Human habitation in
dates back to the Middle
Paleolithic Era, and the country's strategic location along the Afghanistan Silk Road connected it to the cultures of
and other parts of Asia. Through the ages the land has been home to
various peoples and witnessed numerous military campaigns; notably by Alexander
the Great, Mauryas, Muslim Arabs, Mongols, British, Soviet Russians, and in the
modern-era by Western powers. The land also served as the source from which the
Kushans, Hephthalites, Samanids, Saffarids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Khiljis,
Mughals, Hotaks, Durranis, and others have risen to form major empires.
The political history of the modern state of
began with the Hotak and Durrani
dynasties in the 18th century. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in the
"Great Game" between Afghanistan British India and the Russian Empire.
Following the Third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919, King Amanullah unsuccessfully attempted to modernize the country. It remained peaceful during Zahir Shah's forty years of monarchy. A series of coups in the 1970s was followed by a series of civil wars that devastated much of
is believed to be as old as the
Afghanistan ethnonym Afghan, which is documented in the 10th-century geography book Hudud
ul-' alam. The root name "Afghan" was used historically in reference
to a member of the ethnic Pashtuns, and the suffix"- stan" means
"place of" in Sanskrit. Therefore, translates to land of the Afghans
or, more specifically in a historical sense, to Afghanistan land of the Pashtuns. However,
the modern Constitution of states that the word Afghan shall
apply to every citizen of Afghanistan ." Afghanistan
Excavations of prehistoric sites by Louis Dupree and others suggest that humans were living in what is now
at least 50,000 years ago, and
that farming communities in the area were among the earliest in the world. An
important site of early historical activities, many believe that Afghanistan compares to Afghanistan in terms of the historical value
of its archaeological sites. Egypt
The country sits at a unique nexus point where numerous civilizations have interacted and often fought. It has been home to various peoples through the ages, among them the ancient Iranian peoples who established the dominant role of Indo-Iranian languages in the region. At multiple points, the land has been incorporated within large regional empires, among them the Achaemenid Empire, the Macedonian Empire, the Indian Maurya Empire, and the Islamic Empire.
Many empires and kingdoms have also risen to power in Afghanistan, such as the Greco-Bactrians, Kushans, Hephthalites, Kabul Shahis, Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Khiljis, Kartids, Timurids, Mughals, and finally the Hotak and Durrani dynasties that marked the political origins of the modern state.
Pre-Islamic period of
Bilingual (Greek and Aramaic) edict by Emperor Ashoka from the 3rd century BCE discovered in the southern city of
Archaeological exploration done in the 20th century suggests that the geographical area of
has been closely connected by
culture and trade with its neighbors to the east, west, and north. Artifacts
typical of the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze, and Iron ages have
been found in Afghanistan . Afghanistan
The Urban civilization of
is believed to have begun as
early as 3000 BCE, and the early city of Afghanistan (near Mundigak in the south of the country) may
have been a colony of the nearby Kandahar Civilization. More recent
findings established that the Indus Valley Civilization stretched up towards
modern day Indus Valley , making the ancient civilization
today part of Afghanistan , Pakistan and Afghanistan . In more detail, it extended from
what today is northeast India to northwest Pakistan and northeast India . An Afghanistan site has been found on the Indus Valley at Shortugai in northern Oxus River . There are several smaller Afghanistan Civilization colonies to be found
in Indus Valley as well. Afghanistan
After 2000 BCE, successive waves of semi-nomadic people from
Central Asia began moving south into ; among them were many
Indo-European-speaking Indo-Iranians. These tribes later migrated further into Afghanistan South Asia, Western Asia, and toward Europe via the area north of the Caspian Sea. The region at the time was
referred to as Ariana.
Alexander the Great and his Macedonian forces arrived
During the first century BCE, the Parthian Empire subjugated the region, but lost it to their Indo-Parthian vassals. In the mid-to-late first century CE the vast Kushan Empire, centered in
Islamization and Mongol invasion of
Arab Muslims brought Islam to
By the 11th century, Mahmud of Ghazni defeated the remaining Hindu rulers and effectively Islamized the wider region, with the exception of Kafiristan.
