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Ahmad Shah DURRANI unified the Pashtun tribes and founded Afghanistan in 1747. The country served as a buffer between the British and Russian Empires until it won independence from notional British control in 1919. A brief experiment in democracy ended in a 1973 coup and a 1978 Communist counter-coup. The Soviet Union invaded in 1979 to support the tottering Afghan Communist regime, touching off a long and destructive war. The USSR withdrew in 1989 under relentless pressure by internationally supported anti-Communist mujahedin rebels. A series of subsequent civil wars saw Kabul finally fall in 1996 to the Taliban, a hardline Pakistani-sponsored movement that emerged in 1994 to end the country's civil war and anarchy. Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., a US,... See More



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

Geographic Coordinates:

 33 00 N, 65 00 E


 Total: 652,230 sq km
Land: 652,230 sq km
Water: 0 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


 0 km (landlocked) (Rank: 202)

Maritime Claims:

 None (landlocked)


 Arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers


 Mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest

Elevation Extremes:

 Lowest point: Amu Darya 258 m
Highest point: Noshak 7,485 m

Natural Resources:

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

Land Use:

 Arable land: 12.13%
Permanent crops: 0.21%
Other: 87.66% (2005)

Irrigated Land:

 31,990 sq km (2008)

Total Renewable Water Resources:

 65 cu km (1997)

Freshwater Withdrawal:

 Total: 23.26 cu km/yr (2%/0%/98%)
Per capita: 779 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural Hazards:

 Damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding; droughts

Environment - Current Issues:

 Limited natural freshwater resources; inadequate supplies of potable water; soil degradation; overgrazing; deforestation (much of the remaining forests are being cut down for fuel and building materials); desertification; air and water pollution

Environment - International Agreements:

 Party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection

Signed, but not ratified: 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)

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 Noun: Afghan(s)
Adjective: Afghan

Ethnic Groups:

 Pashtun 42%, Tajik 27%, Hazara 9%, Uzbek 9%, Aimak 4%, Turkmen 3%, Baloch 2%, other 4%


 Afghan Persian or Dari (official) 50%, Pashto (official) 35%, Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen) 11%, 30 minor languages (primarily Balochi and Pashai) 4%, much bilingualism


 Sunni Muslim 80%, Shia Muslim 19%, other 1%


 29,835,392 (July 2011 est.)

Note: this is a significantly revised figure; the previous estimate of 33,609,937 was extrapolated from the last Afghan census held in 1979, which was never completed because of the Soviet invasion

Age Structure:

 0-14 years: 42.3% (male 6,464,070/female 6,149,468)
15-64 years: 55.3% (male 8,460,486/female 8,031,968)
65 years and over: 2.4% (male 349,349/female 380,051) (2011 est.)

Median Age:

 Total: 18.2 years
Male: 18.2 years
Female: 18.2 years (2011 est.)

Population Growth Rate:

 2.375% (2011 est.)

Birth Rate:

 37.83 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death Rate:

 17.39 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)

Net Migration Rate:

 3.31 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)


 Urban population: 23% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization: 4.7% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major Cities - Population:

 KABUL (capital) 3.573 million (2009)

Sex Ratio:

 At birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female
Total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Maternal Mortality Rate:

 1,400 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)

Infant Mortality Rate:

 Total: 149.2 deaths/1,000 live births
Male: 152.75 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 145.47 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth:

 Total population: 45.02 years
Male: 44.79 years
Female: 45.25 years (2011 est.)

Total Fertility Rate:

 5.39 children born/woman (2011 est.)

Health Expenditures:

 7.4% of GDP (2009)

Physicians Density:

 0.21 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Hospital Bed Density:

 0.4 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Drinking Water Source:

 Urban: 78% of population
Rural: 39% of population
Total: 48% of population
Urban: 22% of population
Rural: 61% of population
Total: 52% of population (2008)

Sanitation Facility Access:

 Urban: 60% of population
Rural: 30% of population
Total: 37% of population
Urban: 40% of population
Rural: 70% of population
Total: 63% of population (2008)

HIV/AIDS - Adult Prevalence Rate:

 0.01% (2001 est.)

