Top banner
The World Factbook 2002 Banner

Flag of Afghanistan
Click to enlarge
Categories Banner
  Transnational Issues

In general, information available as of 1 January 2002
was used in the preparation of The World Factbook 2002.

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

Map of Afghanistan

Legend: Definition Definition Field Listing Field Listing
   Introduction    Afghanistan
Definition Field Listing
Afghanistan's recent history is characterized by war and civil unrest. The Soviet Union invaded in 1979 but 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, giving rise to a state of warlordism that eventually spawned the Taliban. Backed by foreign sponsors, the Taliban developed as a political force and eventually seized power. The Taliban were able to capture most of the country, aside from Northern Alliance strongholds primarily in the northeast, until US and allied military action in support of the opposition following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks forced the group's downfall. In late 2001, major leaders from the Afghan opposition groups and diaspora met in Bonn, Germany and agreed on a plan for the formulation of a new government structure that resulted in the inauguration of Hamid KARZAI as Chairman of the Afghan Interim Authority (AIA) on 22 December 2001. The AIA held a nationwide Loya Jirga (Grand Assembly) in June 2002, and KARZAI was elected President by secret ballot of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan (TISA). The Transitional Authority has an 18-month mandate to hold a nationwide Loya Jirga to adopt a constitution and a 24-month mandate to hold nationwide elections. In December 2002, the TISA marked the one-year anniversary of the fall of the Taliban. In addition to occasionally violent political jockeying and ongoing military action to root out remaining terrorists and Taliban elements, the country suffers from enormous poverty, a crumbling infrastructure, and widespread land mines.
   Geography    Afghanistan
Definition Field Listing
Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
33 00 N, 65 00 E
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
total: 647,500 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 647,500 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly smaller than Texas
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
none (landlocked)
Definition Field Listing
arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers
Definition Field Listing
mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Amu Darya 258 m
highest point: Nowshak 7,485 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 12.13%
permanent crops: 0.22%
other: 87.65% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
23,860 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding; droughts
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
limited 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 agreements:
Definition Field Listing
party to: Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban
signed, but not ratified: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note:
Definition Field Listing
landlocked; 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)
   People    Afghanistan
Definition Field Listing
27,755,775 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 42% (male 5,953,291; female 5,706,542)
15-64 years: 55.2% (male 7,935,101; female 7,382,101)
65 years and over: 2.8% (male 410,278; female 368,462) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
note: this rate reflects the continued return of refugees from Iran (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing
41.03 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing
17.43 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
10.7 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.11 male(s)/female
total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing
144.76 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing
total population: 46.6 years
female: 45.85 years (2002 est.)
male: 47.32 years
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing
5.72 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing
less than 0.01% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
noun: Afghan(s)
adjective: Afghan
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
Pashtun 44%, Tajik 25%, Hazara 10%, minor ethnic groups (Aimaks, Turkmen, Baloch, and others) 13%, Uzbek 8%
Definition Field Listing
Sunni Muslim 84%, Shi'a Muslim 15%, other 1%
Definition Field Listing
Pashtu 35%, Afghan Persian (Dari) 50%, Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen) 11%, 30 minor languages (primarily Balochi and Pashai) 4%, much bilingualism
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
male: 51%
female: 21% (1999 est.)
total population: 36%
People - note:
Definition Field Listing
large numbers of Afghan refugees create burdens on neighboring states
   Government    Afghanistan
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan
conventional short form: Afghanistan
local short form: Afghanestan
former: Republic of Afghanistan
local long form: Dowlat-e Eslami-ye Afghanestan
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
32 provinces (velayat, singular - velayat); Badakhshan, Badghis, Baghlan, Balkh, Bamian, Farah, Faryab, Ghazni, Ghowr, Helmand, Herat, Jowzjan, Kabol, Kandahar, Kapisa, Khowst, Konar, Kondoz, Laghman, Lowgar, Nangarhar, Nimruz, Nurestan, Oruzgan, Paktia, Paktika, Parvan, Samangan, Sar-e Pol, Takhar, Vardak, and Zabol
Definition Field Listing
19 August 1919 (from UK control over Afghan foreign affairs)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
Independence Day, 19 August (1919)
Definition Field Listing
