Deputy Prime Ministers: Mullah Abdul Ghani BERADER, Mullah Abdul Salam HANAFI, and Maulawi Abdul KABIR

cabinet: before 15 August 2021, the cabinet formerly consisted of 25 ministers appointed by the president, approved by the National Assembly; the Taliban have announced a so-called “cabinet” which includes 33 ministries

elections/appointments: the 2004 Afghan constitution directed that the president should be elected by majority popular vote for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 28 September 2019

election results: no elections have been held since 2019; in that election, Ashraf GHANI was declared winner by the Independent Election Commission on 18 February 2020; the IEC declared Ashraf GHANI the winner with 50.6% of the vote, Abdullah ABDULLAH, Dr. 39.5%, other 0.9%

Legislative branch

description: before 15 August, 2021, Afghanistan had a bicameral National Assembly that consisted of a House of Elders and a House of People; since August 15, the Taliban’s so-called “interim government” has not purported to announce the formation of a legislative branch

elections: before 15 August, 2021:  House of Elders - district councils - held within 5 days of installation; provincial councils - within 15 days of installation; and presidential appointees - within 2 weeks after the presidential inauguration; note - in early 2016, former President Ashraf Ghani extended their mandate until parliamentary and district elections could be held; former House of People - last held on 20 October 2018

election results: before 15 August 2021, House of Elders - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; composition - men 85, women 17, percent of women 16.7%
before 15 August 2021, House of People - percent of vote by party NA; seats by party - NA; composition - men 179, women 69, percent of women 27.7%; note - total National Assembly percent of women 24.4%

Judicial branch

highest court(s): the Taliban’s so-called “interim government” has a “Supreme Court” (consisting of a supreme court chief and an unknown number of justices); before 15 August, 2021, Afghanistan had a Supreme Court (consisting of a supreme court chief and 8 justices organized into criminal, public security, civil, and commercial divisions)

judge selection and term of office: the court chief and justices were appointed by the president with the approval of the Wolesi Jirga; court chief and justices served single 10-year terms

subordinate courts: before 15 August 2021, consisted of Appeals Courts; Primary Courts; and Special Courts for issues including narcotics, security, property, family, and juveniles

Political parties and leaders

the Taliban’s so-called “interim government” includes mostly Taliban members and not other political parties; before 15 August, 2021, the Ministry of Justice had licensed 72 political parties as of April 2019

International organization participation

before 15 August, 2021, Afghanistan was a member or participant in the following organizations: 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

chief of mission: the Afghan Embassy closed in March 2022

chancery: 2341 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 483-6410

FAX: [1] (202) 483-6488

email address and website:
info@afghanembassy.us

https://www.afghanembassy.us/

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d’Affaires: Ian McCARY (since August 2021); note – since 15 August 2021, the United States has not yet made a decision whether to recognize the Taliban or any other entity as the Government of Afghanistan

embassy: Embassy Kabul, operations have been suspended; Department of State’s Afghanistan Affairs Unit operates from Doha, Qatar.

 

 

 

 

Flag description

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 1: the United States has not recognized the Taliban or any other entity as the government of Afghanistan and, accordingly, continues to display the flag of Afghanistan as set forth in the country's constitution of 2004

note 2:
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)

lion; national colors: red, green, black

National anthem

name: "Milli Surood" (National Anthem)

lyrics/music: Abdul Bari JAHANI/Babrak WASA

note: adopted 2006

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 2 (both cultural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Minaret of Jam; Buddhas of Bamyan

note: the monumental 6th- and 7th-century statues were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001

Economy

Economic overview

extremely low-income South Asian economy; import drops, currency depreciation, disappearing central bank reserves, and increasing inflation after Taliban takeover; increasing Chinese trade; hit hard by COVID; ongoing sanctions

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$60.803 billion (2021 est.)

$76.711 billion (2020 est.)

$78.558 billion (2019 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 105

Real GDP growth rate

-20.74% (2021 est.)

-2.35% (2020 est.)

3.91% (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 224

Real GDP per capita

$1,500 (2021 est.)

$2,000 (2020 est.)

$2,100 (2019 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 219

GDP (official exchange rate)

$20.24 billion (2017 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

2.3% (2019 est.)

0.63% (2018 est.)

4.98% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 83

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 23% (2016 est.)

industry: 21.1% (2016 est.)

services: 55.9% (2016 est.)

note: data exclude opium production

GDP - composition, by end use

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.)

Agricultural products

wheat, milk, grapes, vegetables, potatoes, watermelons, melons, rice, onions, apples

Industries

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

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 44.3%

industry: 18.1%

services: 37.6% (2017 est.)

Unemployment rate

13.28% (2021 est.)

11.71% (2020 est.)

11.22% (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 182

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 20.2%

male: 18.6%

female: 26.4% (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 81

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 3.8%

highest 10%: 24% (2008)

Budget

revenues: $2.276 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: $5.328 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

7% of GDP (2017 est.)

7.8% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 201

Fiscal year

21 March - 20 March

Current account balance

-$3.137 billion (2020 est.)

-$3.792 billion (2019 est.)

