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Afghanistan

Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan is its largest city.

Afghanistan is a landlocked country. Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and China border Afghanistan from all sides.

The people of Afghanistan are called Afghans and their currency is Afghanis. Most of the time, people get confused between the use of these two terms.

Agriculture is the main source of income for Afghans. Afghanistan is also rich in natural resources like natural gas and oil.

“Buzkashi” is Afghanistan’s national game. Players in two teams try to catch a goat while riding a horse. This game is being played for centuries and is a tough sport.

Afghanistan became independent on August 19, 1919. They fought three wars with Britain after which they declared themselves independent. They were not directly ruled by the British but their foreign affairs were influenced by the United Kingdom.

Afghanistan has been in news more than any country in the last decade.

New Year is celebrated by Afghans on 21st March. They call it “Nawroz”. It is a pre-Islamic festival which is celebrated by a gathering of thousands of travelers from across Afghanistan to the city of Mazar-e-Sharif. There is a mosque in the center of the city. It is known as the Blue Mosque or ‘the Shrine of Hazrat Ali’ the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H).

Mobile phone coverage is available in more than 90% of the country. Mobile phones are status symbols.

They celebrate poetry night on Thursdays in the western city of Herat. People of all age groups gather there to share modern and ancient verses of poetry and indulge in some nice food along with some sweet tea.

Alexander the Great captured the city of Herat in 330BC and built its ancient citadel. Alexander had a son with a beautiful woman from the province of Balkh in Afghanistan.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is the poster boy in many of the muscle building centers in Afghanistan. They say he (Arnold Schwarzenegger) looks like an Afghan.

Kandahar airfield was once the busiest single-runway airstrip in the world when it handled 1,700 to 5,000 flights a week. Here NATO installed its first complete air traffic capability in a non-NATO country.



World’s largest Buddhas (two of these) were first built in Afghanistan. These statues were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.

The world’s first oil paintings were drawn in the caves of “Bamiyan” around 650BC.


An oil painting of a Buddhist image discovered in a cave in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan. Image credit – abc.net.au
There is only one Jewish person living in Afghanistan. His name is Zablon Simintov and he is a restaurateur and an Afghan carpet trader. He was born in 1959.

There has been 300% increase in Opium cultivation in Afghanistan in 2013 when compared to the last seven years before the U.S. invasion. Afghanistan was once the largest producer of cannabis.

Afghanistan has been a war-torn country for decades and has been under the military influence of many powers including Soviet, British, Mongols, Muslim Arabs, Mauryas, Alexandra the Great, and in the recent times under western powers.

Afghanistan is estimated to be inhabited by humans at least 50,000 years ago.

Arab Muslims spread the religion of Islam in Afghanistan in 642 CE in Herat and Zarang. They recognized Afghanistan as Al Hind (due to Afghanistan’s proximity to India.)

Buddhism and Zoroastrianism were dominant religions in Afghanistan before the introduction of Islam.

Genghis Khan and his Mongol army spread rapidly in Afghanistan in 1219 AD.

Ahmad Shah Durrani, also known as “the Father of the Nation”, is the founder of the last Afghan empire. He was crowned in 1747. He consolidated the country from principalities and fragmented provinces into one kingdom.

After the death of Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1772, his son, Timur Shah succeeded him.

In 1776, Timur Shah transferred the capital of Afghanistan from Kandahar to Kabul.

A civil war took place in the country between 1992 and 1996, and it is estimated that at least 50,000 people died in the country in mujahidin infightings during the civil war.

The Taliban (a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist political movement in Afghanistan) also ruled the country for almost 5 years between 1996 and 2001.

In 2004, Hamid Karzai became the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan.

After the September 2011 attack on the United States allegedly carried by the Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda forces, a U.S and U.K coalition launched a military attack on the major cities of Afghanistan including Kabul, against the Taliban regime.

The term Afghanistan translates to “the land of Afghans”.

Afghanistan is also the land of many historical sites. And it is the 40th most populous country in the world.

Afghanistan’s location on the silk route gave it various economic and cultural advantages.

Afghanistan is considered as the place of origin of the religion Zoroastrianism.

Pashto, one of the two official languages of Afghanistan, was declared the national language of Afghanistan during the beginning of the reign of Zahir Shah.

Dari (Persian), the other official language was always used for government and business purposes.

An estimated 35% of the population of the country speaks Pashto while 50% of the population speaks Dari.

Today, as Islam is a dominant religion in Afghanistan, the culture is heavily influenced by the religion of peace and monotheism.

In Afghanistan, most of the shops and businesses are closed on Friday, which is the Islamic holy day.

The legal, political, economic and personal lives of the Afghans is governed by Islamic laws.

Fasting and praying during the month of Ramadan is a mandatory act except for a few such as foreigners, and those who are sick, traveling or having some other issues.

The family is an important aspect of Afghanistan’s culture. Men are laden with the responsibility to earn while women are expected to stay home and serve the family. However, in modern Afghanistan, you may also find some women working in the cities and earning a living for themselves and their families.

In most of the cases, the family lives together in the same house. Upon marriage, the son and his wife live separately in a different room in the house under the same roof.

Hospitality plays a significant role in the country’s culture and tradition. The visitors are treated with utmost respect and are offered the best that the household has.

Women are highly respected in the society and are not expected to mix with the members of the opposite sex, except out of marriage or direct family relations.

Women are also expected to wear clothes that honor their modesty and are not revealing. Tight clothes and western dresses are not much welcomed in the society, at least in the rural areas. Headscarves for women are advisable.

Direct eye contact between men and women is not considered acceptable and must be avoided.

