Progress on the political front has been rapid, with elections leading to an elected parliament and president as well as a national constitution. With international assistance, the new government of Afghanistan is developing a stable, political infrastructure and security apparatus. The security situation in Afghanistan necessitates the continued presence of international forces. The Alliance is expanding its presence in Southern Afghanistan. The London Conference on Afghanistan in January aimed to launch the Afghanistan Compact, the successor to the Bonn Agreement, to present the interim Afghanistan National Development Strategy, and to ensure the Government of Afghanistan has adequate resources to meet its domestic ambitions.
The Afghanistan Compact marks the formal end of the Bonn Process, with completion of the Parliamentary and Provincial elections, and represents a framework for co-operation for five years. The Interim Afghanistan National Development Strategy I-ANDS is the product of twelve-months of intensive consultations within the Afghan government and with a wide array of stakeholders including community representatives, the ulama, the private sector, NGOs, and the international community.
Historical review Artistic activity in Afghanistan can be traced back as early as 18, BC. For centuries Afghanistan linked the civilizations of Iran,India, and China. In the Islamic Era, the Ghaznavid rulers of the 10th to 12th centuries and the Ghorids fostered artistic development. The descendants of Timur turned the city of Herat into a center of cultural activity enticing artists such as Abdul Rahman Jami, Abdulhay, and Kamal al-Din Bihzad to create finely illustrated books and exquisite buildings.
Afghan Literature Folk lore and legends told through song and storytelling are a centuries-old tradition in Afghanistan and continue to thrive today. Afghanistan has a rich literary tradition as well. During the medieval period literature was written in Dari, Pashto, Turkic and Arabic.
The royal courts of regional empires such as the Samanids, the Ghaznavids, the Timurids, and the Mughals, were great patrons of Persian literature supporting literary geniuses like Rumi, Rudaki, Abdullah Ansari, Ferdowsi, Jami. I passed through mineral and vegetable kingdoms, Then my mental equipment carried me into the animal kingdom; Having reached there I crossed beyond it; Then in the crystal clear shell of human heart I nursed the drop of self in a pearl, And in association with good men Wandered round the Prayer House, And having experienced that, crossed beyond it; Then I took the road that leads to Him, And became a slave at His gate; Then the duality disappeared And I became absorbed in Him.
Abdullah Ansari. One of the most important works of this period was the Dari epic poem Shah Nameh The Book of Kings , completed in by Firdawsi and comprising 60, rhyming couplets. Another famous poet, Jalalaluddin Rumi Balkhi , also known as Rumi from Balkhi, is considered one of the greatest Sufi poets. Much of his writings have been translated from Farsi into English. In the 16thth centuries, many literary figures originated from Afghanistan but due to the partition of the region between Safavid Persia and the Mughal Empire, famous poets moved to literary centers.
He used verse to express the tribal code. By the late 19th century Pashto sung poetry had been formalized at the royal court into the classical genre known as ghazal, in recognition of the fact that music can be a powerful way to deliver great poetry. When the black partridge lifts its voice From the lush meadow land He is soon stripped of his regal plumes By falcon or by hawk. While Afghan literature can be split into Persian, Turkic, and Pashto, there is a shared tradition and heritage that unites the consciousness of all Afghans and is reflected in the literature. For example, a tradition of military prowess and invincibility presents itself in the literature, whether it is a product of Khyber Pass Pashtuns, Uzbek Central Asians, or Tajik mountain ghazis.
In the 20th century, Kabul became the center of publication. Afghanistan has produced several literary figures including Khalillulah Khalili and Sayed Buhaniddin Majruh. A neo-classicist poet, prose writer, poet laureate, and ambassador, Khalili defined the Afghan Renaissance man. From the grassy meads, covered with wild flowers. Afghanistan is filled with architectural gems.
Mosques, fortresses and minarets reveal the artistic glory of past empires. The best sites to view architectural masterpieces are Herat, Bamiyan, Mazar-e Sharif, Balkh, Ghazni; however, architectural sites are spread throughout the country. Other cultural heritage sites, such as the Heart mosque with its intricate ceramic tile designs, the hauntingly hidden Minaret of Jam, and the imposing Mazar-i-Sharif mosque have been preserved.