-$3.897 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 173

Exports

$1.476 billion (2020 est.)

$1.516 billion (2019 est.)

$1.609 billion (2018 est.)

note: Data are in current year dollars and do not include illicit exports or re-exports.

country comparison to the world: 168

Exports - partners

United Arab Emirates 45%, Pakistan 24%, India 22%, China 1% (2019)

Exports - commodities

gold, grapes, opium, fruits and nuts, insect resins, cotton, handwoven carpets, soapstone, scrap metal (2019)

Imports

$6.983 billion (2020 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$7.371 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$7.988 billion (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

country comparison to the world: 127

Imports - partners

United Arab Emirates 23%, Pakistan 17%, India 13%, China 9%, United States 9%, Uzbekistan 7%, Kazakhstan 6% (2019)

Imports - commodities

wheat flours, broadcasting equipment, refined petroleum, rolled tobacco, aircraft parts, synthetic fabrics (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$9.749 billion (31 December 2020 est.)

$8.498 billion (31 December 2019 est.)

$8.207 billion (31 December 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 80

Exchange rates

afghanis (AFA) per US dollar -

76.814 (2020 est.)

77.738 (2019 est.)

72.083 (2018 est.)

68.027 (2017 est.)

67.866 (2016 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 99% (2018)

electrification - urban areas: 100% (2018)

electrification - rural areas: 98% (2018)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 776,000 kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 5.913 billion kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 4.912 billion kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 61.6 million kWh (2019 est.)

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 15.9% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 5.1% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 79.1% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 2.096 million metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 2.096 million metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 66 million metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 0 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 24,300 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 0 barrels (2021 est.)

Natural gas

production: 80.193 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

consumption: 80.193 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 49.554 billion cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

7.893 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 4.158 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 3.468 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 267,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 117

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 145,787 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: (2020 est.) less than 1

country comparison to the world: 126

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 22,678,024 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 58 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 53

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: the return of the Taliban to power in August 2021 following the American-led withdrawal of security forces has thrown the telecom sector into disarray; Afghanistan was near the bottom of the world’s rankings in terms of its telecom market maturity, but it had been making some positive progress toward establishing widespread coverage over the prior decade under civilian administration; after the first Taliban regime was toppled in 2001, considerable foreign investment along with open competition in the telecom sector resulted in the transformation of the mobile market; the first mobile network was set up in 2002, and by 2020 coverage had reached 90%; mobile penetration rates, too, had climbed from zero to almost 100% by the time a new insurgency kicked off in 2019 that was closely followed by the start of the Covid-19 pandemic; both events caused a drop in subscriber numbers and in revenue for the mobile operators; it was additional costs involved with repairing and replacing network infrastructure destroyed by the Taliban in the build up to their takeover that put a strain on the operators’ finances; with increased levels of risk and uncertainty now associated with running a telecom company in the embattled state (2021)

domestic: before 15 August 2021, less than 1 per 100 for fixed-line teledensity; 58 per 100 for mobile-cellular; an increasing number of Afghans utilize mobile-cellular phone networks (2021)

international: country code - 93; multiple VSAT's provide international and domestic voice and data connectivity (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced a downturn, particularly in mobile device production; progress toward 5G implementation has resumed, as well as upgrades to infrastructure; consumer spending on telecom services has increased due to the surge in demand for capacity and bandwidth; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home is still evident, and the spike in this area has seen growth opportunities for development of new tools and increased services

Broadcast media

since 15 August 2021, independent media outlets have decreased in number due to financial hardships, departure of staff from the country, and restrictions placed by the Taliban; media workers report self-censoring criticism of the Taliban; before 15 August 2021, the former Afghan Government-owned broadcaster, Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA), operated a series of radio and television stations in Kabul and the provinces and the country had an estimated 174 private radio stations and 83 TV stations; television and radio are key media platforms; only about a fifth of Afghans in urban areas use the internet, mostly through smartphones, and young adults are significantly more likely to use the internet (2021)

Internet users

total: 7,007,101 (2020 est.)

percent of population: 18% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 76

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 26,570 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 0.1 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 157

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 3 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 13

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 1,722,612 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 29.56 million (2018) mt-km

Airports - with paved runways

total: 29

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 (2021)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 17

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 7

914 to 1,523 m: 4

under 914 m: 5 (2021)

Heliports

1 (2021)

Pipelines

466 km gas (2013)

Roadways

total: 34,903 km (2017)

paved: 17,903 km (2017)

unpaved: 17,000 km (2017)

country comparison to the world: 92

Waterways

1,200 km (2011) (chiefly Amu Darya, which handles vessels up to 500 DWT)

country comparison to the world: 62

Ports and terminals

river port(s): Hairatan, Qizil Qal`ah (Amu Darya)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

the Taliban has established a de facto ministry of defense and named commanders and deputy commanders for 8 regional military corps; it has also formed a ministry of interior with a subordinate police force (2022)

Military expenditures

3.3% of GDP (2019) (approximately $2.35 billion)

3.2% of GDP (2018) (approximately $2.31 billion)

3.3% of GDP (2017) (approximately $2.34 billion)

