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, Afnistn), ocially the Islamic
Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country
located within South Asia and Central Asia.[3][7] It has
a population of approximately 32 million, making it
the 42nd most populous country in the world. It is
bordered by Pakistan in the south and east; Iran in the
west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the
north; and China in the far northeast. Its territory covers
652,000 km2 (252,000 sq mi), making it the 41st largest
country in the world.

specically in a historical sense, to land of the Pashtuns.

However, the modern Constitution of Afghanistan states
that "[t]he word Afghan shall apply to every citizen of

2 History
Main article: History of Afghanistan
Excavations of prehistoric sites by Louis Dupree and
others suggest that humans were living in what is now
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 compares to Egypt
in terms of the historical value of its archaeological

Human habitation in Afghanistan dates back to the

Middle Paleolithic Era, and the countrys strategic location along the Silk Road connected it to the cultures
of the Middle East and other parts of Asia. Through
the ages the land has been home to various peoples
and witnessed numerous military campaigns, notably by
Alexander the Great, Muslim Arabs, Mongols, British,
Soviet Russians, and in the modern-era by Western powers. The land also served as the source from which the
Kushans, Hephthalites, Samanids, Saarids, Ghaznavids,
Ghorids, Khiljis, Mughals, Hotaks, Durranis, and others
have risen to form major empires.[8]

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 multiThe political history of the modern state of Afghanistan
ple points, the land has been incorporated within large
began with the Hotak and Durrani dynasties in the 18th
regional empires, among them the Achaemenid Empire,
century. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became
the Macedonian Empire, the Indian Maurya Empire, and
a buer state in the "Great Game" between British Inthe Islamic Empire.[13]
dia and the Russian Empire. Following the Third AngloAfghan War in 1919, King Amanullah unsuccessfully at- Many empires and kingdoms have also risen to power
tempted to modernize the country. It remained peaceful in Afghanistan, such as the Greco-Bactrians, Kushans,
during Zahir Shah's forty years of monarchy. A series of Hephthalites, Kabul Shahis, Saarids, Samanids,
coups in the 1970s was followed by a Soviet invasion and Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Khiljis, Kartids, Timurids,
a series of civil wars that devastated much of Afghanistan. Mughals, and nally the Hotak and Durrani dynasties
This was followed by the recent $100 billion nationwide that marked the political origins of the modern state.[14]
rebuilding process.[9]

2.1 Pre-Islamic period


Main article: Pre-Islamic period of Afghanistan

Archaeological exploration done in the 20th century suggests that the geographical area of 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 in the south of the
country) may have been a colony of the nearby Indus Valley Civilization. More recent ndings established that the
Indus Valley Civilisation stretched up towards modern-

Main article: Name of Afghanistan

The name Afghnistn (Persian: , [avnestn])
is believed to be as old as the ethnonym Afghan, which is
documented in the 10th-century geography book Hudud
ul-'alam. The root name "Afghan" was used historically
in reference to a member of the ethnic Pashtuns, and the
sux "-stan" means place of in Persian. Therefore,
Afghanistan translates to land of the Afghans or, more

After 2000 BCE, successive waves of semi-nomadic
people from Central Asia began moving south into
Afghanistan; among them were many Indo-Europeanspeaking 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 Ariana.[17][11][18]

The religion Zoroastrianism is believed by some to have

originated in what is now 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
Bilingual (Greek and Aramaic) edict by Emperor Ashoka from
I of Persia mentions the Kabul Valley in a list of the 29
the 3rd century BCE discovered in the southern city of Kandahar
countries that he had conquered.[19]
day Afghanistan, making the ancient civilisation today
part of Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. In more detail, it extended from what today is northwest Pakistan
to northwest India and northeast Afghanistan. An Indus
Valley site has been found on the Oxus River at Shortugai
in northern Afghanistan.[15][16] Apart from Shortughai is
Mundigak another notable site. There are several smaller
IVC colonies to be found in Afghanistan as well.

Alexander the Great and his Macedonian forces arrived

to Afghanistan in 330 BCE after defeating Darius III of
Persia a year earlier in the Battle of Gaugamela. Following Alexanders 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.[20][21]
During the rst century BCE, the Parthian Empire subjugated the region, but lost it to their Indo-Parthian
vassals. In the mid-to-late rst century CE the vast
Kushan Empire, centered in Afghanistan, became great
patrons of Buddhist culture, making Buddhism ourish
throughout the region. The Kushans were overthrown by
the Sassanids in the 3rd century CE, though the IndoSassanids continued to rule at least parts of the region.
They were followed by the Kidarite who, in turn, were
replaced by the Hephthalites. By the 6th century CE, the
successors to the Kushans and Hepthalites established a
small dynasty called Kabul Shahi. Much of the northeastern and southern areas of the country remained dominated by Buddhist culture.[22]

2.2 Islamization and Mongol invasion

Main articles: Islamic conquest of Afghanistan and
Mongol invasion of Central Asia
Arab Muslims brought Islam to Herat and Zaranj in 642
CE and began spreading eastward; some of the native inhabitants they encountered accepted it while others reOne of the Buddhas of Bamiyan. Buddhism was widespread volted. The land was collectively recognized by the Arabs
before the Islamic conquest of Afghanistan.
as al-Hind due to its cultural connection with Greater In-


Hotak dynasty and Durrani Empire

Afghanistan formed the frontier between Khorasan and

2.3 Hotak dynasty and Durrani Empire

Main articles: Hotak dynasty and Durrani Empire
In 1709, Mirwais Hotak, a local Ghilzai tribal leader,

