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Afghanistan Index

Although variations may exist between ethnic groups and those practicing different modes of subsistence, the family remains the single most important institution in Afghan society. Characteristically, the Afghan family is endogamous (with parallel and cross-cousin marriages preferred), patriarchal (authority vested in male elders), patrilineal (inheritance through the male line), and patrilocal (girl moves to husband's place of residence on marriage). Polygyny (multiple wives) is permitted, but is no longer so widely practiced.

Within families there is a tendency toward respect for age, male or female, reverence for motherhood, eagerness for children, especially sons, and avoidance of divorce. Rigorously honored ideals emphasizing family cohesiveness through extended kinship networks endow the family with its primary function as a support system.

The extended family, the major economic and social unit in the society, replaces government because of the absence of an adequate nation-wide service infrastructure. Child socialization takes place within the family because of deficiencies in the education system. Thus, individual social, economic and political rights and obligations are found within the family which guarantees security to each man and woman, from birth to death.

The strength of this sense of family solidarity has been amply evident throughout the past years of disruption. Although families may be split and now reside on separate continents a world apart, those that are more affluent regularly send remittances to less fortunate family members. Many urban Afghan refugee families in Pakistan would otherwise be totally destitute. Similarly, newly arrived refugees always find shelter with families already established in Pakistan. At times, single family living spaces will be stretched to accommodate up to twenty new persons because family members cannot be turned away. Similar obligations extend to finding employment for relatives. This at times leads to the blatant nepotism which plagues the aid assistance network in Pakistan.

This is not to say that no tensions exist within the extended family system. Fierce competition over authority, inheritance, and individual aspirations do develop. The violent enmity that rises between cousins, for example, particularly over the selection of brides, is so often present that it has become a favorite theme of countless songs and folktales.

In Afghanistan extended families are characterized by residential unity be it in a valley, a village or a single compound. Extended family households may contain three to four generations including the male head of family and his wife, his brothers, several sons and their families, cousins with their families, as well as all unmarried and widowed females. Nuclear family households geographically grouped within extended family settings are also common. These will frequently accommodate elderly grandparents and single or widowed aunts. No matter how they may be spaced, these multigenerational units practice close economic cooperation and come together on all life-crisis occasions. This permits cohesive in-group solidarity to be maintained.

The core of the family consists of the mother-in-law, the daughters-in-law and daughters, with the senior woman reigning at the top of the power hierarchy within the household. In families with plural wives, each wife has her own room, with her own belongings and furnishings; sometimes her own cooking space is provided. The courtyard provides space for joint household activities and entertainment.

Relations between co-wives can be amiable, sister-like and mutually supportive in sharing household chores and in securing favorable attention from the husband, but relations can also be stormy and many men hesitate to take a second wife because of the fierce battles that can erupt. Some co-wives resort to magic to ease household tensions by purchasing a variety of amulets and charms, including dried hoopoe heads and wolf claws which are believed to guarantee loving attention from husbands, peace with mothers-in-law and sweet tempers all around.

The practice of taking more than one wife became less and less prevalent over the past few decades. Few men could afford to do so. Barrenness and a failure to produce sons are common reasons for its continuation. Barrenness is a frightening social stigma, not only for wives but for her family as well. Most men feel obliged to rectify the situation, but because divorce is so repugnant the option of a second wife is preferred by all.

In other cases, multiple wives are taken in order to fulfill familial obligations to provide unmarried kin or young widows with a home and security. Although the institution of the levirate in which a widow is married, with or without her consent, to a member of her deceased husband's family is explicitly forbidden in the Quran, it functions traditionally to stabilize family identification and ensure economic security. By the 1960s the levirate had all but ceased to function in many areas, but it was increasingly employed after 1978 because of the unprecedented number of war widows. The vulnerability of widows too young to have established a commanding status in the family hierarchy is more frequently addressed through the levirate today than in pre-exodus Afghanistan.

