Geographic and Governmental Profile of Afghanistan

Background
Ahmad Shah DURRANI unified the Pashtun tribes and founded Afghanistan in 1747. The country served as a buffer between the British and Russian Empires until it won independence from notional British control in 1919. A brief experiment in democracy ended in a 1973 coup and a 1978 Communist counter-coup. The Soviet Union invaded in 1979 to support the tottering Afghan Communist regime, touching off a long and destructive war. The USSR withdrew in 1989 under relentless pressure by internationally supported anti-Communist mujahedin rebels. A series of subsequent civil wars saw Kabul finally fall in 1996 to the Taliban, a hardline Pakistani-sponsored movement that emerged in 1994 to end the country's civil war and anarchy. Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., a US, Allied, and anti-Taliban Northern Alliance military action toppled the Taliban for sheltering Osama BIN LADIN. The UN-sponsored Bonn Conference in 2001 established a process for political reconstruction that included the adoption of a new constitution, a presidential election in 2004, and National Assembly elections in 2005. In December 2004, Hamid KARZAI became the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan and the National Assembly was inaugurated the following December. KARZAI was re-elected in August 2009 for a second term. Despite gains toward building a stable central government, a resurgent Taliban and continuing provincial instability - particularly in the south and the east - remain serious challenges for the Afghan Government. In January 2011, Afghanistan assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2012-13 term.
Location
Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran
Geographic coordinates
33 00 N, 65 00 E
Continent / Subcontinent
Asia
Area
total:
652,230 sq km
rank:
41
land:
652,230 sq km
water:
0 sq km
Area - comparative
slightly smaller than Texas
Land boundaries
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
Coastline
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims
none (landlocked)
Climate
arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers
Terrain
mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest
Elevation extremes
lowest point:
Amu Darya 258 m
highest point:
Noshak 7,485 m
Natural resources
natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones
Land use
arable land:
12.13%
permanent crops:
0.21%
other:
87.66% (2005)
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Irrigated land
31,990 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
65 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
total:
23.26 cu km/yr (2%/0%/98%)
per capita:
779 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding; droughts
Environment - current issues
limited natural freshwater 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
party to:
Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified:
Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note
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)
Country name
\\\conventional long form:
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
conventional short form:
Afghanistan
local long form:
Jamhuri-ye Islami-ye Afghanistan
local short form:
Afghanistan
former:
Republic of Afghanistan
Government type
Islamic republic
Capital
name:
Kabul
geographic coordinates:
34 31 N, 69 11 E
time difference:
UTC+4.5 (9.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions
34 provinces (welayat, singular - welayat); Badakhshan, Badghis, Baghlan, Balkh, Bamyan, Daykundi, Farah, Faryab, Ghazni, Ghor, Helmand, Herat, Jowzjan, Kabul, Kandahar, Kapisa, Khost, Kunar, Kunduz, Laghman, Logar, Nangarhar, Nimroz, Nuristan, Paktika, Paktiya, Panjshir, Parwan, Samangan, Sar-e Pul, Takhar, Uruzgan, Wardak, Zabul
Independence
19 August 1919 (from UK control over Afghan foreign affairs)
Constitution
sixth constitution drafted 14 December 2003-4 January 2004; signed 16 January 2004; ratified 26 January 2004
Legal system
mixed legal system of civil, customary, and Islamic law
International law organization participation
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Suffrage
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state:
President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid KARZAI (since 7 December 2004); First Vice President Mohammad FAHIM Khan (since 19 November 2009); Second Vice President Abdul Karim KHALILI (since 7 December 2004); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government:
President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid KARZAI (since 7 December 2004); First Vice President Mohammad FAHIM Khan (since 19 November 2009); Second Vice President Abdul Karim KHALILI (since 7 December 2004)
cabinet:
25 ministers; note - ministers are appointed by the president and approved by the National Assembly
elections:
the president and two vice presidents elected by direct vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); if no candidate receives 50% or more of the vote in the first round of voting, the two candidates with the most votes will participate in a second round; election last held on 20 August 2009 (next to be held in 2014)
