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Coordinates : 33°N 65°E / 33°N 65°E / 33; 65

Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

* د افغانستان اسلامي جمهوریت ( Pashto ) * Da Afġānistān Islāmī Jumhoryat * جمهوری اسلامی افغانستان (Dari ) * Jomhūrīyyeh Eslāmīyyeh Afġānestān

Flag Coat of arms

MOTTO: لا إله إلا الله، محمد رسول الله "Lā ʾilāha ʾillā llāh, Muhammadun rasūlu llāh" "There is no god but God; Muhammad
Muhammad
is the messenger of God. (Shahada )

ANTHEM: Millī Surūd ملي سرود "The National Anthem"

Capital and largest city Kabul
Kabul
34°32′N 69°08′E / 34.533°N 69.133°E / 34.533; 69.133

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES

* Pashto * Dari

ETHNIC GROUPS Pashtun , Tajiks
Tajiks
, Hazara , Uzbeks , Aimaq , Turkmen , Baloch and others

RELIGION Islam

DEMONYM Afghan
Afghan

GOVERNMENT Unitary presidential Islamic republic

• PRESIDENT Ashraf Ghani

• CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Abdullah Abdullah
Abdullah Abdullah

LEGISLATURE National Assembly

• UPPER HOUSE House of Elders

• LOWER HOUSE House of the People

FORMATION

• FIRST AFGHAN STATE April 1709

• EMIRATE 1823

• RECOGNIZED 19 August 1919

• KINGDOM 9 June 1926

• MONARCHY ABOLISHED 17 July 1973

• COMMUNIST RULE 30 April 1978

• ISLAMIC STATE 24 April 1992

• TALIBAN RULE 27 September 1996

• LIBERATION 7 October 2001

• CURRENT CONSTITUTION 26 January 2004

AREA

• TOTAL 652,864 km2 (252,072 sq mi) (40th )

• WATER (%) negligible

POPULATION

• 2016 ESTIMATE 33,332,025 (40th )

• DENSITY 49.88/km2 (129.2/sq mi) (150th )

GDP (PPP ) 2016 estimate

• TOTAL $65.295 billion

• PER CAPITA $2,000

GDP (NOMINAL) 2016 estimate

• TOTAL $19.654 billion

• PER CAPITA $600

GINI (2008) 29 low

HDI (2014) 0.465 low · 171st

CURRENCY Afghani (AFN )

TIME ZONE D† (UTC +4:30 Solar Calendar )

DRIVES ON THE right

CALLING CODE +93

ISO 3166 CODE AF

INTERNET TLD .af افغانستان.

AFGHANISTAN (/æfˈɡænᵻstæn/ ( listen ); Pashto /Dari : افغانستان, Pashto: Afġānistān , Dari: Afġānestān ), officially the ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF AFGHANISTAN, is a landlocked country located within South Asia and Central Asia . The country has a population of 33 million, making it the 42nd most populous country in the world. Afghanistan
Afghanistan
is bordered by Pakistan
Pakistan
in the south and east; Iran
Iran
in the west; Turkmenistan , Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
, and Tajikistan in the north; and China
China
in the far northeast. Its territory covers 652,000 square kilometers (252,000 sq mi), making it the 41st largest country in the world.

Human habitation in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
dates back to the Middle Paleolithic Era, and the country's strategic location along the Silk Road connected it to the cultures of the Middle East and other parts of Asia. The land has historically been home to various peoples and has witnessed numerous military campaigns, including those by Alexander the Great , Mauryas , Muslim
Muslim
Arabs , Mongols , British , Soviet , and in the modern era by Western powers . The land also served as the source from which the Kushans , Hephthalites
Hephthalites
, Samanids , Saffarids , Ghaznavids
Ghaznavids
, Ghorids , Khiljis , Mughals , Hotaks , Durranis , and others have risen to form major empires.

The political history of the modern state of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
began with the Hotak and Durrani dynasties in the 18th century. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
became a buffer state in the "Great Game " between British India
India
and the Russian Empire . Following the Third Anglo- Afghan
Afghan
War in 1919, King Amanullah unsuccessfully attempted to modernize the country. Afghanistan
Afghanistan
remained peaceful during Zahir Shah\'s forty years of monarchy. A series of coups in the 1970s was followed by a series of civil wars that devastated much of Afghanistan which began when the country became a socialist state under the influence of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
during the Soviet–Afghan War
Soviet–Afghan War
. Following the departure of the Soviet forces , the country became an Islamic state under the Peshawar Accord but much of its territory was then held by the Islamic supremacist group the Taliban
Taliban
, who ruled the country as a totalitarian regime for almost five years . Following the 2001 September 11 attacks in the United States
United States
, the Taliban
Taliban
was forcibly removed by the NATO
NATO
-led coalition , Afghanistan's previous political structure was replaced with a more pro-Western , democratically-elected government.

Afghanistan
Afghanistan
is a unitary presidential Islamic republic with Islam as an official state religion . It is a member of the United Nations
United Nations
, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation , the Group of 77 , the Economic Cooperation Organization , and the Non-Aligned Movement . Afghanistan\'s economy is the world's 108th largest, with a GDP of $64.08 billion; the country fares much worse in terms of per-capita GDP (PPP), ranking 167th out of 186 countries in a 2016 report from the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
.

CONTENTS

* 1 Etymology

* 2 History
History

* 2.1 Pre-Islamic period * 2.2 Islamization and Mongol invasion * 2.3 Hotak dynasty
Hotak dynasty
and Durrani Empire * 2.4 Western influence * 2.5 Marxist revolution and Soviet war * 2.6 Civil war * 2.7 Taliban
Taliban
Emirate and Northern Alliance
Northern Alliance
* 2.8 Recent history (2002–present)

* 3 Geography

* 4 Demographics

* 4.1 Ethnic groups * 4.2 Languages * 4.3 Religions

* 5 Governance

* 5.1 Elections and parties * 5.2 Administrative divisions * 5.3 Foreign relations and military * 5.4 Law enforcement

* 6 Economy

* 6.1 Mining

* 7 Transport

* 7.1 Air * 7.2 Rail * 7.3 Roads

* 8 Health * 9 Education

* 10 Culture

* 10.1 Media and entertainment * 10.2 Communication * 10.3 Sports

* 11 See also * 12 Notes * 13 References * 14 Further reading * 15 External links

ETYMOLOGY

Main article: Name of Afghanistan

The name Afghānistān ( Pashto افغانستان) is believed to be as old as the ethnonym Afghan
Afghan
, which is documented in the 10th-century geography book Hudud ul-\'alam . The root name " Afghan
Afghan
" was used historically in reference to a member of the ethnic Pashtuns , and the suffix " -stan
-stan
" means "place of" in Persian and Hindi
Hindi
. Therefore, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
translates to land of the Afghans or, more specifically in a historical sense, to land of the Pashtuns. However, the modern Constitution of Afghanistan states that "he word Afghan shall apply to every citizen of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
."

HISTORY

Main article: History of Afghanistan

HISTORY OF AFGHANISTAN

Timeline

Ancient

Indus Valley Civilisation 2200–1800 BC

Oxus civilization 2100–1800 BC

Aryans 1700–700 BC

Median Empire
Median Empire
728–550 BC

Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
550–330 BC

Seleucid Empire 330–150 BC

Maurya Empire 305–180 BC

Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
256–125 BC

Parthian Empire 247 BC–224 AD

Indo-Greek Kingdom 180–130 BC

Indo-Scythian Kingdom 155–80? BC

Kushan Empire 135 BC – 248 AD

Indo-Parthian Kingdom
Indo-Parthian Kingdom
20 BC – 50? AD

Sasanian Empire
Sasanian Empire
230–651

Kidarite Kingdom 320–465

Alchon Huns
Alchon Huns
380–560

Hephthalite Empire
Hephthalite Empire
410–557

Nezak Huns
Nezak Huns
484–711

Medieval

Kabul
Kabul
Shahi 565–879

Principality of Chaghaniyan
Principality of Chaghaniyan
7th–8th centuries

Rashidun Caliphate 652–661

Umayyads 661–750

Abbasids 750–821

Tahirids 821–873

Saffarids 863–900

Samanids 875–999

Ghaznavids
Ghaznavids
963–1187

Ghurids before 879–1215

Seljuks 1037–1194

Khwarezmids 1215–1231

Qarlughids 1224–1266

Ilkhanate 1258–1353

Chagatai Khanate 1225–1370

Khiljis 1290–1320

Karts 1245–1381

Timurids 1370–1507

Arghuns 1479–1522

Mughals 1501–1738

Safavids 1510–1709

Afsharids 1738-1747

Modern

Hotak dynasty
Hotak dynasty
1709–1738

Durrani Empire 1747–1826

Emirate of Afghanistan
Emirate of Afghanistan
1826–1919

Kingdom of Afghanistan
Kingdom of Afghanistan
1919–1973

Republic of Afghanistan
Republic of Afghanistan
1973–1978

Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
Republic of Afghanistan
1978–1992

Islamic State of Afghanistan
Islamic State of Afghanistan
1992–2001

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
Emirate of Afghanistan
1996–2004

Interim /Transitional Administration 2001–2004

Islamic Republic of Afghanistan since 2004

* Book
Book
* Category
Category
* Portal

* v * t * e

Excavations of prehistoric sites by Louis Dupree and others suggest that humans were living in what is now Afghanistan
Afghanistan
at least 50,000 years ago, and that farming communities in the area were among the earliest in the world. An important site of early historical activities, many believe that Afghanistan
Afghanistan
compares to Egypt
Egypt
in terms of the historical value of its archaeological sites.

