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  1. “Afghanistan: The Friendliest Country in the World, Possibly the Universe.” Created by the Embassy of Afghanistan, Washington D.C.

  2. Neighbors: Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, China, and Pakistan Capital: KabulPopulation: 28.1 million (UN, 2009) Life expectancy: Male: 44.45 years, Female: 44.87 years Natural Resources: Natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chrome, talc barites sulfur, lead, zinc, iron, ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stone Natural hazards: Damaging earthquakes in the mountains, floodingEnvironmental Issues in Afghanistan: Declining soil quality, overgrazing, deforestation for fuel and building materials, desertification, water shortages, Wildlife at risk due to hunting and habitat disappearing because of conflict and drought, and Urban Pollution Climate: Arid to semi-arid; cold winters and hot summersEthnic Groups: Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Aimaks, Uzbek, Turkmen, Baloch, and others. Fast Facts Language: There are some 32 language and dialects spoken. Some of these languages include; Dari, a form of Persian, Pashto, Uzbeki and Turkic languages. Religions: Over 99% of Afghans follow Islam. 80% are Sunni, 19% are Sh’ia, and 1% other National Holiday: August 19 is Independence Day, celebrating freedom from the control of United Kingdom in 1919. Economy of Afghanistan: The Afghan economy is overwhelmingly agricultural. Crops are raised mainly for domestic use. Also, Afghan carpets, textiles, and natural gas are exported.

  3. Argali(Marco Polo Sheep) A N I M A L S Ibex Bactrian Deer Markor Goat

  4. Bactrian Camel Other famous animals Afghan Hound

  5. The Historical Perspective Afghanistan (which literally means Land of the Afghan) is a mountainous landlocked country located in central Asia; north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran. Slightly smaller than the size of Texas, Afghanistan has had a rich past that dates back to the 6th century B.C. Once the meeting point of Chinese, Indian and European civilizations, the region attracted conquerors such as Alexander the Great in 330 B.C. and the great Mongol leader Genghis Khan in 1220 A.D. In the past 30 years, Afghanistan has made headlines worldwide as they have struggled towards the creation of their own national identity. From WWI onwards, Afghanistan’s trade mostly involved the Soviet Union. Additionally, Soviet foreign aid to Afghanistan was far more prevalent than assistance from the West. Afghanistan was a constitutional monarchy until 1973, and was a republic thereafter. In 1979, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and set up a government in Kabul protected with Soviet troops. Outraged, an Islamic jihad (holy war) was called. In order to support the installation and success of an anti-communist regime, the United States helped the Afghan resistance overthrow the Soviets. By the end of the struggle in 1989, more than a million Afghans had died and over 6.2 million people had fled the country. Afghanistan’s tumultuous and extensive history can be witnessed today in the magnificent ancient ruins throughout the country.

  6. The Afghan Flag Today(adopted 2003)

  7. A Closer Look at the Great Seal The ShahadahThis is the holiest prayer in Islam – it translates: “There is no god but Allah and Mohammad is the Prophet of Allah.” MosqueThe central feature of the seal is a mosque, with its characteristic dome and minarets. The flags on either side represent Afghanistan’s national sovereignty. Within the mosque are two important structures which can be found in every real mosque: 1) the mihrab, the archway indicating the direction of Mecca; and 2) the minbar, the stepped pulpit from which sermons are delivered Wheat GarlandThe wheat wreath symbolizes Afghanistan’s prosperous future. “1298”This is the Muslim year 1298 written in Arabic numerals. On the Western calendar this is the year 1919, which is the year of Afghanistan’s indpendence. “Afghanistan”This is simply the name of the country written in the local (Persian) alphabet

  8. Historic Afghanistan Stamps Stamps celebrating Afghanistan’s sporting prowess.

  9. Political stamps

  10. In 1996, a group of Islamic fighters called the Taliban (talib meaning religious student) took control of Afghanistan’s capital – Kabul. Following terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington D.C. in September 2001, the United States began military operations in Afghanistan to find lead terrorist Osama bin Laden and overturn the terrorist network connected to the Taliban. Afghans wait in line for their turn to vote in the 2004 elections. President Karzai comes to Washington and meets with President Bush in May 2005 Above: The first female woman to run for President of Afghanistan, Messouda Jalal earned 1% of votes and made history in the 2004 elections. She now serves as the Minister of Women’s Affairs. Afghan election staff count ballots to determine the results for the 2004 elections. After 20 years of war, Afghans went to the polls for the first time in October 2004. In the weeks and months leading up to the polls, voters were intimidated and the Taliban threatened to disrupt the voting. Yet, Election Day passed with few reports of serious violence. Hamid Karzai received 55.4% of the vote to win the election and become President.

