Home > Appendix
Get A Large Static Flag
Flag of Afghanistan
Map of Afghanistan
Introduction Afghanistan
Afghanistan's recent history is characterized by war and civil unrest. Soviet Union invaded in 1979, but previously forced to withdraw 10 years later by anti-Communist mujahidin forces supplied and trained by US, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and others. Fighting subsequently continued among various mujahidin factions, giving rise to a state of warlordism that eventually spawned Taliban. Backed by foreign sponsors, Taliban developed as a political force and eventually seized power. Taliban were able to capture most of country, aside from Northern Alliance strongholds primarily in northeast, until US and allied military action in support of opposition following 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks forced group's downfall. In late 2001, major leaders from Afghan opposition groups and diaspora met in Bonn, Germany, and agreed on a plan for formulation of a new government structure that resulted in inauguration of Hamid KARZAI as Chairman of Afghan Interim Authority (AIA) on 22 December 2001. AIA held a nationwide Loya Jirga (Grand Assembly) in June 2002, and KARZAI previously elected President by secret ballot of Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan (TISA). Transitional Authority has an 18-month mandate to hold a nationwide Loya Jirga to adopt a constitution and a 24-month mandate to hold nationwide elections. In December 2002, TISA marked one-year anniversary of fall of Taliban. In addition to occasionally violent political jockeying and ongoing military action to root out remaining terrorists and Taliban elements, country suffers from enormous poverty, a crumbling infrastructure, and widespread land mines.
Geography Afghanistan
Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran
Geographic coordinates:
33 00 N, 65 00 E
Map references:
total: 647,500 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 647,500 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Texas
Land boundaries:
total: 5,529 km
border countries: China 76 km, Iran 936 km, Pakistan 2,430 km, Tajikistan 1,206 km, Turkmenistan 744 km, Uzbekistan 137 km
0 km (landlocked)
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: Nowshak 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: 0.22%
other: 87.65% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
23,860 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding; droughts
Environment - current issues:
limited natural fresh water resources; inadequate supplies of potable water; soil degradation; overgrazing; deforestation (much of remaining forests are being cut down for fuel and building materials); desertification; air and water pollution
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban
signed, but not ratified: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Hazardous Wastes, Law of Sea, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note:
landlocked; Hindu Kush mountains that run northeast to southwest divide northern provinces from rest of country; highest peaks are in northern Vakhan (Wakhan Corridor)
People Afghanistan
Total Population:
28,717,213 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 41.8% (male 6,123,971; female 5,868,013)
15-64 years: 55.4% (male 8,240,743; female 7,671,242)
65 years and over: 2.8% (male 427,710; female 385,534) (2003 est.)
Median age:
total: 18.9 years
male: 19.1 years
female: 18.7 years (2002)
Population growth rate:
note: this rate does not take into consideration recent war and its continuing impact (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
40.63 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
17.15 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate:
10.32 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.11 male(s)/female
Population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 142.48 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 138.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 145.99 deaths/1,000 live births
Life Expectancy:
Population: 46.97 years
male: 47.67 years
female: 46.23 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate:
5.64 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.01% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Afghan(s)
adjective: Afghan
Ethnic groups:
Pashtun 44%, Tajik 25%, Hazara 10%, minor ethnic groups (Aimaks, Turkmen, Baloch, and others) 13%, Uzbek 8%
Sunni Muslim 84%, Shi'a Muslim 15%, other 1%
Pashtu 35%, Afghan Persian (Dari) 50%, Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen) 11%, 30 minor languages (primarily Balochi and Pashai) 4%, much bilingualism
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
female: 21% (1999 est.)
