Afghanistan, slightly smaller than the state of Texas, is a landlocked country in southern Asia. With an estimated population of 29,835,392 (July 2011); Afghanistan is ethnically diverse: Pashtun 42%, Tajik 27%, Hazara 9%, Uzbek 9%, and other. The two official languages are Afghan Persian (or Dari) and Pashto; thirty other languages are also recognized and many Afghanis are bilingual. Religiously, the country is 80% Sunni Muslim, 19% Shia Muslim, and 1% other.
Afghanistan, often called the crossroads of Central Asia, has had a turbulent history. From the entrance of Alexander the Great in 328 BC to the Arab invasion in AD 642 to the Mongol invasion in 1219, Afghanistan has become a diverse culture. During the 19th century, the British Empire clashed with czarist Russia significantly in Afghanistan in what was termed "The Great Game."
In 1964, King Zahir Shah promulgated a liberal constitution providing for a two-chamber legislature to which the king appointed one-third of the deputies. On December 24, 1979, large numbers of Soviet airborne forces began to land in Kabul. The Taliban had risen to power in the mid-1990s in reaction and provided sanctuary to Osama bin Laden. Following the Taliban's repeated refusal to expel bin Laden and his group and end its support for international terrorism, the U.S. and its partners in an anti-terrorist coalition began a military campaign on October 7, 2001.
Under the "Bonn Agreement," an Afghan Interim Authority was formed and took office in Kabul on December 22, 2001 with Hamid Karzai as Chairman. On December 7, 2004, the country was renamed the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
Afghanistan's climate is arid to semiarid with cold winters and hot summers; its terrain is mostly rugged mountains, plains in north and southwest. The natural resources of Afghanistan include: natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones. Natural hazards facing Afghanistan include: damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains, flooding and droughts.
CIA World Factbook; U.S. State Department Background Notes, 11/2011; 11/2011
This map has also been used:
- Kabul, Afghanistan, September 2011