OFFICIAL NAME: Afghanistan
CAPITAL CITY: Kabul
POPULATION: 27,100,000 (Source: COUNTRYaah)
AREA: 652,090 km²
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE (S): pashto, Persian (dari), baluchi, Uzbek, Turkmen etc.
RELIGION: Sunni Muslims 84%, Shia Muslims 15%, others 1%
CURRENCY CODE: AFN
ENGLISH NAME: Afghanistan
POPULATION COMPOSITION: Pashtuns 38%, Tajiks 25%, Hazaras 19%, Uzbeks 6%, others 12%
GDP PER residents: $ 695 (2014)
LIFE EXPECTANCY: -
INDEX OF LIVING CONDITIONS, HDI: 465
INDEX OF LIVING CONDITIONS, POSITION: 171
NATIONALITY MARK FOR CARS: OF
INTERNET DOMAIN NAME: .of
Afghanistan, Republic of Central Asia divided into 34 provinces. Already in
the 1970's, Afghanistan was one of the poorest countries and then followed nearly
25 years of war and conflict that destroyed most of the economic infrastructure
and drive about 1/3 of the population to flee. With the
fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, the international reconstruction of
Afghanistan's economy and parliamentary democracy began with extensive
international support. However, despite extensive international support for the
Afghan government, reconstruction is hampered by the Taliban's armed resistance
and widespread corruption.
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Afghanistan - religion
Islam is the official religion in Afghanistan, and the Sunni, Hanafi school
of law dominates. 80-85% of the population are Sunnis, while Shiites (imami and ismaili)
make up approximately 15%, the majority of which are Hazaras, who inhabit mainly the
central parts of the country. Another important Shiite group is kizilbash. In
addition, there are smaller groups of Sikhs, Hindus and Jews.
Islam has played an important political role in the country's recent history,
partly as a unifying and mobilizing force in the three Anglo-Afghan wars of
1842, 1879 and 1919, partly in connection with the civil war in 1929. The
resistance struggle against the communist PDPA regime in 1978-92 and against the
Soviet occupation was formulated as jihad (holy war).
Afghanistan - Constitution
The Republic's Constitution is from 2004 and it states that no laws must be
in conflict with Islam. It commands the state to create a prosperous and
progressive society based on social justice and the protection of human dignity,
human rights, democracy, national unity and equality between all ethnic groups
Afghanistan's former king, Zahir Shah, had the purely symbolic honorary
title of "father of the country". There are 34 provincial councils. The
government consists of 27 ministers appointed by the president and to be
approved by the National Assembly. The President and the two Vice-Presidents are
elected by direct election for a term of five years. The president is both head
of state and head of government and can only be elected for two terms.
The National Assembly consists of two chambers, a lower house or the "House
of the People" (Wolesi Jirga) with a maximum of 249 members, of which at least
68 must be women. They are elected by direct election for five years. A House of
Lords or "The Elder's House" (Meshrano Jirga) has 102 members, of which 1/3 elected
by the provincial councils for four years, 1/3 of the
local district councils for three years and 1/3 of the
president for five years. Half of the presidential nominees must be women. The
National Assembly can remove ministers and block legislation.
Afghanistan - military
Afghan armed forces are being rebuilt. The army includes approximately 90,000
organized into four regional commands and three brigades. The Air Force
includes a few aircraft and helicopters of various types. As Afghanistan is a
landlocked country, the country has no naval forces.
Rebels in the south and strong regional warlords everywhere outside the Kabul
area mean, however, that the country will continue (2009) for many years to be
dependent on extensive military support from the West.
Afghanistan - architecture and art
Archaeological excavations in Ai Khanoum near the border with Tajikistan have
uncovered the ruins of one of the many Greek cities laid by Alexander the Great
in 300 BC.
A large gold find at Tilya-Tepe near Sheberghan on the border with
Turkmenistan was excavated in 1979; the 20,000 buried objects bear witness to a
mixed culture in which, for example, a classical Greek Aphrodite is depicted
with an Indian forehead mark along with Scythian sacred animals.
The refined art of the Kushan Empire in the first centuries AD. is especially
known from archeological excavations at Surkh Kotal and Bagram approximately 80 km
north of Kabul (formerly Kapisa, summer residence of King Kanishka).
The so-called Gandhara art is manifested in Bamiyan with the two large Buddha
figures carved into the rock wall. Tepe-i Shotor south of Jalalabad was also an
important Buddhist site from 100-600-teKr. with thousands of Buddha statues and
The Arab conquest of the Sassanid Empire in Persia placed Islam as the
dominant religious and cultural factor in Afghanistan. The ruins of the
Masjdid-i Tarikh Mosque at Balkh near Mazar-i Sharif from 800-t. is the oldest
existing Islamic building in the country; the stucco decorations with vines and
arabesques are done in a style known from the contemporary buildings of the
Abbasids in Samarra.