election results:
Hamid KARZAI reelected president; percent of vote (first round) - Hamid KARZAI 49.67%, Abdullah ABDULLAH 30.59%, Ramazan BASHARDOST 10.46%, Ashraf GHANI 2.94%; other 6.34%; note - ABDULLAH conceded the election to KARZAI following the first round vote
Legislative branch
the bicameral National Assembly consists of the Meshrano Jirga or House of Elders (102 seats, one-third of members elected from provincial councils for four-year terms, one-third elected from local district councils for three-year terms, and one-third nominated by the president for five-year terms) and the Wolesi Jirga or House of People (no more than 250 seats); members directly elected for five-year terms
on rare occasions the government may convene a Loya Jirga (Grand Council) on issues of independence, national sovereignty, and territorial integrity; it can amend the provisions of the constitution and prosecute the president; it is made up of members of the National Assembly and chairpersons of the provincial and district councils
elections:
last held on 18 September 2010 (next election expected in 2015)
election results:
results by party - NA; note - ethnicity is the main factor influencing political alliances; composition of Loya Jirga seats by ethnic groups - Pashtun 96, Hazara 61, Tajik 53, Uzbek 15, Aimak 8, Arab 8, Turkmen 3, Nuristani 2, Baloch 1, Pahhai 1, Turkic 1; women hold 68 seats
Judicial branch
highest courts:
Supreme Court; consists of nine judges
judge selection & term of office:
judges appointed by president for up to two nonrenewable four-year terms
subordinate courts:
Cassation and sharia
new constitution of January 2004 specifies as many as 12 Supreme Court judges
Political parties and leaders
Afghanistan's Islamic Mission Organization [Abdul Rasoul SAYYAF]; Afghanistan's Welfare Party [Meer Asef ZAEEFI]; Afghan Social Democratic Party [Anwarul Haq AHADI]; Islamic Movement of Afghanistan [Sayed Hussain ANWARI]; Islamic Party of Afghanistan [Mohammad Khalid FAROOQI, Abdul Hadi ARGHANDIWAL]; Islamic Society of Afghanistan [Salahuddin RABBANI]; Islamic Unity of the Nation of Afghanistan Party [Qurban Ali URFANI]; Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan [Mohammad Karim KHALILI]; Islamic Unity Party of the People of Afghanistan [Haji Mohammad MOHAQQEQ]; Law and Justice Party [Hanif ATMAR]; National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan [Pir Sayed Ahmad GAILANEE]; National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan [Sayed NOORULLAH]; National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan [Pir Sayed Eshaq GAILANEE]; National Linkage Party of Afghanistan [Sayed Mansoor NADERY]; United Islamic Party of Afghanistan [Ustad Mohammad AKBARI]; note - includes only political parties approved by the Ministry of Justice
Political pressure groups and leaders
other:
religious groups; tribal leaders; ethnically based groups; Taliban
International organization participation
ADB, CICA, CP, ECO, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OSCE (partner), SAARC, SACEP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNSC (temporary), UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Eklil Ahmad HAKIMI
chancery:
2341 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone:
[1] (202) 483-6410
FAX:
[1] (202) 483-6488
consulate(s) general:
Los Angeles, New York
Diplomatic representation from the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador James B. CUNNINGHAM
embassy:
The Great Masood Road, Kabul
mailing address:
U.S. Embassy Kabul, APO, AE 09806
telephone:
[93] 0700 108 001
FAX:
[93] 0700 108 564
Flag description
three equal vertical bands of black (hoist side), red, and green, with the national emblem in white centered on the red band and slightly overlapping the other two bands; the center of the emblem features a mosque with pulpit and flags on either side, below the mosque are numerals for the solar year 1298 (1919 in the Gregorian calendar, the year of Afghan independence from the UK); this central image is circled by a border consisting of sheaves of wheat on the left and right, in the upper-center is an Arabic inscription of the Shahada (Muslim creed) below which are rays of the rising sun over the Takbir (Arabic expression meaning "God is great"), and at bottom center is a scroll bearing the name Afghanistan; black signifies the past, red is for the blood shed for independence, and green can represent either hope for the future, agricultural prosperity, or Islam
Afghanistan had more changes to its national flag in the 20th century than any other country; the colors black, red, and green appeared on most of them
National symbol(s)
lion
National anthem
name:
"Milli Surood" (National Anthem)
lyrics/music:
Abdul Bari JAHANI/Babrak WASA
adopted 2006; the 2004 constitution of the post-Taliban government mandated that a new national anthem should be written containing the phrase "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great) and mentioning the names of Afghanistan's ethnic groups
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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