Flag : three equal vertical bands of black (hoist side), red, and green, with
the national emblem in white centered on the red band and slightly overlapping
the other two bands; the center of the emblem features a mosque with pulpit and
flags on either side, below the mosque are numerals for the solar year 1298
(1919 in the Gregorian calendar, the year of Afghan independence from the UK);
this central image is circled by a border consisting of sheaves of wheat on the
left and right, in the upper-center is an Arabic inscription of the Shahada
(Muslim creed) below which are rays of the rising sun over the Takbir (Arabic
expression meaning "God is great"), and at bottom center is a scroll bearing the
700's - Islamic conquerors
1300 - 1400's - Genghis Khan and Tamerlane conquered the country
1839–1842 Anglo-Afghan war
1878–1880 Anglo-Afghan war
1893 UK established an unofficial border separating Afghanistan from British
- Afghanistan regains independence after third war against British
forces trying to bring country under their sphere of influence.
LAST OF A
Afghanistan's last monarch, Zahir Shah, came from a long line of Pashtun
Ascends throne aged 19, introduces reforms
Deposed in coup
Endorses Afghan renewal plan
Dies, aged 92
- Amanullah proclaims himself king and attempts to introduce social
reforms leading to opposition from conservative forces.
- Amanullah flees after civil unrest over his reforms.
- Zahir Shah becomes king and Afghanistan remains a monarchy for next
- General Mohammed Daud becomes prime minister. Turns to Soviet Union
for economic and military assistance. Introduces a number of social
reforms, such as abolition of purdah (practice of secluding women from
- Mohammed Daud forced to resign as prime minister.
- Constitutional monarchy introduced - but leads to political
polarisation and power struggles.
- Mohammed Daud seizes power in a coup and declares a republic. Tries to
play off USSR against Western powers. His style alienates left-wing
factions who join forces against him.
- General Daud is overthrown and killed in a coup by leftist People's
Democratic Party. But party's Khalq and Parcham factions fall out,
leading to purging or exile of most Parcham leaders. At the same time,
conservative Islamic and ethnic leaders who objected to social changes
begin armed revolt in countryside.
- Power struggle between leftist leaders Hafizullah Amin and Nur
Mohammed Taraki in Kabul won by Amin. Revolts in countryside continue
and Afghan army faces collapse. Soviet Union finally sends in troops to
help remove Amin, who is executed.
- Babrak Karmal, leader of the People's Democratic Party Parcham
faction, is installed as ruler, backed by Soviet troops. But anti-regime
resistance intensifies with various mujahideen groups fighting Soviet
forces. US, Pakistan, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia supply money and
- Mujahideen come together in Pakistan to form alliance against Soviet
forces. Half of Afghan population now estimated to be displaced by war,
with many fleeing to neighbouring Iran or Pakistan. New Soviet leader
Mikhail Gorbachev says he will withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
- US begins supplying mujahideen with Stinger missiles, enabling them to
shoot down Soviet helicopter gunships. Babrak Karmal replaced by
Najibullah as head of Soviet-backed regime.
- Afghanistan, USSR, the US and Pakistan sign peace accords and Soviet
Union begins pulling out troops.
- Last Soviet troops leave, but civil war continues as mujahideen push
to overthrow Najibullah.
- US and USSR agree to end military aid to both sides.
- Resistance closes in on Kabul and Najibullah falls from power. Rival
militias vie for influence.
- Mujahideen factions agree on formation of a government with ethnic
Tajik, Burhanuddin Rabbani, proclaimed president.
- Pashtun-dominated Taliban emerge as major challenge to the Rabbani
- Taliban seize control of Kabul and introduce hard-line version of
Islam, banning women from work, and introducing Islamic punishments,
which include stoning to death and amputations. Rabbani flees to join
anti-Taliban northern alliance.
Taliban under pressure
- Taliban recognised as legitimate rulers by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Most other countries continue to regard Rabbani as head of state.
Taliban now control about two-thirds of country.
- Earthquakes kill thousands of people. US launches missile strikes at
suspected bases of militant Osama bin Laden, accused of bombing US
embassies in Africa.
