AFGHANISTAN. Afghanistan: Geography. Located in Central Asia Bordered by six countries: China Iran Pakistan Tajikistan Turkmenistan Uzbekistan. Afghanistan: Geography. Landlocked nation (slightly smaller than Texas) Total Population: 31 million Capital: Kabul. Afghanistan: Geography.
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Afghanistan: Geography • Located in Central Asia • Bordered by six countries: • China • Iran • Pakistan • Tajikistan • Turkmenistan • Uzbekistan
Afghanistan: Geography • Landlocked nation (slightly smaller than Texas) • Total Population: 31 million • Capital: Kabul
Afghanistan: Geography • Rugged mountains • Hindu Kush: main mountain range across Afghanistan and into Pakistan • Climate: cold winters and hot, dry summers
Afghans: A Diverse People • Major Ethnic Groups: • Pashtuns 42% • Takiks 27% • Uzbeks 9% • Hazaras 9% • Others 13%
Languages • Many Afghans are bilingual • The main languages spoken by Afghans are: • Dari (official language) 50% • Pashtu (official language) 35% • Turkic languages 11%
Religion • Islam is the religion practiced by most Afghans; it is central to Afghans' identity • 99% of Afghans are Muslim
Rural Life • Most Afghans live in rural areas • About ¾ of the population consists of farmers and nomads • Only 12% of the land, however, is arable • What problems might this lead to?
Sport/Pastime • Bazkashi, the national sport of Afghanistan, is a team game played on horseback • Kite-fighting is also a popular pastime among Afghan youth where participants try to cut through the strings of their opponents' kites
Afghan History • Afghanistan's location along the Silk/Spice Road has allowed the country to serve as an important link between east and west throughout history
Afghan HistoryThis location, however, has meant significant intervention from outsiders • Great Britain & Russia fought over Afghanistan as far back as the 18th & 19th centuries • Soviet Union invaded in 1979 and installed a Communist government • From 1979-1989, Afghanistan became a battleground of the Cold War between the US-USSR (with the U.S. supporting Afghans who resisted the Soviets)
Afghan History • Soviet Union withdrew in 1989, but civil war erupted among factions of guerilla fighters known as 'mujahedin' • Civil war continued until 1996, when hard-line group known as the Taliban seized power • Taliban imposed a strict interpretation of Islam
Taliban • Limited women's ability to work in public places • Banned girls from attending school • Required women to wear burqas in public (photos) • Required men to wear beards • Banned music, sports • Allowed al-Qaeda & Osama bin Laden to operate within the country
Refugee Crisis • During the 23 years of conflict, roughly 4 million Afghans became refugees • Most refugees fled to two main countries: • Iran • Pakistan • There are also an estimated 200,000 Afghans living in the U.S.
The link between September 11 and Afghanistan • Afghans did NOT carry out the terrorist attacks on the U.S. • Al-Qaeda, a terrorist network operating within Afghanistan and other places, did • Many Afghans expressed their solidarity with the people of the U.S. after Sept. 11 • After September 11, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban for sheltering Osama bin Laden • U.S. and NATO forces remain in Afghanistan today
Afghanistan Today • Afghanistan now faces a number of challenges as it tries to rebuild after years of war. Some of these challenges include: • Poverty • Education • Health • Gender equity • Governance
Poverty • At least 2/3 of Afghans live on less than $2 a day • Only 23% of Afghans have access to safe water • Only 12% of Afghans have access to sanitation • Only 6% of Afghans have access to electricity
Education • 67% of boys go to school, while only 37% of girls do (US Dept of State) • Constraints to school attendance: • Lack of teachers • Distance between home and school • Cultural constraints for girls • Not enough school buildings (esp. for girls)
Health • Average life expectancy for Afghans is 42, more than 25 years younger than the average American (World Health Organization) • One in four children dies before the age of 5 (USAID) • Many Afghans lack access to basic medical care
Gender Equity • Women have been a marginalized group in Afghanistan • Cultural restrictions lead to difficulty accessing education and health services • Only 10% of Afghan women can read and write • Yet, Afghan women are important contributors to household income, especially in rural areas
Government • In October 2004, Hamid Karzai was elected President of Afghanistan. • Parliamentray elections were held in 2005. • Local warlords, however, still hold power in many parts of the country. This contributes to the insecurity in Afghanistan.
THE END • What have you learned about Afghanistan?