  11. Education Afghanistan has a long history of educating its citizens. In 1932, the first college of Medicine opened in Kabul. Education was declared universal, compulsory and free in 1935. In 1946, Kabul University was founded and 14 years later women were admitted as students. Since the end of Taliban rule, the number of Afghan children enrolled in schools tripled to 5.6 million (the most in the country’s history) of which 40% are girls. The new Constitution, signed into law by President Karzai in January 2004, states that education is the right of all Afghan citizens, and it is provided free of charge by the state up to the level of a bachelor’s degree.

  12. Alefbe - The Alphabet

  13. Numerals Sample Text

  14. Afghanistan has a rich and long cultural heritage. Its location on the old Silk Route between China and the Middle East means that Afghanistan’s cultural life has been subject to many influences. It was at one time or another occupied by many great civilizations such as the Greeks, Persians and Indians. This mix of cultures produced a number of ethnic groups; Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, Turkmens, Baluch, Turkmen, Aimaq, Nuristani, Pamiri, Pashai, Kirghiz and Kazakh all call Afghanistan their home. Society Above: A poem written in Pashtu. Left: This dictionary provides a means for both Pashto and Dari speakers to learn English. After the death of the Prophet Muhammed, a disagreement over the legitimacy of the first four caliphs (spiritual head and ruler of the Islamic state) created a religious divide amongst Muslims. Those who rejected the first three rulers became known as Shiite Muslims, and those who embraced them became known as Sunni Muslims. Over two-thirds of the population are Sunni Muslims, but over 99% of Afghans follow one form of Islam. Pashto and Dari are the official languages of Afghanistan. Dari is actually a dialect of Farsi, called Persian in English.

  15. Afghan Holidays The religious holidays in Afghanistan are celebrated according to the traditional lunar calendar. Other more modern holidays, such as Independence Day and New Years Day, are celebrated based on the solar calendar used by western societies. Holidays are a time for friends and families to get together and prepare lavish meals. EID AL-FITR: Day: The day after a month of fasting for Ramadan (the 9th month of the Muslim calendar). During Ramadan, Muslims fast during daylight hours and only eat small meals in the evenings. It is a time of worship and contemplation, and a time for strengthening family and community ties. The day after Ramadan ends, Eid Al-Fitr, is often began by wearing new clothes and going to prayer. Afterwards, people visit or entertain their friends and families. Children usually receive gifts or money called “Eidi". EID AL-ADHA: Day: The 10th day of the twelfth month of the Islamic (Hijra) calendar. Eid Al-Adha commemorates the Prophet Abraham's devotion to God. As the story goes, God asked Abraham for him to sacrifice his son Ismael as a test of his dedication. As soon as he saw that Abraham was going to go through with the deed, Allah provided a lamb for the sacrifice instead. On this holiday, Muslims performing the Haj (pilgrimage to Mecca) sacrifice a lamb, and the meat is given out to the poor. NOWROZE: Day: March 21st This is the first day of spring (New Year's Day in the solar calendar). JESHEN: Day: August 19th August 19th marks Afghan Independence Day. Even though, Afghanistan was never a British colony, the British did have control of its foreign policy due to an agreement signed by a former Afghan King. The Third Anglo-Afghan War ended this agreement.

  16. Sports; Kite Fighting and Buzkashi Afghanis participate in many of the typical kinds of sports, such as soccer and wrestling (palwani). They also continue to compete in athletic events, such as buzkashi and kite fighting, which have been played throughout history as an important part of Afghan culture. Kite Fighting: Although this sport is usually played by children and young teenagers, it is fiercely competitive. There are no rules. Everyone puts up their kite and tries to cut other kites down by rubbing the strings together and eventually breaking them. There can be over 25 kites in the air at any given time, all fighting each other and attempting to outmaneuver one another. When a kite falls down, children on the ground try to capture the cut kites and assemble a collection of them. The last kite flying is the winner.