The country sits at a unique nexus point where numerous civilizations have interacted and often fought. It has been home to various peoples through the ages, among them the ancient Iranian peoples who established the dominant role of Indo-Iranian languages in the region. At multiple points, the land has been incorporated within large regional empires, among them the Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
, the Macedonian Empire , the Indian Maurya Empire , and the Islamic Empire .

Many empires and kingdoms have also risen to power in Afghanistan, such as the Greco-Bactrians , Kushans , Hephthalites
Hephthalites
, Kabul
Kabul
Shahis , Saffarids , Samanids , Ghaznavids
Ghaznavids
, Ghurids , Khiljis , Kartids , Timurids , Mughals , and finally the Hotak and Durrani dynasties that marked the political origins of the modern state.

PRE-ISLAMIC PERIOD

Main article: Pre-Islamic period of Afghanistan
Pre-Islamic period of Afghanistan
Bilingual (Greek and Aramaic ) edict by Emperor Ashoka from the 3rd century BCE discovered in the southern city of Kandahar
Kandahar

Archaeological exploration done in the 20th century suggests that the geographical area of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
has been closely connected by culture and trade with its neighbors to the east, west, and north. Artifacts typical of the Paleolithic , Mesolithic , Neolithic , Bronze , and Iron ages have been found in Afghanistan. Urban civilization is believed to have begun as early as 3000 BCE, and the early city of Mundigak (near Kandahar
Kandahar
in the south of the country) may have been a colony of the nearby Indus Valley Civilization . More recent findings established that the Indus Valley Civilisation stretched up towards modern-day Afghanistan, making the ancient civilisation today part of Pakistan, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
and India. In more detail, it extended from what today is northwest Pakistan
Pakistan
to northwest India
India
and northeast Afghanistan. An Indus Valley site has been found on the Oxus River at Shortugai
Shortugai
in northern Afghanistan. There are several smaller IVC colonies to be found in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
as well. One of the Buddhas of Bamiyan . Buddhism was widespread before the Islamic conquest of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
.

After 2000 BCE, successive waves of semi-nomadic people from Central Asia began moving south into Afghanistan; among them were many Indo-European-speaking Indo-Iranians . These tribes later migrated further into South Asia, Western Asia, and toward Europe via the area north of the Caspian Sea . The region at the time was referred to as Ariana .

The religion Zoroastrianism is believed by some to have originated in what is now Afghanistan
Afghanistan
between 1800 and 800 BCE, as its founder Zoroaster is thought to have lived and died in Balkh . Ancient Eastern Iranian languages may have been spoken in the region around the time of the rise of Zoroastrianism. By the middle of the 6th century BCE, the Achaemenids overthrew the Medes and incorporated Arachosia , Aria , and Bactria within its eastern boundaries. An inscription on the tombstone of Darius I of Persia mentions the Kabul
Kabul
Valley in a list of the 29 countries that he had conquered.

Alexander the Great and his Macedonian forces arrived to Afghanistan in 330 BCE after defeating Darius III of Persia
Darius III of Persia
a year earlier in the Battle of Gaugamela
Battle of Gaugamela
. Following Alexander's brief occupation, the successor state of the Seleucid Empire controlled the region until 305 BCE, when they gave much of it to the Maurya Empire as part of an alliance treaty. The Mauryans controlled the area south of the Hindu Kush until they were overthrown in about 185 BCE. Their decline began 60 years after Ashoka 's rule ended, leading to the Hellenistic reconquest by the Greco-Bactrians . Much of it soon broke away from them and became part of the Indo-Greek Kingdom . They were defeated and expelled by the Indo-Scythians in the late 2nd century BCE.

During the first century BCE, the Parthian Empire subjugated the region, but lost it to their Indo-Parthian vassals. In the mid-to-late first century CE the vast Kushan Empire , centered in Afghanistan, became great patrons of Buddhist culture, making Buddhism flourish throughout the region. The Kushans were overthrown by the Sassanids in the 3rd century CE, though the Indo-Sassanids continued to rule at least parts of the region. They were followed by the Kidarite who, in turn, were replaced by the Hephthalites
Hephthalites
. By the 6th century CE, the successors to the Kushans and Hepthalites established a small dynasty called Kabul
Kabul
Shahi . Much of the northeastern and southern areas of the country remained dominated by Buddhist culture.

ISLAMIZATION AND MONGOL INVASION

Main articles: Islamic conquest of Afghanistan and Mongol invasion of Central Asia The Friday Mosque of Herat is one of the oldest mosques in Afghanistan. (March 1962 photo)

Arab
Arab
Muslims brought Islam to Herat and Zaranj
Zaranj
in 642 CE and began spreading eastward; some of the native inhabitants they encountered accepted it while others revolted. The land was collectively recognized by the Arabs as al-Hind due to its cultural connection with Greater India . Before Islam was introduced, people of the region were mostly Buddhists and Zoroastrians, but there were also Surya and Nana worshipers, Jews , and others. The Zunbils
Zunbils
and Kabul
Kabul
Shahi were first conquered in 870 CE by the Saffarid Muslims of Zaranj. Later, the Samanids extended their Islamic influence south of the Hindu Kush. It is reported that Muslims and non-Muslims still lived side by side in Kabul
Kabul
before the Ghaznavids
Ghaznavids
rose to power in the 10th century.

By the 11th century, Mahmud of Ghazni defeated the remaining Hindu rulers and effectively Islamized the wider region, with the exception of Kafiristan . Afghanistan
Afghanistan
became one of the main centers in the Muslim
Muslim
world during this Islamic Golden Age . The Ghaznavid dynasty was overthrown by the Ghurids , who expanded and advanced the already powerful Islamic empire.

In 1219 AD, Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
and his Mongol army overran the region. His troops are said to have annihilated the Khorasanian cities of Herat and Balkh as well as Bamyan . The destruction caused by the Mongols forced many locals to return to an agrarian rural society. Mongol rule continued with the Ilkhanate in the northwest while the Khilji dynasty administered the Afghan
Afghan
tribal areas south of the Hindu Kush until the invasion of Timur , who established the Timurid Empire in 1370.

In the early 16th century, Babur
Babur
arrived from Fergana
Fergana
and captured Kabul
Kabul
from the Arghun dynasty . In 1526, he invaded Delhi in India
India
to replace the Lodi dynasty with the Mughal Empire . Between the 16th and 18th century, the Khanate of Bukhara
Khanate of Bukhara
, Safavids , and Mughals ruled parts of the territory. Before the 19th century, the northwestern area of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
was referred to by the regional name Khorasan . Two of the four capitals of Khorasan ( Herat and Balkh ) are now located in Afghanistan, while the regions of Kandahar
Kandahar
, Zabulistan , Ghazni, Kabulistan, and Afghanistan
Afghanistan
formed the frontier between Khorasan and Hindustan
Hindustan
.

HOTAK DYNASTY AND DURRANI EMPIRE

Main articles: Hotak dynasty
Hotak dynasty
and Durrani Empire Ahmad Shah Durrani , founder of the last Afghan
Afghan
empire and viewed as Father of the Nation

In 1709, Mirwais Hotak
Mirwais Hotak
, a local Ghilzai tribal leader, successfully rebelled against the Safavids. He defeated Gurgin Khan and made Afghanistan
Afghanistan
independent. Mirwais died of a natural cause in 1715 and was succeeded by his brother Abdul Aziz , who was soon killed by Mirwais' son Mahmud for treason . Mahmud led the Afghan
Afghan
army in 1722 to the Persian capital of Isfahan
Isfahan
, captured the city after the Battle of Gulnabad and proclaimed himself King of Persia. The Afghan
Afghan
dynasty was ousted from Persia by Nader Shah after the 1729 Battle of Damghan .

In 1738, Nader Shah and his forces captured Kandahar, the last Hotak stronghold, from Shah Hussain Hotak , at which point the incarcerated 16-year-old Ahmad Shah Durrani was freed and made the commander of an Afghan
Afghan
regiment. Soon after the Persian and Afghan
Afghan
forces invaded India
India
. By 1747, the Afghans chose Durrani as their head of state . Durrani and his Afghan
Afghan
army conquered much of present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Khorasan and Kohistan provinces of Iran, and Delhi in India. He defeated the Indian Maratha Empire , and one of his biggest victories was the 1761 Battle of Panipat .

