Country Overview

Country Overview- Afghanistan

Official Map of Afghanistan

Land & Geography

Geographic location Afghanistan is a landlocked country situated at the hub of South Asia and Central Asia. To the south and east, Afghanistan shares a border with Pakistan; to the west, it shares a border with Iran, and its northern border touches the Central Asian countries of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. In the far northeast, it shares a border with India (PoK) and China.[1]
Climate Continental climate with temperatures ranging from 30°C in summer to -20°C in winter.  Average annual rainfall is estimated at 250mm. Varies in different parts of the country from 1200 mm in the higher altitudes of the northeast, to 60 mm in the southwest. Snow falls regularly in the mountainous regions and higher altitudes of the Northeast and the Central Highlands, while the rest of the country has varying snow fall.[2]
Area 652,864 sq. km[3]
Natural Hazards Damaging earthquakes occur in the Hindu Kush mountains.  Major environmental issues include flooding, droughts, limited natural fresh water resources; inadequate supplies of potable water; soil degradation; overgrazing; deforestation (much of the remaining forests are being cut down for fuel and building materials); desertification; air and water pollution, changing of grazing land and forests to crop cultivated land, no proper irrigation systems and water distribution rights.[4]
Land Boundary Afghanistan is bordered by Iran to the west (925 kilometers), by the Central Asian States of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north and northeast (2,380 kilometers), by China at the easternmost top of the Wakhan Corridor (96 kilometers), by India (PoK) in the northeast (106 kilometers), and by Pakistan to the east and south (2,432 kilometers).[5]
Coastal Boundary Afghanistan is a landlocked country.


Official Name Islamic Republic of Afghanistan[6]
Capital   Kabul[7]
Independent since August 19, 1919[8]
National Days Independence Day: 19th August Liberation Day: 15th February
Type of Government Presidential Islamic Republic The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is comprised of the three branches: Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. The President is head of state and executes his authority in all three branches in accordance with the Constitution. The President has two deputies: First and Second Vice Presidents. In accordance with the Constitution, Afghanistan is an Islamic Republic, independent, unitary and indivisible state. Islam is the religion of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.[9]
Head of the State President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani[10]    
Head of Government Dr. Abdullah Abdullah- serving asChief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.[11]
Constitution (Ratified) January 26, 2004 The present Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan was agreed upon by more than 500 delegates representing Afghan men and women from across the country at the Constitutional Loya Jirga (December 13, 2003 – January 4, 2004). The Constitution was formally ratified by President Hamid Karzai at a ceremony in Kabul on January 26, 2004.[12]    
Parliament Party Position Political parties in Afghanistan have no historical precedent of a legal, formalized role within the political system. Since 2001, however, they have been able to register officially as organizations. While the political system is constitutionally designed as a multi-party democracy, the parties cannot openly compete for power. This is particularly the case in the parliamentary elections, where candidates are free to identify themselves as members of a certain party (although many do not), parties as such are unable to play an official role. Most significantly, in the current electoral system, which is an individual-based, party cannot field lists of their candidates, there are no parliamentary seats reserved for political parties, as in other countries, and parties are not allowed to establish factions in parliament.[13] The four major parties are mentioned below Hizb-E-Wahadat-E-Islamiye (Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan)Jamiat-E-Islami Party of AfghanistanHizb-E-Jamhoori Afghanistan (Republican Party of Afghanistan)People’s Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan.[14] *The results of the 2018 Parliamentary Elections are still being updated in the website of the Independent Election Commission Of Afghanistan. [15]
Elections/ Due Saturday 28th September, 2019.[16] (Presidential Elections) A list of 18 Presidential Candidates is available on the website of the Independent Election Commission Of Afghanistan.[17] However, the major Presidential candidates include:

1. Ashraf Ghani– A Pashtun, Ghani is from the country’s largest ethnic group. He has picked Amrullah Saleh, an ex-intelligence chief, as one of two running mates. Saleh is a prominent ethnic Tajik, the second-largest ethnic group, with grassroots support among the youth. Saleh is expected to deliver a significant proportion of the ethnic Tajik voting bloc. Ghani’s other running mate is Sarwar Danish, a Hazara who is the current vice president and a former justice minister. The Hazara constitute the third-largest ethnic group in the country.