In 1219 AD, Genghis Khan and his Mongol army overran the region. His troops are said to have annihilated the Khorasanian cities of
In the early 16th century, Babur arrived from
Before the 19th century, the northwestern area of
was referred to by the regional
name Khorasan. Two of the four capitals of Khorasan ( Afghanistan and Herat ) are now located in Balkh while the regions of Afghanistan , Zabulistan, Ghazni, Kabulistan formed
the frontier between Kandahar and Afghanistan Hindustan.
In 1709, Mirwais Hotak, a local Ghilzai tribal leader, successfully rebelled against the Safavids. He defeated Gurgin Khan and made
independent. Mirwais died of a
natural cause in 1715 and was succeeded by his brother Abdul Aziz, who was soon
killed by Mirwais' son Mahmud for treason. Mahmud led the Afghan army in 1722
to the Persian capital of Isfahan, captured the city after the Battle of
Gulnabad and proclaimed himself King of Persia. The Afghan dynasty was ousted
from Persia by Nadir Shah after the 1729 Battle of Damghan. Afghanistan
In 1738, Nadir Shah and his forces captured Kandahar, the last Hotak stronghold, from Shah Hussain Hotak, at which point the incarcerated 16-year-old Ahmad Shah Durrani was freed and made the commander of an Afghan regiment. Soon after the Persian and Afghan forces invaded Punjab
by 1747, the Afghans chose Durrani as
their head of state. Durrani and his Afghan army conquered much of present-day
Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Khorasan and Kohistan provinces of Iran, and Delhi
in India. He defeated the Indian Maratha Empire, and one of his biggest
victories was the 1761 Battle of Panipat.
Ahmad Shah Durrani is the founder of the last Afghan empire and viewed as
the Nation. In October 1772, Durrani died of a natural cause and was buried at
a site now adjacent to the Shrine of the Cloak in Kandahar. He was succeeded by
his son, Timur Shah, who transferred the capital of Afghanistan from Kandahar
to Kabul in 1776. After Timur's death in 1793, the Durrani throne passed down
to his son Zaman Shah, followed by Mahmud Shah, Shuja Shah and others.
The Afghan Empire was under threat in the early 19th century by the Persians in the west and the Sikhs in the east. Fateh Khan, leader of the Barakzai tribe, had installed 21 of his brothers in positions of power throughout the empire. After his death, they rebelled and divided up the provinces of the empire between themselves. During this turbulent period, Afghanistan had many temporary rulers until Dost Mohammad Khan declared himself emir in 1826. The Punjab region was lost to Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who invaded Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and in 1834 captured the city of Peshawar.
European influence in Afghanistan and Reforms of Amānullāh Khān.
In 1837, after the defeat of
Afghan army from Sikh Empire of Punjab in the Battle
of Jamrud near the Khyber Pass, the British started to advance from the east
and the first major conflict during the "Great Game" was initiated.
Following the first Anglo-Afghan war in 1842, the British established diplomatic relations with the Afghan government and withdrew all forces from the country. They returned during the Second Anglo-Afghan War in the late 1870s for about two years to assist Abdur Rahman Khan to defeat Ayub Khan. The United Kingdom began to exercise a great deal of influence
After the Third Anglo-Afghan War and the signing of the Treaty of Rawalpindi in 1919, King Amanullah Khan declared Afghanistan a sovereign and fully independent state. He moved to end his country's traditional isolation by establishing diplomatic relations with the international community and, following a 1927–28 tour of Europe and Turkey, introduced several reforms intended to modernize his nation. A key force behind these reforms was Mahmud Tarzi, an ardent supporter of the education of women. He fought for Article 68 of Afghanistan's 1923 constitution, which made elementary education compulsory. The institution of slavery was abolished in 1923.
Some of the reforms that were actually put in place, such as the abolition of the traditional
burqa for women and the opening of a number of co-educational
schools, quickly alienated many tribal and religious leaders. Faced with
overwhelming armed opposition, Amanullah Khan was forced to abdicate in January
1929 after Kabul fell to rebel forces led by Habibullah Kalakani. Prince
Mohammed Nadir Shah, Amanullah's cousin, in turn defeated and killed Kalakani
in November 1929, and was declared King Nadir Shah. He abandoned the reforms of
Amanullah Khan in favor of a more gradual approach to modernization, but was
assassinated in 1933 by Abdul Khaliq, a Hazara school student.
