OFFICIAL NAME: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Parliamentary Islamic State
AREA: 647,497 Sq Km (251,773 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2010 POPULATION: 28,926,000
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Afghanistan is a landlocked country
in South West Asia. It is bound by Pakistan to the east
and south, Iran to the west, Turkmenistan to the northwest,
Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to the north and China to the
northeast. The country is divided from southeast to northwest
by the Hindu Kush and Pamir Mountain Ranges and is divided
into three geographical regions. (1.) The central highlands
which account for 64% of the land area and are part of the
Himalayan Ranges. The Hindu Kush ridge rises above 6,400
metres (21,000 feet). (2.) The fertile northern plains with
elevations of up to 600 metres (2,000 feet). (3.) The southwestern
plateau which accounts for 25% of the land area and is an
arid region vegetated mostly by scrub with an average elevation
of about 900 metres (3,000 feet). The principal rivers are
the Kabul and Amu-Darya which rises in the Hindu Kush and
flows northwestward. Major Cities (pop. est.); Kabul 2,800,000,
Kandahar 324,000, Herat 255,000, Mazar-e Sharif 188,000
(2004). Land Use; forested 2%, pastures 46%, agricultural-cultivated
12%, other 39% (2000).
CLIMATE: Afghanistan has a continental dry climate with large
differences between day and night temperatures as well as quick seasonal
transitions. Summer temperatures in the plains can reach 46 degrees Celsius
(115 degrees Fahrenheit) while in the higher plateaux winter temperatures
can fall to -26 degrees Celsius (-15 degrees Fahrenheit). The "Winds
of 120 Days" which occur between June to September can have velocities
of up to 180 kmph (108 mph) and the rainy season is from October to April,
although rainfall is very irregular. Average temperature ranges in Kabul
are from -8 to 2 degrees Celsius (18 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit) in January
to 16 to 33 degrees Celsius (61 to 91 degrees Fahrenheit) in July.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Pushtuns
also known as Pukhtuns and Pathan who account for around
49% of the population and are divided into two sub-tribes
(1.) the Durranis and (2.) the Ghilzais. The principal ethnic
minority are the Tajikis who account for almost 18% of the
population. Other smaller ethnic minorities include the
Hazara Mongols (Hazars) who account for 9%, Aimaks, Uzbekis,
Turkmens, Nuristanis and Qisilbashes.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Population; 23,867,000
(2005) Density; 37 persons per sq km (96 persons per sq
mi) (2004). Urban-Rural; 22.4% urban, 77.6% rural (2003).
Sex Distribution; 51.2% male, 48.8% female (1004). Life
Expectancy at Birth; 42.3 years male, 42.7 years female
(2004). Age Breakdown; 45% under 15, 27% 15 to 29, 16% 30
to 44, 8% 45 to 59, 3.5% 60 to 74, 0.5% 75 and over (2004).
Birth Rate; 47.3 per 1,000 (2004). Death Rate; 21.1 per
1,000 (2004). Increase Rate; 26.2 per 1,000 (2004). Infant
Mortality Rate; 166.0 per 1,000 live births (2004).
RELIGIONS: The official religion is Islam with approximately
89% of the population Sunni Muslims while 9% are Shiite
Muslims and 1% belong to the other Islamic sects. Other
religious minorities include small amounts of Hindus, Sikhs
LANGUAGES: The official languages are Dari (Afghan Persian) and
Pashto. A little English, French and German is also spoken while English
and French are taught in schools as secondary languages. In the north Turkmen
and Uzbeki are also widely spoken.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained:
no formal schooling 88.5%, some primary 6.8%, complete primary
0.3%, some secondary 1.2%, higher 3.2% (1980). Literacy;
literate population aged 15 or over 29% (2003).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: In 1953 Mohammed Daoud Khan became
Prime Minister, following which he established close military, economic and
political ties with the USSR. In 1964 provisions were made for the establishment
of a constitutional monarchy after Prime Minister Daoud resigned. In 1973
while King Zahir Shah was receiving medical treatment in Italy a military
coup led by Daoud overthrew the government, established a republic and abolished
the monarchy. On Apr. 27, 1978 pro-Soviet leftists took power in a bloody
coup known as the "Great Saur Revolution" which resulted in the
death of President Daoud and an economic and military treaty with the USSR.
