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 increased democracy ended in a 1973 coup and a 1978 communist countercoup. 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 mujahidin 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, a US, Allied, and anti-Taliban Northern Alliance military action toppled the Taliban for sheltering Usama BIN LADIN. A 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 reelected in August 2009 for a second term. The 2014 presidential election was the country's first to include a runoff, which featured the top two vote-getters from the first round, Abdullah ABDULLAH and Ashraf GHANI. Throughout the summer of 2014, their campaigns disputed the results and traded accusations of fraud, leading to a US-led diplomatic intervention that included a full vote audit as well as political negotiations between the two camps. In September 2014, GHANI and ABDULLAH agreed to form the Government of National Unity, with GHANI inaugurated as president and ABDULLAH elevated to the newly-created position of chief executive officer. The day after the inauguration, the GHANI administration signed the US-Afghan Bilateral Security Agreement and NATO Status of Forces Agreement, which provide the legal basis for the post-2014 international military presence in Afghanistan. After two postponements, the next presidential election was held in September 2019. The Taliban remains a serious challenge for the Afghan Government in almost every province. The Taliban still considers itself the rightful government of Afghanistan, and it remains a capable and confident insurgent force fighting for the withdrawal of foreign military forces from Afghanistan, establishment of sharia law, and rewriting of the Afghan constitution. In 2019, negotiations between the US and the Taliban in Doha entered their highest level yet, building on momentum that began in late 2018. Underlying the negotiations is the unsettled state of Afghan politics, and prospects for a sustainable political settlement remain unclear.



33.0° N, 65. 0° E
Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran


652,230 sq km
652,230 sq km
0 sq km

land boundaries

5,987 km


0 km


arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers


mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest


1,884 m
lowest point
Amu Darya
258 m
highest point
7,492 m

natural resources

  • natural gas
  • petroleum
  • coal
  • copper
  • chromite
  • talc
  • barites
  • sulfur
  • lead
  • zinc
  • iron ore
  • salt
  • precious
  • semiprecious stones
  • arable land

land use

arable land
11.8 %
permanent crops
0.3 %
permanent pasture
46 %
2.07 %
39 %

population distribution

populations tend to cluster in the foothills and periphery of the rugged Hindu Kush range; smaller groups are found in many of the country's interior valleys; in general, the east is more densely settled, while the south is sparsely populated



  • 36,643,815
  • 39
    global rank


  • Afghan(s)
  • Afghan

ethnic groups

  • Pashtun
  • Tajik
  • Hazara
  • Uzbek
  • other


  • Afghan Persian or Dari
    official; Dari functions as the lingua franca
  • Pashto
  • Uzbek
  • English
  • Turkmen
  • Urdu
  • Pashayi
  • Nuristani
  • Arabic
  • Balochi


99.7 %
0.3 %

birth rate

  • 36.7
    per 1,000 population
  • 15
    global rank

death rate

  • 12.7
    per 1,000 population
  • 12
    global rank

urban population

26 %

major urban areas

  • Kabul
    pop. 4,222,000

life expectancy

  • 52.8
    total population
  • 228
    global rank

adult obesity rate

  • 5.5%
    percent of adults
  • 176
    global rank


country name


  • Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
    long form
  • Afghanistan
    short form


  • Jamhuri-ye Islami-ye Afghanistan
    long form
  • Afghanistan
    short form

government type

presidential Islamic republic


34.31 N, 69.11 E


national holidays

  • Independence Day
    19 August

legal system

mixed legal system of civil, customary, and Islamic (sharia) law

age of suffrage


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 2 bands; the center of the emblem features a mosque with pulpit and flags on either side, below the mosque are Eastern Arabic 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

national colors

  • red
  • green
  • black

national anthem

"Milli Surood" (National Anthem)



Despite improvements in life expectancy, incomes, and literacy since 2001, Afghanistan is extremely poor, landlocked, and highly dependent on foreign aid. Much of the population continues to suffer from shortages of housing, clean water, electricity, medical care, and jobs. Corruption, insecurity, weak governance, lack of infrastructure, and the Afghan Government's difficulty in extending rule of law to all parts of the country pose challenges to future economic growth. Afghanistan's living standards are among the lowest in the world. Since 2014, the economy has slowed, in large part because of the withdrawal of nearly 100,000 foreign troops that had artificially inflated the country’s economic growth. The international community remains committed to Afghanistan's development, pledging over $83 billion at ten donors' conferences between 2003 and 2016. In October 2016, the donors at the Brussels conference pledged an additional $3.8 billion in development aid annually from 2017 to 2020. Even with this help, Government of Afghanistan still faces number of challenges, including low revenue collection, anemic job creation, high levels of corruption, weak government capacity, and poor public infrastructure. In 2017 Afghanistan's growth rate was only marginally above that of the 2014-2016 average. The drawdown of international security forces that started in 2012 has negatively affected economic growth, as a substantial portion of commerce, especially in the services sector, has catered to the ongoing international troop presence in the country. Afghan President Ashraf GHANI Ahmadzai is dedicated to instituting economic reforms to include improving revenue collection and fighting corruption. The government has implemented reforms to the budget process and in some other areas. However, many other reforms will take time to implement and Afghanistan will remain dependent on international donor support over the next several years.


69,450,000,000 USD

agriculture products

  • opium
  • wheat
  • fruits
  • nuts
  • wool
  • mutton
  • sheepskins
  • lambskins
  • poppies

poverty level



  • 2,276,000,000
    revenue (USD)
  • 5,328,000,000
    expenditures (USD)



    fixed lines

  • 127,794
    total subscriptions
  • 135
    global rank

    mobile cellular

  • 21,976,355
    total subscriptions
  • 53
    global rank

broadcast media

state-owned broadcaster, Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA), operates a series of radio and television stations in Kabul and the provinces; an estimated 174 private radio stations, 83 TV stations, and about a dozen international broadcasters are available (2019)


country code


  • 4,717,013
  • 13.5
    % of population
  • 86
    global rank


electricity access



air transport

    national system

  • 4
    registered air carriers
  • 1,929,907
    annual passenger traffic


  • 46
  • 29


34,903 km
total length


1,200 km
total length



expenditures here

service age