Mohammed Zahir Shah, Nadir Shah's 19-year-old son, succeeded to the throne and reigned from 1933 to 1973. Until 1946, Zahir Shah ruled with the assistance of his uncle, who held the post of Prime Minister and continued the policies of Nadir Shah.
Another of Zahir Shah's uncles, Shah Mahmud Khan, became Prime Minister in 1946 and began an experiment allowing greater political freedom, but reversed the policy when it went further than he expected. He was replaced in 1953 by Mohammed Daoud Khan, the king's cousin and brother-in-law. Daoud Khan sought a closer relationship with the Soviet Union and a more distant one towards Pakistan.
In 1973, while King Zahir Shah was on an official overseas visit, Daoud Khan launched a bloodless coup and became the first President of Afghanistan. In the meantime, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto got neighboring Pakistan involved in Afghanistan. Some experts suggest that Bhutto paved the way for the April 1978 Saur Revolution.
Afghanistan remained neutral and was neither a participant in World War II nor aligned with either power bloc in the Cold War. However, it was a beneficiary of the latter rivalry as both the Soviet Union and the United States vied for influence by building Afghanistan's main highways, airports, and other vital infrastructure. On
per capita basis, Afghanistan received more Soviet development aid than any
In April 1978, the communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) seized power in Afghanistan in the Saur Revolution. Within months, opponents of the communist government launched an uprising in eastern Afghanistan that quickly expanded into a civil war waged by guerrilla Mujahideen against government forces countrywide. The Pakistani government provided these rebels with covert training centers, while the Soviet Union sent thousands of military advisers to support the PDPA government. Meanwhile, increasing friction between the competing factions of the PDPA — the dominant Khalq and the more moderate Parcham — resulted in the dismissal of Parchami cabinet members and the arrest of Parchami military officers under the pretext of a Parchami coup.
The United States had been supporting anti-Soviet Afghan Mujahideen and foreign "Afghan Arab" fighters through Pakistan's ISI as early as mid-1979 (see CIA activities in Afghanistan). Billions in cash and weapons, which included over two thousand FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missiles, were provided by the United States and Saudi Arabia to Pakistan.
The Soviet war in Afghanistan resulted in the deaths of over 1 million Afghans, mostly civilians, and the creation of about 6 million refugees who fled Afghanistan, mainly to Pakistan and Iran. Faced with mounting international pressure and numerous casualties, the Soviets withdrew in 1989 but continued to support Afghan President Mohammad Najibullah until 1992.
Civil war in Afghanistan (1989–92).
From 1989 until 1992, Najibullah's government tried to solve the ongoing civil war with economic and military aid, but without Soviet troops on the ground.
Najibullah tried to build support for his government by portraying his
government as Islamic, and in the 1990 constitution the country officially
became an Islamic state and all references of communism were removed.
Nevertheless, Najibullah did not win any significant support, and with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, he was left without foreign aid. This, coupled with the internal collapse of his government, led to his ousting from power in April 1992.
Civil war in Afghanistan (1992–96).
After the fall of Najibullah's government in 1992, the post-communist Islamic State of Afghanistan was established by the Peshawar Accord, a peace and power-sharing agreement under which all the Afghan parties were united in April 1992, except for the Pakistani supported Hezb-e Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar started a bombardment campaign against the capital city Kabul, which marked the beginning of a new phase in the war.
Saudi Arabia and Iran supported different Afghan militias and instability quickly developed. The conflict between the two militias soon escalated into a full-scale war.
Due to the sudden initiation of the war, working government departments, police units, and a system of justice and accountability for the newly created Islamic State of Afghanistan did not have time to form. Atrocities were committed by individuals of the different armed factions while Kabul descended into lawlessness and chaos. Because of the chaos, some leaders increasingly had only nominal control over their (sub-) commanders. For civilians there was little security from murder, rape, and extortion. An estimated 25,000 people died during the most intense period of bombardment by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar 's Hezb-
Southern and eastern Afghanistan was under the control of local commanders such as Gul Agha Sherzai and others. In 1994, the Taliban (a movement originating from Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-run religious schools for Afghan refugees in Pakistan) also developed in Afghanistan as a political-religious force. The Taliban first took control of southern Afghanistan in 1994 and forced the surrender of dozens of local Pashtun leaders.