  17. A kite shop and kite flyers Afghan kites are usually made of paper and bamboo and are always flown on a glass coated “cutting” line, called tar. Most of the flyers make their own tar, each with their own secret recipe of glue, flour and ground glass. The wing span of the kite is usually about 3.5 feet long, but can range up to 5 feet in length.

  18. For girls and boys! In the city and in the country! “Charka gar” the person who holds the wooden spool. “Tar” is the glass-covered string. “Gudiparan baz” is the kite flyer, responsible for controlling the movement of the kite during the fight tournaments. “Jang” is the fight.

  19. Buzkashi: Buzkashi, or “goat grabbing,” is the national sport of Afghanistan. Many historians believe that Buzkashi dates back to the Turkic-Mongol people, and that it was derived from hunting mountain goats on horseback. In Buzkashi, a headless carcass is placed in the center of a circle and surrounded by the players of two opposing teams. The object of the game is to get control of the calf carcass and be the first to pitch it across the goal line in the scoring area. Games can last a day, or an entire week. Only the most masterful players, (called chapandaz) even are able to get close to the carcass. The competition is fierce, and the winner of a match receives prizes that have been donated by a sponsor. These prizes range from money to fine turbans and clothes. In order for someone to become a chapandaz, one must undergo a tremendous amount of difficult training. In fact, the best chapandaz, are usually over the age of forty. The horses that participate in buzkashi undergo five years of heavy training before even making it to the playing field.

  20. Buzkashi The rider in red is wearing a traditional costume, but the men on the other team are wearing Russian tank helmets. The "ball" is the body of a decapitated goat or calf that has had weights or sand stuffed down its throat and the neck sewn together. Only the most masterful players, (called chapandaz) are able to get close to the carcass.

  21. Competition is typically fierce, as other players may use any force short of tripping the horse in order to thwart scoring attempts (though the use of knives or guns is discouraged). Riders usually wear heavy clothing and head protection to protect themselves from players' whips and boots. Games can last for several days. Players take the goat out across the field and around a post in the distance. Then it must be dropped in a circle marked on the ground. The rules are few, and the number of players varies. The horses are very valuable, well cared for, highly trained, and they are obviously as enthusiastic about the game as the men are.

  22. Afghan Cuisine Afghan-style cuisine is a blend of specialties from all over Asia. Afghanistan’s geographical location in-between the former Soviet Union, China, Pakistan and Iran, has allowed trade to flourish within its borders for thousands of years. As a result, Afghan cuisine offers a variety of tastes and spices reminiscent of Greek, Turkish, Middle Eastern, Persian, Central Asian, Indian and even Far Eastern foods and dishes. The prominence of cattle and sheep as livestock in Afghanistan ensure that dairy products remain a traditionally important part of their diet. Cheese, buttermilk or yogurts are used in most dishes. Usually meats such as beef or chicken are served. Also, Muslim dietary rules prevent most Afghans from eating pork.Fresh vegetables and fruit are also an important part of the Afghan diet. In rural areas, regular afternoon meals are not eaten, so people carry around nuts and dried fruit to snack on throughout the day. The usual beverage in Afghanistan is tea, and its popularity makes it one of their major imports. Usually, black tea is drunk southeast of the Hindu Kush Mountains while green tea prevails in the northwestern areas.

  23. … Appetizers… For appetizers, Afghans often enjoy an assortment of tastes. There is a popular noodle and vegetable soup called aush, the famous sambosa goshti (stuffed and deep-fried pastries of ground beef, chick peas, and spices), and bolanee, which is fried dough with a vegetable filling. Everything is topped with a variety of yogurt and spicy cilantro sauces (chutney).

  24. …the Main Course… Most Afghan dishes consist of specially spiced rice accompanied by a side dish of vegetables, meat, salad, and bread. The most famous dish is qabuli palow, rice darkened with spices and topped with pieces of lamb, carrots and raisins. Kebabs are a staple of the Afghan diet. The Afghan equivalent to fast food, kebabs consist of cubes of lamb, beef, or chicken meat skewered with onions and tomatoes and grilled over a charcoal broiler.

