Introduction

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, but withdrew 10 years later under relentless pressure by internationally supported anti-Communist mujahedin rebels. A civil war between mujahedin factions erupted following the 1992 fall of the Communist regime. The Taliban, a hardline Pakistani-sponsored movement that emerged in 1994 to end the country’s civil war and anarchy, seized Kabul in 1996 and most of the country outside of opposition Northern Alliance strongholds by 1998. Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, a US, Allied, and Northern Alliance military action toppled the Taliban for sheltering Osama BIN LADIN. In late 2001, a conference in Bonn, Germany, established a process for political reconstruction that included the adoption of a new constitution and a presidential election in 2004, and National Assembly elections in 2005. On 7 December 2004, Hamid KARZAI became the first democratically president of Afghanistan. The National Assembly was inaugurated on 19 December 2005.

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Geography

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

Geographic Coordinates
33 00 N, 65 00 E

Area
total: 647,500 sq km, land: 647,500 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

Coastline
0 km (landlocked)

Maritime Claims
none (landlocked)

Climate
arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers

Terrain
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: 0.21%; other: 87.66% (2005)

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 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; signed, but not ratified: Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation

Notes
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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People

Population
31,056,997 (July 2006 est.)

Age Structure
0-14 years: 44.6% (male 7,095,117/female 6,763,759); 15-64 years: 53% (male 8,436,716/female 8,008,463); 65 years and over: 2.4% (male 366,642/female 386,300) (2006 est.)

Median Age
total: 17.6 years; male: 17.6 years; female: 17.6 years (2006 est.)

Population Growth Rate
2.67% (2006 est.)

Birth Rate
46.6 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death Rate
20.34 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net Migration Rate
0.42 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

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: 0.95 male(s)/female; total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant Mortality Rate
total: 160.23 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 164.77 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 155.45 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life Expectancy at Birth
total population: 43.34 years; male: 43.16 years; female: 43.53 years (2006 est.)

Total Fertility Rate
6.69 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS – Adult Prevalence Rate
0.01% (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS – People Living with HIV/AIDS
NA

HIV/AIDS – Deaths
NA

Major Infectious Diseases
degree of risk: high; food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever; vectorborne disease: malaria is a high risk countrywide below 2,000 meters from March through November; animal contact disease: rabies (2005)

Nationality
noun: Afghan(s); adjective: Afghan

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

Religions
Sunni Muslim 80%, Shi’a Muslim 19%, other 1%

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

Literacy
definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 36%; male: 51%; female: 21% (1999 est.)

Notes
of the estimated 4 million refugees in October 2001, 2.3 million have returned

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Government

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

Capital
Kabul

Administrative Divisions
34 provinces (velayat, singular – velayat); Badakhshan, Badghis, Baghlan, Balkh, Bamian, Daykondi, Farah, Faryab, Ghazni, Ghowr, Helmand, Herat, Jowzjan, Kabol, Kandahar, Kapisa, Khowst, Konar, Kondoz, Laghman, Lowgar, Nangarhar, Nimruz, Nurestan, Oruzgan, Paktia, Paktika, Panjshir, Parvan, Samangan, Sar-e Pol, Takhar, Vardak, Zabol

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

National Holiday
Independence Day, 19 August (1919)

Constitution
new constitution drafted 14 December 2003-4 January 2004; signed 16 January 2004

Legal System
according to the new constitution, no law should be “contrary to Islam”; the state is obliged to create a prosperous and progressive society based on social justice, protection of human dignity, protection of human rights, realization of democracy, and to ensure national unity and equality among all ethnic groups and tribes; the state shall abide by the UN charter, international treaties, international conventions that Afghanistan signed, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Suffrage
18 years of age; universal

Executive Branch
chief of state: President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid KARZAI (since 7 December 2004); note – the president is both the chief of state and head of government; former King ZAHIR Shah holds the honorific, “Father of the Country,” and presides symbolically over certain occasions, but lacks any governing authority; the honorific is not hereditary; head of government: President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid KARZAI (since 7 December 2004); note – the president is both chief of state and head of government; cabinet: 27 ministers; note – under the new constitution, ministers are appointed by the president and approved by the National Assembly; elections: the president and two vice presidents are elected by direct vote for a five-year 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; a president can only be elected for two terms; election last held 9 October 2004 (next to be held in 2009); election results: Hamid KARZAI elected president; percent of vote – Hamid KARZAI 55.4%, Yunus QANOONI 16.3%, Ustad Mohammad MOHAQQEQ 11.6%, Abdul Rashid DOSTAM 10.0%, Abdul Latif PEDRAM 1.4%, Masooda JALAL 1.2%