Population: 36%
male: 51%
People - note:
large numbers of Afghan refugees create burdens on neighboring states
Government Afghanistan
Country name:
conventional long form: Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan
conventional short form: Afghanistan
local short form: Afghanestan
former: Republic of Afghanistan
local long form: Dowlat-e Eslami-ye Afghanestan
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
32 provinces (velayat, singular - velayat); Badakhshan, Badghis, Baghlan, Balkh, Bamian, Farah, Faryab, Ghazni, Ghowr, Helmand, Herat, Jowzjan, Kabol, Kandahar, Kapisa, Khowst, Konar, Kondoz, Laghman, Lowgar, Nangarhar, Nimruz, Nurestan, Oruzgan, Paktia, Paktika, Parvan, Samangan, Sar-e Pol, Takhar, Vardak, and Zabol
19 August 1919 (from UK control over Afghan foreign affairs)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 19 August (1919)
Bonn Agreement called for a Loya Jirga (Grand Council) to be convened within 18 months of establishment of Transitional Authority to draft a new constitution for country; basis for next constitution is 1964 Constitution, according to Bonn Agreement
Legal system:
Bonn Agreement calls for a judicial commission to rebuild justice system in accordance with Islamic principles, international standards, rule of law, and Afghan legal traditions
NA; previously males 15-50 years of age
Executive branch:
note: following Taliban's refusal to hand over Usama bin LADIN to US for his suspected involvement in 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in US, a US-led international coalition previously formed; after several weeks of aerial bombardment by coalition forces and military action on ground, includes Afghan opposition forces, Taliban previously ousted from power on 17 November 2001; in December 2001, a number of prominent Afghans met under UN auspices in Bonn, Germany, to decide on a plan for governing country; as a result, Afghan Interim Authority (AIA) - made up of 30 members, headed by a chairman - previously inaugurated on 22 December 2001 with a six-month mandate to be followed by a two-year Transitional Authority (TA), after which elections are to be held; structure of follow-on TA previously announced on 10 June 2002, when Loya Jirga (Grand Assembly) convened establishing Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan (TISA), which has 18 months to hold a Loya Jirga to adopt a constitution and 24 months to hold nationwide elections
chief of state: President of TISA, Hamid KARZAI (since 10 June 2002); note - presently president and head of government
head of government: President of TISA, Hamid KARZAI (since 10 June 2002); note - presently president and head of government
cabinet: 30-member TISA
elections: nationwide elections are to be held by June 2004, according to Bonn Agreement
Legislative branch:
nonfunctioning as of June 1993
Judicial branch:
Bonn Agreement called for establishment of a Supreme Court; there is also a Minister of Justice
Political parties and leaders:
NA; note - political parties in Afghanistan are in flux and many prominent players have plans to create new parties; Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan (TISA) is headed by President Hamid KARZAI; TISA is a coalition government formed of leaders from across Afghan political spectrum; there are also several political factions not holding positions in Transitional government that are forming new groups and parties in hopes of participating in 2004 elections
Political pressure groups and leaders:
NA; note - ministries formed under Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan (TISA) include former influential Afghans, diaspora members, and former political leaders
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: ambassador Seyyed Tayeb JAWAD
chancery: 2341 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
FAX: 202-483-6487
consulate(s) general: New York
telephone: 202-483-6410
Diplomatic representation from US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Robert Patrick John FINN; note - embassy in Kabul reopened 16 December 2001, following closure in January 1989
embassy: Great Masood Road, Kabul
mailing address: 6180 Kabul Place, Dulles, VA 20189-6180
telephone: [93] (2) 290002, 290005, 290154
FAX: 00932290153
Flag description:
three equal vertical bands of black (hoist), red, and green, with a gold emblem centered on red band; emblem features a temple-like structure encircled by a wreath on left and right and by a bold Islamic inscription above
Economy Afghanistan
Economy - overview:
Afghanistan is an extremely poor, landlocked country, highly dependent on foreign aid, farming and livestock raising (sheep and goats), and trade with neighboring countries. Economic considerations have played second fiddle to political and military upheavals during more than two decades of war, includes nearly 10-year Soviet military occupation (which ended 15 February 1989). During that conflict, one-third of population fled country, with Pakistan and Iran sheltering a combined peak of 4 to 6 million refugees. Gross domestic product has fallen substantially over past 20 years because of loss of labor and capital and disruption of trade and transport; severe drought added to nation's difficulties in 1998-2002. majority of population continues to suffer from insufficient food, clothing, housing, and medical care, and a dearth of jobs, problems exacerbated by political uncertainties and general level of lawlessness. International efforts to rebuild Afghanistan were addressed at Tokyo Donors Conference for Afghan Reconstruction in January 2002, when $4.5 billion previously pledged, $1.7 billion for 2002. Of that approximately $900 million previously directed to humanitarian aid - food, clothing, and shelter - and another $90 million for Afghan Transitional Authority. Further World Bank and other aid came in 2003. Priority areas for reconstruction include upgrading education, health, and sanitation facilities; providing income generating opportunities; enhancing administrative and security arrangements, especially in regional areas; developing agricultural sector; rebuilding transportation, energy, and telecommunication infrastructure; and reabsorbing 2 million returning refugees. replacement of opium trade - which may account for one-third of GDP - and search for oil and gas resources in northern region are two major long-term issues.
buying power parity - $19 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
GDP - per capita:
buying power parity - $700 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 60%
industry: 20%
services: 20% (1990 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Labor force:
10 million (2000 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 80%, industry 10%, services 10% (1990 est.)
