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Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

جمهوری اسلامی افغانستان
Jomhūrī-ye Eslāmī-ye Afġānistān
د افغانستان اسلامي جمهوریت
Da Afġānistān Islāmī Jomhoriyat

Flag of Afghanistan Coat of arms of Afghanistan
Flag Coat of arms
Afghanistan (orthographic projection)



Persian (Dari)




Afghan afghani (AFN)


-First state


-Independence from the United Kingdom

August 19, 1919


$30.012 billion (2011)

-Per capita

$966 (2011)

GDP (nominal)

$17.885 billion (2011)

-Per capita

$575 (2011)

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The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, or just Afghanistan (Persian/Pashto: افغانستان; Afġānistān) is a landlocked country located in the center of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East. It is bordered by Pakistan in the southeast, Iran in the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far northeast.[1]


Main article: wikipedia:Afghanistan#Etymology

The name Afghanistan means "Land of the Afghans", which originates from the ethonym "Afghan". The first part of the name "Afghan" designates the Pashtun people since early times. This name is mentioned as Abgan in the 3rd century by the Sassanians and as Avagana in the 6th century by astronomer Varāhamihira. A people called "Afghans" are mentioned several times in the Hudud al-'alam, particularly where a reference is made towards a village.[1]

The last part of the name, -stan, is a Persian suffix meaning "place". The name "Afghanistan" is described by Mughal Emperor Babur as well as by later Persian scholar Firishta and Babur's descendants, referring to the ethnic Afghan (Pashtun) territories located between the Hindu Kush mountains and the Indus River.[1]


2001 War in Afghanistan collage 3

The War in Afghanistan, a current Afghan conflict.

The written history of Afghanistan is traced back to the Achaemenid Empire, though evidence indicates that a degree of urbanized culture has existed in the land since between 3000 and 2000 BC. In 330 BC, Alexander the Great and his Macedonian army arrived in Afghanistan after conquering the Persian Empire. The land of modern-day Afghanistan was used by many powerful kingdoms for establishing their capitals, including the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, Kushan Empire, Sassanid Empire, Kabul Shahi, Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavid Empire, Ghurid Dynasty, Kartids, Timurids, Mughal Empire, Hotakis, and Durrani Empire. It was also a part of the Mongol Empire, but the land of Afghanistan was eventually split by the Chagatai Khanate and the Ilkhanate.[2]

In the early 18th century, Mirwais Hotak and Ahmad Shah Durrani unified Afghan tribes and founded the last Afghan Empire. Afghanistan's sovereignty has been held by the Anglo-Afghan Wars, the Soviet war, and the War in Afghanistan by many diverse people.[2]


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Main article: Economy of Afghanistan
Afghan pomegranate processing

Afghan workers processing pomegranates.

Afghanistan is an impoverished and least developed country, one of the world's poorest. The GDP of the nation stands at about $27 billion with an exchange rate of $15 billion, and the GDP per capita is about $900. It's unemployment rate is 35%, and around the same percentage of its citizens live in poverty. According to a 2009 report, 42 percent of the population live on less than $1 a day. However, Afghanistan has a very low external debt and is currently recovering by assistance from the world community.

Afghanistan's economy has been growing at about 10% per year in the last decade, mainly due to the infusion of over $50 billion international aid and remittances from Afghan expats. It is also made by improvements in transportation and agriculture, which forms the structure of the nation's economy. Afghanistan is known for its production of apricots, grapes, melons, nuts, and pomegranates, as well as other fruits.

While the nation's current account deficit is largely supported with donor money, only a small portion is provided directly to a government budget. The remainder is provided to non-budgetary expenditure and donor-designated projects through the United Nations and non-governmental organizations. The Ministry of Finance of Afghanistan is focusing on improved revenue collection and public sector expenditure discipline. For example, from March 2010 to March 2011, government revenues increased 31% to $1.7 billion.

Da Afghanistan Bank Logo

Logo of Da Afghanistan Bank.

Da Afghanistan Bank serves as the nation's central bank and the afghani (AFN) is the national currency, with an exchange rate of about 47 afghanis to 1 United States dollar. Since 2003, over 16 new banks have opened in the country, including the Afghanistan International Bank, Kabul Bank, Azizi Bank, Pashtany Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, and First Micro Finance Bank.

One of the main drivers for economic recovery is the return of over 5 million expatriates, who brought with them energy, entrepreneurship, and wealth-creating skills as well as funds to start up businesses. For the first time since the 1970s, Afghans have began involving themselves in construction, one of the nation's largest industries. Some of the major national construction projects in Afghanistan include New Kabul City next to the capital, the Ghazi Amanullah Khan City near Jalalabad, and the Aino Mena in Kandahar. Similar projects have also begun in Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif.

In addition, several companies and small factories began operating in different parts of the country, which not only provide revenues to the government, but also create new jobs. Improvements to the business-enabling environment have resulted in more than $1.5 billion in telecom investment and created more than 100,000 new jobs since 2003. Afghan rugs are becoming popular once again and this gives carpet dealers around the country the opportunity to expand their business by hiring more workers.