3.1% of GDP (2016) (approximately $2.6 billion)

2.9% of GDP (2015) (approximately $2.22 billion)

country comparison to the world: 27

Military and security service personnel strengths

announced that approximately 130,000 personnel had been recruited for a new "National Army"; also announced that over 50,000 personnel had been trained for the police force under the ministry of interior (2022)

note: as of 2022, there were also up to 10,000 foreign fighters in Afghanistan, most of whom were aligned with the Taliban

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Taliban military/security forces are armed largely with equipment captured from the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces when the central government in Kabul collapsed in 2021 (2022)

Military service age and obligation

not available

note: the Taliban dismissed nearly all women from the former Afghan Government security forces, except those serving in detention facilities and assisting with body searches 

Military - note

the Taliban’s primary security threats include ISIS-Khorasan and anti-Taliban resistance elements known as the National Resistance Front and Afghanistan Freedom Front (2022)

Terrorism

Terrorist group(s)

Haqqani Taliban Network; Harakat ul-Mujahidin; Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami; Islamic Jihad Union; Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan; Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham-Khorasan Province (ISIS-K); Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)/Qods Force; Jaish-e-Mohammed; Jaysh al Adl (Jundallah); Lashkar i Jhangvi; Lashkar-e Tayyiba; al-Qa’ida; al-Qa'ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS); Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)

note 1:  as of mid-2022, TTP was reportedly the largest component of foreign terrorist fighters in Afghanistan, with an estimated 3-4,000 armed fighters operating primarily along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border

note 2:
details about the history, aims, leadership, organization, areas of operation, tactics, targets, weapons, size, and sources of support of the group(s) appear(s) in Appendix T

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Afghanistan-China: None identified

Afghanistan-Iran:
 Afghan and Iranian commissioners have discussed boundary monument densification and resurvey; Iran protests Afghanistan's restricting flow of dammed Helmand River tributaries during drought

Afghanistan-Pakistan: Pakistan has built fences in some portions of its border with Afghanistan which remains open in some areas to terrorist and other illegal activities. Their alignments may not always be in conformance with Durand Line and original surveyed definitions of the boundary.

Afghanistan-Tajikistan: None identified

Afghanistan-Turkmenistan: None identified

Afghanistan-Uzbekistan: None identified. Boundary follows Amu Darya river as delimited in the Afghan-Soviet treaties and not by the river's current course. The boundary was delimited and possibly demarcated during Soviet times (pre-1991). No current negotiations between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan to redelimit the boundary have been identified. 

Russia remains concerned about the smuggling of poppy derivatives from Afghanistan through Central Asian countries

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 59,486 (Pakistan) (mid-year 2022)

IDPs: 4.314 million (mostly Pashtuns and Kuchis displaced in the south and west due to natural disasters and political instability) (2021)

Trafficking in persons

tier rating:

Tier 3 — Afghanistan does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; therefore, Afghanistan remains on Tier 3; substantial personnel turnover and closing of some ministries after the August 15, 2021 Taliban takeover hindered Afghanistan’s ability to maintain consistent anti-trafficking efforts; although the pre-August 15 government took some training and awareness steps to address trafficking, it employed or recruited child soldiers and sexual slaves in government compounds; after August 15, the Taliban continued recruiting or employing child soldiers and did not investigate, prosecute, or convict any traffickers; the Taliban shut down shelters for victims, did not identify or protect victims, and did not make any efforts to prevent trafficking; Taliban undermining the rights of women, minorities, and other vulnerable populations, further exacerbated vulnerabilities to trafficking (2022)



trafficking profile: human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Afghanistan and exploit Afghan victims abroad; internal trafficking is more prevalent than transnational trafficking; since the Taliban takeover, vulnerabilities to exploitation have intensified; traffickers exploit men, women, and a large number of children domestically; victims are subjected to forced labor in agriculture, brick kilns, carpet weaving, domestic servitude, commercial sex, begging, poppy cultivation and harvesting, salt mining, transnational drug smuggling, and truck driving; the Taliban and non-state armed groups, such as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), continue to unlawfully recruit and use child soldiers; sexual exploitation of boys remains pervasive nationwide, and traffickers subject some boys to sexual exploitation abroad; after the Taliban takeover, restrictions on the movement of women and girls, and severely diminished access to employment and education, increased their vulnerability to trafficking; LGBTQI+ individuals are among the most vulnerable groups in Afghanistan under the Taliban (2022)

note: The United States has not recognized the Taliban or another entity as the government of Afghanistan. On August 15, 2021, the Taliban culminated its takeover of Kabul, and on September 7, 2021, the Taliban announced a so-called interim government. As of December 2021, the Taliban had not outlined steps or a timeline to establish a new permanent government. All references to “the pre-August 15 government” refer to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. References to the Taliban reflect events both prior to and after August 15.

Illicit drugs

the world’s largest producer of illicit opiates, but it is not a major supplier to the United States; 215,000 hectares (ha) of opium poppy cultivated in Afghanistan in 2020; also produces methamphetamine and cannabis products; one of the highest domestic substance abuse rates in the world

(2022)