The subsequent Islamic dynasties produced the finest in architecture: the
Ghaznavids (900-1100-t.), The Ghorids (1100-1200-t.) And the Timurids
(1300-1500-t.). Only a few buildings have been preserved, and most are merely
ruins of the magnificent edifices.
Polychrome murals are partly preserved in the large ruin complex of the
Ghaznavid Winter Palaces at Lashkar-i Bazar west of Kandahar. The refined façade
decoration with patterned masonry in deep relief can be seen on minarets at
Ghazni, at the Dowlat Abad minaret at Balkh and at the Ghorid minaret in Jam in
central Hindu Kush.
In 1409, Herat became the residence capital of the Timurids, who richly
patronized architecture and the fine arts; only in Cairo was the number of
mosques, fellow travelers and mausoleums greater.
The rich architecture became the model for the architecture of the Safavid
Isfahan and the palaces of the Mughals in India. The use of polychrome faience
mosaics is the Timurids' most significant contribution to architectural history.
The tomb of the Caliph Ali in Mazar-i Sharif and the Friday Mosque in Herat
are the best preserved buildings from this period. Herat was throughout the
1400's. the most important cultural center in Central Asia. Miniature painting
and book art were developed to the highest degree of perfection with the painter
Bihzad as the most prominent representative of the Herat style.
European influence is seen in the architecture of the early 1900's, when
modernizations of the social system began; in particular, Soviet-Afghan
relations were strengthened, resulting in extensive housing construction
in Kabul until the 1970's, built according to rational, industrialized methods.
The popular, material culture exhibits great regional variations in the
anonymous construction, which is mainly built of sun-dried brick or stamped
clay, as well as in the extensive textile art of embroidery, woven kilim
and knitted Afghan rugs. See also Islamic art.
The explosion in 2001 of the two 1500-year-old monumental Buddha statues in
the rock wall of the Bamiy Valley created international awareness of the
destruction of the rich and multifaceted cultural heritage of Afghanistan.
The Soviet invasion in 1979 caused significant material destruction. Large
parts of Herat were bombed after local uprisings against the occupying
forces. During the ensuing civil war between rival ethnic groups, Kabul was
subjected to massive destruction, and in the front line south of the city, the
National Museum was bombed.
The museum's irreplaceable collection of Central and Southwest Asian art was
destroyed or stolen and sold to international antique dealers. During two
decades of lawlessness, important archeological sites such as Mir Zakah, Ai
Khanum, Bamiyan, Hadda and Balkh were also looted, and Afghanistan's rich
cultural heritage scattered for all to see.
Following the Taliban regime's takeover in 1996, an image storm was carried
out against all non-Islamic art and culture, culminating in the destruction of
the Buddha statues in Bamiyan. Thus, the most important testimonies of the
cultural encounter between some of the world's great civilizations in Central
Asia were destroyed or resold to private collections.
The international community has stood powerless because Afghanistan has not
acceded to the international legal conventions on the protection of cultural
heritage, and the changing governments in Kabul were not recognized by the UN.
Following the fall of the fundamentalist regime, UNESCO and ICOM launched a
search for stolen artefacts, and extensive civil society reconstruction efforts
are under way to restore some of Afghanistan's cultural identity. As a quick
reaction, the Ghorede Minaret in Jam was inscribed on the
UNESCO World Heritage List in 2002.
Afghanistan - music
In Afghanistan, music from the Central Asian, Indian and Iranian cultures
meet and mix with the local ethnic music. The population itself distinguishes
between classical music, semi-classical music, both of which are mainly
cultivated in and around the big cities, and the regional folk music, in which
the vocal music plays a prominent role. Songs, possibly. accompanied by one of
the country's many different lute instruments, is found everywhere. Instrumental
music is especially used as an accompaniment to dance. To the north and west,
among the ethnic groups connected to Central Asia and Iran, several older
musical traditions have been preserved. In the tea houses, the men sing,
possibly with dambura accompaniment. The melodies begin in a very high pitch and
move down to the middle. The singing style is slightly nasal, and the melody is
sung with quick embellishments.
Selection of instruments
- chang, mundharpe
- dambura, two-stranded long neck end without ribbon
- dhol, barrel-shaped drum
- dutar, two-stranded long neck end with ribbon, possibly. with
- dömbra, three-string long neck end
- ghichak, two-stringed spear fiddle (kamanche)
- nar, end-blown flute (nay)
- rabab, short neck end with 4-6 strings and resonant
- sarinda, short neck fidel
- surnai, skalmeje (zurna)
- tan cage, long neck end with ribbon, often with 6 strings
- waji, curved harp from Nuristan
The population in the southern and eastern part as well as individual groups
in the southwestern part are strongly influenced from North India by both
classical music and film music. Here is a softer and warmer sound as well as
more smooth melody lines. Since the 1950's, radio has meant a lot to music. The
often very low status of musicians has improved and the range of music has
increased. Modernized semi-classical singing (the Indian ghazal) and
popular music (kiliwali) have become widespread via Kabul
Radio. Here, a new national popular music has mixed elements from many of the
older and newer local genres.