The Friday Mosque of Herat is one of the oldest mosques in


dia. 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 and Kabul Shahi were rst conquered in 870 CE
by the Saarid Muslims of Zaranj. Later, the Samanids
extended their Islamic inuence south of the Hindu Kush.
It is reported that Muslims and non-Muslims still lived
side by side in Kabul before the Ghaznavids rose to power
in the 10th century.[23][24][25]
By the 11th century, Mahmud of Ghazni defeated the remaining Hindu rulers and eectively Islamized the wider
region, with the exception of Karistan. Afghanistan became one of the main centers in the Muslim world dur- Ahmad Shah Durrani, founder of the last Afghan empire and
viewed as Father of the Nation
ing this Islamic Golden Age. The Ghaznavid dynasty was
overthrown by the Ghurids, who expanded and advanced successfully rebelled against the Safavids. He defeated
the already powerful Islamic empire.
Gurgin Khan and made Afghanistan independent.[31]
In 1219 AD, Genghis Khan and his Mongol army over- Mirwais died of a natural cause in 1715 and was sucran the region. His troops are said to have annihi- ceeded by his brother Abdul Aziz, who was soon killed
lated the Khorasanian cities of Herat and Balkh as well by Mirwais son Mahmud for treason. Mahmud led the
as Bamyan.[26] The destruction caused by the Mon- Afghan army in 1722 to the Persian capital of Isfahan,
gols forced many locals to return to an agrarian rural captured the city after the Battle of Gulnabad and prosociety.[27] Mongol rule continued with the Ilkhanate in claimed himself King of Persia.[31] The Afghan dynasty
the northwest while the Khilji dynasty administered the was ousted from Persia by Nader Shah after the 1729
Afghan tribal areas south of the Hindu Kush until the in- Battle of Damghan.
vasion of Timur, who established the Timurid Empire in In 1738, Nader Shah and his forces captured Kanda1370.
har, the last Hotak stronghold, from Shah Hussain HoIn the early 16th century, Babur arrived from Fergana and
captured Kabul from the Arghun dynasty. In 1526, he invaded Delhi in India to replace the Lodi dynasty with the
Mughal Empire. Between the 16th and 18th century, the
Khanate of Bukhara, Safavids, and Mughals ruled parts of
the territory. Before the 19th century, the northwestern
area of 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, Zabulistan, Ghazni, Kabulistan, and

tak, at which point the incarcerated 16-year-old Ahmad

Shah Durrani was freed and made the commander of an
Afghan regiment. Soon after the Persian and Afghan
forces invaded India. By 1747, the Afghans chose Durrani as their head of state.[32] Durrani and his Afghan
army conquered much of present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Khorasan and Kohistan provinces of Iran, and
Delhi in India.[33] 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 from Kandahar to Kabul in 1776. After Timurs death in 1793, the
Durrani throne passed down to his son Zaman Shah, followed by Mahmud Shah, Shuja Shah and others.[34]

ment 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

The Afghan Empire was under threat in the early 19th

century by the Persians in the west and the Britishbacked Sikhs 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 had many temporary rulers until Dost Mohammad Khan declared himself emir in 1826.[35] The
Punjab region was lost to Ranjit Singh, who invaded
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and in 1834 captured the city of
Peshawar.[36] In 1837, during the Battle of Jamrud near
the Khyber Pass, Akbar Khan and the Afghan army killed
Sikh Commander Hari Singh Nalwa. By this time the
British were advancing from the east and the rst major
conict during the Great Game was initiated.[37]


Western inuence

Further information: European inuence in Afghanistan

and Reforms of Amnullh Khn and civil war
Following the 1842 defeat of the British-Indian forces

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 in 1919, King Amanullah Khan
declared Afghanistan a sovereign and fully independent
state. He moved to end his countrys traditional isolation
by establishing diplomatic relations with the international
community and, following a 192728 tour of Europe and
Turkey, introduced several reforms intended to modernize his nation. A key force behind these reforms was
Mahmud Tarzi, an ardent supporter of the education of
British and allied forces at Kandahar after the 1880 Battle of women. He fought for Article 68 of Afghanistans 1923
Kandahar, during the Second Anglo-Afghan War. The large deconstitution, which made elementary education compulfensive wall around the city was removed in the early 1930s by
sory. The institution of slavery was abolished in 1923.[38]
the order of King Nadir.

and victory of the Afghans, the British established

diplomatic relations with the Afghan government and
withdrew all forces from the country. They returned during the Second Anglo-Afghan War in the late 1870s for
about two years to assist Abdur Rahman Khan defeat
Ayub Khan. The United Kingdom began to exercise a
great deal of inuence after this and even controlled the
states foreign policy. In 1893, Mortimer Durand made
Amir Abdur Rahman Khan sign a controversial agree-

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
fell to rebel forces led by Habibullah Kalakani. Prince
Mohammed Nadir Shah, Amanullahs cousin, in turn defeated and killed Kalakani in November 1929, and was
declared King Nadir Shah. He abandoned the reforms


Civil war

of Amanullah Khan in favor of a more gradual approach these rebels with covert training centers, while the Soviet
to modernisation but was assassinated in 1933 by Abdul Union sent thousands of military advisers to support the
Khaliq, a Hazara school student.
PDPA government.[40] Meanwhile, increasing friction
Mohammed Zahir Shah, Nadir Shahs 19-year-old son, between the competing factions of the PDPA the
succeeded to the throne and reigned from 1933 to 1973. dominant Khalq and the more moderate Parcham
Until 1946, Zahir Shah ruled with the assistance of his resulted in the dismissal of Parchami cabinet members
uncle, who held the post of Prime Minister and con- and the arrest of Parchami military ocers under the
tinued the policies of Nadir Shah. Another of Zahir pretext of a Parchami coup.
Shahs 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 kings cousin and brotherin-law. Daoud Khan sought a closer relationship with
the Soviet Union and a more distant one towards Pakistan. Afghanistan remained neutral and was neither a
participant in World War II nor aligned with either power
bloc in the Cold War. However, it was a beneciary
of the latter rivalry as both the Soviet Union and the
United States vied for inuence by building Afghanistans
main highways, airports, and other vital infrastructure.
In 1973, while King Zahir Shah was on an ocial overseas visit, Daoud Khan launched a bloodless coup and became the rst President of Afghanistan. In the meantime,
Zulkar Ali Bhutto got neighboring Pakistan involved in
Afghanistan. Some experts suggest that Bhutto paved the
way for the April 1978 Saur Revolution.[39]


Marxist revolution and Soviet war

Main articles:
Saur Revolution, Soviet war in
Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
and History of Afghanistan (19781992)
In April 1978, the communist Peoples Democratic Party

