Afghanistan (GPS: 33 00 N, 65 00 E) located in Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran. The country’s area measurements are total: 652,230 sq km; land: 652,230 sq km, water: 0 sq km. This sovereign state is almost six times the size of Virginia, slightly smaller than Texas. The total irrigated land is 32,080 sq km (2012).
One of the essential features of Afghanistan: Landlocked (enclosed or nearly enclosed by land). 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 north of Vakhan (Wakhan Corridor).
It’s significant, and at the same time, the principal city, Kabul’s GPS coordinates are 34 31 N 69 11 E. Kabul’s local time is 9.5 hours ahead of Washington DC during Standard Time. The capital’s time difference: UTC+4.5.
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 increased democracy ended in a 1973 coup and a 1978 communist countercoup. 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 mujahidin 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 its civil war and anarchy. Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, a US, Allied, and anti-Taliban Northern Alliance military action toppled the Taliban for sheltering Usama BIN LADIN.
An 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 reelected in August 2009 for a second term. The 2014 presidential election was the country’s first to include a runoff, which featured the top two vote-getters from the first round, Abdullah ABDULLAH, and Ashraf GHANI. Throughout the summer of 2014, their campaigns disputed the results. They traded accusations of fraud, leading to a US-led diplomatic intervention that included a full vote audit and political negotiations between the two camps. In September 2014, GHANI and ABDULLAH agreed to form the Government of National Unity, with GHANI inaugurated as president and ABDULLAH elevated to the newly-created position of chief executive officer.
The day after the inauguration, the GHANI administration signed the US-Afghan Bilateral Security Agreement and NATO Status of Forces Agreement, which provide the legal basis for the post-2014 international military presence in Afghanistan. After two postponements, the next presidential election was held in September 2019. The Taliban remains a severe challenge to the Afghan Government in almost every province. The Taliban still considers itself the rightful government of Afghanistan. It remains a capable and confident insurgent force fighting for the withdrawal of foreign military forces from Afghanistan, the establishment of sharia law, and rewriting of the Afghan constitution. In 2019, negotiations between the US and the Taliban in Doha entered their highest level yet, building on the momentum in late 2018. Underlying the talks is the unsettled state of Afghan politics, and prospects for a sustainable political settlement remain unclear.
Afghanistan’s names conventional long form: the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, conventional short form: Afghanistan, local extended state: Jamhuri-ye Islami-ye Afghanistan, local short form: Afghanistan, former: Republic of Afghanistan, etymology: the name “Afghan” originally referred to the Pashtun people (today it is understood to include all the country’s ethnic groups), while the suffix “-stan” means “place of” or “country”; so Afghanistan means the “Land of the Afghans.” The name “Afghan” originally referred to the Pashtun people (today it is understood to include all the country’s ethnic groups), while the suffix “-stan” means “place of” or “country”; So Afghanistan means the “Land of the Afghans.”
Afghanistan’s terrain is typically mostly rugged mountains; plains in the north and southwest. The country’s mean elevation: 1,884 m, elevation extremes; lowest point: the Amu Darya 258 m, highest point: Noshak 7,485 m.
The general climate in the country; arid to semiarid: cold winters and hot summers.
The total number of border countries is 6, China 91 km, Iran 921 km, Pakistan 2,670 km, Tajikistan 1,357 km, Turkmenistan 804 km, Uzbekistan 144 km neighboring nations with the indicated border lengths. Afghanistan’s coastline is 0 km (landlocked country), while its marital claims are: none. Waterways: 1,200 km; (chiefly the Amu Darya, which handles vessels up to 500 DWT) (2011). Land use: agricultural land: 58.1%; arable land 11.9%; permanent crops 0.2%; permanent pasture 46%; forest: 2.1%; other: 39.8% (2011 estimate).
The population in Afghanistan 34,940,837 (July 2018 estimate), urban population: 26.7% of total population (2015), major urban area’s population: KABUL (capital) 4.635 million (2015), while Afghanistan has populations tend to cluster in the foothills and periphery of the rugged Hindu Kush range; smaller groups are found in many of the country’s interior valleys; in general, the east is more densely settled while the south is sparsely populated. Their spoken languages are Afghan Persian or Dari (official language) 50%, Pashto (official language) 35%, Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen) 11%, 30 minor languages (primarily Balochi and Pashai) 4%, much bilingualism, but Dari functions as the lingua franca. Note: the Turkic languages Uzbek and Turkmen, as well as Balochi, Pashai, Nuristani, and Pamiri, are the third official language languages in areas where the majority speaks them. Main religions in Afghanistan are Muslim 99.7% (Sunni 84.7 – 89.7%, Shia 10 – 15%), other 0.3% (2009 estimate). The nation uses a mixed legal system of civil, customary, and Islamic law. It is a(n) presidential Islamic republic, National holiday(s) Independence Day, 19 August (1919).
Economic overview for the country: Despite improvements in life expectancy, incomes, and literacy since 2001, Afghanistan is extremely poor, landlocked, and highly dependent on foreign aid. Much of the population continues to suffer from shortages of housing, clean water, electricity, medical care, and jobs. Corruption, insecurity, weak governance, lack of infrastructure, and the Afghan Government’s difficulty in extending the rule of law to all parts of the country pose challenges to future economic growth. Afghanistan’s living standards are among the lowest in the world. Since 2014, the economy has slowed, in large part, because of the withdrawal of nearly 100,000 foreign troops that had artificially inflated the country’s economic growth. The international community remains committed to Afghanistan’s development, pledging over $83 billion at ten donors’ conferences between 2003 and 2016.
In October 2016, the donors at the Brussels conference pledged an additional $3.8 billion in development aid annually from 2017 to 2020. Even with this help, the Government of Afghanistan still faces some challenges, including low revenue collection, anemic job creation, high levels of corruption, weak government capacity, and poor public infrastructure. In 2017 Afghanistan’s growth rate was only marginally above that of the 2014-2016 average. The drawdown of international security forces that started in 2012 has negatively affected economic growth. A substantial portion of commerce, especially in the services sector, has catered to the country’s ongoing international troop presence. Afghan President Ashraf GHANI Ahmadzai is dedicated to instituting economic reforms to improve revenue collection and fight corruption. The government has implemented reforms to the budget process and in some other areas. However, many other reforms will take time to implement, and Afghanistan will remain dependent on international donor support over the next several years.
Natural resources of Afghanistan: natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones, arable land.
Main export partners for Afghanistan, Asia are India 42.3%, Pakistan 29%, Tajikistan 7.6% (2015) for opium, fruits and nuts, handwoven carpets, wool, cotton, hides and pelts, precious and semi-precious gems, while the main import partners for the country are: Pakistan 38.6%, India 8.9%, US 8.3%, Turkmenistan 6.2%, China 6%, Kazakhstan 5.9%, Azerbaijan 4.9% (2015) for machinery and other capital goods, food, textiles, petroleum products.
When you visit this country in Asia, consider the natural hazards in Afghanistan: Damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains, flooding, droughts, while infectious diseases are a degree of risk: intermediate food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever vectorborne disease: malaria (2016). Also, note that Afghanistan faces the following environmental issues: 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 in crowded urban areas.