Afghanistan 1997Afghanistan

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Afghanistan - Introduction 1997
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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 live mines.

Afghanistan - Geography 1997
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Location: Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran

Geographic coordinates: 33 00 N, 65 00 E

Map referenceAsia

Total: 647,500 km²
Land: 647,500 km²
Water: 0 km²
Comparative: slightly smaller than Texas

Land boundaries
Total: 5,529 km
Border countries: (6) 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

Extremes lowest point: Amu Darya 258 m
Extremes highest point: Nowshak 7,485 m

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

Land use
Arable land: 12%
Permanent crops: 0%
Permanent pastures: 46%
Forests and woodland: 3%
Other: 39% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 30,000 km² (1993 est.)

Major rivers

Major watersheds area km²

Total water withdrawal

Total renewable water resources

Natural hazards: damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding

Note: landlocked

Afghanistan - People 1997
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Population: 23,738,085 (July 1997 est.)
Growth rate: 4.48% (1997 est.)
Growth rate note: this rate reflects the continued return of refugees

Noun: Afghan(s)
Adjective: Afghan

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

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

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

Demographic profile
Age structure

Age structure
0-14 years: 43% (male 5,201,585; female 5,003,503)
15-64 years: 54% (male 6,680,687; female 6,208,463)
65 years and over: 3% (male 341,301; female 302,546) (July 1997 est.)

Dependency ratios

Median age

Population growth rate: 4.48% (1997 est.)
Note: this rate reflects the continued return of refugees

Birth rate: 42.72 births/1000 population (1997 est.)

Death rate: 17.78 deaths/1000 population (1997 est.)

Net migration rate: 19.9 migrant(s)/1000 population (1997 est.)

Population distribution


Major urban areas

Current issues: soil degradation; overgrazing; deforestation (much of the remaining forests are being cut down for fuel and building materials; desertification

Air pollutants

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: 1.13 male(s)/female
Total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (1997 est.)

Mothers mean age at first birth

Maternal mortality ratio

Infant mortality rate: 146.7 deaths/1000 live births (1997 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
Total population: 46.34 years
Male: 46.89 years
Female: 45.76 years (1997 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.07 children born/woman (1997 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

Drinking water source

Current health expenditure

Physicians density

Hospital bed density

Sanitation facility access


Major infectious diseases

Obesity adult prevalence rate

Alcohol consumption

Tobacco use

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

Education expenditures

Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 31.5%
Male: 47.2%
Female: 15% (1995 est.)

School life expectancy primary to tertiary education

Youth unemployment

Afghanistan - Government 1997
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Country name
Conventional long form: Islamic State of Afghanistan
Conventional short form: Afghanistan
Local long form: Dowlat-e Eslami-ye Afghanestan
Local short form: Afghanestan
Former: Republic of Afghanistan

Government type: transitional government

Capital: Kabul

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

Dependent areas

Independence: 19 August 1919 (from UK control over Afghan foreign affairs)

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

Constitution: none

Legal system: a new legal system has not been adopted but all factions tacitly agree they will follow Islamic law (Shari'a)

International law organization participation


Suffrage: undetermined; 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; the UN has deferred a decision on credentials and 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 stonghold in the ethnically diverse north - General DOSTAM's National Islamic Movement controls several northcentral provinces and Commander MASOOD controls the ethnic Tajik majority areas of the northeast

Legislative branch: non-functioning as of June 1993

Judicial branch: non-functioning as of March 1995, although there are local Shari'a (Islamic law) courts throughout the country

Political parties and leaders

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, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WMO, WToO

Diplomatic representation
In the us chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Yar Mohammed MOHABBAT
In the us chancery: 2,341 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20,008
In the us telephone: [1] (202) 234-3,770, 3,771
In the us FAX: [1] (202) 328-3,516
In the us consulates general: New York
In the us consulates: Washington, DC
From the us: the US embassy in Kabul has been closed since January 1989 due to security concerns

Flag descriptionflag of Afghanistan: 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

National symbols

National anthem

National heritage

Afghanistan - Economy 1997
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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 more than 17 years of war, including the nearly 10-year Soviet military occupation (which ended 15 February 1989). During the war one-third of the population fled the country, with Pakistan and Iran sheltering a combined peak of more than 6 million refugees. Now, only 750,000 registered Afghan refugees remain in Pakistan and about 1.2 million in Iran. Another 1 million have probably moved into and around urban areas within Afghanistan. Gross domestic product has fallen substantially over the past 17 years because of the loss of labor and capital and the disruption of trade and transport. Millions of people continue to suffer from insufficient food, clothing, housing, and medical care. Inflation remains a serious problem throughout the country, with one estimate putting the rate at 240% in Kabul in 1996. Numerical data are likely to be either unavailable or unreliable.