In September 1979, Nur Muhammad Taraki was assassinated in a coup within the PDPA orchestrated by fellow Khalq member Hazullah 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 Parchams Babrak
Karmal but inclusive of both factions, lled the vacuum.
Soviet troops were deployed to stabilize Afghanistan under Karmal in more substantial numbers, although the Soviet government did not expect to do most of the ghting
in Afghanistan. As a result, however, the Soviets were
now directly involved in what had been a domestic war
in Afghanistan.[41] The PDPA prohibited usury, declared
equality of the sexes,[42] and introducing women to political life.[42]
The United States has been supporting anti-Soviet Afghan
mujahideen and foreign "Afghan Arab" ghters through
Pakistans ISI as early as mid-1979 (see CIA activities in
Afghanistan).[43] Billions in cash and weapons, which included over two thousand FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air
missiles, were provided by the United States and Saudi
Arabia to Pakistan.[44][45]
The Soviet war in Afghanistan resulted in the deaths of
over 1 million Afghans, mostly civilians,[46][47][48] and the
creation of about 6 million refugees who ed Afghanistan,
mainly to Pakistan and Iran.[49] Faced with mounting international pressure and numerous casualties, the Soviets
withdrew in 1989 but continued to support Afghan President Mohammad Najibullah until 1992.[50]

2.6 Civil war

Main articles: Civil war in Afghanistan (198992) and
Civil war in Afghanistan (199296)

Outside the Arg Presidential Palace in Kabul, a day after the April
1978 Marxist revolution in which President Daoud Khan was
assassinated along with his entire family.

of Afghanistan (PDPA) seized power in Afghanistan

in the Saur Revolution. Within months, opponents of
the communist government launched an uprising in
eastern Afghanistan that quickly expanded into a civil
war waged by guerrilla mujahideen against government
forces countrywide. The Pakistani government provided

From 1989 until 1992, Najibullahs government tried to

solve the ongoing civil war with economic and military
aid, but without Soviet troops on the ground. Najibullah
tried to build support for his government by portraying
his government as Islamic, and in the 1990 constitution
the country ocially became an Islamic state and all references of communism were removed. Nevertheless, Najibullah did not win any signicant support, and with the
dissolution of the 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 Najibullahs government in 1992, the post-communist Islamic State of


Afghanistan was established by the Peshawar Accord, a 2.7 Taliban Emirate and Northern Alpeace and power-sharing agreement under which all the
Afghan parties were united in April 1992, except for the
Pakistani supported Hezb-e Islami of Gulbuddin Hek- Main articles: Civil war in Afghanistan (19962001)
matyar. Hekmatyar started a bombardment campaign and Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
against the capital city Kabul, which marked the beginning of a new phase in the war.[51]
The Talibans early victories in late 1994 were followed
Saudi Arabia and Iran supported dierent Afghan by a series of defeats that resulted in heavy losses. The
militias[52][53][54] and instability quickly developed.[55] Taliban attempted to capture Kabul in early 1995 but
The conict between the two militias soon escalated into were repelled by forces under Massoud. In Septema full-scale war.
ber 1996, as the Taliban, with military support from
Pakistan[61] and nancial support from Saudi Arabia, prepared for another major oensive, Massoud ordered a
full retreat from Kabul.[62] The Taliban seized Kabul in
the same month and established the Islamic Emirate of
Afghanistan. They imposed a strict form of 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.[63]

A section of 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 did not have time to form. Atrocities were
committed by individuals of the dierent armed factions
while Kabul descended into lawlessness and chaos.[53][56]
Because of the chaos, some leaders increasingly had
only nominal control over their (sub-)commanders.[57]
For civilians there was little security from murder, rape,
and extortion.[57] An estimated 25,000 people died during the most intense period of bombardment by Hekmatyars Hezb-i Islami and the Junbish-i Milli forces
of Abdul Rashid Dostum, who had created an alliance
with Hekmatyar in 1994.[56] Half a million people ed

After the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, Massoud and

Dostum formed the Northern Alliance. The Taliban defeated Dostums forces during the Battles of
Mazar-i-Sharif (199798). Pakistans Chief of Army
Sta, Pervez Musharraf, began sending thousands of
Pakistanis to help the Taliban defeat the Northern
Alliance.[60][61][64][65][66][67] From 1996 to 2001, the alQaeda network of Osama bin Laden and Ayman alZawahiri was also operating inside Afghanistan.[68] This
and the fact that around one million Afghans were internally displaced made the United States worry.[64][69]
From 1990 to September 2001, around 400,000 Afghans
have died in the internal mini wars.[70]

On 9 September 2001, Massoud was assassinated by

two 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 hand him over.[71]
After refusing to comply, the October 2001 Operation
Enduring Freedom was launched. During the initial invasion, US and UK forces bombed al-Qaeda training
Southern and eastern Afghanistan were under the control camps. The United States began working with the Northof local commanders such as Gul Agha Sherzai and oth- ern Alliance to remove the Taliban from power.[72]
ers. In 1994, the Taliban (a movement originating from
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-run religious schools for Afghan
refugees in Pakistan) also developed in Afghanistan as a 2.8 Recent history (2002present)
political-religious force.[58] The Taliban rst took control
of southern Afghanistan in 1994 and forced the surrender Further information: War in Afghanistan (2001
of dozens of local Pashtun leaders.[57]
present), Taliban insurgency and Civilian casualties in the
In late 1994, forces of Ahmad Shah Massoud held on
to Kabul.[59] Rabbanis 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 leaders to join the process but they refused.[60]

war in Afghanistan (2001present)

In December 2001, after the Taliban government was
toppled and the new Afghan government under President
Hamid Karzai was formed, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was established by the UN Security Council to help assist the Karzai administration and

icas longest war) ocially ended on December 28, 2014.
However, thousands of US-led NATO troops have remained in the country to train and advise Afghan government forces.[87] The 2001present war has resulted in
over 90,000 direct war-related deaths, which includes insurgents, Afghan civilians and government forces. Over
100,000 have been injured.[88]

