|Area||total: 647,500 sq km|
water: 0 sq km
land: 647,500 sq km
|Population||27,755,775 (July 2002 est.)|
|Religion||Sunni Muslim 84%, Shi'a Muslim 15%, other 1%|
|Government type||Islamic republic|
Afghanistan is in Southern Central Asia. It is a landlocked country surrounded by Pakistan to the south and east, China to the northeast, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to the north and Iran to the west.
Years of civil war have left Afghanistan one of the poorest countries in the world.
- Administrative divisions
- 32 provinces (velayat, singular - velayat); Badakhshan, Badghis, Baghlan, Balkh, Bamian, Farah, Faryab, Herat, Jowzjan, Kabol, Kandahar, Kapisa, Khowst, Konar, Kondoz, Laghman, Lowgar, Nangarhar, Nimruz, Nurestan, Oruzgan, Paktia, Paktika, Parvan, Samangan, Sar-e Pol, Takhar, Vardak, and Zabol
English spellings of Afghan place names vary. For example, Q may replace K as in Qandahar or Qunduz. Konduz will be seen spelt as Qunduz, Qundoz, Qundoze and variations on these. Bamian is often spelt as Bamyian or Bamyan. Khowst may be spelt as Khost.
- Kabul - Capital
- Mazar-e Sharif
- Ports and harbors
- Kheyrabad, Shir Khan
- The remains of the Bamian Buddhas. Once considered one of the wonders of the world, these tall stone carving were destroyed, in what some have described as an act of cultural vandalism, by the Taliban.
- Shamali Plain north of Kabul. Shamali, meaning 'windy' is a green plain which produced a lot of the food for central Afghanistan. From Kabul it extends north through Charikar, Parwan province to Jabal os Saraj.
- Panjshir Valley
- Salang Pass High mountain pass and tunnel linking Kabul to the north.
- Mazar-e Sharif See the impressively tiled Blue Mosque and visit nearby Balkh or the Qaila Jangi fortress where Taliban prisoners attempted a breakout.
Afghanistan has recently been in the news for all the wrong reasons. While travel to this country has not been advisable for several years, it is a place which has much to offer the intrepid traveller. That said, the intrepid traveller should look elsewhere for thrillseeking at the moment, since stability and safety still do not exist in much of the country.
- Afghan Scene magazine Germany and agreed on a plan for the formulation of a new government structure that resulted in the inauguration of Hamid KARZAI as Chairman of the Afghan Interim Authority (AIA) on 22 December 2001. The AIA held a nationwide Loya Jirga (Grand Assembly) in June 2002, and KARZAI was elected President by secret ballot of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan (TISA). The Transitional Authority has an 18-month mandate to hold a nationwide Loya Jirga to adopt a constitution and a 24-month mandate to hold nationwide elections. In December 2002, the TISA marked the one-year anniversary of the fall of the Taliban. In addition to occasionally violent political jockeying and ongoing military action to root out remaining terrorists and Taliban elements, the country suffers from enormous poverty, a crumbling infrastructure, and widespread land mines.
Fixed line service in major cities (digital in Kabul) and mobile phones in most cities (2 networks). The AWCC network is very unreliable.
Officially 220V 50Hz. Electricity supplies are erratic but improving in major cities. Voltage can drop to below 150V in some places. The Afghans' enthusiasm for homemade generators or modifying low quality ones means that the frequency and voltage can also vary wildly.
There are three types of electrical outlets likely to be found in Afghanistan. They are the old British standard BS-546, the newer British standard BS-1363 and the European standard CEE-7/7 "Schukostecker" or "Schuko". There is no single recognized standard. Hence, you may encounter any or all of these outlet types there. Generally speaking, U.S. and Canadian travelers should pack adapters for these outlets if they plan to use North American electrical equipment in Afghanistan.
The national carrier Azerbaijan using Azerbaijan Airlines.
The main airport in Kabul is open but is in poor condition. Expect long delays at immigration and baggage reclaim. A new terminal may be built by the Japanese.
Possible from Peshawar, Pakistan via Khyber Pass, from Quetta, Pakistan to Kandahar (very dangerous), from Mashad, Iran to Herat and from Uzbekistan to Mazar-e Sharif. Travelling any of these routes should not be considered safe or secure.
Buses run regularly between Herat and Mashad, Iran. Afghani buses are pulled apart by Iranian border police for drugs so expect long delays.
- Afghan Logistics Tours  (http://www.afghanlogisticstours.com/) is one of the first and biggest travel companies in Afghanistan, with a South East Asia branch office in Singapore.
Planes fly between Kabul and the major cities (mainly Herat and Mazar-i Sharif) every day but flights maybe delayed on weather and runway conditions.
There is a growing network of public transportation between the country's cities. Buses ply some routes and Toyota vehicles have a near monopoly on minivan (HiAce) and taxi (Corolla) transportation.
Jeeps and Land Cruisers are available for hire along with drivers who speak some English. There are tour operators in Kabul that will provide a car and a guide. Links to some of these companies are at the bottom of the page.
- Afghan Persian (Dari, the historical lingua franca) 50%, Pashto 35%, Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen) 11%, 30 minor languages (primarily Balochi and Pashai) 4%, most people speak more than one language.
Pashto is extremely helpful in the southern part of the country. However, you are most likely to encounter no problems if you are fluent in Persian or Afghan Dari. English is now understood by a large part of the population in the urban centers.
Being an Islamic country, alcohol consumption is illegal. It is however tolerated, for non-Afghans, in western restaurants in Kabul.
Hotel and other accommodation is generally very basic and falls well below international standards. However, two new 5 star hotels are now open in Kabul.
Afghanistan is still not a country for tourism. If you don't have very important reasons to go there, stay away from the country.
Afghanistan is one of the least healthy countries on the planet. Respiratory diseases and food related illness are common. Malaria is a risk in many parts of the country.