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Afghanistan Index

The Taliban's achievements have crystalized as well as changed the rivalries that dominate Afghan politics. A three-cornered struggle has become more clearly defined. Rabbani's Islamic government, the Taliban and Dostam (with or without the assets of his allies in the Supreme Coordinating Council) have the material resources, the regional and sociological bases, the elements of political identity and the foreign support to dominate Afghan politics. (The Shia communities have defensive capabilities, but must find allies to have national impact.) Yet none of these three are capable of defeating the others and forcefully uniting the country. Each has demonstrated ability to defend its region against attacks from the others.

The combat fault lines running between them are now well defined: roughly the Kabul River gorge and upper basin separating the Rabbani government--dominated by Tajiks and Farsiwans--from the Pushtun region to its south; the highway running through Kunduz between the Salang Pass and Sher Khan Bandar on the Tajikistan border which generally separates Uzbeks under Dostam from Tajiks following Massoud and Rabbani; Faryab and Baghis provinces fought over by Dostam and Ismael Khan; and northern Farah and Helmand provinces where Ismael Khan maneuvers against various Pushtun rivals. In all of these areas combat has produced shifting results as one side or another gains temporary advantage. There has been no instance of a major or lasting penetration by one protagonist into the core area of another, and with Hekmatyar's apparent demise the likelihood of such a major event has lessened. (Dostam's presence in and near Kabul has depended upon allies in the immediate vicinity--first Massoud, later Mazari and Hekmatyar. With the loss of these allies, as well armed as he is, Dostam's position has become purely regional.)

The Rabbani government appears to be gaining military strength compared with its rivals. In 1994-95 it has demonstrated the ability to defend itself against attacks from both sides and from Shias within Kabul itself. No longer distracted by Hekmatyar, in early 1995 it devastated Hezb-i-Wahdat, forced Taliban out of Kabul while recovering Kunduz and Sher Khan Bandar from Dostam and successfully defending Herat in the west. Even so, there are inherent limits in the government's situation. Dostam controls the Salang Pass and has strengthened his grip on the north-south highway. Rabbani's government is still subject to attack from both sides in addition to assaults from the Iran backed Hazarajat. Geographically and politically it occupies the weakest position for attracting foreign assistance. It would require extraordinary leadership and a remarkable set of circumstances for a Kabul-centered government to defeat all its adversaries militarily.

The most basic reason why complete victory eludes all the protagonists is that it would require intrusion into regional communities with clear ethnic dominance patterns and increasingly stronger senses of political autonomy. Moreover, all sides are well armed. In post-Marxist Afghanistan all armies are regionally based and they have all done poorly outside of their own turf.

The Taliban factor increases the possibility of a divided Afghanistan. As an instrument for rallying the Pushtun community to a degree that was impossible while the widely disliked Hekmatyar attempted to carry the Pushtun banner, the Taliban may yet be able to assemble forces strong enough to drive the Tajik dominated government out of Kabul and perhaps over the Hindu Kush. In effect, this would reduce the number of major protagonists to two. It would oblige the putative minority Tajiks and Uzbeks and probably the Shias into a joint defense. Such a scenario would leave Afghanistan dangerously divided, seriously raising the prospect of partition.

A stabilized three-sided stand-off offers a lesser threat to Afghanistan's national integrity. It provides a better opportunity for balance and flexibility among the sides. It removes the temptation of using the Hindu Kush as a physical justification for dividing or fragmenting the country. Each protagonist being smaller and weaker (than would be the case if Pushtuns were pitted against the minorities) is more likely to find the prospect of being absorbed or dominated by their cross-border counterparts in Iran, Pakistan of Central Asia less appealing. The important presence of the Shias, even if they do not constitute a fourth major protagonist, obliges their regional neighbors to bargain with them to achieve stability. A tripartite stalemate, offers the eventual prospect of reconciliation and even consensus which could be facilitated by the UN.

Mujahidin failure to create a semblance of effective national government has added immeasurably to Afghanistan's tragedy. Perhaps three million Afghans remain marooned outside their country. Internal conditions make the return of many of them increasingly unlikely. In addition, the internecine fighting has spawned hundreds of thousands of new internal refugees, many clustered in crude tent cities in the Kabul River valley near Jalalabad. Pakistan has attempted to keep them from crossing the border. With resettlement long delayed, national reconstruction has been severely restricted and almost all remaining external assistance has been funneled instead into the fighting.

Where strong regional and local leadership exists, resettlement and the beginnings of reconstruction have been evident. Herat, Panjshir valley and the northeast, and the plain around Mazar-i-Sharif have experienced degrees of recovery. Regional marketing, land reclamation, re-opening of schools, some small-scale construction and light industry have reappeared.

