(which literally means Land of the Afghan) is a mountainous land-locked country
located in Central Asia. It has a history and culture that goes back over 5000
years. Throughout its long, splendid, and sometimes chaotic history, this area
of the world has been known by various names. In ancient times, its inhabitants
called the land Aryana. In the medieval era, it was called Khorasan, and in
modern times, its people have decided to call it Afghanistan. The exact
population of Afghanistan is unknown, however, it is estimated to be somewhere
around 31 million. Afghanistan is a heterogeneous nation, in which there are
four major ethnic groups: Pashtoons, Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks. Numerous other
minor ethnic groups (Nuristanis, Baluchis, Turkmens, etc.) also call Afghanistan
their home. While the majority of Afghans (99%) belong to the Islamic faith,
there are also small pockets of Sikhs, Hindus and even some Jews. The official
languages of the country are Pashto and Dari (Afghan Persian aka Farsi). The
capital of Afghanistan is Kabul, which throughout history, was admired by many
great figures, such as the great Central Asian conqueror, Zahirudeen Babur.
Unfortunately, due to many years of war, this great city has been shattered and
Afghanistan is on a road to recovery, however, after decades of war, the economy
is still in ruins, and its environment is in a state of crises. After pushing
the date back twice, Afghanistan's presidential elections were finally held on
October 9, 2004. Over 8 million Afghans voted in the elections. The Joint
Electoral Management Body of Afghanistan certified the elections on November
3rd, and declared Hamid Karzai, the interim President, the winner with 55.4% of
the votes. Karzai's strongest challenger, Yunis Qanooni, came in second with
16.3% of the votes.
With help from
the United States and the United Nations, Afghanistan adopted its new
constitution, establishing the country as an Islamic Republic, in early January
2004. According to the constitution, the Afghan government consists of a
powerful and popularly elected President, two Vice Presidents, and a National
Assembly consisting of two Houses: the House of People (Wolesi Jirga), and the
House of Elders (Meshrano Jirga). There is also an independent Judiciary branch
consisting of the Supreme Court (Stera Mahkama), High Courts and Appeal Courts.
The President appoints the members of the Supreme Court with the approval of the
Wolesi Jirga. Assembly elections are planned for late 2005.
southwestern Asia, bounded on the north by Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and
Tajikistan; on the east by China and the part of the disputed territory of Jammu
and Kashmir controlled by Pakistan; on the south by Pakistan; and on the west by
Iran. Afghanistan was a monarchy from 1747 to 1973, when the king was overthrown
by military officers and the country was proclaimed a republic; the republic
dissolved in 1992 as the country erupted in civil war. Afghanistan lies across
ancient trade and invasion routes from central Asia into India. This position
has been the greatest influence on its history because the invaders often
settled there. Today the population includes many different ethnic groups. Most
of the present borders of the country were drawn up in the 19th century, when
Afghanistan became a buffer state, or neutral zone, between Russia and British
India. Kabul is the capital of Afghanistan.
to semiarid, cold winter and hot summer.
Pashto, Pashtu or Pukhto number of speakers in Afghanistan
approximately 14 million and Dari (Farsi) is spoken by almost every ethnic
division, they are Indo-European languages and are the major two languages
spoken in Afghanistan, other Indo-European, Indo-Aryan languages, such as
Balochi, Pshayi and Eastern Farsi, are also spoken, Turkic and Altaic
languages, such as Uzbek and Turkmen, are present, Tajiki is also used.