3 Geography
Main article: Geography of Afghanistan
A landlocked mountainous country with plains in the
Collage showing recent major events in Afghanistan

provide basic security.[73][74] Taliban forces also began

regrouping inside Pakistan, while more coalition troops
entered Afghanistan and began rebuilding the war-torn
Shortly after their fall from power, the Taliban began an
insurgency to regain control of Afghanistan. Over the
next decade, ISAF and Afghan troops led many oensives against the Taliban but failed to fully defeat them.
Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the
world due to a lack of foreign investment, government
corruption, and the Taliban insurgency.[77][78]
Meanwhile, the 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 countrys economy, healthcare, education, transport, and agriculture. ISAF forces also began to train the Afghan National Security Forces. In the
decade following 2002, over ve million Afghans were
repatriated, including some who were forcefully deported
from Western countries.[79][80]

north and southwest, Afghanistan is located within South

Asia[7][89] and Central Asia.[90] It is part of the US-coined
Greater Middle East Muslim world, which lies between
latitudes 29 N and 39 N, and longitudes 60 E and
75 E. The countrys highest point is 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), and the 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

By 2009, a Taliban-led shadow government began to

form in parts of the country.[81] In 2010, President Karzai
attempted to hold peace negotiations with the Taliban
leaders, but the rebel group refused to attend until mid
2015 when Taliban supreme leader nally decided to Despite having numerous rivers and reservoirs, large parts
back the peace talks.[82]
of the country are dry. The endorheic Sistan Basin is one
After the May 2011 death of Osama bin Laden of the driest regions in the world.[91] Aside from the usual
in Pakistan, many prominent Afghan gures were rainfall, Afghanistan receives snow during the winter in
assassinated.[83] AfghanistanPakistan border skir- the Hindu Kush and Pamir Mountains, and the melting
mishes intensied and many large scale attacks by the snow in the spring season enters the rivers, lakes, and
Pakistan-based Haqqani Network also took place across streams.[92][93] However, two-thirds of the countrys waAfghanistan. The United States blamed rogue elements ter ows into the neighboring countries of Iran, Pakistan,
within the Pakistani government for the increased and Turkmenistan. The state needs more than US$2 bilattacks.[84][85]
lion to rehabilitate its irrigation systems so that the water
Following the 2014 presidential election President Karzai is properly managed.
left power and Ashraf Ghani became President in The northeastern Hindu Kush mountain range, in and
September 2014.[86] The US war in Afghanistan (Amer- around the Badakhshan Province of Afghanistan, is in

Jalalabad, Lashkar Gah, Taloqan, Khost, Sheberghan,
and Ghazni. Urban areas are experiencing rapid population growth following the return of over 5 million
expatriates. According to the Population Reference Bureau, the Afghan population is estimated to increase to 82
million by 2050.[104]

4.1 Ethnic groups

Main article: Ethnic groups in Afghanistan
Afghanistan is a multiethnic society, and its historical
Landscapes of Afghanistan, from left to right: 1. Band-e Amir
National Park; 2. Salang Pass in Parwan Province; 3. Korangal
Valley in Kunar Province; and 4. Kajaki Dam in Helmand

a geologically active area where earthquakes may occur almost every year.[95] They can be deadly and destructive sometimes, causing landslides in some parts or
avalanches during the winter.[96] The last strong earthquakes were in 1998, which killed about 6,000 people in
Badakhshan near Tajikistan.[97] 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 countrys 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.[98][99] In 2010, US and Afghan government
ocials estimated that untapped mineral deposits located
in 2007 by the US Geological Survey are worth between
$900 bn and $3 trillion.[100]

Ethnolinguistic groups of Afghanistan

status as a crossroads has contributed signicantly to its

diverse ethnic makeup. The population of the country is
divided into a wide variety of ethnolinguistic groups. Because a systematic census has not been held in the nation
in decades, exact gures about the size and composition
At 652,230 km2 (251,830 sq mi),[101] Afghanistan is of the various ethnic groups are unavailable. An approxthe worlds 41st largest country,[102] slightly bigger than imate distribution of the ethnic groups is shown in the
France and smaller than Burma, about the size of Texas chart below:
in the United States. It borders Pakistan in the south
and east; Iran in the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and
4.2 Languages
Tajikistan in the north; and China in the far east.
Main article: Languages of Afghanistan


Main articles: Demographics of Afghanistan and Afghan

As of 2015, the population of Afghanistan is around
32,564,342,[3] which includes the roughly 2.7 million
Afghan refugees still living in Pakistan and Iran. In 1979,
the population was reported to be about 15.5 million.[103]

Pashto and Dari are the ocial languages of Afghanistan;

bilingualism is very common.[1] Both are Indo-European
languages from the Iranian languages sub-family. Dari
(Afghan Persian) has long been the prestige language and
a lingua franca for inter-ethnic communication. It is
the native tongue of the Tajiks, Hazaras, Aimaks, and
Kizilbash.[111] Pashto is the native tongue of the Pashtuns, although many Pashtuns often use Dari and some
non-Pashtuns are uent in Pashto.

The only city with over a million residents is its capi- Other languages, including Uzbek, Arabic, Turkmen,
tal, Kabul. Other large cities in the country are, in or- Balochi, Pashayi, and Nuristani languages (Ashkunu,
der of population size, Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kamkata-viri, Vasi-vari, Tregami, and Kalasha-ala),


Elections and parties

are the native tongues of minority groups across the

country and have ocial status in the regions where
they are widely spoken. Minor languages also include Pamiri (Shughni, Munji, Ishkashimi, and Wakhi),
Brahui, Hindko, and Kyrgyz. A small percentage of
Afghans are also uent in Urdu, English, and other languages.



