Afghanistan Background

Richard A Whitenight rum.runner at JUNO.COM
Thu Dec 6 22:22:45 MST 2001


Afghanistan   IntroductionTop of Page
Background:Afghanistan was invaded and occupied by the Soviet Union in
1979. The USSR was forced to withdraw 10 years later by anti-communist
mujahidin forces supplied and trained by the US, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan,
and others. Fighting subsequently continued among the various mujahidin
factions, but the fundamentalist Islamic Taliban movement has been able
to seize most of the country. In addition to the continuing civil strife,
the country suffers from enormous poverty, a crumbling infrastructure,
and widespread land mines.
Afghanistan   GeographyTop of Page
Location:Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran
Geographic coordinates:33 00 N, 65 00 E
Map references:Asia
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%

permanent crops:  0%

permanent pastures:  46%

forests and woodland:  3%

other:  39% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land:30,000 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards:damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains;
flooding; droughts
Environment - current issues:soil degradation; overgrazing; deforestation
(much of the remaining forests are being cut down for fuel and building
materials); desertification
Environment - international agreements:party to:  Desertification,
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
Geography - note:landlocked
Afghanistan   PeopleTop of Page
Population:26,813,057 (July 2001 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years:  42.2% (male 5,775,921; female 5,538,836)

15-64 years:  55.01% (male 7,644,242; female 7,106,568)

65 years and over:  2.79% (male 394,444; female 353,046) (2001 est.)
Population growth rate:3.48% (2001 est.)

note:  this rate reflects the continued return of refugees from Iran
Birth rate:41.42 births/1,000 population (2001 est.)
Death rate:17.72 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.)
Net migration rate:11.11 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2001 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth:  1.05 male(s)/female

under 15 years:  1.04 male(s)/female

15-64 years:  1.08 male(s)/female

65 years and over:  1.12 male(s)/female

total population:  1.06 male(s)/female (2001 est.)
Infant mortality rate:147.02 deaths/1,000 live births (2001 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:total population:  46.24 years

male:  46.97 years

female:  45.47 years (2001 est.)
Total fertility rate:5.79 children born/woman (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:less than 0.01% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths:NA
Nationality:noun:  Afghan(s)

adjective:  Afghan
Ethnic groups:Pashtun 38%, Tajik 25%, Hazara 19%, minor ethnic groups
(Aimaks, Turkmen, Baloch, and others) 12%, Uzbek 6%
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:definition:  age 15 and over can read and write

total population:  31.5%

male:  47.2%

female:  15% (1999 est.)
Afghanistan   GovernmentTop of Page
Country name:conventional long form:  Islamic State of Afghanistan; note
- the self-proclaimed Taliban government refers to the country as Islamic
Emirate of Afghanistan

conventional short form:  Afghanistan

local long form:  Dowlat-e Eslami-ye Afghanestan

local short form:  Afghanestan

former:  Republic of Afghanistan
Government type:no functioning central government, administered by
factions
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 control over Afghan foreign affairs)

National holiday:Independence Day, 19 August (1919)
Constitution:none
Legal system:a new legal system has not been adopted but all factions
tacitly agree they will follow Shari'a (Islamic law)
Suffrage:NA; previously males 15-50 years of age
Executive branch:on 27 September 1996, the ruling members of the Afghan
Government were displaced by members of the Islamic Taliban movement; the
Islamic State of Afghanistan has no functioning government at this time,
and the country remains divided among fighting factions

