Photos of Afghanistan

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. The Taliban conducted an insurgency for two decades against the Afghan Government and international forces from the United States and other countries. In February 2020, the US and the Taliban signed an agreement that led to the withdrawal from Afghanistan of international forces in exchange for commitments on counterterrorism and other assurances. The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan on 15 August 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

comparison ranking: total 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

Population

39,232,003 (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 37

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: 39.8% (male 7,926,748/female 7,686,979)

15-64 years: 57.35% (male 11,413,654/female 11,084,665)

65 years and over: 2.85% (2023 est.) (male 515,147/female 604,810)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 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: 19.9 years (2023 est.)

male: 19.8 years

female: 20 years

comparison ranking: total 203

Population growth rate

2.26% (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 33

Birth rate

34.8 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 15

Death rate

12.1 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 16

Net migration rate

-0.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 102

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.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

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

15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female

total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2023 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

620 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 8

Infant mortality rate

total: 103.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

male: 111.5 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 94.2 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 1

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 54.1 years (2023 est.)

male: 52.5 years

female: 55.7 years

comparison ranking: total population 227

Total fertility rate

4.53 children born/woman (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 16

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

15.5% of GDP (2020)

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 (2023)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever (2024)

vectorborne diseases: Crimea-Congo hemorrhagic fever

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

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

5.5% (2016)

comparison ranking: 177

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.)

comparison ranking: total 183

Tobacco use

total: 23.3% (2020 est.)

male: 39.4% (2020 est.)

female: 7.2% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 62

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

19.1% (2018)

comparison ranking: 19

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 4.2%

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

Education expenditures

2.9% of GDP (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 162

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)

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

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.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

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)

Revenue from forest resources

0.2% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 94

Revenue from coal

0.45% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 12

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 62.49 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 8.67 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 90.98 megatons (2020 est.)

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: 200 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 170 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 20 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

65.33 billion cubic meters (2020 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

theocratic; 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

previous: Independence Day, 19 August (1919); under the Taliban Government, 15 August (2022) is declared a national holiday, marking the anniversary of the victory of the Afghan jihad

Constitution

history: several previous; latest ratified in 2004, suspended by the Taliban after taking over the country in 2021

Legal system

the Taliban is implementing its own interpretation of Islamic law, which partially based on the Hanifi school of Islamic jurisprudence; before the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan had a mixed legal system of civil, customary, and Islamic law

(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: Overall Taliban Leader HAYBATULLAH Akhundzada serves as the head of the Taliban government as Amir-ul Momineen; note - on 7 September 2021, the Taliban announced Mohammad HASSAN Akhund as the “acting prime minister” of the "caretaker government”; as of November 2021, the group had announced three "acting deputy prime ministers” - Abdul Ghani BERADER, Abdul Salam HANAFI, and Abdul KABIR

head of government: Overall Taliban Leader HAYBATULLAH Akhundzada serves as the head of the Taliban Government as Amir-ul Momineen

cabinet: includes the acting prime minister, acting deputy prime ministers, and 26 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

Legislative branch

description: the Taliban Government has not announced the formation of a legislative branch; before the 2021 Taliban takeover, Afghanistan had a bicameral National Assembly that consisted of the House of Elders and House of the People

Judicial branch

highest court(s): the Taliban Government has a Supreme Court: number of judges and organizational structure NA; note - 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 Taliban Supreme Court judge selection and term of office NA; note - before 15 August 2021, the Supreme 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: the Taliban Government has many provincial-level courts, religious courts, and specialty courts
note - 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 Government enforces an authoritarian state and has banned other political parties; note - before 15 August 2021, the Ministry of Justice had licensed 72 political parties as of April 2019

International organization participation

member of the following organizations but cannot participate because the international community does not recognize the Taliban Government:  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: none; note - the Afghan Embassy closed in March 2022

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: the United States does not maintain a presence in Afghanistan and bases the Department of State's Afghanistan Affairs Unit in Doha, Qatar; note - the US Embassy in Kabul closed in August 2021

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

comparison ranking: 106

Real GDP growth rate

-20.74% (2021 est.)
-2.35% (2020 est.)
3.91% (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 224

Real GDP per capita

$1,500 (2021 est.)
$2,000 (2020 est.)
$2,100 (2019 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 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.)

comparison ranking: 82

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

comparison rankings: services 152; industry 137; agriculture 36

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

Industrial production growth rate

-14.19% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: 203

Labor force

9.39 million (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: 56

Unemployment rate

13.28% (2021 est.)
11.71% (2020 est.)
11.22% (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 182

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 20.2% (2021 est.)

male: 18.6%

female: 26.4%

comparison ranking: total 81

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 3.8%

highest 10%: 24% (2008)

Remittances

3.92% of GDP (2020 est.)
4.38% of GDP (2019 est.)
4.36% of GDP (2018 est.)