Main article: Religion in Afghanistan

Over 99% of the Afghan population is Muslim; up to 90%
are from the Sunni branch, 719% are Shia.[3][20][112]

A January 2010 report published by the United Nations
Oce on Drugs and Crime revealed that bribery consumed an amount equal to 23% of the GDP of the
nation.[119] 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,[120] top government ocials
were stealing and misusing hundreds of millions of dollars through the Kabul Bank. According to Transparency
International's 2014 corruption perceptions index results,
Afghanistan was ranked as the fourth most corrupt country in the world.[121]

5.1 Elections and parties

Until the 1890s, the region around Nuristan was known

as Karistan (land of the kars (unbelievers)) because Main articles: Elections in Afghanistan and List of politof its non-Muslim inhabitants, the Nuristanis, an ethni- ical parties in Afghanistan
cally distinct people whose religious practices included The 2004 Afghan presidential election was relatively
animism, polytheism, and shamanism.[113] Thousands of
Afghan Sikhs and Hindus are also found in the major
cities.[114][115] There was a small Jewish community in
Afghanistan who had emigrated to Israel and the United
States by the end of the twentieth century; only one Jew,
Zablon Simintov, remained by 2005.[116]


Main articles: Politics of Afghanistan, Presidency of

Hamid Karzai and Constitution of Afghanistan
Afghanistan is an Islamic republic consisting of three
From left to right: Abdullah Abdullah, John Kerry and Ashraf
Ghani during the 2014 presidential election

peaceful, in which Hamid Karzai won in the rst 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.[122] 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.

The National Assembly of Afghanistan in 2006

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 serves as the chief executive ocer (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 Aairs.[117][118]

Two months later, under international pressure, a second

round run-o vote between Karzai and remaining challenger Abdullah was announced, but a few days later Abdullah announced that he would not participate in the 7
November run-o because his demands for changes in
the electoral commission had not been met. The next day,
ocials of the election commission cancelled the run-o
and declared Hamid Karzai as President for another veyear term.[122]
In the 2005 parliamentary election, among the elected ofcials were former mujahideen, Islamic fundamentalists,
warlords, communists, reformists, and several Taliban
associates.[123] In the same period, Afghanistan reached
to the 30th highest nation in terms of female represen-



tation in parliament.[124] 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.

1. Badakhshan
2. Badghis
3. Baghlan
4. Balkh


Administrative divisions

5. Bamyan

Main articles: Provinces of Afghanistan and Districts of


6. Daykundi

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.

8. Faryab

The provincial governors are appointed by the President

of Afghanistan and the district governors are selected by
the provincial governors. The provincial governors are
representatives of the central government in 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.[125] 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
The following is a list of all the 34 provinces in alphabetical order:

7. Farah

9. Ghazni
10. Ghor
11. Helmand
12. Herat
13. Jowzjan
14. Kabul
15. Kandahar
16. Kapisa
17. Khost
18. Kunar
19. Kunduz
20. Laghman
21. Logar
22. Nangarhar
23. Nimruz
24. Nuristan
25. Oruzgan
26. Paktia
27. Paktika
28. Panjshir
29. Parwan
30. Samangan
31. Sar-e Pol
32. Takhar

Afghanistan is divided into 34 provinces, and every province is

further divided into a number of districts

33. Wardak
34. Zabul


Law enforcement


5.4 Law enforcement

Main articles: Crime in Afghanistan, Law enforcement
in Afghanistan and Alcohol in Afghanistan
The National Directorate of Security (NDS) is the na-

Soldiers of the Afghan National Army, including the ANA Commando Battalion standing in the front


Foreign relations and military

Afghan National Police (ANP) in Kunar Province

tions domestic intelligence agency, which operates similar to that of the United States Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) and has between 15,000 to 30,000 employees. The nation also has about 126,000 national police ocers, with plans to recruit more so that the total
number can reach 160,000.[127] The 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 ve Brigades,
each commanded by a Brigadier General. These brigades
are stationed in Kabul, Gardez, Kandahar, Herat, and
Mazar-i-Sharif. Every province has an appointed provincial Chief of Police who is responsible for law enforcement throughout the province.

Main articles: Foreign relations of Afghanistan and

Afghan Armed Forces
The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Aairs is in charge of
maintaining the foreign relations of Afghanistan. The
state has been a member of the United Nations since
1946. It enjoys strong economic relations with a number of NATO and allied states, particularly the United
States, United Kingdom, Germany and Turkey. In 2012,
the United States designated Afghanistan as a major nonNATO ally and created the U.S.Afghanistan Strategic
Partnership Agreement. Afghanistan also has friendly
diplomatic relations with neighboring Pakistan, Iran,
Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China, and
with regional states such as India, Bangladesh, Nepal,
Kazakhstan, Russia, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, The police receive most of their training from Western
Japan, and South Korea. It continues to develop diplo- forces under the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan.
matic relations with other countries around the world.
According to a 2009 news report, a large proportion of
were illiterate and accused of demandThe United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan police ocers
Jack Kem, deputy to the commander of
(UNAMA) was established in 2002 under United NaNATO
Mission Afghanistan and Combined Setions Security Council Resolution 1401 in order to help
Command Afghanistan, stated that the
the country recover from decades of war. Today, a
ANP would rise to over 50% by Jannumber of NATO member states deploy about 38,000
began as a voluntary literacy protroops in Afghanistan as part of the International Secugram
for basic police training in early
Its main purpose is to
rity Assistance Force (ISAF).
17% of them tested positive
train the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). The
President Karzai created
Afghan Armed Forces are under the Ministry of Defense,
the Interior Ministry.[129]
which includes the Afghan National Army (ANA) and
the Afghan Air Force (AAF). The ANA is divided into Former Interior Minister Hanif Atmar said that security
7 major Corps, with the 201st Selab (Flood) in Kabul ocials from the US (FBI), Britain (Scotland Yard), and
followed by the 203rd in Gardez, 205th Atul (Hero) the European Union will train prosecutors in the unit.
in Kandahar, 207th in Herat, 209th in Mazar-i-Sharif,
and the 215th in Lashkar Gah. The ANA also has a
commando brigade, which was established in 2007. The
Afghan Defense University (ADU) houses various educational establishments for the Afghan Armed Forces, including the National Military Academy of Afghanistan.