Legislative Branch
the bicameral National Assembly consists of the Wolesi Jirga or House of People (no more than 249 seats), directly elected for five-year terms, and the Meshrano Jirga or House of Elders (102 seats, one-third elected from provincial councils for four-year terms, one-third elected from local district councils for three-year terms – provincial councils elected temporary members to fill these seats until district councils are formed, and one-third presidential appointees for five-year terms; the presidential appointees will include 2 representatives of Kuchis and 2 representatives of the disabled; half of the presidential appointees will be women); 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 18 September 2005 (next to be held for the Wolesi Jirga by September 2009; next to be held for the provincial councils to the Meshrano Jirga by September 2008); election results: the single non-transferable vote (SNTV) system used in the election did not make use of political party slates; most candidates ran as independents

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 (note – nine supreme court justices were appointed in the interim in January 2005 pending National Assembly selection of the constitutionally mandated justices); 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
note – includes only political parties approved by the Ministry of Justice: Afghan Millat [Anwarul Haq AHADI]; De Afghanistan De Solay Ghorzang Gond [Shahnawaz TANAI]; De Afghanistan De Solay Mili Islami Gond [Shah Mahmood Polal ZAI]; Harakat-e-Islami Afghanistan [Mohammad Asif MOHSINEE]; Hezb-e-Aarman-e-Mardum-e-Afghanistan [Iihaj Saraj-u-din ZAFAREE]; Hezb-e-Aazadee Afghanistan [Abdul MALIK]; Hezb-e-Adalat-e-Islami Afghanistan [Mohammad Kabeer MARZBAN]; Hezb-e-Afghanistan-e-Wahid [Mohammad Wasil RAHEEMEE]; Hezb-e-Afghan Watan Islami Gond [leader NA]; Hezb-e-Congra-e-Mili Afghanistan [Latif PEDRAM]; Hezb-e-Falah-e-Mardum-e-Afghanistan [Mohammad ZAREEF]; Hezb-e-Hambastagee Mili Jawanan-e-Afghanistan [Mohammad Jamil KARZAI]; Hezb-e-Hamnbatagee-e-Afghanistan [Abdul Khaleq NEMAT]; Hezb-e-Harakat-e-Mili Wahdat-e-Afghanistan [Mohammad Nadir AATASH]; Hezb-e-Harak-e-Islami Mardum-e-Afghanistan [Ilhaj Said Hssain ANWARY]; Hezb-e-Ifazat Az Uqoq-e-Bashar Wa Inkishaf-e-Afghanistan [Baryalai NASRATEE]; Hezb-e-Istiqlal-e-Afghanistan [Dr. Gh. Farooq NIJZRABEE]; Hezb-e-Jamhoree Khwahan [Sibghatullah SANJAR]; Hezb-e-Kar Wa Tawsiha-e-Afghanistan [Zulfiar OMID]; Hezb-e-Libral-e-Aazadee Khwa-e-Mardum-e-Afghanistan [Ajmal SOHAIL]; Hezb-e-Mili Afghanistan [Abdul Rasheed AARYAN]; Hezb-e-Mili Wahdat-e-Aqwam-e-Islami Afghanistan [Mohammad Shah KHOGYANEE]; Hezb-e-Nuhzhat-e-Mili Afghanistan [Ahmad Wali MASOUD]; Hezb-e-Paiwand-e-Mili Afghanistan [Said Mansoor NADIRI]; Hezb-e-Rastakhaiz-e-Islami Mardum-e-Afghanistan [Said ZAHIR]; Hezb-e-Refah-e-Mardum-e-Afghanistan [Mia Gul WASEEQ]; Hezb-e-Risalat-e-Mardum-e-Afghanistan [Noor Aqa ROEEN]; Hezb-e-Sahadat-e-Mardum-e-Afghanistan [Mohammad Zubair PAIROZ]; Hezb-e-Sahadat-e-Mili Wa Islami Afghanistan [Mohammad Usman SALIGZADA]; Hezb-e-Sulh-e-Mili Islami Aqwam-e-Afghanistan [Abdul Qahir SHARYATEE]; Hezb-e-Sulh Wa Wahdat-e-Mili Afghanistan [Abdul Qadir IMAMEE]; Hezb-e-Tafahum-e-Wa Democracy Afghanistan [Ahamad SHAHEEN]; Hezb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami Afghanistan [Mohammad Karim KHALILI]; Hezb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami Mardum-e-Afghanistan [Ustad Mohammad MOHAQQEQ]; Hezb-e-Wahdat-e-Mili Afghanistan [Abdul Rasheed JALILI]; Jamahat-ul-Dahwat ilal Qurhan-wa-Sunat-ul-Afghanistan [Mawlawee Samiullah NAJEEBEE]; Jombesh-e Milli [Abdul Rashid DOSTAM]; Mahaz-e-Mili Islami Afghanistan [Said Ahmad GAILANEE]; Majmah-e-Mili Fahaleen-e-Sulh-e-Afghanistan [Shams ul Haq Noor SHAMS]; Nuhzat-e-Aazadee Wa Democracy Afghanistan [Abdul Raqeeb Jawid KUHISTANEE]; Nuhzat-e-Hambastagee Mili Afghanistan [Peer Said Ishaq GAILANEE]; Sazman-e-Islami Afghanistan-e-Jawan [Siad Jawad HUSSAINEE]; Tahreek Wahdat-e-Mili [Sultan Mahmood DHAZI] (30 Sep 2004)