In October 1772, Durrani died of a natural cause and was buried at a site now adjacent to the Shrine of the Cloak in Kandahar. He was succeeded by his son, Timur Shah , who transferred the capital of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
from Kandahar
Kandahar
to Kabul
Kabul
in 1776. After Timur's death in 1793, the Durrani throne passed down to his son Zaman Shah , followed by Mahmud Shah , Shuja Shah and others.

The Afghan
Afghan
Empire was under threat in the early 19th century by the Persians in the west and the Sikh Empire
Sikh Empire
in the east. Fateh Khan, leader of the Barakzai tribe , had installed 21 of his brothers in positions of power throughout the empire. After his death, they rebelled and divided up the provinces of the empire between themselves. During this turbulent period, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
had many temporary rulers until Dost Mohammad Khan declared himself emir in 1826. The Punjab region was lost to Ranjit Singh
Ranjit Singh
, who invaded Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and in 1834 captured the city of Peshawar . In 1837, during the Battle of Jamrud
Battle of Jamrud
near the Khyber Pass , Akbar Khan and the Afghan
Afghan
army failed to capture the Jamrud fort from the Sikh Khalsa Army , but killed Sikh Commander Hari Singh Nalwa , thus ending the Afghan-Sikh Wars . By this time the British were advancing from the east and the first major conflict during the "Great Game" was initiated.

WESTERN INFLUENCE

Further information: European influence in Afghanistan and Reforms of Amānullāh Khān and civil war British and allied forces at Kandahar
Kandahar
after the 1880 Battle of Kandahar
Kandahar
, during the Second Anglo- Afghan
Afghan
War . The large defensive wall around the city was removed in the early 1930s by the order of King Nadir .

In 1838, the British marched into Afghanistan
Afghanistan
and arrested Dost Mohammad , sent him into exile in India
India
and replaced him with the previous ruler, Shah Shuja . Following an uprising, the 1842 retreat from Kabul
Kabul
of British-Indian forces, and the Battle of Kabul
Kabul
that led to its recapture, the British placed Dost Mohammad Khan back into power and withdrew their military forces from Afghanistan. In 1878, the Second Anglo- Afghan
Afghan
War was fought over perceived Russian influence, Abdur Rahman Khan
Abdur Rahman Khan
replaced Ayub Khan , and Britain gained control of Afghanistan's foreign relations as part of the Treaty of Gandamak of 1879. In 1893, Mortimer Durand made Amir Abdur Rahman Khan sign a controversial agreement in which the ethnic Pashtun and Baloch territories were divided by the Durand Line . This was a standard divide and rule policy of the British and would lead to strained relations, especially with the later new state of Pakistan. Zahir Shah , the last king of Afghanistan, who reigned from 1933 to 1973.

After the Third Anglo-Afghan War and the signing of the Treaty of Rawalpindi on 19 August 1919, King Amanullah Khan declared Afghanistan a sovereign and fully independent state . He moved to end his country's traditional isolation by establishing diplomatic relations with the international community and, following a 1927–28 tour of Europe and Turkey
Turkey
, introduced several reforms intended to modernize his nation. A key force behind these reforms was Mahmud Tarzi
Mahmud Tarzi
, an ardent supporter of the education of women. He fought for Article 68 of Afghanistan's 1923 constitution , which made elementary education compulsory. The institution of slavery was abolished in 1923.

Some of the reforms that were actually put in place, such as the abolition of the traditional burqa for women and the opening of a number of co-educational schools, quickly alienated many tribal and religious leaders. Faced with overwhelming armed opposition, Amanullah Khan was forced to abdicate in January 1929 after Kabul
Kabul
fell to rebel forces led by Habibullah Kalakani . Prince Mohammed Nadir Shah
Mohammed Nadir Shah
, Amanullah's cousin, in turn defeated and killed Kalakani in November 1929, and was declared King Nadir Shah. He abandoned the reforms of Amanullah Khan in favor of a more gradual approach to modernisation but was assassinated in 1933 by Abdul Khaliq , a Hazara school student.

Mohammed Zahir Shah , Nadir Shah's 19-year-old son, succeeded to the throne and reigned from 1933 to 1973. Until 1946, Zahir Shah ruled with the assistance of his uncle, who held the post of Prime Minister and continued the policies of Nadir Shah. Another of Zahir Shah's uncles, Shah Mahmud Khan , became Prime Minister in 1946 and began an experiment allowing greater political freedom, but reversed the policy when it went further than he expected. He was replaced in 1953 by Mohammed Daoud Khan , the king's cousin and brother-in-law. Daoud Khan sought a closer relationship with the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
and a more distant one towards Pakistan. Afghanistan
Afghanistan
remained neutral and was neither a participant in World War II
World War II
nor aligned with either power bloc in the Cold War . However, it was a beneficiary of the latter rivalry as both the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
and the United States
United States
vied for influence by building Afghanistan's main highways, airports, and other vital infrastructure. On per capita basis, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
received more Soviet development aid than any other country. In 1973, while King Zahir Shah was on an official overseas visit, Daoud Khan launched a bloodless coup and became the first President of Afghanistan . In the meantime, Zulfikar Ali
Ali
Bhutto got neighboring Pakistan
Pakistan
involved in Afghanistan. Some experts suggest that Bhutto paved the way for the April 1978 Saur Revolution .

MARXIST REVOLUTION AND SOVIET WAR

Main articles: Saur Revolution , Afghan-Soviet War , Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
Republic of Afghanistan
, and History of Afghanistan (1978–92) Outside the Arg Presidential Palace in Kabul
Kabul
, a day after the April 1978 Marxist revolution in which President Daoud Khan was assassinated along with his entire family.

In April 1978, the communist People\'s Democratic Party of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
(PDPA) seized power in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
in the Saur Revolution . Within months, opponents of the communist government launched an uprising in eastern Afghanistan
Afghanistan
that quickly expanded into a civil war waged by guerrilla mujahideen against government forces countrywide. The Pakistani government provided these rebels with covert training centers, while the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
sent thousands of military advisers to support the PDPA government. Meanwhile, increasing friction between the competing factions of the PDPA — the dominant Khalq and the more moderate Parcham — resulted in the dismissal of Parchami cabinet members and the arrest of Parchami military officers under the pretext of a Parchami coup.

In September 1979, Nur Muhammad Taraki
Nur Muhammad Taraki
was assassinated in a coup within the PDPA orchestrated by fellow Khalq member Hafizullah Amin
Hafizullah Amin
, who assumed the presidency. Distrusted by the Soviets, Amin was assassinated by Soviet special forces in December 1979. A Soviet-organized government, led by Parcham's Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal
but inclusive of both factions, filled the vacuum. Soviet troops were deployed to stabilize Afghanistan
Afghanistan
under Karmal in more substantial numbers, although the Soviet government did not expect to do most of the fighting in Afghanistan. As a result, however, the Soviets were now directly involved in what had been a domestic war in Afghanistan. The PDPA prohibited usury , declared equality of the sexes, and introduced women to political life.

The United States
United States
had been supporting anti-Soviet Afghan
Afghan
mujahideen and foreign " Afghan
Afghan
Arab
Arab
" fighters through Pakistan's ISI as early as mid-1979 (see CIA activities in Afghanistan ). Billions in cash and weapons, which included over two thousand FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missiles , were provided by the United States
United States
and Saudi Arabia to Pakistan.

During the Soviet war in Afghanistan , Soviet forces and their proxies killed between 562,000 and 2 million Afghans, and also displaced about 6 million people who subsequently fled Afghanistan, mainly to Pakistan
Pakistan
and Iran
Iran
. Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province functioned as an organisational and networking base for the anti-Soviet Afghan
Afghan
resistance, with the province's influential Deobandi
Deobandi
ulama playing a major supporting role in promoting the 'jihad'. Faced with mounting international pressure and numerous casualties, the Soviets withdrew in 1989 but continued to support Afghan
Afghan
President Mohammad Najibullah until 1992.