Afghanistan - literature
Afghan literature means literature in the Afghans' own language, the Iranian
Pashto. By a government decree in 1936, Pashto was made a national language, and
teaching in it was forced. But also "Afghan-Persian" (Dari), which
spoken in Kabul has become a literary language.
There is some ambiguity about the age of Pashto literature. In 1944,
Professor AH Habibi discovered and published a 1886 transcript of a work from
1729 by the poet Muhammad Hotak of Kandahar entitled Peta Khazana (The
Hidden Treasure). It is an anthology of poems from the 700's. to Hotak's own
It is believed that Hotak has preserved valuable remnants of the very oldest
Pashto poetry. Secure evidence is available from the 1500's. with Bajazid Ansari
with the self-chosen nickname Pir Roshan, 'Saint of Light'
(1524-ca.1580). Bajazid was a heretic who preached a radical pantheism and
believed that God could incarnate in human flesh and blood, and he was a
militant mystic in constant battle with the Mughals.
Of his works, the best known is The Best Explanation, preserved in
a unique manuscript that pretends to be a new revelation, but which is in fact a
representation of Bajazid's Sufism.
Among Bajazid's sharpest orthodox opponents was Akhund Darveza (approximately
1540-1639), who wrote the history of the Afghans as well as a presentation
of the right doctrine, spiced with a myriad of insults and curses against the
The big name in Afghan literature is Khushhal Khan Khatak (1613-89), the
chief of the famous khatak tribe, Afghanistan's national poet, warrior and
Is than Khushhal Khan Khatak the great, is probably Abdur Rahman Mohmand
(ca.1650-ca.1720) the beloved. He is called Rahman Baba, 'Little
Father Rahman', was deeply religious and rooted in deep love for God.
The "old" Pashto literature also includes a wealth of folk tales, folk songs
and tapas, a form of poetry as old as the language and the Pashtuns
themselves. A tappa is a time of 1 1/2 line, which tells
a complete story and content is almost comparable to Kumbels Gruk.
Pashto literature had its great breakthrough with the tremendous political
and economic changes of the 1800's. and especially in the 1900-t. The novel and
short story in the modern sense as well as the rhyming poem gained ground, and
the interests of the Pashto language were handed over to the Pashto
Academy, Pashto Tolena, established in 1937 and in 1976
expanded with the UNESCO-supported International Center for Pashto Studies.
There are many "new" names in modern Pashto literature, such as Abdullah
Bakhtanai-Khedmatigar with Sweet and Bitter (Poems and Prose from
1957), Secret (Poems 1957) and Pashtoære (Tales 1975) and
Kobra Mazhari, one of the few female poets, including Lyn (short
stories 1973), Hjerteblod (poems 1974) and Månen (novel 1977).
"Afghan-Persian" played, as more and more dominant, a crucial role in the
modern literary breakthrough. From 1964 it was called dari,
egl. 'court language', ie. the language of administration, which in the
1800's. was the common language of the various principalities in present-day
With the newspapers, magazines and radio came the literary renewal, and it
was mainly due to the daril literature. The first novel came in 1938: The
Dark Evening and the Clear Morning, by S. Muhammad Ibrahim Alemshahi, and
other novels as well as short stories and poems followed.
It's names like Musa Hemmat with excitement novel Fate (about 1950)
and Azam Ubaidi with novels and short stories in the period 1950-60, Muhammad
Akram Usman of short stories in newspapers and magazines from around 1963 ff.,
And the couple Sposhmai and Azam Rahnavard Zarjab.
Literature in Afghanistan - both written in Pashtu and Dari (Persian) - had
difficult conditions of survival under the Russian-backed authorities in 1979-89
and under the Taliban in 1994/96.
Since the US invasion and the fall of the Taliban, the literature has been
mainly about a new Afghanistan and the reconstruction of Afghanistan. However,
the Afghan writers have had great difficulty in getting their works printed,
due to the economic situation in the country and the fractionation of
power; local warlords exercise censorship.
Afghan literature is mainly found on the Internet, in local magazines of all
kinds, published in Iran (mainly Dari literature), and elsewhere published in
the original language and in the translation of Afghans into exile, eg Khaled
Hosseini's The Kite Runner (2003, da The Dragon Runner, 2004,