Political Pressure Groups and Leaders
Jamiat-e Islami (Society of Islam) [former President Burhanuddin RABBANI]; Ittihad-e Islami (Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan) [Abdul Rasul SAYYAF]; there are also small monarchist, communist, and democratic groups

International Organization Participation
AsDB, CP, ECO, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (correspondent), ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OSCE (partner), SAARC, SACEP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTO (observer)

Diplomatic Representation in the US
chief of mission: Ambassador Said Tayeb JAWAD; 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 Ronald E. NEUMANN; embassy: The Great Masood Road, Kabul; mailing address: 6180 Kabul Place, Dulles, VA 20189-6180; telephone: [00 93] (20) 230-0436; FAX: [00 93] (20) 230-1364

Flag Description
three equal vertical bands of black (hoist), red, and green, with a gold emblem centered on the red band; the emblem features a temple-like structure encircled by a wreath on the left and right and by a bold Islamic inscription above.

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Economy

Overview
Afghanistan’s economic outlook has improved significantly since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 because of the infusion of over $8 billion in international assistance, recovery of the agricultural sector and growth of the service sector, and the reestablishment of market institutions. Real GDP growth is estimated to have slowed in the last fiscal year primarily because adverse weather conditions cut agricultural production, but is expected to rebound over 2005-06 because of foreign donor reconstruction and service sector growth. Despite the progress of the past few years, Afghanistan remains extremely poor, landlocked, and highly dependent on foreign aid, farming, and trade with neighboring countries. It will probably take the remainder of the decade and continuing donor aid and attention to significantly raise Afghanistan’s living standards from its current status, among the lowest in the world. Much of the population continues to suffer from shortages of housing, clean water, electricity, medical care, and jobs, but the Afghan government and international donors remain committed to improving access to these basic necessities by prioritizing infrastructure development, education, housing development, jobs programs, and economic reform over the next year. Growing political stability and continued international commitment to Afghan reconstruction create an optimistic outlook for continuing improvements in the Afghan economy in 2006. Expanding poppy cultivation and a growing opium trade may account for one-third of GDP and looms as one of Kabul’s most serious policy challenges. Other long-term challenges include: boosting the supply of skilled labor, reducing vulnerability to severe natural disasters, expanding health services, and rebuilding a war torn infrastructure.

GDP (purchasing power parity)
$21.5 billion (2004 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate)
NA

GDP – real growth rate
8% (2005 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP)
$800 (2004 est.)

GDP – composition by sector
agriculture: 38%; industry: 24%; services: 38%; note: data exclude opium production (2005 est.)

Labor Force
15 million (2004 est.)

Labor Force – By Occupation
agriculture 80%, industry 10%, services 10% (2004 est.)

Unemployment Rate
40% (2005 est.)

Population Below Poverty Line
53% (2003)

Household Income or Consumption by Percentage Share
lowest 10%: NA%; highest 10%: NA%

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices)
16.3% (2005 est.)

Budget
revenues: $269 million; expenditures: $561 million; including capital expenditures of $41.7 million; note: Afghanistan has also received $273 million from the Reconstruction Trust Fund and $63 million from the Law and Order Trust Fund (FY04-05 budget est.)

Agriculture – Products
opium, wheat, fruits, nuts; wool, mutton, sheepskins, lambskins

Industries
small-scale production of textiles, soap, furniture, shoes, fertilizer, cement; handwoven carpets; natural gas, coal, copper

Industrial Production Growth Rate
NA

Electricity – Production
905 million kWh (2003)

Electricity – Consumption
1.042 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity – Exports
0 kWh (2003)

Electricity – Imports
200 million kWh (2003)

Oil – Production
0 bbl/day (2003)

Oil – Consumption
5,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil – Exports
NA bbl/day

Oil – Imports
NA bbl/day

Oil – Proved Reserves
0 bbl (1 January 2002)

Natural Gas – Production
50 million cu m (2003 est.)

Natural Gas – Consumption
50 million cu m (2003 est.)

Natural Gas – Exports
0 cu m (2001 est.)

Natural Gas – Imports
0 cu m (2001 est.)

Natural Gas – Proved Reserves
99.96 billion cu m (1 January 2002)

Exports
$471 million; note – not including illicit exports or reexports (2005 est.)