In late 1994, forces of Ahmad Shah Massoud held on to Kabul.
took steps to reopen courts, restore law and order, and initiate a nationwide
political process with the goal of national consolidation and democratic
elections. Ahmad Shah Massoud invited Taliban leaders to join the process but
Civil war in Afghanistan (1996–2001) and Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
The Taliban's early victories in late 1994 were followed by a series of defeats that resulted in heavy losses. The Taliban attempted to capture Kabul in early 1995 but were repelled by forces under Ahmad Shah Massoud. In September 1996, as the Taliban, with military support from Pakistan and financial support from Saudi Arabia, prepared for another major offensive, Ahmad Shah Massoud ordered a full retreat from Kabul. The Taliban seized Kabul in the same month and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. They imposed a strict form of Sharia, similar to that found in Saudi Arabia. According to Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), "no other
After the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, Ahmad Shah Massoud and Abdul Rashid Dostum formed the Northern Alliance. The Taliban defeated Abdul Rashid Dostum's forces during the Battles of Mazar-
i-Sharif (1997–98). Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff,
Pervez Musharraf, began sending thousands of Pakistanis to help the Taliban
defeat the Northern Alliance. From 1996 to 2001, the al-Qaeda network of Osama
bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri was also operating inside Afghanistan. This and
the fact that around one million Afghans were internally displaced made the
United States worry. From 1990 to September 2001, around 400,000 Afghans died
in the internal mini-wars.
On 9 September 2001, Ahmad Shah Massoud was assassinated by two Arab suicide attackers in Panjshir province of Afghanistan. Two days later, the September 11 attacks were carried out in the United States. The US government suspected Osama bin Laden as the perpetrator of the attacks, and demanded that the Taliban hand him over. After refusing to comply, the October 2001 Operation Enduring Freedom was launched. During the initial invasion, US and UK forces bombed al-Qaeda training camps. The United States began working with the Northern Alliance to remove the Taliban from power.
Taliban insurgency and Civilian casualties in the war in Afghanistan (2001–present).
In December 2001, after the Taliban government was overthrown and the new Afghan government under President Hamid Karzai was formed, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was established by the UN Security Council to help assist the Hamid Karzai administration and provide basic security. Taliban forces also began regrouping
inside Pakistan, while more coalition troops
entered Afghanistan and began rebuilding the war-torn country.
Shortly after their fall from power, the Taliban began an insurgency to regain control of Afghanistan. Over the next decade, ISAF and Afghan troops led many offensives against the
Taliban but failed to fully defeat them. Afghanistan
remains one of the poorest countries in the world due to a lack of foreign
investment, government corruption, and the Taliban insurgency.
Meanwhile, the Afghan government was able to build some democratic structures, and the country changed its name to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Attempts were made, often with the support of foreign donor countries, to improve the country's economy, healthcare, education, transport, and agriculture. ISAF forces also began to train the Afghan National Security Forces. In the decade following 2002, over five million Afghans were repatriated, including some who were forcefully deported from Western countries.
By 2009, a Taliban-led shadow government began to form in parts of the country. In 2010, President Hamid Karzai attempted to hold peace negotiations with the Taliban leaders, but the rebel group refused to attend until mid-2015 when the Taliban supreme leader finally decided to back the peace talks.
After the May 2011 death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, many prominent Afghan figures were assassinated. Afghanistan–Pakistan border skirmishes intensified and many large scale attacks by the Pakistan-based Haqqani Network also took place across Afghanistan. The United States blamed rogue elements within the Pakistani government for the increased attacks.
Following the 2014 presidential
election President Hamid Karzai left power and Ashraf
Ghani became President in September 2014. The US war in Afghanistan (America's
longest war) officially ended on December 28, 2014. However, thousands of
US-led NATO troops have remained in the country to train and advise Afghan
government forces. The 2001–present war has resulted in over 90,000 direct
war-related deaths, which includes insurgents, Afghan civilians and government
forces. Over 100,000 have been injured.