The rest of Afghanistan, especially Kabul, await peace before measurable improvements can be expected. Instead, rogue economies based on theft, extortion and smuggling remain rife in many areas, especially the east and south. Until intervention by the Taliban, agriculture in the eastern Pushtun provinces was completely dominated by opium cultivation and processing. Poppy growing for subsistence consumption had been traditional in parts of Afghanistan, but since the late 1980s it became Afghanistan's most valuable commercial export.

The recovery of functional national government is likely to require an evolutionary process involving the progressive reaching of agreements between the three most powerful protagonists. There are compelling reasons for them to grope toward a national union, probably federal in structure. The lack of national authority over a medium- or long-term period increases the risk of dismemberment. Competing ambitions between Iran, Pakistan and the Central Asian Republics are more likely to escalate toward annexation of contiguous regions of Afghanistan if there is no progress toward national unity.

So far, despite the turmoil the threat of dismemberment or partition has not materialized. However destructive it has been, political energy has been directed inward, with instances of overlapping alliances and cooperation between the major communities. This has been especially true among the minorities, including the Shias, for example, Muhseni's Harakat Islami as a Shia bulwark of -and-out relations with Dostam and Massoud, Massoud's largely Pushtun senior staff in the defense ministry, and Ismail Khan's alliances with Durrani chiefs.

Many of these connections are examples of opportunistic intrigues, yet under the stress of competing pressures, the qawn, with its pull toward primordial loyalty can be expected to prevail. Even so, cooperation leading to political cohesion offers obvious benefits. National survival and avoidance of further exhaustion from internal war call for it. Recovery of transportation, communications, law and order, education, and comprehensive economic policy leading to commerce on a national level is impossible without agreement on a functional center. Regional recovery such as Ismail Khan has led in Herat requires economies of scale, exchange with the complementary economies of adjacent regions, and national promotion of international trade to rise above sporadic local successes.

War and tumult have changed Afghanistan's political landscape, if not political values. For the first time in more than two centuries, Pushtuns do not dominate areas of Afghanistan beyond their own ancestral regions. Meanwhile, it is clear that the Tajiks and Farsiwans, Uzbeks, Hazaras, Ismailis, and the smaller communities expect equivalent political status in whatever national system might evolve. Ghilzai political dominance appears to have been short lived. Given the disarray among the Pushtuns, the "minorities" have considerable opportunity to solidify their claims.

Foreign involvement has long since become a critical factor. Shia politics have been greatly influenced by Iranian material support and guidance. Dostam has retained close connections with Uzbekistan. The civil war in Tajikistan spilled into Afghanistan in 1992, bringing more than 100,000 refugees across the Amu Darya, as well as cross-border raids and artillery counterattacks. Russian support of the Tajikistan government has brought Russians back to the Afghan border.

By far the most serious potential foreign issues for Afghanistan concern its relations with Pakistan. It continues to be closely involved with the shuras, commanders and perhaps the Taliban inside eastern Afghanistan. The dilemmas run deep. If Pushtuns refuse to reach a compact with Afghanistan's other communities and are unable to dominate them, the implications for their relations with Pakistan are ominous. The border they share with Pakistan could become even more volatile. Denied power and control over Afghanistan's material resources--which are mostly concentrated in the minority regions--the frustrations of Afghanistan's Pushtuns could threaten Pakistan's own stability.

If Afghanistan becomes partitioned between north and south, demands could rise for the creation of either a Pushtunistan separate from Pakistan or a greater Northwest Frontier Province inside Pakistan. Either one of these possibilities would generate great political pressure for Pakistan. If it accepts the status quo it could lose control of its border as Pushtun nationalists from both sides agitate for a new Pushtunistan. If it tries to amalgamate Afghan Pushtuns into Pakistan it would risk creating a Trojan horse that could cause serious political instability.

A partitioning of Afghanistan would also greatly increase the difficulty of Pakistan's avowed goal of political, cultural, and logistical connections with the newly independent Central Asian Republics. An independent northern Afghanistan could have less interest in being a conduit for Pakistan's economic relations with Central Asia than would a united Afghanistan. Much would depend upon the circumstances that might lead to such a partition.

Afghanistan thus presents a series of dilemmas for its neighbors. They have helped fuel the war over Kabul and the fighting elsewhere. Their good offices have led to cease fires and temporary agreements between the parties. They play both roles, fearing the loss of connections with the major Afghan players, lest one of them prevails.

Having developed special relationships with communities inside Afghanistan, its neighbors run the risk of acting as spoilers if Afghans make progress toward political unity. At some point such meddling could ignite a crisis that could destabilize the region. Pakistan's interests in Afghanistan are closely tied to the creation of an effective, united and popular Afghan government. Such an outcome could improve its hopes for strong links with Central Asia. It could also lessen Pushtun unrest, with its potential for complicating cross-border relations. It is thus in Pakistan's interest to encourage general political reconciliation among Afghans, a policy which requires reducing its focus on Afghan regional politics.

