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Afghanistan-The Role of Islam





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Afghanistan Index

Islam was the most powerful common denominator shared by Afghanistan's isolated communities throughout the violation and betrayal. The line seemed clearly drawn between the traitors with their atheist patrons and those whose lives and way of life were threatened. In a struggle where martyrdom became a central theme, transcendental faith offered meaning and the hope of survival and vindication. The demands of inspiration called for a religious leadership. So long as the struggle remained intense those demands were met, certainly in symbol, and for many, in substance. But, when a remarkable victory was achieved, the demands changed. Failure, loss and disillusionment had to be coped with and the apparently inspired leaders proved all too human. Given Afghanistan's experience and segmented society, the mujahidin leadership was asked and apparently expected itself to fulfill the incredible task of governing a society which had lost whatever faith it had in government. Its performance must be measured against the task it has faced. When the government led by Najibullah collapsed in 1992, Afghanistan would be left with a political vacuum.

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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