the Bonn Agreement called for a Loya Jirga (Grand Council) to be convened within 18 months of the establishment of the Transitional Authority to draft a new constitution for the country; the basis for the next constitution is the 1963/64 Constitution, according to the Bonn Agreement
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
the Bonn Agreement calls for a judicial commission to rebuild the justice system in accordance with Islamic principles, international standards, the rule of law, and Afghan legal traditions
Definition Field Listing
NA; previously males 15-50 years of age
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
note: following the Taliban's refusal to hand over Usama bin LADIN to the US for his suspected involvement in the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, a US-led international coalition was formed; after several weeks of aerial bombardment by coalition forces and military action on the ground, including Afghan opposition forces, the Taliban was ousted from power on 17 November 2001; in December 2001 a number of prominent Afghans met under UN auspices in Bonn, Germany, to decide on a plan for governing the country; as a result, the Afghan Interim Authority (AIA) - made up of 30 members, headed by a chairman - was inaugurated on 22 December 2001 with a six-month mandate to be followed by a two-year Transitional Authority (TA) after which elections are to be held; the structure of the follow-on TA was announced on 10 June 2002 when the Loya Jirga (grand assembly) convened establishing the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan (TISA) which has an 18-month mandate to hold a Loya Jirga to adopt a constitution and a 24-month mandate to hold nationwide elections
chief of state: President of the TISA, Hamad KARZAI (since 10 June 2002); note - presently the president and head of government
head of government: President of the TISA, Hamad KARZAI (since 10 June 2002); note - presently the president and head of government
cabinet: the 30-member TISA
elections: NA
Legislative branch:
Definition Field Listing
nonfunctioning as of June 1993
Judicial branch:
Definition Field Listing
the Bonn Agreement calls for the establishment of a Supreme Court
Political parties and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
NA; note - political parties in Afghanistan are in flux and many prominent players have plans to create new parties; the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan (TISA) is headed by President Hamid Karzai; the TISA is a coalition government formed of leaders from across the Afghan political spectrum; there are also several "independent" groups
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
NA; note - ministries formed under the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan (TISA) include former influential Afghans, diaspora members, and former political leaders
International organization participation:
Definition Field Listing
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: ambassador Ishaq SHAHRYAR
chancery: 2341 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
FAX: 202-483-6487
consulate(s) general: New York
telephone: 202-483-6410
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Robert Patrick John FINN; note - embassy in Kabul reopened 16 December 2001 following closure in January 1989
embassy: Great Masood Road, Kabul
mailing address: 6180 Kabul Place, Dulles, VA 20189-6180
telephone: [93] (2) 290002, 290005, 290154
FAX: 00932290153
Flag description:
Definition Field Listing
three equal vertical bands of black (hoist), red, and green with a gold emblem centered on the red band; the emblem features a temple-like structure encircled by a wreath on the left and right and by a bold Islamic inscription above
   Economy    Afghanistan
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
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 two decades of war, including the nearly 10-year Soviet military occupation (which ended 15 February 1989). During that conflict one-third of the population fled the country, with Pakistan and Iran sheltering a combined peak of more than 6 million refugees. Gross domestic product has fallen substantially over the past 20 years because of the loss of labor and capital and the disruption of trade and transport; severe drought added to the nation's difficulties in 1998-2001. The majority of the population continues to suffer from insufficient food, clothing, housing, and medical care, problems exacerbated by military operations and political uncertainties. Inflation remains a serious problem. Following the US-led coalition war that led to the defeat of the Taliban in November 2001 and the formulation of the Afghan Interim Authority (AIA) resulting from the December 2001 Bonn Agreement, International efforts to rebuild Afghanistan were addressed at the Tokyo Donors Conference for Afghan Reconstruction in January 2002, when $4.5 billion was collected for a trust fund to be administered by the World Bank. Priority areas for reconstruction include the construction of education, health, and sanitation facilities, enhancement of administrative capacity, the development of the agricultural sector, and the rebuilding of road, energy, and telecommunication links.
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $21 billion (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
GDP - per capita:
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $800 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 60%
industry: 20%
services: 20% (1990 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing
10 million (2000 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture 80%, industry 10%, services 10% (1990 est.)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA
Definition Field Listing
small-scale production of textiles, soap, furniture, shoes, fertilizer, and cement; handwoven carpets; natural gas, coal, copper
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing
375 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
Definition Field Listing
fossil fuel: 36%
hydro: 64%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing
453.75 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
105 million kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
wheat, fruits, nuts, wool, mutton, sheepskin, and lambskin
Definition Field Listing
$1.2 billion (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
opium, fruits and nuts, handwoven carpets, wool, cotton, hides and pelts, precious and semi-precious gems
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Pakistan 32%, India 8%, Belgium 7%, Germany 5%, Russia 5%, UAE 4% (1999)
Definition Field Listing
$1.3 billion (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
capital goods, food and petroleum products; most consumer goods
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Pakistan 19%, Japan 16%, Kenya 9%, South Korea 7%, India 6%, Turkmenistan 6% (1999)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing
$5.5 billion (1996 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
international pledges made by more than 60 countries and international financial institutions at the Tokyo Donors Conference for Afghan reconstruction in January 2002 reached $4.5 billion through 2006, with $1.8 billion allocated for 2002; according to a joint preliminary assessment conducted by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the UN Development Program, rebuilding Afghanistan will cost roughly $15 billion over the next ten years
Definition Field Listing
afghani (AFA)
Currency code:
Definition Field Listing
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
afghanis per US dollar - 4,700 (January 2000), 4,750 (February 1999), 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 was fixed at 50.600 afghanis to the dollar until 1996, when it rose to 2,262.65 per dollar, and finally became fixed again at 3,000.00 per dollar in April 1996
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
21 March - 20 March
   Communications    Afghanistan
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing
29,000 (1998)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
general assessment: very limited telephone and telegraph service
domestic: in 1997, telecommunications links were established between Mazar-e Sharif, Herat, Kandahar, Jalalabad, and Kabul through satellite and microwave systems
international: satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) linked only to Iran and 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region); commercial satellite telephone center in Ghazni
Radio broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
AM 7 (6 are inactive; the active station is in Kabul), FM 1, shortwave 1 (broadcasts in Pashtu, Afghan Persian (Dari), Urdu, and English) (1999)
Definition Field Listing
167,000 (1999)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
at least 10 (one government-run central television station in Kabul and regional stations in nine of the 32 provinces; the regional stations operate on a reduced schedule; also, in 1997, there was a station in Mazar-e Sharif reaching four northern Afghanistan provinces) (1998)
Definition Field Listing
100,000 (1999)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
Definition Field Listing
1 (2000)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing
   Transportation    Afghanistan
Definition Field Listing
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 (2001)
Definition Field Listing
total: 21,000 km
paved: 2,793 km
unpaved: 18,207 km (1998 est.)
Definition Field Listing
1,200 km
note: chiefly Amu Darya, which handles vessels up to 500 DWT (2001)
Definition Field Listing
natural gas 180 km
note: product pipelines from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have been in disrepair and disuse for years (2002)
Ports and harbors:
Definition Field Listing
Kheyrabad, Shir Khan
Definition Field Listing
46 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 10 10
over 3,047 m: 3 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4 4
under 914 m: 1 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 2
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 37 35
under 914 m: 4 11 (2002)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 7
1,524 to 2,437 m: 7 13
914 to 1,523 m: 14 4
Definition Field Listing
5 (2002)
   Military    Afghanistan
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
NA; note - the December 2001 Bonn Agreement calls for all militia forces to come under Afghan Interim Authority (AIA) control, but formation of a national army is likely to be a gradual process; Afghanistan's forces continue to be factionalized largely along ethnic lines
Military manpower - military age:
Definition Field Listing
22 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 6,896,623 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 3,696,379 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males: 252,869 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Definition Field Listing
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing
   Transnational Issues    Afghanistan
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
close ties with Pashtuns in Pakistan make long border difficult to control
Illicit drugs:
Definition Field Listing
world's largest producer of opium; cultivation of opium poppy - used to make heroin - expanded to 30,750 hectares in 2002, despite eradication; potential opium production of 1,278 tons; source of hashish; many narcotics-processing labs throughout the country; drug trade source of instability and some government groups profit from the trade; 80-90% of the heroin consumed in Europe comes from Afghan opium; vulnerable to narcotics money laundering through the hawala system

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

Bottom Banner