- UN imposes an air embargo and financial sanctions to force Afghanistan
to hand over Osama bin Laden for trial.
January - UN imposes further sanctions on Taliban to force them to hand
over Osama bin Laden.
March - Taliban blow up giant Buddha statues in defiance of
international efforts to save them.
April - Mullah Mohammad Rabbani, the second most powerful Taliban leader
after the supreme commander Mullah Mohammad Omar, dies of liver cancer.
May - Taliban order religious minorities to wear tags identifying
themselves as non-Muslims, and Hindu women to veil themselves like other
September - Eight foreign aid workers on trial in the Supreme Court for
promoting Christianity. This follows months of tension between Taliban
and aid agencies.
- Ahmad Shah Masood, legendary guerrilla and leader of the main
opposition to the Taliban, is killed, apparently by assassins posing as
October - US, Britain launch air strikes against Afghanistan after
Taliban refuse to hand over Osama bin Laden, held responsible for the
September 11 attacks on America.
November - Opposition forces seize Mazar-e Sharif and within days march
into Kabul and other key cities.
5 December - Afghan groups agree deal in Bonn for interim government.
7 December - Taliban finally give up last stronghold of Kandahar, but
Mullah Omar remains at large.
22 December - Pashtun royalist Hamid Karzai is sworn in as head of a
30-member interim power-sharing government.
January - First contingent of foreign peacekeepers in place.
April - Former king Zahir Shah returns, but says he makes no claim to
May - UN Security Council extends mandate of International Security
Assistance Force (Isaf) until December 2002.
forces continue their military campaign to find remnants of al-Qaeda and
Taliban forces in the south-east.
June - Loya Jirga, or grand council, elects Hamid Karzai as interim head
of state. Karzai picks members of his administration which is to serve
July - Vice-President Haji Abdul Qadir is assassinated by gunmen in
September - Karzai narrowly escapes an assassination attempt in
Kandahar, his home town.
December - President Karzai and Pakistani, Turkmen leaders sign deal to
build gas pipeline through Afghanistan, carrying Turkmen gas to
August - Nato takes control of security in Kabul, its first-ever
operational commitment outside Europe.
January - Grand assembly - or Loya Jirga - adopts new constitution which
provides for strong presidency.
March - Afghanistan secures $8.2bn (£4.5bn) in aid over three years.
September - Rocket fired at helicopter carrying President Karzai misses
its target; it is the most serious attempt on his life since September
October-November - Presidential elections: Hamid Karzai is declared the
winner, with 55% of the vote. He is sworn in, amid tight security, in
February - Several hundred people are killed in the harshest winter
weather in a decade.
May - Details emerge of alleged prisoner abuse by US forces at detention
Militants change tactics and follow the lead of Iraqi insurgents
attacks January 2005 - August 2006
(not including suicide bombers)
2006 - 21 killed when suicide car bomber rams a Nato convoy in
2005 - Suicide bomber in police uniform kills 20 in a Kandahar mosque
September - First parliamentary and provincial elections in more than 30
December - New parliament holds its inaugural session.
February - International donors meeting in London pledge more than $10bn
(£5.7bn) in reconstruction aid over five years.
May - Violent anti-US protests in Kabul, the worst since the fall of the
Taliban in 2001, erupt after a US military vehicle crashes and kills
May-June - Scores of people are killed in battles between Taliban
fighters and Afghan and coalition forces in the south during an
offensive known as Operation Mountain Thrust.
Nato takes over
July onwards - Nato troops take over the leadership of military
operations in the south. Fierce fighting ensues as the forces try to
extend government control in areas where Taliban influence is strong.
October - Nato assumes responsibility for security across the whole of
Afghanistan, taking command in the east from a US-led coalition force.
March - Pakistan says it has arrested Mullah Obaidullah Akhund, the
third most senior member of the Taliban's leadership council.
Afghan forces launch Operation Achilles, said to be their largest
offensive to date against the Taliban in the south. There is heavy
fighting in Helmand province.
over Italian deal with Taliban, which secures the release of five rebels
in exchange for kidnapped reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo. His Afghan
driver and translator are beheaded.
