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Afghanistan Flag

Country Profile

Capital City: Kabul

Other cities: Kandahar

Local Time:


Border countries: China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan




Background:  Afghanistan's recent history is characterized by war
and civil strife, with intermittent periods of relative calm and
stability. The Soviet Union invaded in 1979 but was forced to withdraw 10
years later by anti-Communist mujahidin forces supplied and trained by the
US, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and others. Fighting subsequently continued
among the various mujahidin factions, giving rise to a state of warlordism
that spawned the Taliban in the early 1990s. The Taliban was able to seize
most of the country, aside from Northern Alliance strongholds primarily
in the northeast, until US and allied military action in support of the
opposition following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks forced the
group's downfall. The four largest Afghan opposition groups met in Bonn,
Germany, in late 2001 and agreed on a plan for the formulation of a new
government structure that resulted in the inauguration of Hamid KARZAI
as Chairman of the Afghan Interim Authority (AIA) on 22 December 2001.
In addition to occasionally violent political jockeying and ongoing
military action to root out remaining terrorists and Taliban elements,
the country suffers from enormous poverty, a crumbling infrastructure,
and widespread land mines.

Geography Afghanistan

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

Geographic coordinates:  33 00 N, 65 00 E

Map references:  Asia

Area:  total: 647,500 sq km water: 0 sq km land: 647,500 sq km

Area - comparative:  slightly smaller than Texas

Land boundaries:  total: 5,529 km border countries: China 76 km, Iran
936 km, Pakistan 2,430 km, Tajikistan 1,206 km, Turkmenistan 744 km,
Uzbekistan 137 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 extremes:  lowest point: Amu Darya 258 m highest point:
Nowshak 7,485 m

Natural resources:  natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc,
barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious

Land use:  arable land: 12% permanent crops: 0% other: 88% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land:  23,860 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards:  damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains;
flooding; droughts

Environment - current issues:  limited natural fresh water 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

Environment - international agreements:  party to: Desertification,
Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Nuclear
Test Ban signed, but not ratified: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Hazardous
Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation

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 Afghanistan

Population:  27,755,775 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:  0-14 years: 42% (male 5,953,291; female 5,706,542) 15-64
years: 55.2% (male 7,935,101; female 7,382,101) 65 years and over: 2.8%
(male 410,278; female 368,462) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:  3.43% note: this rate reflects the continued
return of refugees from Iran (2002 est.)

Birth rate:  41.03 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate:  17.43 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:  10.7 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:  at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04
male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.07 male(s)/female 65 years and over:
1.11 male(s)/female total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate:  144.76 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:   45.85 years (2002 est.)  male: Total fertility
rate:  5.72 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:  less than 0.01% (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  NA

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  NA

Nationality:  noun: Afghan(s) adjective: Afghan

Ethnic groups:  Pashtun 44%, Tajik 25%, Hazara 10%, minor ethnic groups
(Aimaks, Turkmen, Baloch, and others) 13%, Uzbek 8%

Religions:  Sunni Muslim 84%, Shi'a Muslim 15%, other 1%

Languages:  Pashtu 35%, Afghan Persian (Dari) 50%, Turkic languages
(primarily Uzbek and Turkmen) 11%, 30 minor languages (primarily Balochi
and Pashai) 4%, much bilingualism

Literacy:  definition: age 15 and over can read and write male: 51%
female: 21% (1999 est.)  total population: 36%

People - note:  large numbers of Afghan refugees create burdens on
neighboring states

Government Afghanistan

Country name:  conventional long form: Islamic State of Afghanistan
conventional short form: Afghanistan local short form: Afghanestan former:
Republic of Afghanistan local long form: Dowlat-e Eslami-ye Afghanestan

Government type:  transitional

Capital:  Kabul

Administrative divisions:  32 provinces (velayat, singular - velayat);
Badakhshan, Badghis, Baghlan, Balkh, Bamian, Farah, Faryab, Ghazni,
Ghowr, Helmand, Herat, Jowzjan, Kabol, Kandahar, Kapisa, Konar, Kondoz,
Laghman, Lowgar, Nangarhar, Nimruz, Oruzgan, Paktia, Paktika, Parvan,
Samangan, Sar-e Pol, Takhar, Vardak, Zabol, Nurestan, and Khowst