Gifts are a means of strengthening the relationship between a visitor and his/her host. The visitors can carry a small gift for the host when invited for tea or food.

Afghanistan is a multicultural and multi-ethnic country.

In the past few years, an estimated 2.6 million Afghans left their home country and sought refuge in others.

A handshake is the most usual form of greeting in Afghanistan’s culture. Some people also place their hand on their heart and nod slightly to show respect and approval to the other party. However, shaking hands between the members of opposite sex is not usual and is avoided.

Food is generally served on the floor, on clothes made from various materials. Making use of the right hand while eating the food is the norm, and the food is generally shared from the same dish unless required otherwise.

The host does their best to serve the best possible food, and special attention is paid to fill the visitor’s plate when it is empty.

While consuming food, it is also a norm to sit in a respectable position and not with your feet facing people or your legs outstretched.

Marriage is considered an important element of one’s life in Afghanistan. Divorce is rare and is not much welcomed in the society.

Polygamy is permissible in Afghanistan however it is rare. Many of the marriages are consummated between cousins.

Marriages are three-day lavish ceremonies during which a marriage contract is signed and the couple is brought together.

Living together in a common house is encouraged but never forced. Depending on the financial condition or personal preference, the sons of the family can live separately or with his father, mother and other siblings.


The total area of Afghanistan is 652,230 sq km.

Dari Persian and Pashto are official languages of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is inhabited by – 80% Sunni Muslim, 19% Shia Muslim and 1% others.

Afghanistan’s national holiday is on August, 19.

Literacy rate in Afghanistan is 38.2%.

Noshaq (7,492 meters or 24,580 ft) is the highest point in Afghanistan.

Helmand is the longest river in Afghanistan.

Afghan rugs are very popular around the world.

The average life expectancy in Afghanistan is 51.3 years (2016).

Source to get more information

Afghans celebrate their new year, Nawroz, on 21 March, the first day of spring. Thousands travel to the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif to welcome in Nawroz, a pre-Islamic festival. Local strong men raise a great Janda, an Islamic banner, to herald the beginning of spring and the start of the new year. If it is lifted in one smooth motion, it is seen as a good omen for the months to come. (You have to hold on to something when you live in a country that has already survived more than 30 years of war.)

Afghanistan would like its national game, buzkashi, or goat-grabbing, to be an Olympic sport. Regarded as the world's wildest game, it involves riders on horseback competing to grab a goat carcass, and gallop clear of the others to drop it in a chalked circle. It has been played on Afghanistan's northern steppe for centuries. The game used to be the sport of rich rival warlords but is now also financed by Afghan mobile phone companies and private airlines. But it is still not a sport for the faint-hearted, and women should not apply.

Mobile phone coverage is expected to reach 90% of the country this year, even though the percentage of Afghans with access to electricity is still one of the lowest in the world. Mobile phones are transforming Afghan lives and culture. Even Taliban have fancy smartphones with e-mail and skype. They are status symbols, too - if you have cash or contacts you can get a memorable number including, for example, one that has the letters of your name. (Mine has my lucky number from when I used to play basketball.)

Poetry is a cherished part of Afghan culture. Afghans have told their stories in verse for more than 1,000 years. Thursday night is "poetry night" in the western city of Herat - men, women and children gather to share ancient and modern verse, listen to traditional Herati music, and enjoy sweet tea and pastries long into the night.

Alexander the Great was the first to build Herat's ancient citadel when he captured the city in 330BC. The only woman to capture the heart of the Macedonian empire builder was the beautiful Roxanne, from the northern Afghan province of Balkh. She bore him his only son before Alexander died at the young age of 33.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is the poster boy for legions of young Afghan men. Photographs of a muscled Arnold in his prime hang from the walls of hundreds of body building centres across the country. Some Afghans say the action-star-turned US governor looks like an Afghan.

Afghan cuisine is more sophisticated than kebabs and rice. This landlocked country has been at the crossroads of major civilisations for centuries and that is reflected in what is on the menu. Sample its delicate ashak, a ravioli stuffed with leeks, and topped with minced meat and yogurt, or Mantu pasta filled with lamb and onions. And new influences are still emerging as Afghanistan opens its doors to the world. If you yearn for something lighter, former Japanese journalist-turned chef Hiromi (now known as Mursal which means Rose in Persian) fell in love with the country, married an Afghan and is training Afghans to make mouth-watering sushi.

Kandahar airfield in southern Afghanistan is said to be the busiest single runway airstrip in the world. No wonder it is also the place Nato has its first complete air traffic capability in a non-Nato country. Last year's arrival of more than 30,000 extra US troops, along with more civilian personnel, added to constant landings on a base also used by non-US militaries. Of course, lots of journalists and dignitaries also fly in to one of Afghanistan's most volatile cities, the most decisive battle in this war. Afghans have long said whoever controls Kandahar, controls Afghanistan.

The world's first oil paintings were drawn not in Renaissance Europe but in the caves of Bamiyan, in the central highlands of Afghanistan around 650BC. Bamiyan boasted a flourishing Buddhist civilisation from the 2nd Century up to the Islamic invasion of the 9th Century. This is where the world's two largest standing Buddhas once stood, until the Taliban destroyed them in 2001. A newly opened tourism company is trying to attract tourists back to beautiful Bamiyan. Last year, they had a grand total of two (along with Afghans and foreigners who live in the country). But the people of Bamiyan remain hopeful.

Afghanis is the currency, not the people. They are called Afghans. And they have a country that, for all of its hardship and heartache, they are still proud to call home.

 

 

 

 



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