May - Taliban's most senior military commander, Mullah Dadullah, is
killed during fighting with US, Afghan forces.
Pakistani troops clash on the border in the worst violence in decades in
a simmering border dispute.
July - Former king Zahir Shah dies.
A group of
South Korean Christian charity workers is kidnapped by the Taliban. Two
are killed, the rest are freed over the next six weeks.
Opium production soars
70,000 soldiers (34,800 in ISAF)
2,800 soldiers (Figures correct as of 2009)
August - Opium production has soared to a record high, the UN reports.
October - Fifteen are put to death in the second confirmed set of
executions since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
November - A suicide attack on a parliamentary delegation kills at least
41 in northern town of Baghlan, in the country's worst such attack.
December - Two senior EU and UN envoys are accused by Afghan officials
of making contact with the Taliban and expelled from the country.
February - Prince Harry, third in line to the British throne, is pulled
out of Afghanistan after serving 10 weeks in action in Helmand province.
April - Nato leaders meeting in Bucharest say peacekeeping mission in
Afghanistan is their top priority. They pledge a "firm and shared
long-term commitment" there.
Relations with Pakistan
June - Taliban engineers massive jail-break from Kandahar prison,
freeing at least 350 insurgents.
Defence Secretary Des Browne announces British troop numbers in
Afghanistan to increase by 230 to new high of more than 8,000 by spring
Karzai warns that Afghanistan will send troops into Pakistan to fight
militants if Islamabad fails to take action against them.
July - Suicide bomb attack on Indian embassy in Kabul kills more than
50. Afghan government accuses Pakistani intelligence of being behind
this and other recent miltant attacks. Pakistan denies any involvement.
August - Ten French soldiers killed in an ambush by Taliban fighters.
Karzai accuses Afghan and US-led coalition forces of killing at least 89
civilians in an air strike in the western province of Herat. He later
sacks two senior military commanders over the strike.
Troop numbers boosted
September - President Bush sends an extra 4,500 US troops to
Afghanistan, in a move he described as a "quiet surge".
October - Germany extends Afghanistan mission to 2009 and boosts troop
numbers in Afghanistan by 1,000, to 4,500.
November - Taliban militants reject an offer of peace talks from
President Karzai, saying there can be no negotiations until foreign
troops leave Afghanistan.
December - President Karzai and new Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari
agree to form joint strategy to fight militants operating in their
January - Kyrgyzstan decides to close US air base at Manas that supplies
troops and materiel to Afghanistan.
Secretary Robert Gates tells Congress that Afghanistan is new US
administration's "greatest test".
February - Up to 20 Nato countries pledge to increase military and other
commitments in Afghanistan after USA announces dispatch of 17,000 extra
New US approach
March - President Barack Obama unveils a new US strategy for Afghanistan
and Pakistan to combat what he calls an increasingly perilous situation.
An extra 4,000 US personnel will train and bolster the Afghan army and
police, and there will also be support for civilian development.
President Karzai won a second term in an election marred by widespread
May - US Defence Secretary Robert Gates replaces commander of US forces
in Afghanistan, Gen David McKiernan, with Gen Stanley McChrystal, saying
the battle against the Taliban needs "new thinking".
says a US-Afghan force arrested 60 militants and captured more than 100
tonnes of drugs in Helmand province, in the largest drug seizure since
foreign troops arrived in 2001.
July - US army launches major offensive against the Taliban's heartland
in southern Helmand province, involving about 4,000 Marines and 650
August - Presidential and provincial elections are held, but are marred
by widespread Taliban attacks, patchy turnout and claims of serious
September - Leaked report by the commander of US forces, Gen Stanley
McChrystal, says the war against the Taliban could be lost within 12
months unless there are significant increases in troop numbers.
October - Hamid Karzai is declared winner of the August presidential
election, after second-placed opponent Abdullah Abdullah pulls out
before the second round. Preliminary results had given Mr Karzai 55% of
the vote, but so many ballots are found to be fraudulent that a run-off
government says it will send 500 more military personnel to Afghanistan.
November - Hamid Karzai is sworn in for a second term as president.