note:  the Taliban have declared themselves the legitimate government of
Afghanistan; however, the UN still recognizes the government of
Burhanuddin RABBANI; the Organization of the Islamic Conference has left
the Afghan seat vacant until the question of legitimacy can be resolved
through negotiations among the warring factions; the country is
essentially divided along ethnic lines; the Taliban controls the capital
of Kabul and approximately two-thirds of the country including the
predominately ethnic Pashtun areas in southern Afghanistan; opposing
factions have their stronghold in the ethnically diverse north
Legislative branch:non-functioning as of June 1993
Judicial branch:upper courts were non-functioning as of March 1995 (local
Shari'a or Islamic law courts are functioning throughout the country)
Political parties and leaders:Taliban (Religious Students Movement)
[Mullah Mohammad OMAR]; United National Islamic Front for the Salvation
of Afghanistan or UNIFSA [Burhanuddin RABBANI, chairman; Gen. Abdul
Rashid DOSTAM, vice chairman; Ahmad Shah MASOOD, military commander;
Mohammed Yunis QANUNI, spokesman]; note - made up of 13 parties opposed
to the Taliban including Harakat-i-Islami Afghanistan (Islamic Movement
of Afghanistan), Hizb-i-Islami (Islamic Party), Hizb-i-Wahdat-i-Islami
(Islamic Unity Party), Jumaat-i-Islami Afghanistan (Islamic Afghan
Society), Jumbish-i-Milli (National Front), Mahaz-i-Milli-i-Islami
(National Islamic Front)
Political pressure groups and leaders:Afghan refugees in Pakistan,
Australia, US, and elsewhere have organized politically; Mellat (Social
Democratic Party) [leader NA]; Peshawar, Pakistan-based groups such as
the Coordination Council for National Unity and Understanding in
Afghanistan or CUNUA [Ishaq GAILANI]; tribal elders represent traditional
Pashtun leadership; Writers Union of Free Afghanistan or WUFA [A. Rasul
AMIN]
International organization participation:AsDB, CP, ECO, ESCAP, FAO, G-77,
IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Intelsat,
IOC, IOM (observer), ITU, NAM, OIC, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU,
WFTU, WHO, WMO, WToO
Diplomatic representation in the US:none; note - embassy operations
suspended 21 August 1997

consulate(s) general:  New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:the US embassy in Kabul has been
closed since January 1989 due to security concerns
Flag description:three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and
black with a gold emblem centered on the three bands; the emblem features
a temple-like structure with Islamic inscriptions above and below,
encircled by a wreath on the left and right and by a bolder Islamic
inscription above, all of which are encircled by two crossed scimitars

note:  the Taliban uses a plain white flag
Afghanistan   EconomyTop of Page
Economy - overview:Afghanistan is an extremely poor, landlocked country,
highly dependent on farming and livestock raising (sheep and goats).
Economic considerations have played second fiddle to political and
military upheavals during two decades of war, including the nearly
10-year Soviet military occupation (which ended 15 February 1989). During
that conflict one-third of the population fled the country, with Pakistan
and Iran sheltering a combined peak of more than 6 million refugees. In
early 2000, 2 million Afghan refugees remained in Pakistan and about 1.4
million in Iran. Gross domestic product has fallen substantially over the
past 20 years because of the loss of labor and capital and the disruption
of trade and transport; severe drought added to the nation's difficulties
in 1998-2000. The majority of the population continues to suffer from
insufficient food, clothing, housing, and medical care. Inflation remains
a serious problem throughout the country. International aid can deal with
only a fraction of the humanitarian problem, let alone promote economic
development. In 1999-2000, internal civil strife continued, hampering
both domestic economic policies and international aid efforts. Numerical
data are likely to be either unavailable or unreliable. Afghanistan was
by far the largest producer of opium poppies in 2000, and narcotics
trafficking is a major source of revenue.
GDP:purchasing power parity - $21 billion (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:NA%
GDP - per capita:purchasing power parity - $800 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:agriculture:  53%

industry:  28.5%

services:  18.5% (1990)
Population below poverty line:NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share:lowest 10%:  NA%

highest 10%:  NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):NA%
Labor force:10 million (2000 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:agriculture 70%, industry 15%, services 15%
(1990 est.)
Unemployment rate:NA%
Budget:revenues:  $NA