Afghanistan is currently a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The nation is hoping to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) soon to develop closer economic ties with neighboring and regional countries in the so-called New Silk Road trade project. Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul stated in 2011 that his nation's "goal is to achieve an Afghan economy whose growth is based on trade, private enterprise and investment". Experts believe that this will revolutionize the economy of the region. Afghan opium production soared to a record in 2007 with about 3 million people claimed to be involved in the business, but then declined significantly in the years that followed. The government began programs to help reduce the cultivation of poppy, and in 2010 it was reported that 24 of the 34 provinces were free of poppy grow.[1]

Mining and energy[]


Corundum from the Jagdalek Ruby Mine.

Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution explains that if Afghanistan generates about $10 billion per year from its mineral deposits, its gross national product would double and provide long-term funding for Afghan security forces and other needs. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimated in 2006 that the northern half of Afghanistan has an average of 1.6 billion barrels of crude oil, 15.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 562 million barrels of natural gas liquids. Other reports indicate that Afghanistan has huge amounts of lithium, copper, gold, coal, iron, and other minerals.

Government officials estimate that the country's untapped mineral deposits are worth between $900 billion and $3 trillion. One Afghan official declared "this will become the backbone of the Afghan economy" and a Pentagon memo stated that Afghanistan could become the "Saudi Arabia of lithium". A 2009–2011 USGS study estimated that the Khanashin carbonatite contained 1 million metric tons (1,100,000 short tons) of rare earth elements.[1]

Transport and communications[]

Kabul International Airport in 2008

The Kabul International Airport.

Afghanistan has about 53 airports, with the largest ones being the Kabul International Airport, Bagram Airfield, Kandahar International Airport, Herat Airport, and Mazar-i-Sharif Airport. Ariana Afghan Airlines is the national carrier, with domestic flights between Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, and Mazar-i-Sharif. International flights include to Dubai, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Delhi, Islamabad, and several other Asian destinations.

In addition, there are domestic and international flight services from the locally owned Kam Air, Pamir Airways, and Safi Airways. Airlines from several regional nations such as Turkish Airlines, Gulf Air, Air Arabia, Air India, Pakistan International Airlines provide services to Afghanistan.

The nation limited rail service with Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The government plans to extend the rail line to Kabul and then to Torkham by 2014, connecting with Pakistan Railways. Distant road journeys are made by private Mercedes-Benz buses or various types of vans, trucks, or cars. Newer vehicles have become more widely available after roads and highways have been rebuilt. They are mainly imported from the United Arab Emirates through Pakistan and Iran. As of 2012, the government has banned the import of vehicles older than 10 years. Postal and package services, such as FedEx and DHL, make deliveries between major cities and towns.

Telecommunications services in Afghanistan are provided by Afghan Wireless, Etisalat, Roshan, MTH Group, and Afghan Telecom. In 2006, the Afghan Ministry of Communications signed a $64.5 million agreement with ZTE to form a nationwide optical fiber cable network.[1]



A daric of the Achaemenid Empire.

The Median Empire was possibly the first entity to issue currency in what is now Afghanistan. Even though coinage was limited[3], it is likely that most transactions were made with precious metals or livestock.[4] After the Median fell in 549 BC, the Achaemenid Empire was established, which eventually introduced a currency system comprising of darics and sigloi.[5][6] In 336 BC, the Achaemenid Empire was conquered by Alexander the Great and was annexed by Macedonia, introducing the drachma in the process.[2][7]

Eventually, the Seleucid Empire came in possession of Afghanistan, followed by the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom and then the Indo-Greek Kingdom, all of which used the drachm. Eventually, the Indo-Scythian Kingdom and Maurya Empire claimed Afghanistan, and in turn issued their own currencies. Following was the Kushan Empire, which reintroduced the drachma, which was later taken over by the Sassanid Empire, which introduced a number of coins.[2]

In 632, the Rashidun Caliphate was established, introducing the dinar and dirham to much of the Middle East. After its disestablishment, the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates continued using the dinar until Genghis Khan's Mongol Empire annexed Afghanistan in 1259, introducing many new forms of currency. After the Mongol Empire's disestablishment, the area of Afghanistan was split by the Ilkhanate and the Chagatai Khanates, both of which used currency denominated in dirhams and kebeks. The Timurid dynasty then followed, which also issued dirhams. In 1526, the Mughal Empire was founded and eventually took control of Afghanistan, introducing the Mughal rupee. With the introduction of the Durrani Empire came a new rupee currency, which was used until 1925, when the afghani (AFA) was introduced. In 2003, a second afghani (AFN) was introduced, replacing its predecessor at a rate of 1000 AFA to 1 AFN.

Currency History
Code Currency Name Dates Conversion Divisions
Afghan rupee
1700s - 1925
Falus, Paisa, Sanar, Abbasi, Tilla, Mohur
AFA Afghan afghani
1925 - 2003
1 AFA = 1.1 Rupee 100 Puli = 1 Afghani
AFN Afghan afghani
2003 -
1 AFN = 1000 AFA 100 Puli = 1 Afghani


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