Moshtarak - together" in Dari - is the biggest military offensive since
the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001
December - US President Barack Obama decides to boost US troop numbers
in Afghanistan by 30,000, bringing total to 100,000. He also says the
United States will begin withdrawing its forces by 2011.
double agent kills seven CIA agents in a suicide attack on a US base in
January - Parliament rejects 17 of President Karzai's first list 24
cabinet nominees. In a further vote, MPs reject 10 of Mr Karzai's second
list of 17 nominations.
gunmen and suicide bombers carry out a bold attack on civilian and
government buildings in central Kabul. The fighting leaves 12 people
dead, including seven militants.
February - Nato-led forces launch major offensive, Operation Moshtarak,
in bid to secure government control of southern Helmand province.
Karzai angers Western diplomats by issuing a decree giving him total
control of the UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission, which helped
expose massive fraud in the October presidential election.
Taliban military commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is captured in
April - President Karzai says that foreign observers were responsible
for fraud in last year's disputed poll, and accuses UN and EU officials
of involvement in a plot to put a puppet government in power. The White
House calls his remarks "genuinely troubling".
July - Major international conference endorses President Karzai's
timetable for control of security to be transferred from foreign to
Afghan forces by 2014.
Whistleblowing website Wikileaks publishes thousands of classified US
military documents relating to Afghanistan.
David Petraeus takes command of US, ISAF forces.
August - Dutch troops quit.
Karzai says private security firm must cease operations by mid-December.
He subsequently waters down the decree.
September - Parliamentary polls marred by Taliban violence, widespread
fraud and a long delay in announcing the results.
November - Nato agrees plan to hand control of security to Afghan forces
by end of 2014.
January - President Karzai makes first official state visit to Russia by
an Afghan leader since the end of the Soviet invasion in 1989.
February - Number of civilians killed since the 2001 invasion hit record
levels in 2010, Afghanistan Rights Monitor reports.
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.
01/03/07 - U.S. Army Soldiers from 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion,
102nd Infantry Regiment, Connecticut National Guard walk up the side of a hill
to look at caves near the village of Showki in the Kabisa province of
Afghanistan Jan. 3, 2007. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Isaac A. Graham)
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 elected
president of Afghanistan. The National Assembly was inaugurated on 19 December
About the size of the U.S. State of Texas, most of Afghanistan is a rugged,
inhospitable mountainous landscape. More than 50% of the total land area lies
above 6,500 ft. (2,000 m). It all culminates in the high peaks of the Hindu
Kush, where extensions of the Pamir Mountains, Karakorum Mountains and the
Himalayas all come together. In the north a fertile plain fronts the Anu Dar'ya
River. In the south, below the mountains, rolling desert and scattered salt
flats cover the land. Afghanistan is drained by numerous rivers; significant
ones include the Amu Dar'ya, Hari, Helmand, and the Kabul - directly east of the
capital city, flowing down into the Indus River in Pakistan.
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
Source: CIA Factbook, United Nations
In 1803, a German pharmacist, F.W. Sertürner isolated the main alkaloid of opium
and named it morphine after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. Morphine was soon
widely used for medical purposes in Europe and the U.S. But by the end of the
century, addiction to the drug had become a problem. In 1898, while searching
for a non-addictive substitute for morphine, Heinrick Dresser, working at the
Bayer Laboratory in Germany, developed diacetylmorphine. Bayer marketed it under
the brand name Heroin. The new drug, however, turned out to be up to ten times
more potent than morphine.
Opium poppies may look like innocent flowers out of a painting by Henri Matisse,
but deep within their pods lies a substance that can be processed into heroin, a
highly addictive drug used by 13 million people worldwide. In wartorn
Afghanistan, opium poppies can be grown easily and bring in much-needed cash.
But growing poppies is just the start. Before poppy pods can hit the streets as
"junk," "horse" or "smack" (or as their chemical cousins, opium and morphine),
they must undergo a long and complicated refining process.
Papaver somniferum, one
of the few species of poppy that produces opium, is an annual plant with a
growth cycle of 120 days. Farmers plant seeds, which range in color from white
to yellow to brown and gray, in shallow holes. Within six weeks a cabbage-like
plant emerges. It takes eight weeks for the poppy plant to grow about one to two
feet. Each poppy has one long primary stem with secondary stems called tillers.