Despite Afghans' pride in independence, during the past two centuries their politics have been greatly influenced by foreign involvements. In its present condition of great political vulnerability, Afghanistan is again intimately affected by foreign powers. Yet since the founding of its tribal monarchy foreign meddling has been dominated by imperial, alien, and non-Islamic nations. In a new era of political alignments and cultural resurgence, there is opportunity for Afghanistan to revive within a community of Islamic states. Whether that possibility will materialize depends greatly on its neighbors.

* * *

Literature on Afghan politics and government mushroomed rapidly in connection with the Soviet war. For the period prior to 1980 the best sources in English are Kawun Kakar Hasan's Government and Society in Afghanistan: The Reign of Amin 'Abd al-Rahman Khan, Louis Dupree's Afghanistan, Leon Poullada's Reform and Rebellion in Afghanistan, 1919-1929, Vartan Gregorian's The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan: Politics of Reform and Modernization, 1840-1946, Richard S. Newell's The Politics of Afghanistan, and Donald Wilbur's Afghanistan. Among them these titles cover the efforts to consolidate central authority over Afghanistan's disparate communities and to develop a modern state.

Among the many works that addressed the Marxist seizure of power, Soviet occupation, the growth of nationalist resistance, Soviet withdrawal, the ensuing civil war culminating in the mujahidin victory and struggle for power, several are outstanding and have been important sources for this chapter. For the Saur coup and the early period of Soviet occupation, Henry S. Bradsher's Afghanistan and the Soviet Union. A thorough examination of the Afghan communism is presented in Anthony Arnold's Afghanistan's Two-Party Communism. The most creative and influential interpretation of the social foundations and ideological impact of the Soviet war and Afghan resistance is provided by Olivier Roy in Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan. An excellent account of the Geneva negotiations and the Soviet withdrawal is given in Raiz Muhammad Khan's Untying the Afghan Knot: Negotiating the Soviet Withdrawal. The best comprehensive analysis of the Marxist client government, the end of the war and its aftermath is The Fragmentation of Afghanistan: State Formation and Collapse in the International System by Barnett Rubin.

Data as of 1997

BackgroundAhmad 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.
LocationSouthern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran
Area(sq km)total: 652,230 sq km
land: 652,230 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Geographic coordinates33 00 N, 65 00 E
Land boundaries(km)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(km)0 km (landlocked)

Climatearid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Amu Darya 258 m
highest point: Noshak 7,485 m
Natural resourcesnatural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones
Land use(%)arable land: 12.13%
permanent crops: 0.21%
other: 87.66% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)27,200 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources(cu km)65 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 23.26 cu km/yr (2%/0%/98%)
per capita: 779 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazardsdamaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding; droughts
Environment - current issueslimited 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
Environment - international agreementsparty 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 - notelandlocked; 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)
Population28.396 million (July 2009 est.)
note: this is a significantly revised figure; the previous estimate of 33,609,937 was extrapolated from the last Afghan census held in 1979, which was never completed because of the Soviet invasion; a new Afghan census is scheduled to take place in 2010
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 44.5% (male 7,664,670/female 7,300,446)
15-64 years: 53% (male 9,147,846/female 8,679,800)
65 years and over: 2.4% (male 394,572/female 422,603) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 17.6 years
male: 17.6 years
female: 17.6 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)2.629% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)45.46 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)19.18 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)21 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 24% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 5.4% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)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.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 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 birth(years)total population: 44.64 years
male: 44.47 years
female: 44.81 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)6.53 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Afghan(s)
adjective: Afghan
Ethnic groups(%)Pashtun 42%, Tajik 27%, Hazara 9%, Uzbek 9%, Aimak 4%, Turkmen 3%, Baloch 2%, other 4%

Religions(%)Sunni Muslim 80%, Shia Muslim 19%, other 1%
Languages(%)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

Country nameconventional 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
Government typeIslamic republic
Capitalname: Kabul
geographic coordinates: 34 31 N, 69 11 E
time difference: UTC+4.5 (9.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions34 provinces (welayat, singular - welayat); Badakhshan, Badghis, Baghlan, Balkh, Bamyan, Daykundi, Farah, Faryab, Ghazni, Ghor, Helmand, Herat, Jowzjan, Kabul, Kandahar, Kapisa, Khost, Kunar, Kunduz, Laghman, Logar, Nangarhar, Nimroz, Nuristan, Paktika, Paktiya, Panjshir, Parwan, Samangan, Sar-e Pul, Takhar, Uruzgan, Wardak, Zabul
Constitutionnew constitution drafted 14 December 2003-4 January 2004; signed 16 January 2004; ratified 26 January 2004

