Afghanistan Country Guide
Afghanistan is officially named Islamic State of Afghanistan. It was founded 1747 by Ahmad Shah Abdali, later known as Ahmad Shah Durrani who was a cavalry general. It is located about 360 miles northwest of Pakistan, and about 703 miles east of Iran. Along with Pakistan and Iran, it is also bordered by the countries of Tajikistan, China, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Afghanistan has a land area of 251,772 square miles, which is a little smaller than the state of Texas, located in the United States. As of 2011, the population was approximately 29,835,392, with a population density of around 116 people per square mile.
The terrain in Afghanistan consists of mostly desert plains and rugged mountains. The snow-capped Hindu Kush mountain range runs from east to west through centre of the country. Amu Darya, Kabul, Helman and Indus are just four of the many rivers that run through Afghanistan.
Located in the eastern portion of Afghanistan, along the Kabul River, is Kabul. It is the largest city as well as the capital of Afghanistan, with a population of about 3,043,532. Kabul University is located in Afghanistan's capital, and is the oldest and largest educational institution in the country. The university was established in 1930.
Dari (Afghan Persian) and Pashto are the two official languages of Afghanistan. Other languages spoken in Afghanistan are Uzbek and Turkmen. Some English, French and German are also spoken as well. Plus there are many other minor languages and dialects that are spoken.
There are quite a few ethnic groups in Afghanistan. Some of the main ethnic groups are Pashtun, Hazara, Uzbek, Turkmen, Tajik, Aimaq, Baluch, Kizilbash and Nuristani. Afghanistan's government is called Islamic Republic and has executive, legislative and judicial branches. About 80% of the people in Afghanistan are Sunni Muslims, and about 19% are Shi'a Muslims.
There are many natural resources in Afghanistan including natural gas, petroleum, coal, chromite, talc, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, and precious and semiprecious stones. Other natural resources are barley, cotton, goats, rice, sheep and sugar.
Afghanistan's climate ranges from arid to semiarid. The temperatures vary greatly from region to region. Winters have very cold temperatures and summers are very hot. Summer temperatures, in some locations, reach as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit. In the winter, temperatures can reach as low as 18 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures also vary greatly between daytime hours and night.
There are some roads in Afghanistan on which motor vehicles can travel. Most roads are in much needed repair. A majority of the people who live in the cities travel by way of bicycle or by bus. In non-city locations, people get around on foot or on the backs of animals such as donkeys, horses, or even camels.