As the plant continues to grow, a bud develops at the tip. After 90 days, the
bud blossoms into a flower with four petals in a variety of colors. The petals
fall away to reveal a green pod or ghozah that will continue to grow to
the size of an egg. Inside the pod is the ovary that produces opium. Opium,
which contains over 50 types of alkaloids including codeine and morphine, is
only produced during the ten to 12 day period when the pod is ripening. Once the
pod reaches maturity, the alkaloids in the opium are no longer made.
Areas In Afghanistan where opium is grown
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, 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.
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.
Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran
33 00 N, 65 00 E
647,500 sq km land: 647,500 sq km water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Texas
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)
arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers
mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest
lowest point: Amu Darya 258 m highest point: Nowshak 7,485 m
natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites,
sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones
23.26 cu km/yr (2%/0%/98%) per capita: 779 cu m/yr (2000)
damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding;
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
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:
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)
17.6 years male: 17.6 years female: 17.6 years (2009 est.)
2.629% (2009 est.)
45.46 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
19.56 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate:
21 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
urban population: 24% of total population (2008) rate of urbanization: 5.4% annual rate of change (2005-10
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: 0.93 male(s)/female total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
151.95 deaths/1,000 live births male: 156.01 deaths/1,000 live births female: 147.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
Life expectancy at
total population: 44.64 years male: 44.47 years female: 44.81 years (2009 est.)
6.53 children born/woman (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult
0.01% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people
living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
degree of risk: high food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal
diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever vectorborne disease: malaria animal contact disease: rabies note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been
identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with
extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close
contact with birds (2009)
Afghan(s) adjective: Afghan
Pashtun 42%, Tajik 27%, Hazara 9%, Uzbek 9%, Aimak 4%, Turkmen 3%,
Baloch 2%, other 4%
Sunni Muslim 80%, Shia Muslim 19%, other 1%
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
age 15 and over can read and write total population: 28.1% male: 43.1% female: 12.6% (2000 est.)
expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
8 years male: 11 years female: 4 years (2004)
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
Kabul geographic coordinates: 34 31 N, 69 11 E time difference: UTC+4.5 (9.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC
during Standard Time)
19 August 1919 (from UK control over Afghan foreign affairs)
Independence Day, 19 August (1919)
new constitution drafted 14 December 2003-4 January 2004; signed 16
January 2004; ratified 26 January 2004
based on mixed civil and Sharia law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ
18 years of age; universal
chief of state: President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Hamid KARZAI (since 7 December 2004); First Vice President Ahmad Zia
MASOOD; Second Vice President Abdul Karim KHALILI (since 7 December
2004); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of
government; former King ZAHIR Shah held the honorific, "Father of
the Country," and presided symbolically over certain occasions but
lacked any governing authority; the honorific is not hereditary;
King ZAHIR Shah died on 23 July 2007 head of government: President of the Islamic Republic of
