Background Edit

Field info displayed for all countries in alpha order. 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, Allied, and anti-Taliban Northern Alliance military action toppled the Taliban for sheltering Osama BIN LADIN. The UN-sponsored Bonn Conference in 2001 established a process for political reconstruction that included the adoption of a new constitution, a presidential election in 2004, and National Assembly elections in 2005. In December 2004, Hamid KARZAI became the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan and the National Assembly was inaugurated the following December. KARZAI was re-elected in August 2009 for a second term. Despite gains toward building a stable central government, a resurgent Taliban and continuing provincial instability - particularly in the south and the east - remain serious challenges for the Afghan Government. In January 2011, Afghanistan assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2012-13 term.

Geography Edit

Location Edit

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

Geographic coordinates Edit

33 00 N, 65 00 E

Map references Edit


Area Edit

total: 652,230 sq km country comparison to the world: 41 land: 652,230 sq km water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative Edit

slightly smaller than Texas

Land boundaries Edit

total: 5,529 km border countries: China 76 km, Iran 936 km, Pakistan 2,430 km, Tajikistan 1,206 km, Turkmenistan 744 km, Uzbekistan 137 km

Coastline Edit

0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims Edit

none (landlocked)

Climate Edit

arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers

Terrain Edit

mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest

Elevation extremes Edit

lowest point: Amu Darya 258 m highest point: Noshak 7,485 m

Natural resources Edit

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

Land use Edit

arable land: 12.13% permanent crops: 0.21% other: 87.66% (2005)

Irrigated land Edit

31,990 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources Edit

65 cu km (1997)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural) Edit

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

Natural hazards Edit

damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding; droughts

Environment - current issues Edit

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 Edit

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 Edit

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)

Nationality Edit

  • noun: Afghan(s)
  • adjective: Afghan

Languages Edit

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

Religions Edit

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

Population Edit

30,419,928 (July 2012 est.) country comparison to the world: 40 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 Edit

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)

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