Exports – Commodities
opium, fruits and nuts, handwoven carpets, wool, cotton, hides and pelts, precious and semi-precious gems

Exports – Partners
Pakistan 24%, India 21.3%, US 12.4%, Germany 5.5% (2004)

Imports
$3.87 billion (2005 est.)

Imports – Commodities
capital goods, food, textiles, petroleum products

Imports – Partners
Pakistan 25.5%, US 8.7%, India 8.5%, Germany 6.5%, Turkmenistan 5.3%, Kenya 4.7%, South Korea 4.2%, Russia 4.2% (2004)

Debt – External
$8 billion in bilateral debt, mostly to Russia; Afghanistan has $500 million in debt to Multilateral Development Banks (2004)

Economic Aid – Recipient
international pledges made by more than 60 countries and international financial institutions at the Berlin Donors Conference for Afghan reconstruction in March 2004 reached $8.9 billion for 2004-09

Currency (Code)
afghani (AFA)

Exchange Rates
afghanis per US dollar – 541 (2005), 48 (2004), 49 (2003), 41 (2002), 66 (2001); note: in 2002, the afghani was revalued and the currency stabilized at about 50 afghanis to the dollar; before 2002, the market rate varied widely from the official rate

Fiscal Year
21 March – 20 March

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Communications

Telephones – Main Lines in Use
50,000 (2004)

Telephones – Mobile Cellular
600,000 (2004)

Telephone System
general assessment: very limited telephone and telegraph service; domestic: telephone service is improving with the licensing of four wireless telephone service providers by 2005; approximately 3 in 10 Afghans own a wireless telephone; telephone main lines remain limited with only 0.1 line per 10 people; international: country code – 93; five VSAT’s installed in Kabul, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandahar, and Jalalabad provide international and domestic voice and data connectivity

Radio Broadcast Stations
AM 21, FM 23, shortwave 1 (broadcasts in Pashtu, Afghan Persian (Dari), Urdu, and English) (2003)

Television Broadcast Stations
at least 10 (one government-run central television station in Kabul and regional stations in nine of the 34 provinces; the regional stations operate on a reduced schedule; also, in 1997, there was a station in Mazar-e-Sharif reaching four northern Afghanistan provinces) (1998)

Internet Country Code
.af

Internet Hosts
76 (2005)

Internet Users
25,000 (2005)

Notes
in March 2003, ‘af’ was established as Afghanistan’s domain name; Internet access is growing through Internet cafes as well as public “telekiosks” in Kabul (2002)

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Transportation

Airports
46 (2005)

Airports – With Paved Runways
total: 10; over 3,047 m: 3; 2,438 to 3,047 m: 4; 1,524 to 2,437 m: 2; under 914 m: 1 (2005)

Airports – With Unpaved Runways
total: 36; over 3,047 m: 1; 2,438 to 3,047 m: 5; 1,524 to 2,437 m: 17; 914 to 1,523 m: 4; under 914 m: 9 (2005)

Heliports
9 (2005)

Pipelines
gas 387 km (2004)

Roadways
total: 34,789 km; paved: 8,231 km; unpaved: 26,558 km (2003)

Waterways
1,200 km (chiefly Amu Darya, which handles vessels up to 500 DWT) (2005)

Ports and Terminals
Kheyrabad, Shir Khan

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Military

Military Branches
Afghan National Army (includes Afghan Air Force) (2006)

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 22-49: 4,952,812 (2005 est.)

Manpower Fit for Military Service
males age 22-49: 2,662,946 (2005 est.)

Manpower Reaching Military Service Age Annually
males: 275,362 (2005 est.)

Military Expenditures – Dollar Figure
$122.4 million (2005 est.)

Military Expenditures – Percent of GDP
1.7% (2005 est.)

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Transnational Issues

Disputes – International
most Afghan refugees in Pakistan have been repatriated, but thousands still remain in Iran, many at their own choosing; Coalition and Pakistani forces continue to patrol remote tribal areas to control the borders and stem organized terrorist and other illegal cross-border activities; regular meetings between Pakistani and Coalition allies aim to resolve periodic claims of boundary encroachments; regional conflicts over water-sharing arrangements with Amu Darya and Helmand River states

Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons
IDPs: 200,000-300,000 (mostly Pashtuns and Kuchis displaced in south and west due to drought and instability) (2005)

Illicit Drugs
world’s largest producer of opium; cultivation dropped 48% to 107,400 hectares in 2005; better weather and lack of widespread disease returned opium yields to normal levels, meaning potential opium production declined by only 10% to 4,475 metric tons; if the entire poppy crop were processed, it is estimated that 526 metric tons of heroin could be processed; source of hashish; many narcotics-processing labs throughout the country; drug trade source of instability and some antigovernment groups profit from the trade; 80-90% of the heroin consumed in Europe comes from Afghan opium; vulnerable to narcotics money laundering through informal financial networks

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