Afghanistan Hamid KARZAI (since 7 December 2004); First Vice
President Ahmad Zia MASOOD; Second Vice President Abdul Karim
KHALILI (since 7 December 2004) cabinet: 25 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 (eligible for a second
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
August 2009) election results: Hamid KARZAI elected president; percent
of vote - Hamid KARZAI 55.4%, Yunus QANUNI 16.3%, Ustad Mohammad
MOHAQQEQ 11.6%, Abdul Rashid DOSTAM 10.0%, Abdul Latif PEDRAM 1.4%,
Masooda JALAL 1.2%
the bicameral National Assembly consists of 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, and one-third nominated by the
president for five-year terms) and the Wolesi Jirga or House of
People (no more than 249 seats), directly elected for five-year
terms 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 was 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
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; 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
Afghanistan Peoples' Treaty Party [Sayyed Amir TAHSEEN];
Afghanistan's Islamic Mission Organization [Abdul Rasoul SAYYAF];
Afghanistan's Islamic Nation Party [Toran Noor Aqa Ahmad ZAI];
Afghanistan's National Islamic Party [Rohullah LOUDIN];
Afghanistan's Welfare Party [Meer Asef ZAEEFI]; Afghan Social
Democratic Party [Anwarul Haq AHADI]; Afghan Society for the Call to
the Koran and Sunna [Mawlawee Samiullah NAJEEBEE]; Comprehensive
Movement of Democracy and Development of Afghanistan Party [Sher
Mohammad BAZGAR]; Democratic Party of Afghanistan [Tawos ARAB];
Democratic Party of Afghanistan [Abdul Kabir RANJBAR]; Elites People
of Afghanistan Party [Abdul Hamid JAWAD]; Freedom and Democracy
Movement of Afghanistan [Abdul Raqib Jawid KOHISTANEE]; Freedom
Party of Afghanistan [Ilaj Abdul MALEK]; Freedom Party of
Afghanistan [Dr. Ghulam Farooq NEJRABEE]; Hizullah-e-Afghanistan
[Qari Ahmad ALI]; Human Rights Protection and Development Party of
Afghanistan [Baryalai NASRATI]; Islamic Justice Party of Afghanistan
[Mohammad Kabir MARZBAN]; Islamic Movement of Afghanistan [Mohammad
Ali JAWID]; Islamic Movement of Afghanistan Party [Mohammad Mukhtar
MUFLEH]; Islamic Party of Afghanistan [Mohammad Khalid FAROOQI,
Abdul Hadi ARGHANDIWAL]; Islamic Party of the Afghan Land [Mohammad
Hassan FEROZKHEL]; Islamic People's Movement of Afghanistan [Ilhaj
Said Hussain ANWARY]; Islamic Society of Afghanistan [Ustad
RABBANI]; Islamic Unity of the Nation of Afghanistan Party [Qurban
Ali URFANI]; Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan [Mohammad Karim
KHALILI]; Islamic Unity Party of the People of Afghanistan [Ustad
Mohammad MOHAQQEQ]; Labor and Progress of Afghanistan Party
[Zulfiqar OMID]; Muslim People of Afghanistan Party [Besmellah
JOYAN]; Muslim Unity Movement Party of Afghanistan [Wazir Mohammad
WAHDAT]; National and Islamic Sovereignty Movement Party of
Afghanistan [Ahmad Shah AHMADZAI]; National Congress Party of
Afghanistan [Abdul Latif PEDRAM]; National Country Party [Ghulam
MOHAMMAD]; National Development Party of Afghanistan [Dr. Aref
BAKTASH]; National Freedom Seekers Party [Abdul Hadi DABEER];
National Independence Party of Afghanistan [Taj Mohammad WARDAK];
National Islamic Fighters Party of Afghanistan [Amanat NINGARHAREE];
National Islamic Front of Afghanistan [Pir Sayed Ahmad GAILANEE];
National Islamic Moderation Party of Afghanistan [Qara Bik Eized
YAAR]; National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan [Sayed NOORULLAH];
National Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan [Mohammad AKBAREE];
National Movement of Afghanistan [Ahmad Wali MASOOUD]; National
Party of Afghanistan [Abdul Rashid ARYAN]; National Patch of
Afghanistan Party [Sayed Kamal SADAT]; National Peace Islamic Party
of Afghanistan [Shah Mohammood Popal ZAI]; National Peace & Islamic
Party of the Tribes of Afghanistan [Abdul Qaher SHARIATEE]; National
Peace & Unity Party of Afghanistan [Abdul Qader IMAMI]; National
Prosperity and Islamic Party of Afghanistan [Mohammad Osman
SALEKZADA]; National Prosperity Party [Mohammad Hassan JAHFAREE];
National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan [Pir Sayed Eshaq
GAILANEE]; National Solidarity Party of Afghanistan [Sayed Mansoor
NADREEI]; National Sovereignty Party [Sayed Mustafa KAZEMI];
