[Country map of Afghanistan]



Location: Southern Asia, north of Pakistan

Map references: Asia

total area: 647,500 sq km
land area: 647,500 sq km
comparative area: slightly smaller than Texas

Land boundaries: total 5,529 km, 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

International disputes: periodic disputes with Iran over Helmand water rights; Iran supports clients in country, private Pakistani and Saudi sources also are active; power struggles among various groups for control of Kabul, regional rivalries among emerging warlords, traditional tribal disputes continue; support to Islamic fighters in Tajikistan's civil war; border dispute with Pakistan (Durand Line); support to Islamic militants worldwide by some factions

Climate: arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers

Terrain: mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest

Natural resources: natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, talc, barites, sulphur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones

Land use:
arable land: 12%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 46%
forest and woodland: 3%
other: 39%

Irrigated land: 26,600 sq km (1989 est.)

current issues: soil degradation; overgrazing; deforestation (much of the remaining forests are being cut down for fuel and building materials); desertification
natural hazards: damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding
international agreements: party to - Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban; signed, but not ratified - Biodiversity, Climate Change, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation

Note: landlocked


Population: 21,251,821 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 42% (female 4,342,218; male 4,507,141)
15-64 years: 56% (female 5,406,675; male 6,443,734)
65 years and over: 2% (female 256,443; male 295,610) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 14.47% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 42.69 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 18.53 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 120.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 152.8 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 45.37 years
male: 45.98 years
female: 44.72 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.21 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Afghan(s)
adjective: Afghan

Ethnic divisions: Pashtun 38%, Tajik 25%, Uzbek 6%, Hazara 19%, minor ethnic groups (Chahar Aimaks, Turkmen, Baloch, and others)

Religions: Sunni Muslim 84%, Shi'a Muslim 15%, other 1%

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

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1990 est.)
total population: 29%
male: 44%
female: 14%

Labor force: 4.98 million
by occupation: agriculture and animal husbandry 67.8%, industry 10.2%, construction 6.3%, commerce 5.0%, services and other 10.7% (1980 est.)


conventional long form: Islamic State of Afghanistan
conventional short form: Afghanistan
local long form: Dowlat-e Eslami-ye Afghanestan
local short form: Afghanestan
former: Republic of Afghanistan

Digraph: AF

Type: transitional government

Capital: Kabul

Administrative divisions: 30 provinces (velayat, singular - velayat); Badakhshan, Badghis, Baghlan, Balkh, Bamian, Farah, Faryab, Ghazni, Ghowr, Helmand, Herat, Jowzjan, Kabol, Kandahar, Kapisa, Konar, Kondoz, Laghman, Lowgar, Nangarhar, Nimruz, Oruzgan, Paktia, Paktika, Parvan, Samangan, Sar-e Pol, Takhar, Vardak, Zabol
note: there may be two new provinces of Nurestan (Nuristan) and Khowst

Independence: 19 August 1919 (from UK)

National holiday: Victory of the Muslim Nation, 28 April; Remembrance Day for Martyrs and Disabled, 4 May; Independence Day, 19 August

Constitution: none

Legal system: a new legal system has not been adopted but the transitional government has declared it will follow Islamic law (Shari'a)

Suffrage: undetermined; previously males 15-50 years of age, universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Burhanuddin RABBANI (Interim President July-December 1992; President since 2 January 1993); Vice President Mohammad NABI MOHAMMADI (since NA); election last held 31 December 1992 (next to be held NA); results - Burhanuddin RABBANI was elected to a two-year term by a national shura, later amended by multi-party agreement to 18 months; note - in June 1994 failure to agree on a transfer mechanism resulted in RABBANI's extending the term to 28 December 1994; following the expiration of the term and while negotiations on the formation of a new government go on, RABBANI continues in office
head of government: Prime Minister Gulbuddin HIKMATYAR (since 17 March 1993); note - Prime Minister HIKMATYAR is the nominal head of government and does not have any real authority; First Deputy Prime Minister Qutbuddin HELAL (since 17 March 1993); Deputy Prime Minister Arsala RAHMANI (since 17 March 1993)
cabinet: Council of Ministers
note: term of present government expired 28 December 1994; factional fighting since 1 January 1994 has kept government officers from actually occupying ministries and discharging government responsibilities; the government's authority to remove cabinet members, including the Prime Minister, following the expiration of their term is questionable

Legislative branch: a unicameral parliament consisting of 205 members was chosen by the shura in January 1993; non-functioning as of June 1993

Judicial branch: an interim Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has been appointed, but a new court system has not yet been organized