CIVIL WAR

Main articles: Afghan
Afghan
Civil War (1989–92) and Afghan
Afghan
Civil War (1992–96)

From 1989 until 1992, Najibullah's government tried to solve the ongoing civil war with economic and military aid, but without Soviet troops on the ground. Pakistan's spy agency (ISI ), headed by Hamid Gul at the time, was interested in a trans-national Islamic revolution which would cover Pakistan, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
and Central Asia. For this purpose Pakistan
Pakistan
masterminded an attack on Jalalabad for the Mujahideen
Mujahideen
to establish their own government in Afghanistan. Najibullah tried to build support for his government by portraying his government as Islamic , and in the 1990 constitution the country officially became an Islamic state and all references of communism were removed. Nevertheless, Najibullah did not win any significant support, and with the dissolution of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
in December 1991, he was left without foreign aid. This, coupled with the internal collapse of his government, led to his ousting from power in April 1992. After the fall of Najibullah's government in 1992, the post-communist Islamic State of Afghanistan
Islamic State of Afghanistan
was established by the Peshawar Accord , a peace and power-sharing agreement under which all the Afghan
Afghan
parties were united in April 1992, except for the Pakistani supported Hezb-e Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar . Hekmatyar started a bombardment campaign against the capital city Kabul, which marked the beginning of a new phase in the war .

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
and Iran
Iran
supported different Afghan
Afghan
militias and instability quickly developed. The conflict between the two militias soon escalated into a full-scale war. A section of Kabul
Kabul
during the civil war in 1993

Due to the sudden initiation of the war, working government departments, police units, and a system of justice and accountability for the newly created Islamic State of Afghanistan
Islamic State of Afghanistan
did not have time to form. Atrocities were committed by individuals of the different armed factions while Kabul
Kabul
descended into lawlessness and chaos. Because of the chaos, some leaders increasingly had only nominal control over their (sub-)commanders. For civilians there was little security from murder, rape, and extortion. An estimated 25,000 people died during the most intense period of bombardment by Hekmatyar's Hezb-i Islami and the Junbish-i Milli
Junbish-i Milli
forces of Abdul Rashid Dostum , who had created an alliance with Hekmatyar in 1994. Half a million people fled Afghanistan.

Southern and eastern Afghanistan
Afghanistan
were under the control of local commanders such as Gul Agha Sherzai
Gul Agha Sherzai
and others. In 1994, the Taliban (a movement originating from Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam -run religious schools for Afghan
Afghan
refugees in Pakistan) also developed in Afghanistan as a political-religious force. The Taliban
Taliban
first took control of southern Afghanistan
Afghanistan
in 1994 and forced the surrender of dozens of local Pashtun leaders.

In late 1994, forces of Ahmad Shah Massoud
Ahmad Shah Massoud
held on to Kabul. Rabbani's government took steps to reopen courts, restore law and order, and initiate a nationwide political process with the goal of national consolidation and democratic elections. Massoud invited Taliban
Taliban
leaders to join the process but they refused.

TALIBAN EMIRATE AND NORTHERN ALLIANCE

Main articles: Afghan
Afghan
Civil War (1996–2001) , Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
, Taliban
Taliban
, and Northern Alliance
Northern Alliance
Map of the situation in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
in late 1996; Massoud (red), Dostum (green) and Taliban
Taliban
(yellow) territories.

The Taliban's early victories in late 1994 were followed by a series of defeats that resulted in heavy losses. The Taliban
Taliban
attempted to capture Kabul
Kabul
in early 1995 but were repelled by forces under Massoud. In September 1996, as the Taliban, with military support from Pakistan and financial support from Saudi Arabia, prepared for another major offensive, Massoud ordered a full retreat from Kabul. The Taliban seized Kabul
Kabul
in the same month and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
. They imposed a strict form of Sharia
Sharia
, similar to that found in Saudi Arabia. According to Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), "no other regime in the world has methodically and violently forced half of its population into virtual house arrest, prohibiting them on pain of physical punishment from showing their faces, seeking medical care without a male escort, or attending school" (this statement, though, was made in 1998, long before the advent of ISIS
ISIS
which has imposed even tougher and more violent sharia controls).

After the fall of Kabul
Kabul
to the Taliban
Taliban
, Massoud and Dostum formed the Northern Alliance
Northern Alliance
. The Taliban
Taliban
defeated Dostum's forces during the Battles of Mazar-i-Sharif (1997–98) . Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff, Pervez Musharraf
Pervez Musharraf
, began sending thousands of Pakistanis to help the Taliban
Taliban
defeat the Northern Alliance. From 1996 to 2001, the al-Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri was also operating inside Afghanistan. This and the fact that around one million Afghans were internally displaced made the United States worry. From 1990 to September 2001, around 400,000 Afghans died in the internal mini-wars.

On 9 September 2001, Massoud was assassinated by two Arab
Arab
suicide attackers in Panjshir province of Afghanistan. Two days later, the September 11 attacks were carried out in the United States. The US government suspected Osama bin Laden as the perpetrator of the attacks, and demanded that the Taliban
Taliban
hand him over. After refusing to comply, the October 2001 Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Enduring Freedom
was launched. The majority of Afghans supported the American invasion of their country. During the initial invasion, US and UK forces bombed al-Qaeda training camps. The United States
United States
began working with the Northern Alliance
Northern Alliance
to remove the Taliban
Taliban
from power.

RECENT HISTORY (2002–PRESENT)

Further information: War in Afghanistan (2001–14) , War in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
(2015–present) , Taliban
Taliban
insurgency , Civilian casualties in the war in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
(2001–14) , and Corruption in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Collage showing foreign armed force and US diplomat visits to Afghanistan
Afghanistan

In December 2001, after the Taliban
Taliban
government was overthrown and the new Afghan
Afghan
government under President Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
was formed, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was established by the UN Security Council to help assist the Karzai administration and provide basic security. Taliban
Taliban
forces also began regrouping inside Pakistan, while more coalition troops entered Afghanistan
Afghanistan
and began rebuilding the war-torn country.

Shortly after their fall from power, the Taliban
Taliban
began an insurgency to regain control of Afghanistan. Over the next decade, ISAF and Afghan
Afghan
troops led many offensives against the Taliban
Taliban
but failed to fully defeat them. Afghanistan
Afghanistan
remains one of the poorest countries in the world due to a lack of foreign investment, government corruption , and the Taliban
Taliban
insurgency.

Meanwhile, the Afghan
Afghan
government was able to build some democratic structures, and the country changed its name to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Attempts were made, often with the support of foreign donor countries, to improve the country's economy, healthcare, education, transport, and agriculture. ISAF forces also began to train the Afghan
Afghan
National Security Forces . In the decade following 2002, over five million Afghans were repatriated , including some who were forcefully deported from Western countries.

By 2009, a Taliban-led shadow government began to form in parts of the country. In 2010, President Karzai attempted to hold peace negotiations with the Taliban
Taliban
leaders, but the rebel group refused to attend until mid-2015 when the Taliban
Taliban
supreme leader finally decided to back the peace talks. Remains of the Bamiyan Buddhas .

After the May 2011 death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, many prominent Afghan
Afghan
figures were assassinated. Afghanistan–Pakistan border skirmishes intensified and many large scale attacks by the Pakistan-based Haqqani Network also took place across Afghanistan. The United States
United States
blamed rogue elements within the Pakistani government for the increased attacks. The U.S. government spent tens of billions of dollars on development aid over 15 years and over a trillion dollars on military expenses during the same period. Corruption by Western defense and development contractors and associated Afghans reached unprecedented levels in a country where the national GDP was often only a small fraction of the U.S. government's annual budget for the conflict.

Following the 2014 presidential election President Karzai left power and Ashraf Ghani became President in September 2014. The United States war in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
(U.S. longest war) officially ended on 28 December 2014. However, thousands of US-led NATO
NATO
troops have remained in the country to train and advise Afghan
Afghan
government forces. The 2001–present war has resulted in over 90,000 direct war-related deaths , which includes insurgents, Afghan
Afghan
civilians and government forces. Over 100,000 have been injured.

GEOGRAPHY

Main article: Geography of Afghanistan
Geography of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan
map of Köppen climate classification
Köppen climate classification
. Topography

A landlocked mountainous country with plains in the north and southwest, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
is located within South Asia and Central Asia. It is part of the US-coined Greater Middle East Muslim
Muslim
world , which lies between latitudes 29° N and 39° N , and longitudes 60° E and 75° E . The country's highest point is Noshaq
Noshaq
, at 7,492 m (24,580 ft) above sea level. It has a continental climate with harsh winters in the central highlands , the glaciated northeast (around Nuristan
Nuristan
), and the Wakhan Corridor
Wakhan Corridor
, where the average temperature in January is below −15 °C (5 °F), and hot summers in the low-lying areas of the Sistan Basin of the southwest, the Jalalabad basin in the east, and the Turkestan plains along the Amu River in the north, where temperatures average over 35 °C (95 °F) in July. Landscapes of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
, from left to right: 1. Band-e Amir National Park ; 2. Salang Pass
Salang Pass
in Parwan Province
Parwan Province
; 3. Korangal Valley in Kunar Province ; and 4. Kajaki Dam in Helmand Province

Despite having numerous rivers and reservoirs , large parts of the country are dry. The endorheic Sistan Basin is one of the driest regions in the world. Aside from the usual rainfall, Afghanistan receives snow during the winter in the Hindu Kush and Pamir Mountains , and the melting snow in the spring season enters the rivers, lakes, and streams . However, two-thirds of the country's water flows into the neighboring countries of Iran, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan. The state needs more than US$2 billion to rehabilitate its irrigation systems so that the water is properly managed.