National Stability Party [Mohammad Same KHAROTI]; National Stance
Party [Habibullah JANEBDAR]; National Tribal Unity Islamic Party of
Afghanistan [Mohammad Shah KHOGYANI]; National United Front
[Burhanuddin RABBANI] (a coalition); National Unity Movement [Sultan
Mohammad GHAZI]; National Unity Movement of Afghanistan [Mohammad
Nadir AATASH]; National Unity Party of Afghanistan [Abdul Rashid
JALILI]; New Afghanistan Party [Mohammad Yunis QANUNI]; Peace and
National Welfare Activists Society [Shamsul Haq Noor SHAMS]; Peace
Movement [Shahnawaz TANAI]; People's Aspirations Party of
Afghanistan [Ilhaj Saraj-u-din ZAFAREE]; People's Freedom Seekers
Party of Afghanistan [Feda Mohammad EHSAS]; People's Liberal Freedom
Seekers Party of Afghanistan [Ajmal SUHAIL]; People's Message Party
of Afghanistan [Noor Aqa WAINEE]; People's Movement of the National
Unity of Afghanistan [Abdul Hakim NOORZAI]; People's Party of
Afghanistan [Ahmad Shah ASAR]; People's Prosperity Party of
Afghanistan [Ustad Mohammad ZAREEF]; People's Sovereignty Movement
of Afghanistan [Hayatullah SUBHANEE]; People's Uprising Party of
Afghanistan [Sayed Zahir Qayed Omul BELADI]; People's Welfare Party
of Afghanistan [Mia Gul WASIQ]; People's Welfare Party of
Afghanistan [Mohammad Zubair PAIROZ]; Progressive Democratic Party
of Afghanistan [Wali ARYA]; Republican Party [Sebghatullah SANJAR];
Solidarity Party of Afghanistan [Abdul Khaleq NEMAT]; The
Afghanistan's Mujahid Nation's Islamic Unity Movement [Saeedullah
SAEED]; The People of Afghanistan's Democratic Movement [Sharif
NAZARI]; Tribes Solidarity Party of Afghanistan [Mohammad Zarif
NASERI]; Understanding and Democracy Party of Afghanistan [Ahamad
SHAHEEN]; United Afghanistan Party [Mohammad Wasil RAHIMEE]; United
Islamic Party of Afghanistan [Wahidullah SABAWOON]; Young
Afghanistan's Islamic Organization [Sayed Jawad HUSSINEE]; Youth
Solidarity Party of Afghanistan [Mohammad Jamil KARZAI]; note -
includes only political parties approved by the Ministry of Justice
groups and leaders:
religious groups; tribal leaders; ethnically based groups
chief of mission: Ambassador Said Tayeb JAWAD chancery: 2341 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 telephone:  (202) 483-6410 FAX:  (202) 483-6488 consulate(s) general: Los Angeles, New York
representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Deputy Ambassador Francis
J. RICCIARDONE, Jr. embassy: The Great Masood Road, Kabul mailing address: U.S. Embassy Kabul, APO, AE 09806 telephone:  0700 108 001 FAX:  0700 108 564
three equal vertical bands of black (hoist side), red, and green,
with the national emblem in white centered on the red band and
slightly overlapping the other two bands; the center of the emblem
features a mosque with pulpit and flags on either side, below the
mosque are numerals for the solar year 1298 (1919 in the Gregorian
calendar, the year of Afghan independence from the UK); this central
image is circled by a border consisting of sheaves of wheat on the
left and right, in the upper-center is an Arabic inscription of the
Shahada (Muslim creed) below which are rays of the rising sun over
the Takbir (Arabic expression meaning "God is great"), and at bottom
center is a scroll bearing the name Afghanistan
Economy - overview:
Afghanistan's economy is recovering from decades of conflict. The
economy has improved significantly since the fall of the Taliban
regime in 2001 largely because of the infusion of international
assistance, the recovery of the agricultural sector, and service
sector growth. Real GDP growth exceeded 7% in 2008. Despite the
progress of the past few years, Afghanistan is extremely poor,
landlocked, and highly dependent on foreign aid, agriculture, and
trade with neighboring countries. Much of the population continues
to suffer from shortages of housing, clean water, electricity,
medical care, and jobs. Criminality, insecurity, and the Afghan
Government's inability to extend rule of law to all parts of the
country pose challenges to future economic growth. 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 level, among the lowest in the world. 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. While
the international community remains committed to Afghanistan's
development, pledging over $57 billion at three donors' conferences
since 2002, Kabul will need to overcome a number of challenges.