Independence:  19 August 1919 (from UK control over Afghan foreign

National holiday:  Independence Day, 19 August (1919)

Constitution:  the Bonn Agreement calls for a Constitutional Loya Jirga
(Grand Council) to be convened within 18 months of the establishment of
the Transitional Authority to draft a new constitution for the country;
the basis for the next constitution is the 1963/64 Constitution, according
to the Bonn Agreement

Legal system:  the Bonn Agreement calls for a judicial commission
to rebuild the justice system in accordance with Islamic principles,
international standards, the rule of law, and Afghan legal traditions

Suffrage:  NA; previously males 15-50 years of age

Executive branch:  note: following the Taliban's refusal to hand over
Usama bin LADIN to the US for his suspected involvement in the 11
September 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, a US-led international
coalition was formed; after several weeks of aerial bombardment by
coalition forces and military action on the ground, including Afghan
opposition forces, the Taliban was ousted from power on 17 November 2001;
in December 2001 a number of prominent Afghans met under UN auspices in
Bonn, Germany, to decide on a plan for governing the country; as a result,
the Afghan Interim Authority (AIA) - made up of 30 members, headed by a
chairman and five deputy chairmen - was inaugurated on 22 December 2001
with about a six-month mandate to be followed by a two-year Transitional
Authority (TA) after which elections are to be held; the structure of
the follow-on TA will be announced on 10 June 2002 when the Loya Jirga
(grand assembly) is convened chief of state: Chairman of the AIA, Hamad
KARZAI (since 22 December 2001); note - presently the chairman is both
chief of state and head of government head of government: Chairman of
the AIA, Hamad KARZAI (since 22 December 2001); note - presently the
chairman is both chief of state and head of government cabinet: the
30-member AIA elections: NA

Legislative branch:  nonfunctioning as of June 1993

Judicial branch:  the Bonn Agreement calls for the establishment of a
Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders:  NA; note - political parties in
Afghanistan are in flux and many prominent players have plans to create
new parties; the three main groups represented in the Afghan Interim
Authority (AIA) are: the Northern Alliance (also known as the United
Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan) - the main opposition to
the Taliban - composed of different ethnic and political groups; the Rome
Group, associated with the former king of Afghanistan, composed mainly
of expatriate Afghans; and the Peshawar Group, another expatriate group;
there are also several "independent" groups

Political pressure groups and leaders:  NA; note - ministries formed under
the Afghan Interim Authority(AIA) include former pressure group leaders

International organization participation:  AsDB, CP, ECO, ESCAP, FAO,
IOC (suspended), IOM (observer), ITU, NAM, OIC, OPCW (signatory), UN,

Diplomatic representation in the US:   ambassador Ishaq SHAHRYAR (as
of 19 June 2002) chancery:  consulate(s) general: New York telephone:

Diplomatic representation from the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
Robert Patrick John FINN; note - embassy in Kabul reopened 16 December
2001 following closure in January 1989 embassy:  FAX: NA

Flag description:  three equal vertical bands of black (hoist), red, and
green with a gold emblem centered on the red band; the emblem features
a temple-like structure encircled by a wreath on the left and right and
by a bold Islamic inscription above

Economy Afghanistan

Economy - overview:  Afghanistan is an extremely poor, landlocked
country, highly dependent on farming and livestock raising (sheep and
goats). Economic considerations have played second fiddle to political
and military upheavals during two decades of war, including the nearly
10-year Soviet military occupation (which ended 15 February 1989). During
that conflict one-third of the population fled the country, with Pakistan
and Iran sheltering a combined peak of more than 6 million refugees.
Gross domestic product has fallen substantially over the past 20 years
because of the loss of labor and capital and the disruption of trade
and transport; severe drought added to the nation's difficulties
in 1998-2001. The majority of the population continues to suffer
from insufficient food, clothing, housing, and medical care, problems
exacerbated by military operations and political uncertainties. Inflation
remains a serious problem. Following the US-led coalition war that led
to the defeat of the Taliban in November 2001 and the formulation of
the Afghan Interim Authority (AIA) resulting from the December 2001 Bonn
Agreement, International efforts to rebuild Afghanistan were addressed at
the Tokyo Donors Conference for Afghan Reconstruction in January 2002,
when $4.5 billion was collected for a trust fund to be administered
by the World Bank. Priority areas for reconstruction include the
construction of education, health, and sanitation facilities, enhancement
of administrative capacity, the development of the agricultural sector,
and the rebuilding of road, energy, and telecommunication links.