While male authority in the family is paramount in all groups, some important differences in male-female interrelations can be noted within rural and urban environments. In the rural areas interrelated responsibilities between men and women establish a bond of partnership that builds mutual respect. Carpet making is but one example. The men herd and sheer the sheep, the women spin the wool, the men dye the wool, the women weave the carpet, and the men market the product. One highly important family activity performed by rural women that is often overlooked is their management of family food supplies. A women, often an elderly member of the household, receives the household's supply of grain following the harvest. She must make sure that this supply of the family's basic food staple is apportioned correctly over the year until the next harvest comes in. Otherwise the family must go into debt, or starve. Household management and responsibility for the upbringing of children thus give rural women considerable authority in their domestic sphere.

By contrast, in traditional urban lower and middle class homes men daily leave the house to work at jobs with which women are not involved and about which they have little knowledge or interest. These women are consequently more rigidly relegated to purely domestic duties of serving husbands and caring for children. Remarkable changes took place among middle class and elite families after 1959 when the government supported the voluntary end to seclusion for women. Women sought education and moved into the public sphere in ever increasing numbers. Nevertheless, working women are still expected to socialize within the family, not with their colleagues at work.

The innate belief in male superiority provides an ideological basis for the acceptance of male control over families. Socially circumscribed and male determined roles open to women are believed necessary to maintain social order, and when women do not appear to be controlled in traditional ways, as, for example, when they take up unusual public career or behavioral roles, this is taken as a danger sign heralding social disintegration. Life crisis decisions about education, careers and marriage are, therefore, made by male family members.

Embodied in the acceptance of the male right to control decisions on female behavior is the dual concept of male prestige and family honor. Any evidence of independent female action is regarded as evidence of lost male control and results in ostracism, which adversely affects the entire family's standing within the community. Community pressures thus make women dependent on men, even among modernized urban families. On the other hand, since the construction of family and male reputations, notably their much valued honour, depends upon the good behavior of women, women derive a certain amount of leverage within family relationships from their ability to damage family prestige through subtle nonconformist behavior, such as simply failing to provide adequate hospitality, or a lack of rectitude within the home.

Afghan society places much emphasis on hospitality and the rules of etiquette that distinguish good behavior toward guests. By disregarding social niceties a person diminishes the reputation of both the immediate family and the extended family or group. Conversely, families gain respect, maintain status and enhance their standing in the community through exemplary behavior.

Since the family is so central to the lives of men, women and children, and since women's roles are pivotal to family well-being, the selection of mates is of prime concern. The preferred mate is a close relative or at least within a related lineage; the ideal being the father's brother's daughter, or first cousin, although this is not always feasible. In reality the process is far more complicated and involves a multiplicity of considerations, including strengthening group solidarity, sustaining social order, confirming social status, enhancing wealth and power or economic and political standing, increasing control over resources, resolving disputes, and compensating for injury and death.

Within this complicated web governing marriage negotiations, other factors must also be taken into account such as sectarian membership, ethnic group, family status, kin relationships, and economic benefits. The bride's skills, industriousness and temperament is also considered and, with all, the happiness and welfare of the girl is often not neglected.

Although endogamous marriage is prevalent in all groups, marriage between ethnic groups have always occurred. Over the past few decades these have increased because large populations have settled outside their ancestral areas, communication networks have improved and industrial complexes have drawn workers from many areas. In addition, political and economic changes occasioned by these developments shifted the balance of various types of productive resources and this led to forging marital links between unrelated and previously unconnected groups for benefits other than expressions of status.

Except in cases in which the institution of marriage is manipulated for political and economic purposes, female family members initiate the elaborate process of betrothal through their own women's networks. Men are generally not involved in the initial stages although sometimes a son will elicit the support of his mother; sometimes a brother will bring about a match for his sister with one of his friends, or even a young man she has observed from the rooftop of her home. Brother-sister bonds are very strong.