The Kabul Museum is also undergoing extensive renovation. The museum, which once housed the most comprehensive record of Central Asian history, was bombed numerous times throughout the nineties, causing extensive damage to the collection. Despite efforts by the United Nations and devoted museum staff to protect the remaining collection, thousands of antiquities were plundered for the illegal antiquities trade.
Etched into the dappled sandstone of the Bamiyan mountains are the faint remains of the once colossal Buddha statues that silently watched over the Bamiyan Valley for years.
Recent efforts in the region hope to restore their magnitude and reintroduce their cultural significance. The statues, which took Buddhist monks several decades to construct, date back to the 3rd and 4th century. Composed of mud-and-straw plaster and stucco, the Buddhas also harbored a variety of frescoes that decorated the walls in their vicinity. Until the 9th century, Bamiyan was a thriving Buddhist metropolis.
Lying along the Silk Road, the area was frequented by many travelers who traversed the famous trade route linking China, Central Asia and Europe. The structures, though over 1, years old, were remarkably resilient to demolition. The Taliban required several weeks of bombings to finally crumble the monuments, which they deemed idolatrous and un-Islamic. Beneath the shards of detonated bombs and rubble, archaeologists and other experts are attempting to gather and reassemble parts of the statues.
Some hope that recovery of the fragments will lead to preservation and more importantly, reconstruction of the buddhas. However, many Afghans and cultural experts believe that the statues should not be rebuilt, and that their absence is a stark reminder of the cultural destruction of the Taliban era. Recently, archaeologists, engineers and architects have flocked to the Bamiyan Valley to search for buried Buddhist monasteries as well as a legendary 1,foot long reclining buddha statue.
Zemaryalai Tarzi, an Afghan archaeologist, believes another giant Buddha may be hidden deep beneath the earth in the Bamiyan valley. A Chinese visitor in described a reclining figure 1, feet long — if the account is accurate, the reclining Buddha is as wide as the Eiffel Tower is long. While the monastery did not yield any signs of the sought-after statue, the discovery was nonetheless an important step in reclaiming the cultural heritage and history that diminished with the demise of the two Giant Buddhas.
It contains several rice dishes that are often served with a assortment of thick, curried sauces cooked with lamb, beef and chicken. Spinach and eggplants constitute two commonly eaten vegetables. Traditional Afghan fare is rich in spices like as cardamom, which lends a sweet, aromatic quality to drinks and dishes. A quintessential Afghan dish, Qabili Palao consists of raisins, carrots, and lamb with browned rice. Variations in the dish include the addition of sliced almonds or pistachios.
Another important savory dish is Aushak — a leek-stuffed dumpling that is served over a garlic yogurt sauce and layered with a thick ground-beef tomato sauce with dried mint and crushed red pepper sprinkled on top. Appealing to their meat-centric gastronomy, Afghans also enjoy kabobs, which are skewers of meat heavily marinated in a delectable concoction of herbs and spices. They report being forcibly settled by the government, having no means to sustain their livelihood in permanent settlements, being denied access to health and education.
Most lack birth certificates or identity papers, which are required to access these services. Many Kuchis live in informal settlements on the outskirts of Kabul. Local women's rights organizations have pointed out that - to differing extents - all sides of the conflict in Afghanistan have had a role in undermining women's rights. Nevertheless, rights groups have stressed that any future peace talks with the Taliban must not undermine the important, if limited, gains that have been made with respect to women's rights in recent years.
Women human rights defenders continue to suffer threats, harassment and intimidation on a daily basis. Some minority women, such as the Hazara women, have traditionally enjoyed more freedom in their society than other ethnic groups. In the post-Taliban period, they have benefited considerably from political and educational reforms. Shi'a personal laws, however, pose a direct threat to that freedom. Passed in , the Shi'a Personal Status Law striped Shi'a women, many of whom are Hazara, of some of their basic rights enshrined in the Constitution, including allowing a husband to withhold basic sustenance from his wife for not having sex with him, restricting women from working without permission from their husbands, and denying women custody over their children.