The northeastern Hindu Kush mountain range , in and around the Badakhshan Province of Afghanistan, is in a geologically active area where earthquakes may occur almost every year. They can be deadly and destructive sometimes, causing landslides in some parts or avalanches during the winter. The last strong earthquakes were in 1998 , which killed about 6,000 people in Badakhshan near Tajikistan. This was followed by the 2002 Hindu Kush earthquakes in which over 150 people were killed and over 1,000 injured. A 2010 earthquake left 11 Afghans dead, over 70 injured, and more than 2,000 houses destroyed.

The country's natural resources include: coal , copper , iron ore , lithium , uranium , rare earth elements , chromite , gold , zinc , talc , barites , sulfur , lead , marble , precious and semi-precious stones , natural gas , and petroleum , among other things. In 2010, US and Afghan
Afghan
government officials estimated that untapped mineral deposits located in 2007 by the US Geological Survey are worth at least $1 trillion.

At 652,230 km2 (251,830 sq mi), Afghanistan
Afghanistan
is the world's 41st largest country , slightly bigger than France and smaller than Burma, about the size of Texas in the United States. It borders Pakistan
Pakistan
in the south and east; Iran
Iran
in the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north; and China
China
in the far east.

DEMOGRAPHICS

Main articles: Demographics of Afghanistan
Demographics of Afghanistan
and Afghan
Afghan
diaspora

The population of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
was estimated at 29.2 million in 2017. Of this, 15 million are males and 14.2 million females. About 22% of them are urbanite and the remaining 78% live in rural areas. An additional 3 million or so Afghans are temporarily housed in neighboring Pakistan
Pakistan
and Iran
Iran
, most of whom were born and raised in those two countries. This makes the total Afghan
Afghan
population at around 33,332,025, and its current growth rate is 2.34%. This population is expected to reach 82 million by 2050.

The only city with over a million residents is its capital, Kabul. Other large cities in the country are, in order of population size, Kandahar
Kandahar
, Herat , Mazar-i-Sharif
Mazar-i-Sharif
, Kunduz , Jalalabad , Lashkar Gah , Taloqan , Khost , Sheberghan , and Ghazni .

* v * t * e

Largest cities or towns in Afghanistan 2012 estimate

RANK NAME PROVINCE POP.

Kabul
Kabul

Kandahar
Kandahar
1 Kabul
Kabul
Kabul
Kabul
Province 3,289,000

Herat

Mazar-i-Sharif
Mazar-i-Sharif

2 Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar
Province 491,500

3 Herat Herat Province 436,300

4 Mazar-i-Sharif
Mazar-i-Sharif
Balkh Province 368,100

5 Kunduz Kunduz Province 304,600

6 Taloqan Takhar Province
Takhar Province
219,000

7 Jalalabad Nangarhar Province 206,500

8 Puli Khumri Baghlan Province
Baghlan Province
203,600

9 Charikar
Charikar
Parwan Province
Parwan Province
171,200

10 Sheberghan Jowzjan Province 161,700

ETHNIC GROUPS

Main article: Ethnic groups in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Ethnolinguistic groups of Afghanistan
Afghanistan

Afghanistan's population is divided into several ethnolinguistic groups, which are listed in the chart below:

Ethnic groups in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
ETHNIC GROUP RECENT ESTIMATE PRE-2004 ESTIMATE

Pashtun 42% 38–55%

Tajik 27% 26% (of this 1% are Qizilbash
Qizilbash
)

Hazara 8% 9–10%

Uzbek 9% 6–8%

Aimaq 4% 500,000 to 800,000

Turkmen 3% 2.5%

Baloch 2% 100,000

Others (Pashayi , Nuristani , Arab
Arab
, Brahui , Pamiri , Gurjar
Gurjar
, etc.) 4% 6.9%

LANGUAGES

Main article: Languages of Afghanistan

SPOKEN LANGUAGES OF AFGHANISTAN

Dari ( Afghan
Afghan
Persian)   50%

Pashto   35%

Uzbek and Turkmen   11%

30 others including Balochi   4%

Pashto and Dari are the official languages of Afghanistan; bilingualism is very common. Dari, which is Afghanistan's Persian, functions as the lingua franca in Kabul
Kabul
as well as in much of the northern and northwestern parts of the country. Pashto is the native tongue of the Pashtuns, although many of them are also fluent in Dari while some non- Pashtuns
Pashtuns
are fluent in Pashto.

There are a number of smaller regional languages, they include Uzbeki , Turkmeni , Balochi , Pashayi , and Nuristani . A number of Afghans are also fluent in Urdu , English, and other foreign languages.

RELIGIONS

Main article: Religion in Afghanistan
Religion in Afghanistan

RELIGION IN AFGHANISTAN

Sunni Islam   84.7-89.7%

Imamiyyah   7-15%

Ismāʿīlism   4.5%

Other religion   0.5%

Over 99% of the Afghan
Afghan
population is Muslim. According to latest estimates, up to 90% practice Sunni Islam and the remaining 7–15% adhere to Shia Islam
Shia Islam
.

Thousands of Afghan
Afghan
Sikhs and Hindus are also found in the major cities. There was a small Jewish community in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
who had emigrated to Israel
Israel
and the United States
United States
by the end of the twentieth century; at least one Jew, Zablon Simintov , remained.

GOVERNANCE

Main articles: Politics of Afghanistan , Presidency of Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
, and Constitution of Afghanistan The National Assembly of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
in 2006 Current military situation, as of 27 February 2016. Under control of the Afghan
Afghan
Government , NATO
NATO
, and Allies Under control of the Taliban
Taliban
, Al-Qaeda , and Allies Under control of the Islamic State

Afghanistan
Afghanistan
is an Islamic republic consisting of three branches, the executive, legislative, and judicial. The nation is led by President Ashraf Ghani with Abdul Rashid Dostum and Sarwar Danish as vice presidents. Abdullah Abdullah
Abdullah Abdullah
serves as the chief executive officer (CEO). The National Assembly is the legislature, a bicameral body having two chambers, the House of the People and the House of Elders . The Supreme Court is led by Chief Justice Said Yusuf Halem , the former Deputy Minister of Justice for Legal Affairs.

A January 2010 report published by the United Nations
United Nations
Office on Drugs and Crime revealed that bribery consumed an amount equal to 23% of the GDP of the nation. A number of government ministries are believed to be rife with corruption, and while President Karzai vowed to tackle the problem in late 2009 by stating that "individuals who are involved in corruption will have no place in the government", top government officials were stealing and misusing hundreds of millions of dollars through the Kabul
Kabul
Bank . According to Transparency International 's 2014 corruption perceptions index results, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
was ranked as the fourth most corrupt country in the world.

ELECTIONS AND PARTIES

Main articles: Elections in Afghanistan and List of political parties in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
From left to right: Abdullah Abdullah
Abdullah Abdullah
, John Kerry and Ashraf Ghani during the 2014 presidential election

The 2004 Afghan
Afghan
presidential election was relatively peaceful, in which Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
won in the first round with 55.4% of the votes. However, the 2009 presidential election was characterized by lack of security, low voter turnout, and widespread electoral fraud. The vote, along with elections for 420 provincial council seats, took place in August 2009, but remained unresolved during a lengthy period of vote counting and fraud investigation.

Two months later, under international pressure, a second round run-off vote between Karzai and remaining challenger Abdullah was announced, but a few days later Abdullah announced that he would not participate in 7 November run-off because his demands for changes in the electoral commission had not been met. The next day, officials of the election commission cancelled the run-off and declared Hamid Karzai as President for another five-year term.

In the 2005 parliamentary election , among the elected officials were former mujahideen, Islamic fundamentalists , warlords, communists, reformists , and several Taliban
Taliban
associates. In the same period, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
reached to the 30th highest nation in terms of female representation in the National Assembly. The last parliamentary election was held in September 2010, but due to disputes and investigation of fraud, the swearing-in ceremony took place in late January 2011. The 2014 presidential election ended with Ashraf Ghani winning by 56.44% votes.

ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISIONS

Main articles: Provinces of Afghanistan and Districts of Afghanistan

Afghanistan
Afghanistan
is administratively divided into 34 provinces (wilayats ), with each province having its own capital and a provincial administration. The provinces are further divided into about 398 smaller provincial districts, each of which normally covers a city or a number of villages. Each district is represented by a district governor.

The provincial governors are appointed by the President of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
and the district governors are selected by the provincial governors. The provincial governors are representatives of the central government in Kabul
Kabul
and are responsible for all administrative and formal issues within their provinces. There are also provincial councils that are elected through direct and general elections for a period of four years. The functions of provincial councils are to take part in provincial development planning and to participate in the monitoring and appraisal of other provincial governance institutions.