All parts of Afghanistan are considered dangerous due to

militant activities. Hundreds of 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 nations 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 maa
groups who reside inside and outside the country. Drugs
from Afghanistan are exported to neighboring countries
and then to other countries. The Afghan Ministry of
Counter Narcotics is tasked to deal with these issues by
bringing to justice major drug trackers.[130]


The Afghan economy has been growing at about 10%

per year in the last decade, which is due to the infusion of over $50 billion in international aid and remittances from Afghan expats.[3] It is also due to improvements made to the transportation system and agricultural production, which is the backbone of the nations economy.[132] The country is known for producing some of the nest pomegranates, grapes, apricots,
melons, and several other fresh and dry fruits, including nuts.[133] Many sources indicate that as much as 11%
or more of Afghanistans economy is derived from the
cultivation and sale of opium, and Afghanistan is widely
considered the worlds largest producer of opium despite
Afghan government and international eorts to eradicate
the crop.[134]

Main article: Economy of Afghanistan

Afghanistan is an impoverished least developed coun- While the nations current account decit is largely nanced with donor money, only a small portion is provided directly to the government budget. The rest
is provided to non-budgetary expenditure and donordesignated projects through the United Nations system
and non-governmental organizations. The 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.

Workers processing pomegranates (anaar), which Afghanistan is

famous for in Asia

Afghanistan, Trends in the Human Development Index, 1970


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 47 Afghanis to 1 US
dollar. Since 2003, over 16 new banks have opened in
the country, including Afghanistan International Bank,
Kabul Bank, Azizi Bank, Pashtany Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, and First Micro Finance Bank.
Afghan women at a textile factory in Kabul

try, one of the worlds poorest because of decades of war

and lack of foreign investment. As of 2014, the nations
GDP stands at about $60.58 billion with an exchange rate
of $20.31 billion, and the GDP per capita is $1,900. The
countrys exports totaled $2.7 billion in 2012. Its unemployment rate was reported in 2008 at about 35%.[3] According to a 2009 report, about 42% of the population
lives on less than $1 a day.[131] The nation has less than
$1.5 billion in external debt.[3]

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. For the rst time since the 1970s,
Afghans have involved themselves in construction, one
of the largest industries in the country.[135] Some of
the major national construction projects include the $35
billion New Kabul City next to the capital, the Ghazi
Amanullah Khan City near Jalalabad, and the Aino Mena
in Kandahar.[136][137][138] Similar development projects

have also begun in Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, and other that this will become the backbone of the Afghan econcities.[139]
omy and a Pentagon memo stated that Afghanistan could
In a 2011
In addition, a number of companies and small factories become the Saudi Arabia of lithium.
States and
began operating in dierent parts of the country, which
of the
not only provide revenues to the government but also crecost
ate new jobs. Improvements to the business environment
mineral dehave resulted in more than $1.5 billion in telecom invest- from the bidding process on Afghanistans [154]
ment and created more than 100,000 jobs since 2003.
Afghan rugs are becoming popular again, allowing many
carpet dealers around the country to hire more workers.

7 Transport

Afghanistan is a member of SAARC, ECO, and OIC. It

holds an observer status in SCO. Foreign Minister Zalmai
Rassoul told the media in 2011 that his nations goal is Main article: Transport in Afghanistan
to achieve an Afghan economy whose growth is based
on trade, private enterprise and investment.[141] Experts
believe that this will revolutionize the economy of the
region. Opium production in Afghanistan soared to a 7.1 Air
record in 2007 with about 3 million people reported to
be involved in the business,[142] but then declined signi- Main article: List of airports in Afghanistan
cantly in the years following.[143] The government started Air transport in Afghanistan is provided by the national
programs to help reduce poppy cultivation, and by 2010
it was reported that 24 out of the 34 provinces were free
from poppy growing. In June 2012, India advocated for
private investments in the resource rich country and the
creation of a suitable environment therefor.[144]



Main article: Mining in Afghanistan

Michael E. O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution estimated that if Afghanistan generates about $10 bn per year
from its mineral deposits, its gross national product would
double and provide long-term funding for Afghan security forces and other critical needs.[145] The United States
Geological Survey (USGS) estimated in 2006 that northern 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.[146]
In 2011, Afghanistan signed an oil exploration contract
with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) for
the development of three oil elds along the Amu Darya
river in the north.[147]

An Ariana Afghan Airlines (AAA) Airbus A310 in 2006

carrier, Ariana Afghan Airlines (AAA), and by private

companies such as Afghan Jet International, East Horizon Airlines, Kam Air, Pamir Airways, and Sa Airways. Airlines from a number of countries also provide
ights in and out of the country. These include Air India, Emirates, Gulf Air, Iran Aseman Airlines, Pakistan
International Airlines, and Turkish Airlines.

The country has four international airports: Herat International Airport, Hamid Karzai International Airport
The country has signicant amounts of lithium, cop- (formerly Kabul International Airport), Kandahar Interper, gold, coal, iron ore, and other minerals.[98][99][148] national Airport, and Mazar-e Sharif International AirThe Khanashin carbonatite in Helmand Province contains port. There are also around a dozen domestic airports
1,000,000 metric tons (1,100,000 short tons) of rare earth with ights to Kabul or Herat.
elements.[149] In 2007, a 30-year lease was granted for the
Aynak copper mine to the China Metallurgical Group for
7.2 Rail
$3 billion,[150] making it the biggest foreign investment
and private business venture in Afghanistans history.
The state-run Steel Authority of India won the mining Main article: Rail transport in Afghanistan
rights to develop the huge Hajigak iron ore deposit in central Afghanistan.[152] Government ocials estimate that As of 2014, the country has only two rail links, one
30% of the countrys untapped mineral deposits are worth a 75 km line from Kheyrabad to the Uzbekistan borbetween $900 bn and $3 trillion.[100] One ocial asserted der and the other a 10 km long line from Toraghundi



to the Turkmenistan border. Both lines are used for 9 Health

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.[155] In 2013, the pres- Main article: Health in Afghanistan
According to the Human Development Index,
idents of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan
attended the groundbreaking ceremony for a 225 km
line between Turkmenistan-Andkhvoy-Mazar-i-SharifKheyrabad. The line will link at Kheyrabad with the
existing line to the Uzbekistan border.[156] Plans exist
for a rail line from Kabul to the eastern border town
of Torkham, where it will connect with Pakistan Railways.[157] There are also plans to nish a rail line between
Khaf, Iran and Herat, Afghanistan.[158]



Further information: Highway 1 (Afghanistan)

Traveling by bus in Afghanistan remains dangerous due
to careless and intoxicated bus drivers as well as militant
activities. The buses are usually older model MercedesBenz and owned by private companies. Serious trac
accidents are common on Afghan roads and highways,
particularly on the KabulKandahar and the Kabul
Jalalabad Road.[159]
Newer automobiles have recently become more widely
available after the rebuilding of roads and highways.
They are imported from the United Arab Emirates
through Pakistan and Iran. As of 2012, vehicles more
than 10 years old are banned from being imported into
the country. The development of the nations road network is a major boost for the economy due to trade with
neighboring countries. Postal services in Afghanistan are
provided by the publicly owned Afghan Post and private
companies such as FedEx, DHL, and others.