Geography of Afghanistan.
A landlocked mountainous country with plains in the north and southwest, Afghanistan is located within South Asia and Central Asia. It is part of the US-coined Greater Middle East Muslim world, which lies between latitudes 29° N and 39° N, and longitudes 60° E and 75° E. The country's highest point is Noshaq, at 7,492 m (24,580 ft) above sea level. It has a continental climate with harsh winters in the central highlands, the glaciated northeast (around Nuristan), and the Wakhan Corridor, where the average temperature in January is below −15 °C (5 °F), and hot summers in the low-lying areas of the Sistan Basin of the southwest, the Jalalabad basin in the east, and the Turkestan plains along the Amu River in the north, where temperatures average over 35 °C (95 °F) in July.
Despite having numerous rivers and reservoirs, large parts of the country are dry. The
endorheic Sistan Basin is one of the driest regions in the world. Aside from
the usual rainfall, Afghanistan receives snow during the winter in the Hindu
Kush and Pamir Mountains, and the melting snow in the spring season enters the
rivers, lakes, and streams. However, two-thirds of the country's water flows
into the neighboring countries of Iran, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan. The state
needs more than US$2 billion to rehabilitate its irrigation systems so that the
water is properly managed.
The northeastern Hindu Kush mountain range, in and around the Badakhshan Province of Afghanistan, is in a geologically active area where earthquakes may occur almost every year. They can be deadly and destructive sometimes, causing landslides in some parts or avalanches during the winter. The last strong earthquakes were in 1998, which killed about 6,000 people in Badakhshan near Tajikistan. This was followed by the 2002 Hindu Kush earthquakes in which over 150 people were killed and over 1,000 injured. A 2010 earthquake left 11 Afghans dead, over 70 injured, and more than 2,000 houses destroyed.
The country's natural resources include: coal, copper, iron ore, lithium, uranium, rare earth elements,
chromate, gold, zinc, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, marble, precious
and semi-precious stones, natural gas, and petroleum, among other things. In
2010, US and Afghan government officials estimated that untapped mineral
deposits located in 2007 by the US Geological Survey are worth between $900 bn
and $3 trillion.
At 652,230 km2 (251,830 sq mi), Afghanistan is the world's 41st largest country, slightly bigger than France and smaller than Burma, about the size of Texas in the United States. It borders Pakistan in the south and east; Iran in the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north; and China in the Far East.
Demographics of Afghanistan and Afghan diaspora.
As of 2015, the population of Afghanistan is around 32,564,342, which includes the roughly 2.7 million Afghan refugees still living in Pakistan and Iran. In 1979, the population was reported to be about 15.5 million.
The only city with over a million residents is its capital, Kabul. Other large cities in the country are, in order of population size, Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-
i-Sharif, Jalalabad, Lashkar Gah, Taloqan, Khost, Sheberghan, and Ghazni.
Urban areas are experiencing rapid population growth following the return of
over 5 million expatriates. According to the Population Reference Bureau, the
Afghan population is estimated to increase to 82 million by 2050.
Largest cities or towns in Afghanistan. 2012 estimate.
Rank Name Province Population
Kabul Kabul Province 3,289,000
2 Kandahar Kandahar Province 491,500
3 Herat Herat Province 436,300
i-Sharif Balkh Province 368,100
5 Kunduz Kunduz Province 304,600
6 Taloqan Takhar Province 219,000
7 Jalalabad Nangarhar Province 206,500
8 Puli Khumri Baghlan Province 203,600
9 Charikar Parwan Province 171,200
10 Sheberghan Jowzjan Province 161,700
Ethnic groups in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is a multiethnic society, and its historical status as a crossroads has contributed significantly to its diverse ethnic makeup. The population of the country is divided into a wide variety of ethno linguistic groups. Because a systematic census has not been held in the nation in decades, exact figures about the size and composition of the various ethnic groups are unavailable. An approximate distribution of the ethnic groups is shown in the chart below:
Ethnic Group. 2014 estimate.