The law was drafted by a powerful Shi'a cleric and pushed through by conservative Shi'a men, without adequate consultation with Shi'a women or proper regard for their rights. Afghanistan is a landlocked, arid, mountainous and sparsely populated country, with an area of , square kilometres, bordered by Iran to the west, Pakistan to the south and east, the People's Republic of China to the far north-east and the Central Asian republics of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to the north-east.
Afghanistan's modern history has been one of conflict and civil war. The country's first Constitution was drafted in However, the constitutional monarchy that was introduced in came to an end with the overthrow of King Zahir Shah by the then Prime Minister later President Mohammad Daoud in a coup in However, PDPA's ideology was rejected provoking resistance.
This led to a civil war, which intensified after the entry of Soviet troops in December The Soviet invasion resulted in the establishment of a communist regime in Kabul and ushered in years of further conflict which persisted until the Soviet Union withdrew its troops from the country in , following the Geneva Accords of As reported in documents submitted to the UN Commission on Human Rights and the General Assembly, the Soviet occupation was characterized by an arbitrary rule.
During the occupation, the United States began to covertly and overtly support opposition to the regime which consisted of armed Islamist groups, through military and financial aid to fight against the Soviet and Afghan governmental forces. Regional powers including Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia each supported their own factional groups, as ethnic awareness and consequent tensions mounted. According to UN reports, during the Soviet occupation, the country suffered serious damage, particularly in the intellectual sphere thereby damaging the foundation for the future.
Torture was the most frequently used tool of the regime. Massive summary executions regularly took place and when, in September , the President of the time, Nur Mohammed Taraki, was ousted by his deputy, Hafizullah Amin, a list of 12, persons who had been executed in prison was posted on the walls of the Ministry of the Interior.
After the withdrawal of Soviet forces in February , a civil war commenced between the Soviet-supported government of President Mohammad Najibullah and the various Afghan factions supported by the US and known as the Mujahadin holy war fighters , who had fought against the Soviet troops until their withdrawal. But with the departure of the common enemy, differences submerged during the war re-emerged and Mujahadin groups began to fight among themselves.
The civil conflict rapidly acquired an ethnic dimension as people from various localities fled their homes, changing the population dynamics of the state. As a result, the population of various localities fluctuated in the numbers of one or other ethnic group. Under intense pressure, the Najibullah's regime finally collapsed when Abdul Rashid Dostum an army general under the Soviets and his Uzbek militia switched allegiance from the Kabul regime to the Mujahidin , who entered Kabul in April The end of the communist regime yielded the discovery of three common graves, at Pol-i-charkhi in the suburbs of Kabul next to the central prison, and in the provinces of Bamyan and Herat.
Refworld | World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - Afghanistan
The government was convinced that further investigations would reveal other such mass graves. The occupation and ensuing war led to more than 1 million deaths and forced 6 million people out of a total population of 16 million to seek exile in neighbouring countries. Further 2 million persons were internally displaced, several tens of thousands were disabled by anti-personnel mines, and the number of orphans and other persons left without families ran into the tens of thousands. The UN offered to mediate in this conflict between various factions of the Mujahadin , proposing a peace plan, although this effort collapsed in April One result of the UN's efforts was the transfer of power to the Mujahadin faction representing the Tajiks from the north, led by Burhanuddin Rabbani, who became President of Afghanistan in July President Rabbani's government was supported by Ahmad Shah Masoud, a former guerrilla commander and prominent Tajik representative.
Strong opposition was mounted by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of the Hezb-e Islami faction of the Mujahadin , which represented the Pashtun population. Some of the other parties joined the fighting, leading Hizb-e Wahdat to attack Rabbani's Jamiat-e Islami positions. Rabbani's chief commander Massoud launched retaliatory artillery attacks on Hizb-e Wahdat, killing many Hazaras. Amnesty International subsequently reported the killing of unarmed civilians and rape of Hazara women. In February , hundreds of Hazara residents in the Afshar district of West Kabul were massacred by government forces under Rabbani and Massoud, joined by Ittehad-i-Islami.
This civil war between the various Afghan factions caused untold misery in the state. While many people sought to rebuild their lives, thousands of refugees also arrived from the borders. There were severe abuses of human rights. Between April and August , according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, 13, people were killed and 80, wounded in Kabul alone.