In Dec. 1979, the USSR began a massive military airlift into Kabul and the
three month old regime of Hafizullah Amin ended with a Soviet backed coup
on Dec. 27, 1979. Pres. Amin was replaced by Babrak Karmal, a greater pro-Soviet
faction leader. For the next 9 years the Soviet troops fanned out over Afghanistan
fighting the Muslim "Holy Warriors" or Mujaheddin in a long, protracted
guerrilla war. In Nov. 1987 Dr. Najibullah was elected President. On Apr.
14, 1988 a UN-mediated agreement was signed which provided for the withdrawal
of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, the creation of a neutral Afghan state
and the repatriation of millions of Afghan refugees. The US and USSR pledged
to serve as guarantors of the agreement, however, Afghan rebels rejected the
pact and vowed to continue fighting while the Soviets remained in Afghanistan.
On Feb. 15, 1989 the Soviets completed their troop withdrawal as fighting
between the Afghan rebels and government forces escalated for control of the
government. In Mar. 1990 there was an unsuccessful coup attempt led by Afghan
military forces and in Sept. 1991 the US and USSR declared that they would
halt arms supplies from Jan. 1992 with the purpose of achieving a permanent
cease-fire. In Apr. 1992 Afghan rebels with the assistance of General Abdul
Rashid Dostam, leader of the government's secret police, seized control of
Kabul ousting President Najibullah's regime. On June 28, 1992 caretaker President
Sibgatullah Mojadedi surrendered power to Burhanuddin Rabbani who headed a
10-member Supreme Leadership Council of guerrilla leaders. In June 1992 fighting
escalated between rival Shiite and Sunni Muslim factions around Kabul with
some 100 people killed and 1,000 injured in four days of conflict. On Dec.
30, 1992 some 1,335 delegates from around the country formed a National Council
which met in Kabul and elected Rabbani to a two-year term as president. The
majority of the rebels boycotted the council meeting and shelled the city
from their hill strongholds while voting was in progress. In Jan. 1993 the
national assembly of tribal and religious leaders reaffirmed Rabbani's presidency,
approved the creation of new armed forces and a parliament, and set out a
strict Islamic path for the country. In Mar. 1993 Gulbuddin Hekmatyar leader
of the Hezb-i-Islami was designated Prime Minister with a 22-member cabinet
divided amongst the 10 major rebel groups being formed on May 20 despite continuing
fighting. On June 17. 1993 Hekmatyar was formally sworn in and on Sept. 27,
1993 after four days of negotiations an interim constitution had been approved
with planned elections announced for 1994.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Afghani (Af) divided into
ECONOMY: Gross Domestic Product; USD $7,000,000,000,000
(2003). Public Debt; USD $5,319,000,000 (2000). Imports;
USD $2,101,000,000 (2004). Exports; USD $144,000,000 (2004).
Tourism Receipts; USD $1,000,000 (1998). Balance of Trade;
USD$ -1,957,000,000 (2004). Economically Active Population;
5,557,000 or 29.4% of total population (1994). Unemployed;
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners
are the China, Pakistan, India, Japan and Russia.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Barley, Coal, Copper, Cotton, Fruit, Goats,
Iron, Maize, Natural Gas, Nuts, Rice, Sheep, Sugar, Vegetables, Wheat.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Bicycles, Carpets, Cement, Food Processing,
Footwear, Fur and Leather Products, Furniture, Plastics, Textiles.
MAIN EXPORTS: Carpets, Cotton, Fruit, Karakul Skins and Wool, Natural
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 25 km (15.3 mi)
(2001). Roads; length 20,720 km (12,875 mi) (2001). Vehicles;
cars 176,700 (2004), trucks and buses 116,278 (2004). Merchant
Marine; vessels nil. Air Transport; passenger-km 143,000,000
(88,856,000 passenger-mi) (2000), cargo ton-km 21,000,000
(13,048,000 short ton-mi) (2000).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total circulation
of 129,000 (2000). Radio; receivers 2,950,000 (2000). Television;
receivers 362,000 (2000). Telephones; units 36,700 (2003).
Cell/Mobile; subscribers 135,000 (2003). Internet; users
700 ( 2003).
MILITARY: 13,000 (2004) total active duty personnel
with 100% army, 0.0% navy and 0.0% air force while military
expenditure accounts for 9% (2003) of the Gross Domestic
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