GDP:  purchasing power parity - $21 billion (2000 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:  NA%

GDP - per capita:  purchasing power parity - $800 (2000 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:  agriculture: 60% industry: 20% services:
20% (1990 est.)

Population below poverty line:  NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:  lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices):  NA%

Labor force:  10 million (2000 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:  agriculture 80%, industry 10%, services 10%
(1990 est.)

Unemployment rate:  NA%

Budget:  revenues: $NA expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures
of $NA

Industries:  small-scale production of textiles, soap, furniture, shoes,
fertilizer, and cement; handwoven carpets; natural gas, coal, copper

Electricity - production:  375 million kWh (2000)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 36% hydro: 64% other: 0%
(2000) nuclear: 0%

Electricity - consumption:  453.75 million kWh (2000)

Electricity - exports:  0 kWh (2000)

Electricity - imports:  105 million kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products:  wheat, fruits, nuts, wool, mutton, sheepskin,
and lambskin

Exports:  $1.2 billion (2001 est.)

Exports - commodities:  opium, fruits and nuts, handwoven carpets, wool,
cotton, hides and pelts, precious and semi-precious gems

Exports - partners:  Pakistan 32%, India 8%, Belgium 7%, Germany 5%,
Russia 5%, UAE 4% (1999)

Imports:  $1.3 billion (2001 est.)

Imports - commodities:  capital goods, food and petroleum products;
most consumer goods

Imports - partners:  Pakistan 19%, Japan 16%, Kenya 9%, South Korea 7%,
India 6%, Turkmenistan 6% (1999)

Debt - external:  $5.5 billion (1996 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:  international pledges made by more than 60
countries and international financial institutions at the Tokyo Donors
Conference for Afghan reconstruction in January 2002 reached $4.5 billion
through 2006, with $1.8 billion allocated for 2002; according to a joint
preliminary assessment conducted by the World Bank, the Asian Development
Bank, and the UN Development Program, rebuilding Afghanistan will cost
roughly $15 billion over the next ten years

Currency:  afghani (AFA)

Currency code:  AFA

Exchange rates:  afghanis per US dollar - 4,700 (January 2000), 4,750
(February 1999), 17,000 (December 1996), 7,000 (January 1995), 1,900
(January 1994), 1,019 (March 1993), 850 (1991); note - these rates reflect
the free market exchange rates rather than the official exchange rate,
which was fixed at 50.600 afghanis to the dollar until 1996, when it
rose to 2,262.65 per dollar, and finally became fixed again at 3,000.00
per dollar in April 1996

Fiscal year:  21 March - 20 March

Communications Afghanistan

Telephones - main lines in use:  29,000 (1998)

Telephones - mobile cellular:  NA

Telephone system:   very limited telephone and telegraph service domestic:
Herat, Kandahar, Jalalabad, and Kabul through satellite and microwave
systems international: satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Indian
Ocean) linked only to Iran and 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region);
commercial satellite telephone center in Ghazni

Radio broadcast stations:  AM 7 (6 are inactive; the active station
is in Kabul), FM 1, shortwave 1 (broadcasts in Pashtu, Afghan Persian
(Dari), Urdu, and English) (1999)

Radios:  167,000 (1999)

Television broadcast stations:  at least 10 (one government-run central
television station in Kabul and regional stations in nine of the 32
provinces; the regional stations operate on a reduced schedule; also,
in 1997, there was a station in Mazar-e Sharif reaching four northern
Afghanistan provinces) (1998)

Televisions:  100,000 (1999)

Internet country code:  .af

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  1 (2000)

Internet users:  NA

Transportation Afghanistan

Railways:  total: 24.6 km broad gauge: 9.6 km 1.524-m gauge from
Gushgy (Turkmenistan) to Towraghondi; 15 km 1.524-m gauge from Termiz
(Uzbekistan) to Kheyrabad transshipment point on south bank of Amu Darya

Highways:  total: 21,000 km paved: 2,793 km unpaved: 18,207 km (1998 est.)