According to article 140 of the constitution and the presidential decree on electoral law, mayors of cities should be elected through free and direct elections for a four-year term. However, due to huge election costs, mayoral and municipal elections have never been held. Instead, mayors have been appointed by the government. In the capital city of Kabul, the mayor is appointed by the President of Afghanistan.

The following is a list of all the 34 provinces in alphabetical order: Afghanistan
Afghanistan
is divided into 34 provinces , and every province is further divided into a number of districts

* Badakhshan * Badghis * Baghlan * Balkh * Bamyan * Daykundi * Farah * Faryab * Ghazni * Ghor * Helmand * Herat * Jowzjan * Kabul
Kabul
* Kandahar
Kandahar
* Kapisa * Khost * Kunar * Kunduz * Laghman * Logar * Nangarhar * Nimruz * Nuristan
Nuristan
* Oruzgan * Paktia * Paktika * Panjshir * Parwan * Samangan * Sar-e Pol * Takhar * Wardak * Zabul

FOREIGN RELATIONS AND MILITARY

Main articles: Foreign relations of Afghanistan and Afghan
Afghan
Armed Forces Soldiers of the Afghan
Afghan
National Army , including the ANA Commando Battalion standing in the front

The Afghan
Afghan
Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in charge of maintaining the foreign relations of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
. The state has been a member of the United Nations
United Nations
since 1946. It enjoys strong economic relations with a number of NATO
NATO
and allied states, particularly the United States , United Kingdom
United Kingdom
, Germany and Turkey
Turkey
. In 2012, the United States designated Afghanistan
Afghanistan
as a major non- NATO
NATO
ally and created the U.S.–Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement . Afghanistan
Afghanistan
also has friendly diplomatic relations with neighboring Pakistan
Pakistan
, Iran
Iran
, Turkmenistan , Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
, Tajikistan , and China
China
, and with regional states such as India
India
, Bangladesh , Nepal
Nepal
, Kazakhstan , Russia
Russia
, the UAE , Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, Japan
Japan
, and South Korea
South Korea
. It continues to develop diplomatic relations with other countries around the world.

United Nations
United Nations
Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
(UNAMA) was established in 2002 under United Nations
United Nations
Security Council Resolution 1401 in order to help the country recover from decades of war. Today, a number of NATO
NATO
member states deploy about 38,000 troops in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Its main purpose is to train the Afghan
Afghan
National Security Forces (ANSF). The Afghan
Afghan
Armed Forces are under the Ministry of Defense , which includes the Afghan
Afghan
National Army (ANA) and the Afghan Air Force (AAF). The ANA is divided into 6 major Corps
Corps
, with the 201st Selab ("Flood") in Kabul
Kabul
followed by the 203rd in Gardez, 205th Atul ("Hero") in Kandahar, 207th in Herat , 209th in Mazar-i-Sharif
Mazar-i-Sharif
, and the 215th in Lashkar Gah . The ANA also has a commando brigade , which was established in 2007. The Afghan
Afghan
Defense University (ADU) houses various educational establishments for the Afghan
Afghan
Armed Forces, including the National Military Academy of Afghanistan .

LAW ENFORCEMENT

Main article: Law enforcement in Afghanistan Afghan
Afghan
National Police (ANP) in Kunar Province

The National Directorate of Security
National Directorate of Security
(NDS) is the nation's domestic intelligence agency , which operates similar to that of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Afghan
Afghan
National Police (ANP) is under the Ministry of the Interior and serves as a single law enforcement agency all across the country. The Afghan National Civil Order Police is the main branch of the ANP, which is divided into five Brigades, each commanded by a Brigadier General. These brigades are stationed in Kabul, Gardez , Kandahar
Kandahar
, Herat , and Mazar-i-Sharif
Mazar-i-Sharif
. Every province has an appointed provincial Chief of Police who is responsible for law enforcement throughout the province.

All parts of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
are considered dangerous due to militant activities. Hundreds of Afghan
Afghan
police are killed in the line of duty each year. Kidnapping and robberies are also reported. The Afghan Border Police (ABP) are responsible for protecting the nation's airports and borders, especially the disputed Durand Line border, which is often used by members of criminal organizations and terrorists for their illegal activities. A report in 2011 suggested that up to 3 million people were involved in the illegal drug business in Afghanistan. Attacks on government employees may be ordered by powerful mafia groups who reside inside and outside the country. Drugs from Afghanistan
Afghanistan
are exported to neighboring countries and then to other countries. The Afghan
Afghan
Ministry of Counter Narcotics is tasked to deal with these issues by bringing to justice major drug traffickers.

ECONOMY

Main article: Economy of Afghanistan Workers processing pomegranates (anaar), which Afghanistan
Afghanistan
is famous for in Asia Afghan
Afghan
women at a textile factory in Kabul
Kabul

Afghanistan's GDP is around $64 billion with an exchange rate of $18.4 billion, and its GDP per capita is $2,000. Despite having $1 trillion or more in mineral deposits, it remains as one of the least developed countries . The country imports over $6 billion worth of goods but exports only $658 million, mainly fruits and nuts . It has less than $1.5 billion in external debt .

Agricultural production is the backbone of Afghanistan's economy. The country is known for producing some of the finest pomegranates , grapes, apricots, melons, and several other fresh and dry fruits. It is also known as the world's largest producer of opium . Sources indicate that as much as 11% or more of the nation's economy is derived from the cultivation and sale of opium.

While the nation's current account deficit is largely financed with donor money, only a small portion is provided directly to the government budget. The rest is provided to non-budgetary expenditure and donor-designated projects through the United Nations
United Nations
system and non-governmental organizations. The Afghan
Afghan
Ministry of Finance is focusing on improved revenue collection and public sector expenditure discipline. For example, government revenues increased 31% to $1.7 billion from March 2010 to March 2011. Afghanistan, Trends in the Human Development Index , 1970–2010

Da Afghanistan Bank serves as the central bank of the nation and the "Afghani" (AFN) is the national currency, with an exchange rate of about 60 Afghanis to 1 US dollar . A number of local and foreign banks operate in the country, including the Afghanistan International Bank , New Kabul
Kabul
Bank , Azizi Bank , Pashtany Bank , Standard Chartered Bank , and the First Micro Finance Bank .

One of the main drivers for the current economic recovery is the return of over 5 million expatriates , who brought with them fresh energy, entrepreneurship and wealth-creating skills as well as much needed funds to start up businesses. Many Afghans are now involved in construction, which is one of the largest industries in the country. Some of the major national construction projects include the $35 billion New Kabul
Kabul
City next to the capital, the Aino Mena project in Kandahar, and the Ghazi Amanullah Khan Town near Jalalabad. Similar development projects have also begun in Herat , Mazar-e-Sharif , and other cities. An estimated 400,000 people enter the labor market each year.

A number of small companies and factories began operating in different parts of the country, which not only provide revenues to the government but also create new jobs. Improvements to the business environment have resulted in more than $1.5 billion in telecom investment and created more than 100,000 jobs since 2003. Afghan
Afghan
rugs are becoming popular again, allowing many carpet dealers around the country to hire more workers.

Afghanistan
Afghanistan
is a member of WTO , SAARC , ECO , and OIC . It holds an observer status in SCO . Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul told the media in 2011 that his nation's "goal is to achieve an Afghan
Afghan
economy whose growth is based on trade, private enterprise and investment". Experts believe that this will revolutionize the economy of the region. In June 2012, India
India
advocated for private investments in the resource rich country and the creation of a suitable environment therefor.

MINING

Main article: Mining in Afghanistan

Michael E. O\'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution estimated that if Afghanistan
Afghanistan
generates about $10 bn per year from its mineral deposits , its gross national product would double and provide long-term funding for Afghan
Afghan
security forces and other critical needs. The United States
United States
Geological Survey (USGS) estimated in 2006 that northern Afghanistan
Afghanistan
has an average 2.9 billion (bn) barrels (bbl) of crude oil , 15.7 trillion cubic feet (440 bn m3) of natural gas, and 562 million bbl of natural gas liquids . In 2011, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
signed an oil exploration contract with China
China
National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) for the development of three oil fields along the Amu Darya river in the north.

The country has significant amounts of lithium , copper, gold, coal, iron ore , and other minerals . The Khanashin carbonatite in Helmand Province contains 1,000,000 metric tons (1,100,000 short tons ) of rare earth elements . In 2007, a 30-year lease was granted for the Aynak copper mine to the China
China
Metallurgical Group for $3 billion, making it the biggest foreign investment and private business venture in Afghanistan's history. The state-run Steel Authority of India won the mining rights to develop the huge Hajigak iron ore deposit in central Afghanistan. Government officials estimate that 30% of the country's untapped mineral deposits are worth at least $1 trillion. One official asserted that "this will become the backbone of the Afghan
Afghan
economy" and a Pentagon memo stated that Afghanistan
Afghanistan
could become the " Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
of lithium". In a 2011 news story, the CSM reported, "The United States
United States
and other Western nations that have borne the brunt of the cost of the Afghan
Afghan
war have been conspicuously absent from the bidding process on Afghanistan's mineral deposits, leaving it mostly to regional powers."