Major Infectious Diseases:

 Degree of risk: high
Food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
Vectorborne disease: malaria
Animal contact disease: rabies

Note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2009)

Children Under 5 - Underweight:

 32.9% (2004)


 Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 28.1%
Male: 43.1%
Female: 12.6% (2000 est.)

Average Years of Schooling:

 Total: 9 years
Male: 11 years
Female: 7 years (2009)

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Country Name:

 Conventional long form: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Conventional short form: Afghanistan
Local long form: Jomhuri-ye Eslami-ye Afghanestan
Local short form: Afghanestan
Former: Republic of Afghanistan

Government Type:

 Islamic republic


 Name: Kabul
Geographic coordinates: 34 31 N, 69 11 E
Time difference: UTC+4.5 (9.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative Divisions:

 34 provinces (welayat, singular - welayat); Badakhshan, Badghis, Baghlan, Balkh, Bamyan, Daykundi, Farah, Faryab, Ghazni, Ghor, Helmand, Herat, Jowzjan, Kabul, Kandahar, Kapisa, Khost, Kunar, Kunduz, Laghman, Logar, Nangarhar, Nimroz, Nuristan, Paktika, Paktiya, Panjshir, Parwan, Samangan, Sar-e Pul, Takhar, Uruzgan, Wardak, Zabul


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

National Holiday:

 Independence Day, 19 August (1919)


 Sixth constitution drafted 14 December 2003-4 January 2004; signed 16 January 2004; ratified 26 January 2004

Legal System:

 Mixed legal system of civil, customary, and Islamic law

International Law Organization Participation:

 Has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


 18 years of age; universal

Executive Branch:

 Chief of state: President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid KARZAI (since 7 December 2004); First Vice President Mohammad FAHIM Khan (since 19 November 2009); Second Vice President Abdul Karim KHALILI (since 7 December 2004); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government

Head of government: President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid KARZAI (since 7 December 2004); First Vice President Mohammad FAHIM Khan (since 19 November 2009); Second Vice President Abdul Karim KHALILI (since 7 December 2004)

Cabinet: 25 ministers; note - ministers are appointed by the president and approved by the National Assembly

Elections: the president and two vice presidents elected by direct vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); if no candidate receives 50% or more of the vote in the first round of voting, the two candidates with the most votes will participate in a second round; election last held on 20 August 2009 (next to be held in 2014)

Election results: Hamid KARZAI reelected president; percent of vote (first round) - Hamid KARZAI 49.67%, Abdullah ABDULLAH 30.59%, Ramazan BASHARDOST 10.46%, Ashraf GHANI 2.94%; other 6.34%; note - ABDULLAH conceded the election to KARZAI following the first round vote

Legislative Branch:

 The bicameral National Assembly consists of the Meshrano Jirga or House of Elders (102 seats, one-third of members elected from provincial councils for four-year terms, one-third elected from local district councils for three-year terms, and one-third nominated by the president for five-year terms) and the Wolesi Jirga or House of People (no more than 250 seats); members directly elected for five-year terms

Note: on rare occasions the government may convene a Loya Jirga (Grand Council) on issues of independence, national sovereignty, and territorial integrity; it can amend the provisions of the constitution and prosecute the president; it is made up of members of the National Assembly and chairpersons of the provincial and district councils

Elections: last held on 18 September 2010 (next election expected in 2015)

Election results: results by party - NA; note - ethnicity is the main factor influencing political alliances; compositon of Loya Jirga seats by ethnic groups - Pashtun 96, Hazara 61, Tajik 53, Uzbek 15, Aimak 8, Arab 8, Turkmen 3, Nuristani 2, Baloch 1, Pahhai 1, Turkic 1; women hold 68 seats

Judicial Branch:

 The constitution establishes a nine-member Stera Mahkama or Supreme Court (its nine justices are appointed for 10-year terms by the president with approval of the Wolesi Jirga) and subordinate High Courts and Appeals Courts; there is also a minister of justice; a separate Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission established by the Bonn Agreement is charged with investigating human rights abuses and war crimes