Main article: Communications in Afghanistan

Telecommunication services in the country are provided
by Afghan Wireless, Etisalat, Roshan, MTN Group, and
Afghan Telecom. In 2006, the Afghan Ministry of Communications signed a $64.5 million agreement with ZTE
for the establishment of a countrywide optical ber cable network. As of 2011, Afghanistan had around 17
million GSM phone subscribers and over 1 million internet users, but only had about 75,000 xed telephone lines
and a little over 190,000 CDMA subscribers.[160] 3G services are provided by Etisalat and MTN Group. In 2014,
Afghanistan leased a space satellite from Eutelsat, called

Opening ceremony at a public health institute in Kandahar.

Afghanistan is the 15th least developed country in

the world. The average life expectancy is estimated to
be around 60 years for both sexes.[162] The country has
one of the highest maternal mortality rate in the world
as well as the highest infant mortality rate in the world
(deaths of babies under one year), estimated in 2015 to
be 115.08 deaths/1,000 live births.[3] The Ministry of
Public Health plans to cut the infant mortality rate to
400 for every 100,000 live births before 2020.[163] The
country currently has more than 3,000 midwives, with
an additional 300 to 400 being trained each year.[164]
A number of hospitals and clinics have been built over
the last decade, with the most advanced treatments being available in Kabul. The French Medical Institute for
Children and Indira Gandhi Childrens Hospital in Kabul
are the leading childrens hospitals in the country. Some
of the other main hospitals in Kabul include the 350bed Jamhuriat Hospital and the Jinnah Hospital, which
is still under construction. There are also a number of
well-equipped military-controlled hospitals in dierent
regions of the country.
It was reported in 2006 that nearly 60% of the population lives within a two-hour walk of the nearest health
facility, up from 9% in 2002.[165] The latest surveys
show that 57% of Afghans say they have good or very
good access to clinics or hospitals.[164] The nation has
one of the highest incidences of people with disabilities,
with around a million people aected.[166] About 80,000
people are missing limbs; most of these were injured
by landmines.[167][168] Non-governmental charities such
as Save the Children and Mahbobas Promise assist orphans in association with governmental structures.[169]
Demographic and Health Surveys is working with the
Indian Institute of Health Management Research and
others to conduct a survey in Afghanistan focusing on
maternal death, among other things.[170]




Main article: Education in Afghanistan

Education in the country includes K12 and higher education, which is supervised by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education.[171] The nations education system was destroyed due to the decades
of war, but it began reviving after the Karzai administration came to power in late 2001. More than 5,000 schools
were built or renovated in the last decade, with more than
100,000 teachers being trained and recruited.[172] More
than seven million male and female students are enrolled
in schools,[172] with about 100,000 being enrolled in different universities around the country; at least 35% of
these students are female. As of 2013, there are 16,000
schools across Afghanistan. Education Minister Ghulam
Farooq Wardak stated that another 8,000 schools are required to be constructed for the remaining 3 million children who are deprived of education.[173]

low but is now rising because more students go to

schools.[174] In 2010, the 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 citizens per month per
location.[175][176] The Afghan National Security Forces
are provided with mandatory literacy courses.[174] In addition to this, Baghch-e-Simsim (based on the American
Sesame Street) was launched in late 2011 to help young
Afghan children learn.
In 2009 and 2010, a 5,000 OLPC One Laptop
Per Child schools deployment took place in Kandahar with funding from an anonymous foundation.[177]
The OLPC team seeks local support to undertake larger

11 Culture
Main article: Culture of Afghanistan

American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) in Kabul

Kabul University reopened in 2002 to both male and

female students.
In 2006, the American University of Afghanistan was established in Kabul, with
the aim of providing a world-class, English-language,
co-educational learning environment in Afghanistan.
The capital of Kabul serves as the learning center of
Afghanistan, with many of the best educational institutions being based there. Major universities outside of
Kabul include Kandahar University in the south, Herat
University in the northwest, Balkh University in the north,
Nangarhar University and Khost University in the east.
The National Military Academy of Afghanistan, modeled
after the United States Military Academy at West Point,
is a four-year military development institution dedicated
to graduating ocers for the Afghan Armed Forces.
The $200 million Afghan Defense University is under
construction near Qargha in Kabul. The United States
is building six faculties of education and ve provincial teacher training colleges around the country, two
large secondary schools in Kabul, and one school in

The Afghan culture has been around for over two millennia, tracing back to at least the time of the Achaemenid
Empire in 500 BCE.[180][181] It is mostly a nomadic
and tribal society, with dierent regions of the country
having their own traditions, reecting the multi-cultural
and multi-lingual character of the nation. In the southern and eastern region the people live according to the
Pashtun culture by following Pashtunwali, which is an
ancient way of life that is still preserved.[182] The remainder of the country is culturally Persian and Turkic.
Some non-Pashtuns who live in proximity with Pashtuns have adopted Pashtunwali[183] in a process called
Pashtunization (or Afghanization), while some Pashtuns
have been Persianized. Millions of Afghans who have
been living in Pakistan and Iran over the last 30 years
have been inuenced by the cultures of those neighboring nations.