It was estimated that more children under the age of five died of disease in Afghanistan than in any other country during that period. As in most conflicts, women and children were among those worst affected by the civil war. Strict purdah meant that many women spent most of their lives in seclusion, and cultural norms further limited their access to health services, education and training. With family structures broken, and men killed or absent, Afghan women took on heavy additional burdens, often including sole responsibility for children and disabled relatives.
The incoming Mujahidin government inherited merely the symbols, not the instrumentalities of a state. The army was also fragmented, leading to different groups claiming power across the country. The conflict between the resistance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, who occupied the centre of Kabul, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar the leader of Pakistan-backed Hezb-e Islami escalated and continued until During this time the education and health infrastructure of the state were severely undermined.
Afghans of all ethnic, religious and linguistic backgrounds were the primary victims of this war, though more than 3 million refugees subsequently returned to the country through the government's involvement in two tripartite agreements, with Pakistan and UNHCR, and with Iran and UNHCR respectively. From , Pakistan supported the 'anti-modernist' militia known as Taliban. The word ' taliban ' signifies 'students' with the professed initial ideology of the movement geared towards making its members closer followers of the Qur'an.
Disillusioned with the continued instability, former Mujahidin coalesced around a new leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, originally from Qandahar. The Taliban were constituted overwhelmingly of Pashtuns and recruited students from Deobandi madrassas in Pakistan. Non-Afghan radicals also joined the Taliban. The Deobandi movement was founded in in India and started out as a revivalist Islamic movement, but is now seen as orthodox and ultra-conservative.
Their madrassas , or Islamic schools, are run in many countries around the world. Effective on the battlefield, the Taliban quickly gained ground. In , they took control of the western city of Herat, thereby cutting strategic supply links between Iran and the government in Kabul.
In September , Massoud was forced to retreat from Kabul, and the Taliban took control. In , the Taliban named the country the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and set about enforcing a harsh vision of Islam in areas under their control. Taliban policies severely restricted the movement and dress of women, as well as required men to grow beards and refrain from Western clothing; enforcement was through the notorious Ministry of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice - including through the application of corporal punishment.
Massoud reconstituted the opposition Northern Alliance with the northern Panjshir Valley as his base. Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden, the leader of the extremist al-Qaeda movement, had returned to Afghanistan and developed close ties with Mullah Omar. We read every letter or e-mail we receive, and we will convey your comments to CIA officials outside OPA as appropriate.
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Factbook photos - obtained from a variety of sources - are in the public domain and are copyright free. Agency Copyright Notice. For more than 3, years, Kabul has occupied a strategic location along Central and Southern Asian trade routes. In the late eighteenth century, Kabul was established as Afghanistan's capital. In this false-color satellite image vegetation appears fluorescent green, urban areas range in color from gray to black, and bare ground varies in color from beige to reddish brown.
A mountain range, including Kohi Asamayi and Kohi Bini Hisar, snakes through the scene, running roughly northwest-southeast. More peaks appear in the northeast, right next to an airport. Urbanization appears densest at the city's center, just southwest of the airport, and it stretches out toward the right side of the image along an east-west highway.
Leaping a mountain boundary, cityscape also fills the lower-left quadrant of the image. Partly constrained by surrounding mountains, Kabul's primary direction for growth has been vertical, with multistory buildings constructed atop existing structures. Photo courtesy of NASA. Fabrics displayed at a Kabul bazaar. Shoes, sculptures, and goblets for sale at a Kabul bazaar. Winnowing is a traditional process for separating chaff seed coverings, straw, and other debris loosened in the threshing process from grain. The threshed mixture is flung into the wind to allow the heavier grains to fall to the earth, while the lighter chaff is carried off on the breeze.
Hues of green and orange highlight the extreme ruggedness of the mountainous terrain shown in this false-color satellite image of eastern Afghanistan, near its border with Pakistan. The dark green areas on the right side along rivers indicate agricultural areas. Snow-fed streams allow sufficient irrigation to transform relatively arid soils into productive fields.