Others (Pashayi, Nuristani, Arab, Brahui, Pamiri, Gurjar, etc.) 4%
Spoken languages of Afghanistan.
Dari (Afghan Persian) 50%
Uzbek and Turkmen 11%
others including Arabic 4%
Pashto and Dari are the official languages of Afghanistan; bilingualism is very common. Both are Indo-European languages
from the Iranian languages sub-family.
Dari (Afghan Persian) has long been the prestige language and a lingua
inter-ethnic communication. It is the native tongue of the Tajiks, Hazaras,
Aimaks, and Kizilbash.
Pashto is the native tongue of the Pashtuns, although many Pashtuns often use Dari and some non-Pashtuns are fluent in Pashto.
Other languages, including Uzbek, Arabic, Turkmen, Balochi, Pashayi, and Nuristani languages (Ashkunu, Kamkata-viri, Vasi-vari, Tregami, and Kalasha-ala), are the native tongues of minority groups across the country and have official status in the regions where they are widely spoken. Minor languages also include Pamiri (Shughni, Munji, Ishkashimi, and Wakhi), Brahui, Hindko, and Kyrgyz. A small percentage of Afghans are also fluent in Urdu, English, and other languages.
Religion in Afghanistan.
Over 99% of the Afghan population is Muslim; up to 90% are from the Sunni branch, 7–19% are Shia.
Until the 1890s, the region around Nuristan was known as Kafiristan (land of the kafirs (unbelievers)) because of its non-Muslim inhabitants, the Nuristanis, an ethnically distinct people whose religious practices included animism, polytheism, and shamanism. Thousands of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus are also found in the major cities. There was a small Jewish community in Afghanistan who had emigrated to Israel and the United States by the end of the twentieth century; only one Jew, Zablon Simintov, remained by 2005.
Afghanistan is divided into 34 provinces, and every province is further divided into a number of districts
Economy of Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is an impoverished least developed country, one of the world's poorest because of decades of war and lack of foreign investment. As of 2014, the nation's GDP stands at about $60.58
billion with an exchange rate of $20.31 billion, and the
GDP per capita is $1,900. The country's exports totaled $2.7 billion in 2012.
Its unemployment rate was reported in 2008 at about 35%.
According to a 2009 report, about 42% of the population
lives on less than $1 a day. The
nation has less than $1.5 billion in external debt.
The Afghan economy has been growing at about 10% per year in the last decade, which is due to the infusion of over $50 billion in international aid and remittances from Afghan expats. It is also due to improvements made to the transportation system and agricultural production, which is the backbone of the nation's economy. The country is known for producing some of the finest pomegranates, grapes, apricots, melons, and several other fresh and dry fruits, including nuts. Many sources indicate that as much as 11% or more of Afghanistan's economy is derived from the cultivation and sale of opium, and Afghanistan is widely considered the world's largest producer of opium despite Afghan government and international efforts to eradicate the crop.
While the nation's current account deficit is largely financed with
donor money, only
a small portion is provided directly to the government budget. The rest is
provided to non-budgetary expenditure and donor-designated projects through the
United Nations system and non-governmental organizations. The Afghan Ministry
of Finance is focusing on improved revenue collection and public sector
expenditure discipline. For example, government revenues increased 31% to $1.7
billion from March 2010 to March 2011.
Education in Afghanistan
Education in the country includes K–12 and higher education, which is supervised by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education. The nation's education system was destroyed due to the decades of war, but it began reviving after the Karzai administration came to power in late 2001. More than 5,000 schools were built or renovated in the last decade, with more than 100,000 teachers being trained and recruited. More than seven million male and female students are enrolled in schools, with about 100,000 being enrolled in different universities around the country; at least 35% of these students are female. As of 2013, there are 16,000 schools across Afghanistan. Education Minister Ghulam Farooq Wardak stated that another 8,000 schools are required to be constructed for the remaining 3 million children who are deprived of education.
American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) in Kabul
Kabul University reopened in 2002
to both male and female students. In 2006, the
American University of Afghanistan was established in Kabul, with the aim of
providing a world-class, English-language, co-educational learning environment
in Afghanistan. The capital of Kabul serves as the learning center of
Afghanistan, with many of the best educational institutions being based there.