2. Abdullah Abdullah- Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah is also considered to be among Ghani’s closest rivals. Abdullah’s running mates are Enayatullah Babur Farahmand, an ethnic Uzbek who was a former lawmaker and is Dostum’s ally, and Asadullah Sadati, a Hazara who is backed by a faction of the Hazara-dominated Hezb-e Wahdat faction led by Mohammad Karim Khalili, a former vice president.

3. Rahmatullah Nabil- The two-time head of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS), the country’s main intelligence agency, Rahmatullah Nabil is a Pashtun from the central province of Maidan Wardak. Nabil, 51, is an outspoken opponent of the Taliban and its chief backer, Pakistan. He has also been fiercely critical of Ghani’s administration, blaming him for the growing insecurity and endemic government corruption. His vice presidential running mates are Murad Ali Murad, a Hazara who was the deputy interior minister and an army commander, and Massuda Jalal, an ethnic Tajik who was the former minister of women’s affairs.

4. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar- Afghanistan’s most notorious former warlord and militant leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, is the head of the Hezb-e Islami militant group that signed a controversial peace deal with the government in 2016. He has since taken over the leadership of the Hezb-e Islami political party. Hekmatyar, 70, lives in a government-funded residence in Kabul and is widely despised for his role in the brutal civil war. His vice-presidential running mates are Fazl ul-Hadi Wazin and Hafiz ul-Rahman Naqi, both ethnic Tajiks who are members of Hezb-e Islami.
Principal Political Parties with Leaders
Party Name Leader
Hizb-E-Wahadat-E-Islamiye (Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan) Mohammad Karim Khalili
Jamiat-E-Islami Party of Afghanistan Salahudin Rabani
Hizb-E-Jamhoori Afghanistan (Republican Party of Afghanistan) Habibulah Sanjar
People’s Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan Mohammed Mohaqeq

A list of 72 registered political parties registered with the Ministry Of Justice, Afghanistan is given on the Ministry’s website[18]

People & Society

Total Population 35,530,081 (as of 2017)[19]
Density (per Sq. Km) 54.4 (as of 2017)[20]  
Ethnic Groups The country’s constitution officially recognizes 14 ethnic groups- Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Baluch, Turkmen, Nuristani, Pamiri, Arab, Gujar, Brahui, Qizilbash, Aimaq, and Pashai[21]
Languages Pashto and Dari.  Afghanistan’s Constitution stipulates that all other languages are “official” in the areas in which they are spoken by a majority of the population.[22]
Religions Afghanistan is an Islamic country. An estimated 80 percent of the population is Sunni and 20 percent are predominantly Shi’a.[23]
Literacy 31% (Estimated) of the adult population as of 2018[24] As of 2015, literacy rate in the age group 15-24 was 58.1%[25]
Life Expectancy Males: 61 Years as of 2016 Females: 64 Years as of 2016[26] Average life expectancy- 64.047 Years as of 2017, according to World Bank Data[27]
Sex Ratio 1.06 males per female as of 2017[28]


Official Currency Afghani[29] US$1 is equal to 68.5 Afghanis as of 2017-18.[30]
GDP (Nominal) 19,362.97 million US $ (2018)[31]  
GDP (Growth Rate) 1.0% annual (2018)[32]
Per Capita GDP (PPP) 1,951.6 USD (2018)[33]
Public Debt (% of GDP) 7.10% (2018)[34]
Foreign Exchange Reserves US$ 8,206.68 million (2018)[35]
Gross Saving (% of GDP) 21% (2017)[36]
Foreign Trade (Export & Import) Total Imports- $7,406,590,339 (Year-2018) Total Exports- $875,241,403 (Year-2018)[37]
Total Trade Balance (-)$6,531,348,936[38]
Major Items of Export 1. Dry Fruits
2. Handicrafts
3. Cereals
4. Fresh Fruits
5. Textiles[39]
Major Items of Import 1. Food & Beverages
2. Oil
3. Construction Materials
4. Textiles
5. Vehicles[40]
Major Trading Partners[41] Export                                Imports
1. Pakistan                        1. Iran
2. Iran                               2. Pakistan
3. India                              3. China
4. China                       4. Kazakhstan
5. Turkey                     5. Uzbekistan

Military & Security

[42] [43] [44]


  16. Ibid.
  30. Ibid.
  35. Ibid.
  39. Ibid.
  41. Ibid.
  44. Military balance 2018 by IISS (The International Institute for Strategic Studies)

Last Updated on: 19 August, 2019