Political parties and leaders: current political organizations include Jamiat-i-Islami (Islamic Society), Burhanuddin RABBANI, Ahmad Shah MASOOD; Hizbi Islami-Gulbuddin (Islamic Party), Gulbuddin HIKMATYAR faction; Hizbi Islami-Khalis (Islamic Party), Yunis KHALIS faction; Ittihad-i-Islami Barai Azadi Afghanistan (Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan), Abdul Rasul SAYYAF; Harakat-Inqilab-i-Islami (Islamic Revolutionary Movement), Mohammad Nabi MOHAMMADI; Jabha-i-Najat-i-Milli Afghanistan (Afghanistan National Liberation Front), Sibghatullah MOJADDEDI; Mahaz-i-Milli-Islami (National Islamic Front), Sayed Ahamad GAILANI; Hizbi Wahdat-Khalili faction (Islamic Unity Party), Abdul Karim KHALILI; Hizbi Wahdat-Akbari faction (Islamic Unity Party), Mohammad Akbar AKBARI; Harakat-i-Islami (Islamic Movement), Mohammed Asif MOHSENI; Jumbesh-i-Milli Islami (National Islamic Movement), Abdul Rashid DOSTAM; Taliban (Religious Students Movement), Mohammad OMAR
note: the former ruling Watan Party has been disbanded

Other political or pressure groups: the former resistance commanders are the major power brokers in the countryside and their shuras (councils) are now administering most cities outside Kabul; tribal elders and religious students are trying to wrest control from them; ulema (religious scholars); tribal elders; religious students (talib)


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Abdul RAHIM
chancery: 2341 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 234-3770, 3771
FAX: [1] (202) 328-3516
consulate(s) general: New York
consulate(s): Washington, DC

US diplomatic representation: none; embassy was closed in January 1989

Flag: NA; note - the flag has changed at least twice since 1992


Overview: Afghanistan is an extremely poor, landlocked country, highly dependent on farming (wheat especially) and livestock raising (sheep and goats). Economic considerations have played second fiddle to political and military upheavals during more than 15 years of war, including the nearly 10-year Soviet military occupation (which ended 15 February 1989). Over the past decade, one-third of the population fled the country, with Pakistan sheltering more than 3 million refugees and Iran about 3 million. About 1.4 million Afghan refugees remain in Pakistan and about 2 million in Iran. Another 1 million probably moved into and around urban areas within Afghanistan. Although reliable data are unavailable, gross domestic product is lower than 13 years ago because of the loss of labor and capital and the disruption of trade and transport.

National product: GDP $NA

National product real growth rate: NA%

National product per capita: $NA

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 56.7% (1991)

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA

Exports: $188.2 million (f.o.b., 1991)
commodities: fruits and nuts, handwoven carpets, wool, cotton, hides and pelts, precious and semi-precious gems
partners: FSU countries, Pakistan, Iran, Germany, India, UK, Belgium, Luxembourg, Czechoslovakia

Imports: $616.4 million (c.i.f., 1991)
commodities: food and petroleum products; most consumer goods
partners: FSU countries, Pakistan, Iran, Japan, Singapore, India, South Korea, Germany

External debt: $2.3 billion (March 1991 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 2.3% (FY90/91 est.); accounts for about 25% of GDP

capacity: 480,000 kW
production: 550 million kWh
consumption per capita: 39 kWh (1993)

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

Agriculture: largely subsistence farming and nomadic animal husbandry; cash products - wheat, fruits, nuts, karakul pelts, wool, mutton

Illicit drugs: an illicit cultivator of opium poppy and cannabis for the international drug trade; world's second-largest opium producer after Burma (950 metric tons in 1994) and a major source of hashish

Economic aid:
recipient: $450 million US assistance provided 1985-1993; the UN provides assistance in the form of food aid, immunization, land mine removal, and a wide range of aid to refugees and displaced persons

Currency: 1 afghani (AF) = 100 puls

Exchange rates: afghanis (Af) per US$1 - 1,900 (January 1994), 1,019 (March 1993), 850 (1991), 700 (1989-90), 220 (1988-89); note - these rates reflect the free market exchange rates rather than the official exchange rates

Fiscal year: 21 March - 20 March


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

total: 21,000 km
paved: 2,800 km
unpaved: gravel 1,650 km; earth 16,550 km (1984)

Inland waterways: total navigability 1,200 km; chiefly Amu Darya, which handles vessels up to about 500 metric tons

Pipelines: petroleum products - Uzbekistan to Bagram and Turkmenistan to Shindand; natural gas 180 km

Ports: Keleft, Kheyrabad, Shir Khan

total: 48
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 3
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
with paved runways under 914 m: 15
with unpaved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 14
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 6


Telephone system: 31,200 telephones; limited telephone, telegraph, and radiobroadcast services; 1 public telephone in Kabul
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: one link between western Afghanistan and Iran (via satellite)

broadcast stations: AM 5, FM 0, shortwave 2
radios: NA

broadcast stations: several television stations run by factions and local councils which provide intermittent service
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: the military still does not exist on a national scale; some elements of the former Army, Air and Air Defense Forces, National Guard, Border Guard Forces, National Police Force (Sarandoi), and tribal militias still exist but are factionalized among the various mujahedin and former regime leaders

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 5,646,789; males fit for military service 3,011,777; males reach military age (22) annually 200,264 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $450 million, 15% of GDP (1990 est.); the new government has not yet adopted a defense budget