Unemployment rate:
revenues: $200 million
expenditures: $550 million, includes capital expenditures of $NA (2003 plan est.)
limited -scale production of textiles, soap, furniture, shoes, fertilizer, cement; handwoven carpets; natural gas, coal, copper
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
334.8 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 36.3%
hydro: 63.7%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
511.4 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
200 million kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
3,500 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (37257)
Natural gas - production:
220 million cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
220 million cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
49.98 billion cu m (37257)
Agriculture - products:
opium, wheat, fruits, nuts, wool, mutton, sheepskins, lambskins
$1.2 billion (not includes illicit exports) (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities:
opium, fruits and nuts, handwoven carpets, wool, cotton, hides and pelts, precious and semi-precious gems
Exports - partners:
Pakistan 26.8%, India 26.5%, Finland 5.8%, Germany 5.1%, UAE 4.4%, Belgium 4.3%, Russia 4.2%, US 4.2% (2002)
$1.3 billion (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities:
capital goods, food, textiles, petroleum products
Imports - partners:
Pakistan 25.1%, South Korea 14.4%, Japan 9.4%, US 9%, Kenya 5.8%, Germany 5.4% (2002)
Debt - external:
NA (1996 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
international pledges made by more than 60 countries and international financial institutions at Tokyo Donors Conference for Afghan reconstruction in January 2002 reached $4.5 billion through 2006, with $1.8 billion allocated for 2002; another $1.7 billion previously pledged for 2003.
afghani (AFA)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
afghanis per US dollar - 3,000 (October-December 2002), 3,000 (2001), 3,000 (2000), 3,000 (1999), 3,000 (1998), note: before 2002 market rate varied widely from official rate; in 2002 afghani previously revalued and currency stabilized
Fiscal year:
21 March - 20 March
Communications Afghanistan
Telephones - main lines in use:
29,000 (1998)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Telephone system:
general assessment: very limited telephone and telegraph service
domestic: in 1997, telecommunications links were established between Mazar-e Sharif, Herat, Kandahar, Jalalabad, and Kabul through satellite and microwave systems
international: satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) linked only to Iran and 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region); commercial satellite telephone center in Ghazni
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 7 (6 are inactive; active station is in Kabul), FM 1, shortwave 1 (broadcasts in Pashtu, Afghan Persian (Dari), Urdu, and English) (1999)
167,000 (1999)
Television broadcast stations:
at least 10 (one government-run central television station in Kabul and regional stations in nine of 32 provinces; regional stations operate on a reduced schedule; also, in 1997, there previously a station in Mazar-e Sharif reaching four northern Afghanistan provinces) (1998)
100,000 (1999)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2000)
Internet users:
Transportation Afghanistan
total: 24.6 km
broad gauge: 9.6 km 1.524-m gauge from Gushgy (Turkmenistan) to Towraghondi; 15 km 1.524-m gauge from Termiz (Uzbekistan) to Kheyrabad transshipment point on south bank of Amu Darya (2001)
total: 21,000 km
paved: 2,793 km
unpaved: 18,207 km (1999 est.)
1,200 km
note: chiefly Amu Darya, which handles vessels up to 500 DWT (2001)
gas 651 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Kheyrabad, Shir Khan
47 (2002)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 10
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
under 914 m: 1 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 37
under 914 m: 11 (2002)
914 to 1,523 m: 4
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 7
1,524 to 2,437 m: 14
5 (2002)
Military Afghanistan
Military branches:
NA; note - December 2001 Bonn Agreement called for all militia forces to come under authority of central government, but regional leaders have continued to retain their militias and formation of a nation army will be a gradual process; Afghanistan's forces continue to be factionalized, largely along ethnic lines
Military manpower - military age:
22 years of age (2003 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 7,160,603 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 3,837,646 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 275,223 (2003 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$525.2 million (FY02)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
7.7% (FY02)
Transnational Issues Afghanistan
Disputes - international:
thousands of Afghan refugees still reside in Iran and Pakistan; isolating terrain and close ties among Pashtuns in Pakistan make cross-border activities difficult to control; prolonged regional drought strains water-sharing arrangements for Amu Darya and Helmand River states
Illicit drugs:
world's largest producer of opium; cultivation of opium poppy - used to make heroin - expanded to 30,750 hectares in 2002, despite eradication; potential opium production of 1,278 metric tons; source of hashish; many narcotics-processing labs throughout country; drug trade source of instability and some government groups profit from trade; 80-90% of heroin consumed in Europe comes from Afghan opium; vulnerable to narcotics money laundering through hawala system