Real gdp purchasing power parity

Real gdp growth rate: NA%

Real gdp per capita ppp

Gross national saving
Gdp composition by sector of origin

Gdp composition by end use

Gdp composition by sector of origin

Agriculture products: wheat, fruits, nuts, karakul pelts; wool, mutton

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

Industrial production growth rate

Labor force
Total: 7.1 million
By occupation: agriculture and animal husbandry 67.8%, industry 10.2%, construction 6.3%, commerce 5.0%, services and other 10.7% (1980 est.)
Labor force

Unemployment rate: 8% (1995 est.)

Youth unemployment

Population below poverty line

Gini index

Household income or consumption by percentage share

Distribution of family income gini index

Revenues: $N/A
Expenditures: $N/A, including capital expenditures of $N/A

Public debt

Taxes and other revenues


Fiscal year: 21 March - 20 March

Current account balance

Inflation rate consumer prices

Central bank discount rate

Commercial bank prime lending rate

Stock of narrow money

Stock of broad money

Stock of domestic credit

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance

Total value: $80 million (1996 est.)
Commodities: fruits and nuts, handwoven carpets, wool, cotton, hides and pelts, precious and semi-precious gems
Partners: FSU, Pakistan, Iran, Germany, India, UK, Belgium, Luxembourg, Czechoslovakia

Total value: $150 million (1996 est.)
Commodities: food and petroleum products; most consumer goods
Partners: FSU, Pakistan, Iran, Japan, Singapore, India, South Korea, Germany

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

Debt external: $2.3 billion (March 1991 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment at home

Stock of direct foreign investment abroad

Exchange rates: afghanis (Af) per US$1 - 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 is a fixed rate of 50.600 afghanis to the dollar

Afghanistan - Energy 1997
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Electricity access

Electricity production: 670 million kWh (1994)

Electricity consumption
Per capita: 35 kWh (1995 est.)

Electricity exports

Electricity imports

Electricity installed generating capacity

Electricity transmission distribution losses

Electricity generation sources


Refined petroleum

Natural gas

Carbon dioxide emissions

Energy consumption per capita

Afghanistan - Communication 1997
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Telephones fixed lines

Telephones mobile cellular

Telephone system
Domestic: very limited telephone and telegraph service
International: satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) linked only to Iran and 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean Region)

Broadcast media

Internet country code

Internet users

Broadband fixed subscriptions

Afghanistan - Military 1997
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Military expenditures
Dollar figure: $NA
Percent of gdp: NA%

Military and security forces

Military service age and obligation

Terrorist groups

Afghanistan - Transportation 1997
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National air transport system

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

Airports: 33 (1996 est.)
With paved runways total: 16
With paved runways over 3047 m: 3
With paved runways 2438 to 3047 m: 4
With paved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 2
With paved runways under 914 m: 7 (1996 est.)
With unpaved runways total: 17
With unpaved runways 2438 to 3047 m: 3
With unpaved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 12
With unpaved runways 914 to 1523 m: 2 (1996 est.)

Airports with paved runways
Total: 16
Over 3047 m: 3
2438 to 3047 m: 4
15-24 to 2437 m: 2
Under 914 m: 7 (1996 est.)

Airports with unpaved runways
Total: 17
2438 to 3047 m: 3
15-24 to 2437 m: 12
914 to 1523 m: 2 (1996 est.)

Heliports: 3 (1996 est.)

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

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


Waterways: 1,200 km; chiefly Amu Darya, which handles vessels up to about 500 DWT

Merchant marine

Ports and terminals

Afghanistan - Transnational issues 1997
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Disputes international: some support from RABBANI and MASOOD to anti-government Islamic fighters in Tajikistan's civil war; support to Islamic militants worldwide by some factions; question over which group should hold Afghanistan's seat at the UN

Refugees and internally displaced persons

Illicit drugs: world's second-largest illicit opium producer after Burma (1,230 metric tons in 1996 - down 2% from 1995) and a major source of hashish

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