Political Parties and Leaders:

 Afghanistan's Islamic Mission Organization [Abdul Rasoul SAYYAF]; Afghanistan's Welfare Party [Meer Asef ZAEEFI]; Afghan Social Democratic Party [Anwarul Haq AHAD]; Islamic Movement of Afghanistan [Sayed Hussain ANWARI]; Islamic Party of Afghanistan [Mohammad Khalid FAROOQI, Abdul Hadi ARGHANDIWAL]; Islamic Society of Afghanistan [Ustad RABBANI]; Islamic Unity of the Nation of Afghanistan Party [Qurban Ali URFANI]; Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan [Mohammad Karim KHALILI]; Islamic Unity Party of the People of Afghanistan [Haji Mohammad MOHAQQEQ]; Law and Justice Party [Hanif ATMAR]; National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan [Pir Sayed Ahmad GAILANEE]; National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan [Sayed NOORULLAH]; National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan [Pir Sayed Eshaq GAILANEE]; National Linkage Party of Afghanistan [Sayed Mansoor NADERY]; United Islamic Party of Afghanistan [Ustad Mohammad AKBARI]; note - includes only political parties approved by the Ministry of Justice

Political Pressure Groups and Leaders:

 Other: religious groups; tribal leaders; ethnically based groups; Taliban

International Organization Participation:


Diplomatic Representation in the US:

 Chief of mission: Ambassador Eklil Ahmad HAKIMI
Chancery: 2341 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: [1] (202) 483-6410
FAX: [1] (202) 483-6488
Consulate(s) general: Los Angeles, New York

Diplomatic Representation From the US:

 Chief of mission: Ambassador Ryan CROCKER
Embassy: The Great Masood Road, Kabul
Mailing address: U.S. Embassy Kabul, APO, AE 09806
Telephone: [93] 0700 108 001
FAX: [93] 0700 108 564

Flag Description:

 Three equal vertical bands of black (hoist side), red, and green, with the national emblem in white centered on the red band and slightly overlapping the other two bands; the center of the emblem features a mosque with pulpit and flags on either side, below the mosque are numerals for the solar year 1298 (1919 in the Gregorian calendar, the year of Afghan independence from the UK); this central image is circled by a border consisting of sheaves of wheat on the left and right, in the upper-center is an Arabic inscription of the Shahada (Muslim creed) below which are rays of the rising sun over the Takbir (Arabic expression meaning "God is great"), and at bottom center is a scroll bearing the name Afghanistan; black signifies the past, red is for the blood shed for independence, and green can represent either hope for the future, agricultural prosperity, or Islam

Note: Afghanistan had more changes to its national flag in the 20th century than any other country; the colors black, red, and green appeared on most of them

National Symbols:


National Anthem:

 Name: "Milli Surood" (National Anthem)
Lyrics/music: Abdul Bari JAHANI/Babrak WASA

Note: adopted 2006; the 2004 constitution of the post-Taliban government mandated that a new national anthem should be written containing the phrase "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great) and mentioning the names of Afghanistan's ethnic groups

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Economy - Overview:

 Afghanistan's economy is recovering from decades of conflict. The economy has improved significantly since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 largely because of the infusion of international assistance, the recovery of the agricultural sector, and service sector growth. Despite the progress of the past few years, Afghanistan is extremely poor, landlocked, and highly dependent on foreign aid, agriculture, and trade with neighboring countries. Much of the population continues to suffer from shortages of housing, clean water, electricity, medical care, and jobs. Criminality, insecurity, weak governance, and the Afghan Government's inability to extend rule of law to all parts of the country pose challenges to future economic growth. Afghanistan's living standards are among the lowest in the world. While the international community remains committed to Afghanistan's development, pledging over $67 billion at four donors' conferences since 2002, the Government of Afghanistan will need to overcome a number of challenges, including low revenue collection, anemic job creation, high levels of corruption, weak government capacity, and poor public infrastructure.