Major universities outside of Kabul include Kandahar University in the south, Herat University in the northwest, Balkh University in the north, Nangarhar University and Khost University in the east.
The National Military Academy of Afghanistan, modeled after the United States Military Academy at West Point, is a four-year military development institution dedicated to graduating officers for the Afghan Armed Forces. The $200 million Afghan Defense University is under construction near Qargha in Kabul.
The United States is building six faculties of education and five provincial teacher training colleges around the country, two large secondary schools in Kabul, and one school in Jalalabad.
The literacy rate of the entire population has been very low but is now rising because more students go to
schools. In 2010, the United States began
establishing a number of Lincoln learning centers in Afghanistan. They are set
up to serve as programming platforms offering English language classes, library
facilities, programming venues, Internet connectivity, and educational and
other counseling services. A goal of the program is to reach at least 4,000
Afghan citizens per month per location.
The Afghan National Security Forces are provided with mandatory literacy courses. In addition to this, Baghch-e-Simsim (based on the American Sesame Street) was launched in late 2011 to help young Afghan children learn.
In 2009 and 2010, a 5,000 OLPC – One Laptop Per Child schools deployment took place in Kandahar with funding from an anonymous foundation. The OLPC team seeks local support to undertake
Culture of Afghanistan.
The Afghan culture has been around for over two millennia, tracing back to at least the time of the Achaemenid Empire in 500 BCE.
It is mostly a nomadic and tribal society, with different regions of the country having their own traditions, reflecting the multi-cultural and multi-lingual character of the nation.
In the southern and eastern region the people live according to the Pashtun culture by following Pashtunwali, which is an ancient way of life that is still preserved.
The remainder of the country is culturally Persian and Turkic. Some non-Pashtuns who live in proximity with Pashtuns have adopted Pashtunwali in a process called Pashtunization (or Afghanization), while some Pashtuns have been
Millions of Afghans who have been living in Pakistan and Iran over the last 30 years have been influenced by the cultures of those neighboring nations.
Afghans display pride in their culture, nation, ancestry, and above all, their religion and independence. Like other
highlanders, they are regarded with mingled
apprehension and condescension, for their high regard for personal honor, for
their tribe loyalty and for their readiness to use force to settle disputes.
As tribal warfare and internecine feuding has been one of their chief occupations since time immemorial, this individualistic trait has made it difficult for foreigners
to conquer them. Tony Heathcote considers the tribal system to be
the best way of organizing large groups of people in a country that is
geographically difficult, and in a society that, from a materialistic point of
view, has an uncomplicated lifestyle.
There are an estimated 60 major Pashtun tribes, and the Afghan nomads are estimated at about 2–3 million.
The nation has a complex history that has survived either in its current cultures or in the form of various languages and monuments. However, many of its historic monuments have been damaged in recent wars. The two famous Buddhas of Bamiyan were destroyed by the Taliban, who regarded them as idolatrous. Despite that, archaeologists are still finding Buddhist relics in different parts of the country, some of them dating back to the 2nd century. This indicates that Buddhism was widespread in Afghanistan. Other historical places include the cities of Herat, Kandahar, Ghazni, Mazar-
i-Sharif, and Zarang. The Minaret of
Jam in the Hari River valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site. A cloak reputedly
worn by Islam's prophet Muhammad is kept inside the Shrine of the Cloak in
Kandahar, a city founded by Alexander and the first capital of Afghanistan. The
citadel of Alexander in the western city of Herat has been renovated in recent
years and is a popular attraction for tourists. In the north of the country is
the Shrine of Hazrat Ali, believed by many to be the location where Ali was
buried. The Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture is renovating 42
historic sites in Ghazni until 2013, when the province will be declared as the
capital of Islamic civilization. The National Museum of Afghanistan is located
Although literacy is low, classic Persian and Pashto
poetry plays an important role in
the Afghan culture. Poetry has always been one of the major educational pillars
in the region, to the level that it has integrated itself into culture. Some
notable poets include Rumi, Rabi'a Balkhi, Sanai, Jami, Khushal Khan Khattak,
Rahman Baba, Khalilullah Khalili, and Parween Pazhwak.