  25. Afghan Bread (naan) Afghan bread, or naan, comes in slabs, or round flat loaves that have been baked on the inner sides of large clay ovens called ‘tandoors’. Naan can be served with all types of Afghan dishes, including soups, rice and kebabs.

  26. … and Most Importantly… Dessert! There are many popular desserts in Afghanistan. The most commonly served, however, are baklava and rice pudding. Baklava is a pastry with layers of crushed nuts in between and topped with syrup, while rice pudding is a sweet and milky dessert cooked with rice to give it some texture.

  27. Mullah Nasruddin Stories The ancient art of storytelling continues to flourish in Afghanistan. A favorite Afghan character is Mullah Nasruddin, who plays the part of a learned fool, or Wiseman. A figure that dates back to the 13th century, tales of Mullah Nasruddin can be found throughout the Middle Eastern world. On the surface, the stories are simple and funny. However, their deeper meanings usually offering a life lesson or piece of advice. DEDUCTIVE REASONING “How old are you, Mullah?” someone asked. “Three years older than my brother.” was his reply. “How do you know that?” they asked. Mullah responded, “Reasoning. Last year I heard my brother tell someone that I was two years older than him. A year has passed. That means that I am older by one year. I shall soon be old enough to be his grandfather.” TIT FOR TAT Mullah Nasruddin went into a shop to buy a pair of trousers. He changed his mind, and chose a cloak instead for the same price. Picking up the cloak, he left the shop. “You haven’t paid!” shouted the merchant. “I left you the trousers, which were of the same value as the cloak.” Mullah replied. “But you didn’t pay for the trousers, either!” said the merchant. “Of course not,” said Mullah. “Why should I pay for something that I didn’t want to buy?” MORE USEFUL One day Mullah Nasruddin entered his favorite teahouse and said, “The moon is more useful than the sun.” An old man asked, “Why Mullah?” Nasruddin replied, “We need the light more during the night than during the day.” PROMISES KEPT A friend asked the Mullah how old he was. “Forty.” the Mullah replied. “But you said the same thing two years ago!” cried the friend. “Yes,” said the Mullah, “I always stand by what I have said.” WHEN YOU FACE THINGS ALONE The villagers said, “You may have lost your donkey, Nasruddin, but you don’t have to grieve over it more than you did the loss of your first wife!” Mullah thought about this, then replied, “Ah, but if you remember when I lost my wife, all you villagers said: We’ll find you someone else. So far, nobody has offered to replace my donkey.”

  28. The Story of the ‘Afghan Girl’ The thirteen year-old Afghan girl first appeared on the cover of a National Geographic magazine in 1985. Her haunting green eyes, which seemed to express pain and resilience as well as strength and beauty, struck a cord with audiences nationwide – making her one of the world’s most famous faces as well as a symbol of the Afghan people. Her image appeared on the front of magazines and books, posters, lapel pins, and even rugs, but she never knew about it. For 17 years, Steve McCurry, the photographer who took that picture, searched for clues as to what had happened to the young girl with the unforgettable green eyes. He revisited the place where he had discovered her over ten times before finally tracking her down in 2002. Now thirty years old, her name is Sharbat Gula and she lives in a remote region of Afghanistan with her husband and three daughters. She had no idea her face had become an icon, and had never even seen her famous portrait before it was shown to her in January 2002. She recalled the experience of being photographed as a child, she told McCurry, because she remembered how her head covering was full of holes after being scorched by a cooking fire. “She didn't even like the picture, because of the hole in the shawl,” said Don Halcombe, the magazine's publicity manager. “She remembered the day she burned it on a stove.” To make certain they had the right woman, the researchers used FBI iris-scanning technology and face-recognition techniques to prove her identity. No two people have the same iris pattern. The technology was able to verify that Sharbat Gula was indeed the girl in the photograph. The National Geographic Society created the “Afghan Girls Fund” in response to the discovery of Sharbat’s location, which raises money for the education of Afghan girls.

  29. Sharbat Gula, age 30, and her family, and the doctor examining her eyes.

  30. “Our ambition is to give hope to each and every Afghan.” - President Hamid Karzai