Budget

revenues: $5.093 billion (2019 est.)

expenditures: $5.293 billion (2019 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-15.1% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 217

Public debt

7% of GDP (2017 est.)
7.8% of GDP (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 201

Taxes and other revenues

9.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 193

Fiscal year

21 March - 20 March

Current account balance

-$3.137 billion (2020 est.)
-$3.792 billion (2019 est.)
-$3.897 billion (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 174

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.

comparison ranking: 167

Exports - partners

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

Exports - commodities

gold, figs, grapes, cotton, fruits and nuts, coal (2021)

note: Afghan opium production remains a significant illicit trade export

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

comparison ranking: 128

Imports - partners

United Arab Emirates 23%, Pakistan 17%, India 13%, Uzbekistan 7%, China 9% (2021)

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.)

comparison ranking: 80

Debt - external

$284 million (FY10/11)

comparison ranking: 185

Exchange rates

afghanis (AFA) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
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: 97.7% (2021)

electrification - urban areas: 99.5% (2021)

electrification - rural areas: 97% (2021)

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.)

comparison rankings: installed generating capacity 140; transmission/distribution losses 46; imports 40; exports 131; consumption 119

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.)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 130

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 197

Refined petroleum products - imports

34,210 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 97

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.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 117

Energy consumption per capita

3.227 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 180

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 145,787 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: (2021 est.) less than 1

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 126

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 23 million (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 57 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 55

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Afghanistan's telecom sector is facing challenges providing adequate coverage to all of the population; prior to the Taliban regaining power, the World Bank and other donors supported the development of a nationwide fiber backbone and there is terrestrial cable connectivity to five neighboring countries; work on the 'Wakhan Corridor Fiber Optic Survey Project' to connect to China has faced obstacles because of Afghanistan's economic issues. (2021)

domestic: before the Taliban takeover in August 2021, less than 1 per 100 for fixed-line teledensity; 57 per 100 for mobile-cellular subscriptions (2021)

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

Broadcast media

under the Taliban government, independent media outlets have decreased in number and are probably self-censoring criticism of the Taliban and the Ministry of Information and Culture monitors all mass media in Afghanistan; television and radio are key media platforms; only about a fifth of Afghans use the internet, mostly through smartphones (2023)

Internet users

total: 7.02 million (2020 est.)

percent of population: 18% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 80

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 26,570 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 0.1 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 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

67 (2024)

comparison ranking: 72

Heliports

8 (2024)

Pipelines

466 km gas (2013)

Roadways

total: 34,903 km (2021)

paved: 17,903 km (2021)

unpaved: 17,000 km (2021)

comparison ranking: total 94

Waterways

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

comparison ranking: 64

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 a national army (aka Army of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Islamic Emirate Army, or Afghan Army); it has also formed a ministry of interior with a subordinate police force (2023)

Military expenditures

3.3% of GDP (2019)
3.2% of GDP (2018)
3.3% of GDP (2017)
3.1% of GDP (2016)
2.9% of GDP (2015)

comparison ranking: 25

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 US-provided equipment captured from the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces when the central government in Kabul collapsed in 2021 (2023)

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 (2023)

Terrorism

Terrorist group(s)

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 the Durand Line and original surveyed definitions of the boundary; Pakistan demarcates the Durand Line differently from Afghanistan, and thus portions of the Pakistani fence may lie within what Afghanistan (and most of the international community, including the US) would consider Afghan territory; successive governments in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, have not accepted the 1947 demarcation line

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 

Refugees and internally displaced persons

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

IDPs: 4.394 million (mostly Pashtuns and Kuchis displaced in the south and west due to natural disasters and political instability) (2022)

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 remained on Tier 3; the Taliban employed or recruited child soldiers and sex slaves (including bacha bazi – a practice where men, particular community leaders, government officials, and armed groups, exploit boys for social and sexual entertainment); the Taliban made no efforts to address or prevent labor and sex trafficking, nor did they identify or protect any victims; the Taliban continued to undermine the rights of women, minorities, and other vulnerable populations and hindered the work of NGOs, further exacerbating trafficking (2023)

trafficking profile: human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Afghanistan and exploit Afghan victims abroad; most Afghan trafficking victims are children forced to work in carpet making, brick kilns, domestic servitude, sex trafficking, herding, begging, opium production and trade, salt mining, weapons trafficking, and truck driving; international experts indicate child labor increased after the Taliban takeover and estimate 25% of Afghan children are involved in child labor; some children are forced to migrate for work to other parts of Afghanistan or to Iran, Pakistan, or Turkey to support their families, and some are sold to traffickers to work as indentured servants; some families marry off underage daughters to receive a dowry payment, force children into labor with physical violence, or sell their children into sex trafficking; the Taliban and non-state armed groups, including ISIS-K, continue to recruit and use children in combat and support roles; the Taliban have detention facilities where they force detainees, including child and adult sex trafficking victims charged with “moral crimes,” into forced labor; sexual exploitation of boys, including bacha bazi, remains pervasive nationwide, and traffickers subject some boys to such exploitation abroad; restrictions on the movement of women and girls, and severely diminished access to employment and education, increase their vulnerability to trafficking; LGBTQI+ individuals are among the most vulnerable groups in Afghanistan under the Taliban; members of ethnic and religious minorities also are increasingly vulnerable to exploitation; Afghan men, women, and children seeking employment abroad, primarily in Iran, Pakistan, and Europe, are at risk of labor or sex trafficking; Afghan women and girls sold into marriage in Afghanistan, India, Iran, and Pakistan are exploited in sex trafficking and domestic servitude by their husbands (2023)

note:  The US has not recognized the Taliban or another entity as the government of Afghanistan. All references to “the pre-August 15, 2021 government” refer to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. References to the Taliban do not denote or imply that the US recognizes the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan. (2023)

Illicit drugs

the world’s largest supplier of opiates, but it is not a major supplier to the United States; 233,000 hectares (ha) of opium poppy cultivated in Afghanistan in 2022; opium from poppies used to produce morphine and heroin; also produces large quantities of methamphetamine, cannabis, and cannabis products such as hashish; one of the world’s largest populations suffering from substance abuse; major source of precursor or essential chemicals used in the production of illicit narcotics. (2022)