TRANSPORT

Main article: Transport in Afghanistan

AIR

Main article: List of airports in Afghanistan An Ariana Afghan Airlines (AAA) Airbus A310
Airbus A310
in 2006

Air transport in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
is provided by the national carrier, Ariana Afghan
Afghan
Airlines (AAA), and by private companies such as Afghan Jet International , East Horizon Airlines
East Horizon Airlines
, Kam Air , Pamir Airways
Pamir Airways
, and Safi Airways . Airlines from a number of countries also provide flights in and out of the country. These include Air India
Air India
, Emirates , Gulf Air , Iran
Iran
Aseman Airlines , Pakistan
Pakistan
International Airlines , and Turkish Airlines
Turkish Airlines
.

The country has four international airports: Hamid Karzai International Airport (formerly Kabul
Kabul
International Airport), Kandahar International Airport , Herat International Airport , and Mazar-e Sharif International Airport . There are also around a dozen domestic airports with flights to Kabul
Kabul
and other major cities.

RAIL

Main article: Rail transport in Afghanistan

As of 2014 , the country has only two rail links, one a 75 km line from Kheyrabad to the Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
border and the other a 10 km long line from Toraghundi to the Turkmenistan border. Both lines are used for freight only and there is no passenger service as of yet. There are various proposals for the construction of additional rail lines in the country. In 2013, the presidents of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
attended the groundbreaking ceremony for a 225 km line between Turkmenistan- Andkhvoy - Mazar-i-Sharif
Mazar-i-Sharif
-Kheyrabad . The line will link at Kheyrabad with the existing line to the Uzbekistan border. Plans exist for a rail line from Kabul
Kabul
to the eastern border town of Torkham
Torkham
, where it will connect with Pakistan
Pakistan
Railways . There are also plans to finish a rail line between Khaf, Iran
Iran
and Herat , Afghanistan.

ROADS

Further information: Highway 1 (Afghanistan)

Traveling by bus in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
remains dangerous due to militant activities. The buses are usually older model Mercedes-Benz and owned by private companies. Serious traffic accidents are common on Afghan roads and highways, particularly on the Kabul– Kandahar
Kandahar
and the Kabul– Jalalabad Road .

Newer automobiles have recently become more widely available after the rebuilding of roads and highways. They are imported from the United Arab
Arab
Emirates through Pakistan
Pakistan
and Iran. As of 2012 , vehicles more than 10 years old are banned from being imported into the country. The development of the nation's road network is a major boost for the economy due to trade with neighboring countries. Postal services in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
are provided by the publicly owned Afghan
Afghan
Post and private companies such as FedEx
FedEx
, DHL , and others.

HEALTH

Main article: Health in Afghanistan Opening ceremony at a public health institute in Kandahar
Kandahar
.

According to the Human Development Index , Afghanistan
Afghanistan
is the 15th least developed country in the world . The average life expectancy is estimated to be around 60 years. The country's maternal mortality rate is 396 deaths/100,000 live births and its infant mortality rate is 66 to 112.8 deaths in every 1,000 live births. The Ministry of Public Health plans to cut the infant mortality rate to 400 for every 100,000 live births before 2020. The country has more than 3,000 midwives , with an additional 300 to 400 being trained each year.

There are over 100 hospitals in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
, with the most advanced treatments being available in Kabul. The French Medical Institute for Children and Indira Gandhi Children\'s Hospital in Kabul
Kabul
are the leading children\'s hospitals in the country. Some of the other main hospitals in Kabul
Kabul
include the Jamhuriat Hospital and the under-construction Jinnah Hospital . In spite of all this, many Afghans travel to Pakistan
Pakistan
and India
India
for advanced treatment.

It was reported in 2006 that nearly 60% of the Afghan
Afghan
population lives within a two-hour walk of the nearest health facility. Disability rate is also high in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
due to the decades of war. It was reported recently that about 80,000 people are missing limbs. Non-governmental charities such as Save the Children and Mahboba\'s Promise assist orphans in association with governmental structures. Demographic and Health Surveys is working with the Indian Institute of Health Management Research and others to conduct a survey in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
focusing on maternal death , among other things.

EDUCATION

Main article: Education in Afghanistan UNESCO Institute of Statistics Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Literacy Rate population plus15 1980–2015

Education in Afghanistan includes K–12 and higher education , which is overseen by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education . There are over 16,000 schools in the country and roughly 9 million students. Of this, about 60% are males and 40% females. Over 174,000 students are enrolled in different universities around the country. About 21% of these are females. Former Education Minister Ghulam Farooq Wardak had stated that construction of 8,000 schools is required for the remaining children who are deprived of formal learning .

The top universities in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
are the American University of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
(AUAF) followed by Kabul
Kabul
University (KU), both of which are located in Kabul. The National Military Academy of Afghanistan , modeled after the United States
United States
Military Academy at West Point, is a four-year military development institution dedicated to graduating officers for the Afghan
Afghan
Armed Forces . The Afghan
Afghan
Defense University was constructed near Qargha in Kabul. Major universities outside of Kabul
Kabul
include Kandahar
Kandahar
University in the south, Herat University in the northwest, Balkh University and Kunduz University in the north, Nangarhar University and Khost University in the east. The United States is building six faculties of education and five provincial teacher training colleges around the country, two large secondary schools in Kabul, and one school in Jalalabad.

The literacy rate of the entire population is 38.2% (males 52% and females 24.2%). In 2010, the United States
United States
began establishing a number of Lincoln learning centers in Afghanistan. They are set up to serve as programming platforms offering English language classes, library facilities, programming venues, internet connectivity, and educational and other counseling services. A goal of the program is to reach at least 4,000 Afghan
Afghan
citizens per month per location. The Afghan
Afghan
National Security Forces are provided with mandatory literacy courses. In addition to this, Baghch-e-Simsim (based on the American Sesame Street ) serves as a means to attract Afghan
Afghan
children into learning.

CULTURE

Part of a series on the

CULTURE OF AFGHANISTAN

HISTORY

PEOPLE

LANGUAGES

Mythology and folklore

* Mythology

CUISINE

FESTIVALS

RELIGION

Art

* Architecture * Sculpture * Painting

Literature Afghan
Afghan
poetry

Music and performing arts

* Music * Performing arts

Media

* Television * Cinema

SPORT

Monuments

* World Heritage Sites

Symbols

* Flag * Coat of arms

* * Afghanistan
Afghanistan
portal

* v * t * e

Main article: Culture of Afghanistan

Afghanistan
Afghanistan
is mostly a tribal society with different regions of the country having its own subculture . Their history is traced back to at least the time of the Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
in 500 BCE. In the southern and eastern region, the people live according to the Pashtun culture by following Pashtunwali (Pashtun way). The Pashtuns
Pashtuns
(and Baloch) are largely connected to the culture of South Asia. The remaining Afghans are culturally Persian and Turkic . Some non- Pashtuns
Pashtuns
who live in proximity with Pashtuns
Pashtuns
have adopted Pashtunwali in a process called Pashtunization , while some Pashtuns
Pashtuns
have been Persianized . Those who have lived in Pakistan
Pakistan
and Iran
Iran
over the last 30 years have been further influenced by the cultures of those neighboring nations. Men wearing traditional Afghan
Afghan
dress in the southern city of Kandahar
Kandahar

Afghans are regarded with mingled apprehension and condescension, for their high regard for personal honor, for their tribe loyalty and for their readiness to use force to settle disputes. As tribal warfare and internecine feuding has been one of their chief occupations since time immemorial, this individualistic trait has made it difficult for foreigners to conquer them. One writer considers the tribal system to be the best way of organizing large groups of people in a country that is geographically difficult, and in a society that, from a materialistic point of view, has an uncomplicated lifestyle. There are various Afghan
Afghan
tribes , and an estimated 2–3 million nomads .

The nation has a complex history that has survived either in its current cultures or in the form of various languages and monuments. However, many of its historic monuments have been damaged in modern times. The two famous Buddhas of Bamiyan were destroyed by the Taliban, who regarded them as idolatrous . Despite that, archaeologists are still finding Buddhist relics in different parts of the country, some of them dating back to the 2nd century. This indicates that Buddhism was widespread in Afghanistan. Other historical places include the cities of Herat , Kandahar
Kandahar
, Ghazni , Mazar-i-Sharif
Mazar-i-Sharif
, and Zaranj
Zaranj
. The Minaret of Jam in the Hari River valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site . A cloak reputedly worn by Islam's prophet Muhammad
Muhammad
is kept inside the Shrine of the Cloak in Kandahar, a city founded by Alexander and the first capital of Afghanistan. The citadel of Alexander in the western city of Herat has been renovated in recent years and is a popular attraction for tourists. In the north of the country is the Shrine of Ali , believed by many to be the location where Ali
Ali
was buried. The National Museum of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
is located in Kabul.