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):

 $27.36 billion (2010 est.)
$25.28 billion (2009 est.)
$20.92 billion (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (Official Exchange Rate):

 $15.61 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - Real Growth Rate:

 8.2% (2010 est.)
20.9% (2009 est.)
3.6% (2008 est.)

GDP - Per Capita (PPP):

 $900 (2010 est.)
$900 (2009 est.)
$800 (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - Composition By Sector:

 Agriculture: 31.6%
Industry: 26.3%
Services: 42.1%

Note: data exclude opium production (2008 est.)

Labor Force:

 15 million (2004 est.)

Labor Force - By Occupation:

 Agriculture: 78.6%
Industry: 5.7%
Services: 15.7% (FY08/09 est.)

Unemployment Rate:

 35% (2008 est.)
40% (2005 est.)

Population Below Poverty Line:

 36% (FY08/09)

Household Income / Consumption By Share:

 Lowest 10%: 3.8%
Highest 10%: 24%

Distribution of Family Income - Gini Index:

 29.4 (2008)

Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons:

 IDPs: 132,246 (mostly Pashtuns and Kuchis displaced in south and west due to drought and instability) (2007)

Investment (Gross Fixed):



 Revenues: $1 billion
Expenditures: $3.3 billion

Note: Afghanistan has also received $2.6 billion from the Reconstruction Trust Fund and $63 million from the Law and Order Trust Fund (FY09/10 est.)

Taxes and Other Revenues:

 6.4% of GDP (FY09/10 est.)

Budget Surplus / Deficit:

 -14.7% of GDP (FY09/10 est.)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):

 0.9% (2009 est.)
-8.3% (2008 est.)

Commercial Bank Prime Lending Rate:

 15.689% (31 December 2010 est.)
15.222% (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Money:

 $1.688 billion (31 December 2008)
$1.426 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of Quasi Money:

 $1.219 billion (31 December 2008)
$958.6 million (31 December 2007)

Stock of Narrow Money:

 $5.307 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$3.943 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Broad Money:

 $5.659 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$4.149 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Domestic Credit:

 $363.6 million (31 December 2008 est.)
$20.06 million (31 December 2007 est.)

Agriculture - Products:

 Opium, wheat, fruits, nuts; wool, mutton, sheepskins, lambskins


 Small-scale production of textiles, soap, furniture, shoes, fertilizer, apparel, food-products, non-alcoholic beverages, mineral water, cement; handwoven carpets; natural gas, coal, copper

Industrial Production Growth Rate:


Electricity - Production:

 285.5 million kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Production By Source:

 Fossil fuel: 36.3%
Hydro: 63.7%
Nuclear: 0%
Other: 0% (2001)

Electricity - Consumption:

 231.1 million kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Exports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Imports:

 120 million kWh (2008 est.)

Oil - Production:

 0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Consumption:

 4,800 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Exports:

 0 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Imports:

 4,512 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Proven Reserves:

 0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural Gas - Production:

 30 million cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Consumption:

 30 million cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Exports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Imports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Proven Reserves:

 49.55 billion cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current Account Balance:

 -$2.475 billion (2009 est.)
$85 million (2008 est.)


 $547 million (2009 est.)
$603 million (2008 est.)

Note: not including illicit exports or reexports

Exports - Commodities:

 Opium, fruits and nuts, handwoven carpets, wool, cotton, hides and pelts, precious and semi-precious gems

Exports - Partners:

 Pakistan 25.9%, India 25.5%, US 14.9%, Tajikistan 9.6%, Germany 5% (2010)


 $5.3 billion (2008 est.)
$4.5 billion (2007)

Imports - Commodities:

 Machinery and other capital goods, food, textiles, petroleum products

Imports - Partners:

 US 29.1%, Pakistan 23.3%, India 7.6%, Russia 4.5%, Germany 4.2% (2010)

Debt - External:

 $2.7 billion (FY08/09)
$8 billion (2004)

Exchange Rates:

 Convert to Any Currency

Afghanis (AFA) per US dollar -
46.45 (2010)
50.23 (2009)

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Telephones - Main Lines In Use:

 140,000 (2010)

Telephones - Cellular:

 13 million (2010)

Telephone System:

 General assessment: limited fixed-line telephone service; an increasing number of Afghans utilize mobile-cellular phone networks

Domestic: aided by the presence of multiple providers, mobile-cellular telephone service continues to improve rapidly

International: country code - 93; multiple VSAT's provide international and domestic voice and data connectivity (2009)

Broadcast Media:

 State-owned broadcaster, Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA), operates a series of radio and television stations in Kabul and the provinces; an estimated 175 private radio stations, 8 TV networks, and about a dozen international broadcasters are available (2010)

Radio Broadcast Stations:

 48 (station types NA) (2009)

Television Broadcast Stations:

 16 (1 state-run station and 15 registered private stations) (2009)

Internet Country Code:


Internet Hosts:

 46 (2010)

Internet Users:

 1 million (2009)

Communications - Note:

 Internet access is growing through Internet cafes as well as public "telekiosks" in Kabul (2005)

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 53 (2010)

Airports - With Paved Runways:

 Total: 19
Over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 2
Under 914 m: 2 (2010)

Airports - With Unpaved Runways:

 Total: 34
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 14
914 to 1,523 m: 6
Under 914 m: 9 (2010)


 11 (2010)


 Gas 466 km (2010)


 Total: 42,150 km
Paved: 12,350 km
Unpaved: 29,800 km (2006)


 1,200 km; (chiefly Amu Darya, which handles vessels up to 500 DWT) (2008)

Ports and Terminals:

 Kheyrabad, Shir Khan

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Military Branches:

 Afghan Armed Forces: Afghan National Army (ANA, includes Afghan Air Force (AAF)) (2011)

Military Service Age and Obligation:

 22 years of age; inductees are contracted into service for a 4-year term (2005)

Manpower Available For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 7,056,339
Females age 16-49: 6,653,419 (2010 est.)

Manpower Fit For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 4,050,222
Females age 16-49: 3,797,087 (2010 est.)

Manpower Reaching Militarily Significant Age Annually:

 Male: 392,116
Female: 370,295 (2010 est.)

Military Expenditures:

 1.9% of GDP (2009)

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Disputes - International:

 Afghan, Coalition, and Pakistan military meet periodically to clarify the alignment of the boundary on the ground and on maps; Afghan and Iranian commissioners have discussed boundary monument densification and resurvey; Iran protests Afghanistan's restricting flow of dammed Helmand River tributaries during drought; Pakistan has sent troops across and built fences along some remote tribal areas of its treaty-defined Durand Line border with Afghanistan which serve as bases for foreign terrorists and other illegal activities; Russia remains concerned about the smuggling of poppy derivatives from Afghanistan through Central Asian countries

Illicit Drugs:

 World's largest producer of opium; while poppy cultivation was relatively stable at 119,000 hectares in 2010, a poppy blight affecting the high cultivation areas in 2010 reduced potential opium production to 3,200 metric tons, down over 40 percent from 2009; the Taliban and other antigovernment groups participate in and profit from the opiate trade, which is a key source of revenue for the Taliban inside Afghanistan; widespread corruption and instability impede counterdrug efforts; most of the heroin consumed in Europe and Eurasia is derived from Afghan opium; vulnerable to drug money laundering through informal financial networks; regional source of hashish (2011)

Trafficking in Persons:

 Current situation: Afghanistan is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; Afghan boys and girls are trafficked within the country, in forced prostitution, in forced labor in carpet-making factories, and in forced domestic service; forced begging is a growing problem in Afghanistan; Afghan boys are subjected to forced prostitution and forced labor in the drug smuggling industry in Pakistan and Iran; Afghan women and girls are subjected to forced prostitution and forced marriages; women and girls from Iran, Tajikistan, and possibly Uganda and China are reportedly forced into prostitution in Afghanistan

Tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - the Government of Afghanistan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; despite these efforts, the government did not show evidence of increased efforts to address human trafficking over the previous year; the Afghan government did not prosecute or convict trafficking offenders under its 2008 law, and it punished victims of sex trafficking with imprisonment for adultery or prostitution (2011)

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Last Updated: December 2011

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