Image courtesy of USGS. Once a citadel housing about 3, people, it was destroyed by the Mongols in the 13th century. The invaders also leveled the nearby city that the fortress had protected and massacred all its inhabitants possibly , and animals. In memory, the site is today known as Shahr-i-Gholghola the "City of Screams". The color comes from the red clay used in construction; the dry climate has allowed for the remarkable preservation.
View of surrounding farmlands from within the caves at the "Large Buddha" in Bamyan. The caves were once inhabited by Buddhist monks who left behind a legacy of religious frescoes and paintings, partially destroyed by the fundamentalist Taliban. View of the shell of the "Large Buddha" and surrounding caves in Bamyan. The Buddha statue in this cave as well as in another - both dating to the sixth century A.
Both statues were destroyed by the Taliban in Band-e-Amir in Bamyan Province is Afghanistan's first national park; it consists of six spectacular turquoise lakes separated by natural dams of travertine. In the Bamyan lakes region of Bamyan Province. Introduction :: Afghanistan. Background : This entry usually highlights major historic events and current issues and may include a statement about one or two key future trends.
Geography :: Afghanistan. Location : This entry identifies the country's regional location, neighboring countries, and adjacent bodies of water. Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran. Geographic coordinates : This entry includes rounded latitude and longitude figures for the centroid or center point of a country expressed in degrees and minutes; it is based on the locations provided in the Geographic Names Server GNS , maintained by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency on behalf of the US Board on Geographic Names.
Map references : This entry includes the name of the Factbook reference map on which a country may be found. Note that boundary representations on these maps are not necessarily authoritative. The entry on Geographic coordinates may be helpful in finding some smaller countries. Area : This entry includes three subfields.
Area - comparative : This entry provides an area comparison based on total area equivalents. Most entities are compared with the entire US or one of the 50 states based on area measurements revised provided by the US Bureau of the Census. Image Description. Land boundaries : This entry contains the total length of all land boundaries and the individual lengths for each of the contiguous border countries.
When available, official lengths published by national statistical agencies are used. Because surveying methods may differ, country border lengths reported by contiguous countries may differ. Coastline : This entry gives the total length of the boundary between the land area including islands and the sea. Maritime claims : This entry includes the following claims, the definitions of which are excerpted from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea UNCLOS , which alone contains the full and definitive descriptions: territorial sea - the sovereignty of a coastal state extends beyond its land territory and internal waters to an adjacent belt of sea, described as the territorial sea in the UNCLOS Part II ; this sovereignty extends to the air space over the territorial sea as well as its underlying s.
Climate : This entry includes a brief description of typical weather regimes throughout the year; in the Word entry only, it includes four subfields that describe climate extremes:ten driest places on earth average annual precipitation describes the annual average precipitation measured in both millimeters and inches for selected countries with climate extremes.
Terrain : This entry contains a brief description of the topography.
Elevation : This entry includes the mean elevation and elevation extremes, lowest point and highest point. Natural resources : This entry lists a country's mineral, petroleum, hydropower, and other resources of commercial importance, such as rare earth elements REEs. In general, products appear only if they make a significant contribution to the economy, or are likely to do so in the future.
Land use : This entry contains the percentage shares of total land area for three different types of land use: agricultural land, forest, and other; agricultural land is further divided into arable land - land cultivated for crops like wheat, maize, and rice that are replanted after each harvest, permanent crops - land cultivated for crops like citrus, coffee, and rubber that are not replanted after each harvest, and includes land under flowering shrubs, fruit trees, nut trees, and vines, and permane.
Irrigated land : This entry gives the number of square kilometers of land area that is artificially supplied with water. Population distribution : This entry provides a summary description of the population dispersion within a country. While it may suggest population density, it does not provide density figures. Natural hazards : This entry lists potential natural disasters.
For countries where volcanic activity is common, a volcanism subfield highlights historically active volcanoes. Environment - current issues : This entry lists the most pressing and important environmental problems. The following terms and abbreviations are used throughout the entry: Acidification - the lowering of soil and water pH due to acid precipitation and deposition usually through precipitation; this process disrupts ecosystem nutrient flows and may kill freshwater fish and plants dependent on more neutral or alkaline conditions see acid rain.