Expanding poppy cultivation and a growing opium trade generate
roughly $3 billion in illicit economic activity and looms as one of
Kabul's most serious policy concerns. Other long-term challenges
include: budget sustainability, job creation, corruption, government
capacity, and rebuilding war torn infrastructure.
$23.03 billion (2008 est.)
$21.43 billion (2007)
$19.22 billion (2006) note: data are in 2008 US dollars
$327 million; note - not including illicit exports or reexports
opium, fruits and nuts, handwoven carpets, wool, cotton, hides and
pelts, precious and semi-precious gems
Exports - partners:
India 22.8%, Pakistan 21.8%, US 20.5%, Tajikistan 7.2% (2007)
$4.85 billion (2007)
capital goods, food, textiles, petroleum products
Imports - partners:
Pakistan 36.8%, US 11%, India 5%, Germany 4.2% (2007)
Debt - external:
$8 billion in bilateral debt, mostly to Russia; Afghanistan has $500
million in debt to multilateral development banks (2004)
afghanis (AFA) per US dollar - 50 (2007), 46 (2006), 47.7 (2005), 48
(2004), 49 (2003)
Telephones - main
lines in use:
Telephones - mobile
5.4 million (2008)
general assessment: limited landline telephone service; an
increasing number of Afghans utilize mobile-cellular phone networks
in major cities domestic: aided by the presence of multiple providers,
mobile-cellular telephone service is improving rapidly 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 (2007)
AM 21, FM 5, shortwave 1 (broadcasts in Pashto, Dari (Afghan
Persian), Urdu, and English) (2006)
at least 7 (1 government-run central television station in Kabul and
regional stations in 6 of the 34 provinces) (2006)
Internet access is growing through Internet cafes as well as public
"telekiosks" in Kabul (2005)
Airports - with
14 over 3,047 m: 4 2,438 to 3,047 m: 2 1,524 to 2,437 m: 6 914 to 1,523 m: 1 under 914 m: 1 (2008)
Airports - with
36 over 3,047 m: 1 2,438 to 3,047 m: 5 1,524 to 2,437 m: 16 914 to 1,523 m: 4 under 914 m: 10 (2008)
gas 466 km (2008)
42,150 km paved: 12,350 km unpaved: 29,800 km (2006)
1,200 km (chiefly Amu Darya, which handles vessels up to 500 DWT)
Ports and terminals:
Kheyrabad, Shir Khan
Afghan Armed Forces: Afghan National Army (ANA, includes Afghan
National Army Air Corps) (2009)
Military service age
22 years of age; inductees are contracted into service for a 4-year
for military service:
males age 16-49: 7,431,147 females age 16-49: 7,004,819 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for
males age 16-49: 4,371,193 females age 16-49: 4,072,945 (2009 est.)
militarily significant age annually:
382,720 female: 361,733 (2009 est.)
1.9% of GDP (2006 est.)
Pakistan has built fences in some portions of its border with
Afghanistan which remains open in some areas to foreign terrorists
and other illegal activities
internally displaced persons:
132,246 (mostly Pashtuns and Kuchis displaced in south and west
due to drought and instability) (2007)
world's largest producer of opium; poppy cultivation decreased 22%
to 157,000 hectares in 2008 but remains at a historically high
level; less favorable growing conditions in 2008 reduced potential
opium production to 5,500 metric tons, down 31 percent from 2007; if
the entire opium crop were processed, 648 metric tons of pure heroin
potentially could be produced; the Taliban and other antigovernment
groups participate in and profit from the opiate trade, which is a
key source of revenue for the Taliban inside Afghanistan; widespread
corruption and instability impede counterdrug efforts; most of the
heroin consumed in Europe and Eurasia is derived from Afghan opium;
vulnerable to drug money laundering through informal financial
networks; regional source of hashish (2008)
Data compiled from The
British Antarctic Study, NASA, Environment Canada, UNEP, EPA and
other sources as stated and credited Researched by Charles
Welch-Updated daily This Website is a project of the The Ozooe Hole