Legal systembased on mixed civil and sharia law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid KARZAI (since 7 December 2004); First Vice President Fahim KHAN (since 19 November 2009); 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 Fahim KHAN (since 19 November 2009); 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 20 August 2009 (next to be held in 2014)
election results: Hamid KARZAI reelected president; percent of vote - Hamid KARZAI 49.67%, Abdullah ABDULLAH 30.59%, Ramazan BASHARDOST 10.46%, Ashraf GHANI 2.94%; other 6.34%

Legislative branchthe 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 election expected in 2010)
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

Judicial branchthe 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

Political pressure groups and leadersother: religious groups; tribal leaders; ethnically based groups; Taliban
International organization participationADB, CP, ECO, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OSCE (partner), SAARC, SACEP, SCO (guest), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Flag descriptionthree 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 - overviewAfghanistan'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. 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.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$22.32 billion (2008 est.)
$21.58 billion (2007 est.)
$19.25 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$11.71 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)3.4% (2008 est.)
12.1% (2007 est.)
8.2% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$800 (2008 est.)
$800 (2007 est.)
$700 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 31%
industry: 26%
services: 43%
note: data exclude opium production (2008 est.)
Labor force15 million (2004 est.)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 80%
industry: 10%
services: 10% (2004 est.)
Unemployment rate(%)40% (2008 est.)
40% (2005 est.)
Population below poverty line(%)53% (2003)
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)NA% of GDP
Budgetrevenues: $890 million
expenditures: $2.7 billion
note: Afghanistan has also received $2.6 billion from the Reconstruction Trust Fund and $63 million from the Law and Order Trust Fund (2007 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)13% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$1.688 billion (31 December 2008)
$1.426 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money$1.219 billion (31 December 2008)
$958.6 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit$363.6 million (31 December 2008)
$12.04 million (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares$NA
Economic aid - recipient$2.775 billion (2005)

Public debt(% of GDP)NA% of GDP
Agriculture - productsopium, wheat, fruits, nuts; wool, mutton, sheepskins, lambskins
Industriessmall-scale production of textiles, soap, furniture, shoes, fertilizer, cement; handwoven carpets; natural gas, coal, copper

Industrial production growth rate(%)NA%

Current account balance-$67 million (2007 est.)
Exports$327 million (2007)
$274 million (2006); note - not including illicit exports or reexports

Exports - commodities(%)opium, fruits and nuts, handwoven carpets, wool, cotton, hides and pelts, precious and semi-precious gems
Exports - partners(%)India 20.5%, Pakistan 18.5%, US 17.2%, Tajikistan 13.3%, Netherlands 7.2% (2008)
Imports$4.85 billion (2007)
$3.823 billion (2006)

Imports - commodities(%)capital goods, food, textiles, petroleum products
Imports - partners(%)Pakistan 36.9%, US 9.5%, Germany 7.7%, India 5.2% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$NA
Debt - external$8 billion (2004)

Exchange ratesafghanis (AFA) per US dollar - 50 (2007), 46 (2006), 47.7 (2005), 48 (2004), 49 (2003)

Currency (code)afghani (AFA)

Telephones - main lines in use460,000 (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular8.45 million (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: limited landline telephone service; an increasing number of Afghans utilize mobile-cellular phone networks
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)
Internet country code.af
Internet users500,000 (2008)
Airports51 (2009)
Pipelines(km)gas 466 km (2008)
Roadways(km)total: 42,150 km
paved: 12,350 km
unpaved: 29,800 km (2006)

Ports and terminalsKheyrabad, Shir Khan
Military branchesAfghan Armed Forces: Afghan National Army (ANA, includes Afghan National Army Air Corps) (2009)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)22 years of age; inductees are contracted into service for a 4-year term (2005)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 7,431,147
females age 16-49: 7,004,819 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 4,371,193
females age 16-49: 4,072,945 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 382,720
female: 361,733 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)1.9% of GDP (2006 est.)
Disputes - internationalPakistan has built fences in some portions of its border with Afghanistan which remains open in some areas to foreign terrorists and other illegal activities

Refugees and internally displaced personsIDPs: 132,246 (mostly Pashtuns and Kuchis displaced in south and west due to drought and instability) (2007)
Electricity - production(kWh)839 million kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 36.3%
hydro: 63.7%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)1.01 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)230 million kWh (2007 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)5,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)4,404 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)30 million cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)30 million cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)49.55 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)0.01% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDSNA
HIV/AIDS - deathsNA
Major infectious diseasesdegree 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)
Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 28.1%
male: 43.1%
female: 12.6% (2000 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)(years)total: 8 years
male: 11 years
female: 4 years (2004)
Education expenditures(% of GDP)NA

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