Men enter the process in order to set the financial agreements before the engagement is announced. These entail the transfer of money, property or livestock from the groom's family to the bride's family. The large sums frequently demanded should not be seen only as evidence of avaricious fathers. Brides gain status according to the value set for them; too meager sums devalue both father and bride in the eyes of their community. Islam does not prescribe such a brideprice, but does enjoin the giving of mahr in the form of money or property for the personal use of the bride so that her financial welfare may be ensured in the event of divorce. Islamic law does not include the concept of alimony.

In many cases, however, the bride fails to receive her legitimate portion of the marriage settlement. This causes friction, and cases concerning inheritance are frequently brought before the urban family courts, to which rural women seldom have access. In addition, because exorbitant sums are often demanded, many men are unable to marry until they are older. Very young girls, therefore, are frequently married to much older men. As a result young widowhood is common, giving rise to the practice of the levirate described above. Under normal circumstances, however, girls are married while in their teens to boys in their mid-twenties. Cases of child marriage, however, are not unknown .

Every marriage entails two exchanges. The dowry brought by the bride to her husband's home normally equals the value of the brideprice. It includes clothing, bedding and household utensils which are expected to last the couple for fifteen years. Most importantly, the quality of the dowry often influences the treatment and status accorded the bride on her arrival at her husband's home. A majority of the items are made by the girl, in cooperation with her female relatives and friends. The preparation of the bridal hope chest, therefore, constitutes a crucial female activity in every home. The trousseau of embroidered, woven and tailored items is important to the prestige of both families and must be as impressive as possible.

The ratio of inheritance is two to one in favor of males; a wife receives one-third of her son's shares. In practice, women are often denied their rightful inheritance, again causing tensions not only within nuclear families, but among kin groups of the wife as well.

Various tribal and ethnic groups follow practices which are not strictly consistent with Islamic law. Past governments have sought to institutionalize social reforms pertaining to the family for over one hundred years. Using the dictates of Islam, Afghan monarchs since Amir Abdur Rahman (1880-1901) have decreed and legislated against child marriages, forced marriages, the levirate and exorbitant brideprices. They upheld hereditary rights of women, authorized women to receive the mahr for their personal use, and supported the right of women to seek divorce under certain circumstances such as non-support, maltreatment and impotency.

Subsequent constitutions while guaranteeing equal rights to men and women tended to avoid specific reference to women. The Penal Code of 1976 and Civil Law of 1977, however, contained familiar articles outlawing child marriage, forced marriage and abandonment but at the same time combined them with elements of customary laws favorable to male dominance and prejudicial to women in matters of divorce, child custody, adultery and the defence of male honour. A Special Court for Family Affairs opened in 1975 in which female judges participated, but such legal documents were scarcely heeded by the majority of the population because they were seen to interfere with family prerogatives in matters seen to be the provenance of Islam and therefore beyond the competence of secular law.

The leftist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan which came to power on 27 April 1978, issued Decree No. 7 with the expressed purpose of ensuring "equal rights of women with men and ... removing the unjust patriarchal feudalistic relations between husband and wife for the consolidation of sincere family ties." This simplistic decree, like earlier pronouncements, forbade child marriage, forced marriages and exorbitant brideprices. The DRA's social reforms were viewed as a threat to cherished cultural values and an intolerable intrusion into the closely- knit, family-based society and consequently met with early dissent. Rhetoric urging children to defy family restraints and inform on parents was repugnant. Encroachments on family decision-making concerning the conduct of female members was intolerable. The establishment of day-care centers usurped the family's paramount role in child socialization and sending young children to the Soviet Union for education was regarded as a particularly barbarous weapon designed to break up the family through the replacement of stable traditional relationships with fragmented, individualized interactions. As the massive flow of refugees into Pakistan began in 1979, many cited the assault on the integrity of their families as a major reason for their flight.

Decree No. 7 was the first DRA regulation to be eliminated by The Islamic State of Afghanistan on its assumption of power in 1992. To the Taliban, all past legislation touching upon women and the family threatened to undermine the society's values. As such they are anathema. Under the Taliban the sanctity of the family, with secluded women at its core, is a paramount requisite in their crusade to establish a fully Islamic society.

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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