Waterways:  1,200 km note: chiefly Amu Darya, which handles vessels up
to 500 DWT (2001)

Pipelines:  natural gas 180 km note: product pipelines from Uzbekistan
and Turkmenistan have been in disrepair and disuse for years (2002)

Ports and harbors:  Kheyrabad, Shir Khan

Airports:  46 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:  total: 10 over 3,047 m: 3 2,438 to 3,047
m: 4 under 914 m: 1 (2001) 1,524 to 2,437 m: 2

Airports - with unpaved runways:   7 1,524 to 2,437 m: Heliports:  2

Military Afghanistan

Military branches:  NA; note - the December 2001 Bonn Agreement calls
for all militia forces to come under Afghan Interim Authority (AIA)
control, but formation of a national army is likely to be a gradual
process; Afghanistan's forces continue to be factionalized largely along
ethnic lines

Military manpower - military age:  22 years of age (2002 est.)

Military manpower - availability:  males age 15-49: 6,896,623 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:  males age 15-49: 3,696,379
(2002 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:  males: 252,869
(2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure:  $NA

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:  NA%

Transnational Issues Afghanistan

Disputes - international:  close ties with Pashtuns in Pakistan make
long border difficult to control

Illicit drugs:  poppy ban cut 2001 cultivation by 97% to 1,695 hectares,
with potential production of 74 tons of opium; a major source of
hashish; many heroin-processing laboratories throughout the country;
major political factions in the country profit from the drug trade

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

Internet Links

Official Sites of Afghanistan

Afghanistan News

International News Sources

Arts & Culture
Afghan Communicator

Afghan Teens

Ariana Magazine

Lemar Aftaab

Afghan Political Groups
Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)

Afghanistan related Sites

Afghan Network iNteractive

Afghanistan Online


Afghanistan's Web Site

Business & Economy


Ariana Afghan Airlines


Hazarah Cultural & Historical Archives


History of Afghanistan


Afghanistan Online

Newsgroup of Afghanistan

General Resources


About Afghanistan

Afghan Voice


Afghanistan Government Web Site

Afghanistan country study and government publications

Afghanistan online

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies, U. of Texas (Austin): Afghanistan

Central Eurasian Studies World Wide

Columbia University: Middle East and Jewish Studies 

Encyclopedia Britannica: Afghanistan

Flags of the World: Afghanistan

Governments on the WWW: Afghanistan

University of Texas Center for Middle Eastern Studies (Austin)

The World Wide Web Virtual Library

Business, Commerce, Economy

Afghanistan Government Web Site


International Monetary Fund

Safety and Health During international Travel

The Times of Central Asia

U.S. Embassy Kabul


Afghanistan online

Central Asian Studies World Wide 

Central Eurasian Studies World Wide

Internet Access and Training Program

Open Directory Portal Page on Islam



Center for Afghanistan Studies

Central Asian Studies World Wide

Institute of Afghan Studies

University of Texas Center for Middle Eastern Studies


Afghan Embassies Around the World

U.S. Embassy Kabul

Geography and Environment


Geography and Maps Division


Perry-Castaneda Map Collection - Afghanistan Maps 

Government, Politics, and Law

Afghanistan Government Web Site

Asia Source: Islamic State of Afghanistan

Central Eurasian Studies World Wide


Governments on the WWW: Afghanistan

Internet Law Library: Afghanistan

Political Resources on the Net - The Islamic State of Afghanistan

Pritchard Law Webs: Afghanistan

Taliban Islamic Movement

The Times of Central Asia 

U.S. Embassy Kabul

Law Library of Congress

University of Texas Center for Middle Eastern Studies

Washington Institute for Near East Policy


Safety and Health During international Travel

U.S. Centers for Disease Control



Afghanistan Government Web Site

Encyclopedia Britannica: Afghanistan

History Libraries, Archives

Internet Access and Training Program

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UCLA Library Collections & Internet Resources

Media and Communications

Abyz News Links

Afghan News Network

Afghanistan News

Asre Jadid

Central Asia News

The Times of Central Asia

University of Texas Center for Middle Eastern Studies


Central Asian Studies World Wide

Recreation and Travel

Lonely Planet Tour Guide: Afghanistan

Safety and Health During international Travel 

U.S. Department of State

Religion and Philosophy

Afghan Hindus


Iranian Christians International

Open Directory Portal Page on Islam

Shia Ismailis of Afghanistan

Taliban Islamic Movement

U.S. Embassy Kabul

Science and Technology

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Search Engines

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