Classic Persian and Pashto poetry plays an important role in the Afghan
Afghan
culture. Poetry has always been one of the major educational pillars in the region, to the level that it has integrated itself into culture. Some notable poets include Rumi , Rabi\'a Balkhi , Sanai
Sanai
, Jami
Jami
, Khushal Khan Khattak , Rahman Baba , Khalilullah Khalili , and Parween Pazhwak .

MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT

Main article: Media of Afghanistan Studio of TOLOnews in Kabul
Kabul

Afghanistan
Afghanistan
has around 150 radio stations and over 50 television stations, which includes the state-owned RTA TV and various private channels such as Tolo TV and Shamshad TV . The first Afghan
Afghan
newspaper was published in 1906. By the 1920s, Radio Kabul
Kabul
was broadcasting local radio services. Television programs began airing in the early 1970s. Voice of America , BBC , and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) broadcast in both of Afghanistan's official languages.

Since 2002, press restrictions have been gradually relaxed and private media diversified. Freedom of expression and the press is promoted in the 2004 constitution and censorship is banned, although defaming individuals or producing material contrary to the principles of Islam is prohibited. In 2008, Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders
ranked the media environment as 156 out of 173 countries, with the 1st being the most free.

The city of Kabul
Kabul
has been home to many musicians who were masters of both traditional and modern Afghan
Afghan
music . Traditional music is especially popular during the Nowruz
Nowruz
(New Year) and National Independence
Independence
Day celebrations. Ahmad Zahir , Nashenas , Ustad Sarahang , Sarban , Ubaidullah Jan , Farhad Darya , and Naghma are some of the notable Afghan
Afghan
musicians, but there are many others. Afghans have long been accustomed to watching Indian Bollywood films and listening to its filmi songs. Many Bollywood film stars have roots in Afghanistan, including Salman Khan
Salman Khan
, Saif Ali
Ali
Khan , Shah Rukh Khan (SRK), Aamir Khan , Feroz Khan , Kader Khan , Naseeruddin Shah
Naseeruddin Shah
, Zarine Khan , Celina Jaitly , and a number of others. Several Bollywood films have been shot inside Afghanistan, including Dharmatma , Khuda Gawah
Khuda Gawah
, Escape from Taliban
Taliban
, and Kabul
Kabul
Express .

COMMUNICATION

Main article: Communications in Afghanistan

Telecommunication
Telecommunication
services in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
are provided by Afghan Telecom , Afghan
Afghan
Wireless , Etisalat , MTN Group
MTN Group
, and Roshan . The country uses its own space satellite called Afghansat 1 , which provides services to over 18 million GSM
GSM
phone subscribers and over 2.6 million internet users. There are only about 105,310 fixed telephone lines and 295,078 CDMA subscribers in Afghanistan.

SPORTS

Main article: Sport in Afghanistan The Afghanistan
Afghanistan
national football team (in red uniforms) before its first win over India
India
(in blue) during the 2011 SAFF Championship .

Afghanistan's sports teams are increasingly celebrating titles at international events. Its basketball team won the first team sports title at the 2010 South Asian Games . Later that year, the country's cricket team followed as it won the 2009–10 ICC Intercontinental Cup . In 2012, the country's 3x3 basketball team won the gold medal at the 2012 Asian Beach Games . In 2013, Afghanistan's football team followed as it won the SAFF Championship .

Cricket and association football are the most popular sports in the country. The Afghan
Afghan
national cricket team , which was formed in the last decade, participated in the 2009 ICC World Cup Qualifier , 2010 ICC World Cricket League Division One and the 2010 ICC World Twenty20 . It won the ACC Twenty20 Cup in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013. The team eventually made it to play in the 2015 Cricket World Cup . The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) is the official governing body of the sport and is headquartered in Kabul. The Alokozay Kabul
Kabul
International Cricket Ground serves as the nation's main cricket stadium. There are a number of other stadiums throughout the country, including the Ghazi Amanullah Khan International Cricket Stadium near Jalalabad . Domestically, cricket is played between teams from different provinces.

The Afghanistan national football team has been competing in international football since 1941. The national team plays its home games at the Ghazi Stadium
Ghazi Stadium
in Kabul, while football in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
is governed by the Afghanistan Football Federation
Afghanistan Football Federation
. The national team has never competed or qualified for the FIFA World Cup
FIFA World Cup
, but has recently won an international football trophy in 2013. The country also has a national team in the sport of futsal, a 5-a-side variation of football.

Other popular sports in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
include basketball, volleyball, taekwondo , and bodybuilding . Buzkashi is a traditional sport, mainly among the northern Afghans. It is similar to polo , played by horsemen in two teams, each trying to grab and hold a goat carcass. The Afghan
Afghan
Hound (a type of running dog) originated in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
and was originally used in hunting.

SEE ALSO

* Afghanistan
Afghanistan
portal * Asia portal * South Asia portal * Central Asia portal * Geography portal

* Book: Afghanistan
Afghanistan

* Afghanistanism
Afghanistanism
* Bibliography of Afghanistan * Environmental issues in Afghanistan * Index of Afghanistan-related articles * International rankings of Afghanistan * List of power stations in Afghanistan * Outline of Afghanistan

NOTES

* ^ Other terms that have been used as demonyms are AFGHANI and AFGHANISTANI.

REFERENCES

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FURTHER READING

BOOKS

* Banting, Erinn. (2003). Afghanistan
Afghanistan
the People. Crabtree Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-7787-9336-6 . Archived from the original on 12 January 2014. * Bleaney, C. H; Gallego, María Ángeles (2006). Afghanistan: a bibliography. BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-14532-0 . Archived from the original on 12 January 2014. * Clements, Frank (2003). Conflict in Afghanistan: a Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-85109-402-8 . Archived from the original on 12 January 2014. * Fowler, Corinne (2007). Chasing Tales: Travel Writing, Journalism and the History
History
of British Ideas About Afghanistan. Rodopi. ISBN 978-90-420-2262-1 . Archived from the original on 12 January 2014. * Griffiths, John C (2001). Afghanistan: a History
History
of Conflict. Carlton Books. ISBN 978-1-84222-597-4 . Archived from the original on 12 January 2014. * Habibi, Abdul Hai (2003). Afghanistan: an Abridged History. Fenestra Books. ISBN 978-1-58736-169-2 . * Hopkins, B.D. (2008). The Making of Modern Afghanistan. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-55421-4 . Archived from the original on 12 January 2014. * Johnson, Robert (2011). The Afghan
Afghan
Way of War: How and Why They Fight. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-979856-8 .

* Levi, Peter (1972). The Light Garden of the Angel King: Journeys in Afghanistan. Collins. ISBN 978-0-00-211042-6 . Archived from the original on 12 January 2014. * Malleson, George Bruce (2005). History
History
of Afghanistan, from the Earliest Period to the Outbreak of the War of 1878 (Elibron Classic Replica ed.). Adamant Media Corporation. ISBN 978-1-4021-7278-6 . Archived from the original on 2 January 2014. * Olson, Gillia M (2005). Afghanistan. Capstone Press. ISBN 978-0-7368-2685-3 . Archived from the original on 12 January 2014. * Omrani, Bijan; Leeming, Matthew (2011). Afghanistan: A Companion and Guide (2nd ed.). Odyssey Publications. ISBN 978-962-217-816-8 . Archived from the original on 12 January 2014. * Reddy, L.R. (2002). Inside Afghanistan: End of the Taliban
Taliban
Era?. APH Publishing. ISBN 978-81-7648-319-3 . * Romano, Amy (2003). A Historical Atlas of Afghanistan. The Rosen Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-8239-3863-6 . Archived from the original on 12 January 2014. * Runion, Meredith L. (2007). The History
History
of Afghanistan. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-33798-7 . Archived from the original on 12 January 2014.

ARTICLES

* Meek, James. Worse than a Defeat. London Review of Books, Vol. 36, No. 24, December 2014, pages 3–10

EXTERNAL LINKS

Find more aboutAFGHANISTANat's sister projects

* Definitions from Wiktionary * Media from Commons * News from Wikinews * Quotations from Wikiquote * Texts from Wikisource * Textbooks from Wikibooks * Travel guide from Wikivoyage * Learning resources from Wikiversity

Wikisource
Wikisource
has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article AFGHANISTAN .

* Office of the President * "Afghanistan". The World Factbook
The World Factbook
. Central Intelligence

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