Is bounded in the north by Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tazikistan, east
by China, east and south by Pakistan and west by Iran. Its total area
is approximately 251773 sq. miles (652090 sq. kms.). No census has been
taken in Afghanistan till date but it is estimated that the population
is approximately 25 million. These are divided into several ethnic groups
such as Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras, Nooristanis. Pushtoo and Dari
are official languages.
Afghan history goes back to pre-historic times. Excavations carried out
in Khandahar, Baluches and Badakshan indicate that human settlements existed
as early as 20,000 years ago.
The country has 32 provinces and the northern and southern parts of the
country are connected through the Salang Pass high up in the Hindukush
The major exports of Afghanistan consist of carpets, karakul pelts, fresh
and dry fruits and nuts, skins and hides, guts, oil seeds, medicinal herbs,
cotton and wool. Oil and gas deposits are found in the north and these
were being exported to the Soviet Union upto 1990s. The oil sector is
still to be exploited. A variety of minerals are found in the country
which include rich deposits of iron and copper. Uranium deposits have
also been detected in Bamiyan.
Afghanistan is a paradise for tourists. The high snow covered peaks of
the Hindukush, the pine covered fields of Nooristan, the historic valley
of Bamyan, the mausoleums and grand mosque of Herat, the Mausoleum of
the 4th Caliph of Islam in Mazar-i-Sharif and the Jam Minaret Feroz Koh
are worth seeing. There is also trout fishing in Bamiyan, Anderab and
Farkhar. These are picturesque areas and can be reached by motorable roads.
The workforce was 8,851,000 in 1996. Majority of it being males.
The unemployment rate is estimated to be around 8%.
The Ministry of Information and Culture has been making efforts to boost
radio, television and journalism. Consequently, television and radio stations
are available in the provinces and are equipped with FM transmitters and
Radio Afghanistan is to cover the entire country shortly.
Government finances four newspapers. At the same time encourages individual
aspirants to run their private radio stations and publications.
The predominant religion is Islam. An estimated 84% of the population
is sunni muslims and balance of 16% are Shias which also includes members
of the Ismaili sect.
There are elementary schools throughout the country, but secondary
schools exist only in Kabul and the Provincial Capitals. There are five
universities, one University of Islamic Studies, one State medical institute
and one polytechnic.