Acid rain - characterized as containing harmful levels of sulfur dioxi. Environment - international agreements : This entry separates country participation in international environmental agreements into two levels - party to and signed, but not ratified. Agreements are listed in alphabetical order by the abbreviated form of the full name.
Geography - note : This entry includes miscellaneous geographic information of significance not included elsewhere. People and Society :: Afghanistan. Population : This entry gives an estimate from the US Bureau of the Census based on statistics from population censuses, vital statistics registration systems, or sample surveys pertaining to the recent past and on assumptions about future trends.
The total population presents one overall measure of the potential impact of the country on the world and within its region. Note: Starting with the Factbook, demographic estimates for some countries mostly African have explicitly taken into account t. Nationality : This entry provides the identifying terms for citizens - noun and adjective.
Ethnic groups : This entry provides an ordered listing of ethnic groups starting with the largest and normally includes the percent of total population. Languages : This entry provides a listing of languages spoken in each country and specifies any that are official national or regional languages. When data is available, the languages spoken in each country are broken down according to the percent of the total population speaking each language as a first language.
For those countries without available data, languages are listed in rank order based on prevalence, starting with the most-spoken language. Religions : This entry is an ordered listing of religions by adherents starting with the largest group and sometimes includes the percent of total population. The core characteristics and beliefs of the world's major religions are described below. Baha'i - Founded by Mirza Husayn-Ali known as Baha'u'llah in Iran in , Baha'i faith emphasizes monotheism and believes in one eternal transcendent God. Its guiding focus is to encourage the unity of all peoples on the earth so that justice and peace m.
Muslim Age structure : This entry provides the distribution of the population according to age. Information is included by sex and age group as follows: years children , years early working age , years prime working age , years mature working age , 65 years and over elderly. The age structure of a population affects a nation's key socioeconomic issues. Countries with young populations high percentage under age 15 need to invest more in schools, while countries with older population. This is the population pyramid for Afghanistan. A population pyramid illustrates the age and sex structure of a country's population and may provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development.
The population is distributed along the horizontal axis, with males shown on the left and females on the right. The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top. The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends.
For additional information, please see the entry for Population pyramid on the Definitions and Notes page under the References tab. Dependency ratios : Dependency ratios are a measure of the age structure of a population. They relate the number of individuals that are likely to be economically "dependent" on the support of others. Changes in the dependency ratio provide an indication of potential social support requirements resulting from changes in population age structures. As fertility leve. Median age : This entry is the age that divides a population into two numerically equal groups; that is, half the people are younger than this age and half are older.
It is a single index that summarizes the age distribution of a population. Currently, the median age ranges from a low of about 15 in Niger and Uganda to 40 or more in several European countries and Japan. See the entry for "Age structure" for the importance of a young versus an older age structure and, by implication, a low versus a high. Population growth rate : The average annual percent change in the population, resulting from a surplus or deficit of births over deaths and the balance of migrants entering and leaving a country.
The rate may be positive or negative. The growth rate is a factor in determining how great a burden would be imposed on a country by the changing needs of its people for infrastructure e. Rapid population growth can be seen as. Birth rate : This entry gives the average annual number of births during a year per 1, persons in the population at midyear; also known as crude birth rate.
The birth rate is usually the dominant factor in determining the rate of population growth. It depends on both the level of fertility and the age structure of the population. Death rate : This entry gives the average annual number of deaths during a year per 1, population at midyear; also known as crude death rate.
The death rate, while only a rough indicator of the mortality situation in a country, accurately indicates the current mortality impact on population growth. This indicator is significantly affected by age distribution, and most countries will eventually show a rise in the overall death rate, in spite of continued decline in mortality at all ages, as declining. Net migration rate : This entry includes the figure for the difference between the number of persons entering and leaving a country during the year per 1, persons based on midyear population.
An excess of persons entering the country is referred to as net immigration e. The net migration rate indicates the contribution of migration to the overall level of population chan. Urbanization : This entry provides two measures of the degree of urbanization of a population. The first, urban population, describes the percentage of the total population living in urban areas, as defined by the country.