Afghans display pride in their culture, nation, ancestry,

and above all, their religion and independence. Like other
highlanders, they 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.[184] As tribal warfare and internecine feuding has been one of their chief
occupations since time immemorial, this individualistic
trait has made it dicult for foreigners to conquer them.
Tony Heathcote considers the tribal system to be the
best way of organizing large groups of people in a country that is geographically dicult, and in a society that,
from a materialistic point of view, has an uncomplicated
lifestyle.[184] There are an estimated 60 major Pashtun
The literacy rate of the entire population has been very tribes,[185] and the Afghan nomads are estimated at about




Although literacy is low, classic Persian and Pashto poetry

plays an important role in the 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,
Jami, Khushal Khan Khattak, Rahman Baba, Khalilullah
Khalili, and Parween Pazhwak.[192]

11.1 Media and entertainment

Main article: Media of Afghanistan
The Afghan mass media began in the early 20th cen-

Men wearing traditional Afghan dress in the southern city of


23 million.[186]
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 recent wars.[187] The
two famous Buddhas of Bamiyan were destroyed by the
Taliban, who regarded them as idolatrous. Despite that,
archaeologists are still nding Buddhist relics in dierent
parts of the country, some of them dating back to the
2nd century.[188][189][190] This indicates that Buddhism
was widespread in Afghanistan. Other historical places
include the cities of Herat, Kandahar, Ghazni, Mazari-Sharif, and Zarang. The Minaret of Jam in the Hari
River valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site. A cloak
reputedly worn by Islams prophet Muhammad is kept inside the Shrine of the Cloak in Kandahar, a city founded
by Alexander and the rst 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
Hazrat Ali, believed by many to be the location where
Ali was buried. The Afghan Ministry of Information
and Culture is renovating 42 historic sites in Ghazni until 2013, when the province will be declared as the capital of Islamic civilization.[191] The National Museum of
Afghanistan is located in Kabul.

Farhad Darya performing at the Serena Hotel in Kabul.

tury, with the rst newspaper published in 1906. By

the 1920s, Radio Kabul was broadcasting local radio services. Afghanistan National Television was launched in
1974 but was closed in 1996 when the media was tightly
controlled by the Taliban.[193] Since 2002, press restrictions have been gradually relaxed and private media diversied. 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 ranked the media environment as 156 out of 173 countries, with the 1st being
the most free. Around 400 publications were registered,
at least 15 local Afghan television channels, and 60 radio stations.[194] Foreign radio stations, such as Voice
of America, BBC World Service, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) broadcast into the country.
The city of Kabul has been home to many musicians
who were masters of both traditional and modern Afghan
music. Traditional music is especially popular during
the Nowruz (New Year) and National Independence Day
celebrations. Ahmad Zahir, Nashenas, Ustad Sarahang,
Sarban, Ubaidullah Jan, Farhad Darya, and Naghma are
some of the notable Afghan musicians, but there are
many others.[195] Most Afghans are accustomed to watching Bollywood lms from India and listening to its lmi
hit songs. Many major Bollywood lm stars have roots
in Afghanistan, including Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan,

Shah Rukh Khan (SRK), Aamir Khan, Feroz Khan, Hound (a type of running dog) originated in Afghanistan
Kader Khan, Naseeruddin Shah, and Celina Jaitley. In and was originally used in hunting.
addition, several Bollywood lms, such as Dharmatma,
Khuda Gawah, Escape from Taliban, and Kabul Express
have been shot inside Afghanistan.
12 See also



Main article: Sport in Afghanistan

The Afghanistan national football team has been com-

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

13 Notes
14 References
The Afghanistan national football team (in red uniforms) before
its rst win over India (in blue) during the 2011 SAFF Championship.

peting in international football since 1941. The national

team plays its home games at the Ghazi Stadium in
Kabul, while football in Afghanistan is governed by the
Afghanistan Football Federation. The national team has
never competed or qualied for the FIFA World Cup, but
has recently won an international football trophy in the
SAFF Championship. The country also has a national
team in the sport of futsal, a 5-a-side variation of football.
The other most popular sport in Afghanistan is cricket.
The Afghan national cricket team, which was formed in
the last decade, participated in the 2009 ICC World Cup
Qualier, 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 ocial governing body of the sport and is headquartered in Kabul.
The Ghazi Amanullah Khan International Cricket Stadium serves as the nations main cricket stadium, followed
by the Kabul National Cricket Stadium. Several other stadiums are under construction.[196] Domestically, cricket
is played between teams from dierent provinces.
Other popular sports in Afghanistan include basketball,
volleyball, taekwondo, and bodybuilding.[197] 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

[1] Article Sixteen of the 2004 Constitution of Afghanistan.

2004. Archived from the original on 2013-10-28. Retrieved 13 June 2012. From among the languages of
Pashto, Dari, Uzbeki, Turkmani, Baluchi, Pashai, Nuristani, Pamiri (alsana), Arab and other languages spoken in
the country, Pashto and Dari are the ocial languages
of the state.
[2] Central Statistics Organization of Afghanistan: Statistical
Yearbook 20122013: Area and administrative Population
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Company, 2004. (Retrieved 13 Novem[181] Barbara Robson, Juliene Lipson, Farid Younos, Mariam
ber 2007).
Mehdi. The Afghans Their History and Culture.
[178] OLPC Afghanistan.

United States: Center for Applied Linguistics. 30 June

[199] WordNet 3.0. Princeton University.
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[182] US Library of Congress: Afghanistan Ethnic Groups
[183] Banting, Erinn (2003). Afghanistan: The land. Crabtree
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[184] Heathcote, Tony (1980, 2003) The Afghan Wars 1839
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[185] "Pashtun (people)". Encyclopdia Britannica. Archived
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15 Further reading
Meek, James. Worse than a Defeat. London Review
of Books, Vol. 36, No. 24, December 2014, pages




External links

Oce of the President

Afghanistan entry at The World Factbook
Afghanistan web resources provided by GovPubs at
the University of ColoradoBoulder Libraries
Afghanistan at DMOZ
Wikimedia Atlas of Afghanistan
Research Guide to Afghanistan




Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses


Afghanistan Source: Contributors: Magnus Manske, Joao, TwoOneTwo,

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