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

Electricity - production:420 million kWh (1999)
Electricity - production by source:fossil fuel:  35.71%

hydro:  64.29%

nuclear:  0%

other:  0% (1999)
Electricity - consumption:480.6 million kWh (1999)
Electricity - exports:0 kWh (1999)
Electricity - imports:90 million kWh (1999)
Agriculture - products:opium poppies, wheat, fruits, nuts; wool, mutton,
karakul pelts
Exports:$80 million (does not include opium) (1996 est.)
Exports - commodities:opium, fruits and nuts, handwoven carpets, wool,
cotton, hides and pelts, precious and semi-precious gems
Exports - partners:FSU, Pakistan, Iran, Germany, India, UK, Belgium,
Luxembourg, Czech Republic
Imports:$150 million (1996 est.)
Imports - commodities:capital goods, food and petroleum products; most
consumer goods
Imports - partners:FSU, Pakistan, Iran, Japan, Singapore, India, South
Korea, Germany
Debt - external:$5.5 billion (1996 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:US provided about $70 million in humanitarian
assistance in 1997; US continues to contribute to multilateral assistance
through the UN programs of food aid, immunization, land mine removal, and
a wide range of aid to refugees and displaced persons
Currency:afghani (AFA)
Currency code:AFA
Exchange rates:afghanis per US dollar - 4,700 (January 2000), 4,750
(February 1999), 17,000 (December 1996), 7,000 (January 1995), 1,900
(January 1994), 1,019 (March 1993), 850 (1991); note - these rates
reflect the free market exchange rates rather than the official exchange
rate, which was fixed at 50.600 afghanis to the dollar until 1996, when
it rose to 2,262.65 per dollar, and finally became fixed again at
3,000.00 per dollar in April 1996
Fiscal year:21 March - 20 March
Afghanistan   CommunicationsTop of Page
Telephones - main lines in use:29,000 (1996)

note:  there were 21,000 main lines in service in Kabul in 1998
Telephones - mobile cellular:NA
Telephone system:general assessment:  very limited telephone and
telegraph service

domestic:  in 1997, telecommunications links were established between
Mazar-e Sharif, Herat, Kandahar, Jalalabad, and Kabul through satellite
and microwave systems

international:  satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean)
linked only to Iran and 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region);
commercial satellite telephone center in Ghazni
Radio broadcast stations:AM 7 (6 are inactive; the active station is in
Kabul), FM 1, shortwave 1 (broadcasts in Pushtu, Dari, Urdu, and English)
(1999)
Radios:167,000 (1999)
Television broadcast stations:at least 10 (one government run central
television station in Kabul and regional stations in nine of the 30
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)
Televisions:100,000 (1999)
Internet country code:.af
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):1 (2000)
Internet users:NA
Afghanistan   TransportationTop of Page
Railways: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
Highways:total:  21,000 km

paved:  2,793 km

unpaved:  18,207 km (1998 est.)
Waterways:1,200 km

note:  chiefly Amu Darya, which handles vessels with DWT up to about 500
(2001)
Pipelines:petroleum products - Uzbekistan to Bagram and Turkmenistan to
Shindand; natural gas 180 km
Ports and harbors:Kheyrabad, Shir Khan
Airports:45 (2000 est.)
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 (2000 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:total:  35

2,438 to 3,047 m:  4

1,524 to 2,437 m:  15

914 to 1,523 m:  4

under 914 m:  12 (2000 est.)
Heliports:3 (2000 est.)
Afghanistan   MilitaryTop of Page
Military branches:NA; note - the military does not exist on a national
basis; 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
groups
Military manpower - military age:22 years of age
Military manpower - availability:males age 15-49:  6,645,023 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:males age 15-49:  3,561,957
(2001 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:males:  252,869 (2001
est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:$NA
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:NA%
Afghanistan   Transnational IssuesTop of Page
Disputes - international:support to Islamic militants worldwide by some
factions; question over which group should hold Afghanistan's seat at the
UN
Illicit drugs:world's largest illicit opium producer, surpassing Burma
(potential production in 1999 - 1,670 metric tons; cultivation in 1999 -
51,500 hectares, a 23% increase over 1998); a major source of hashish;
increasing number of heroin-processing laboratories being set up in the
country; major political factions in the country profit from drug trade
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