General Facts

by Abdullah Qazi
Last updated: July 17, 2018

Afghanistan, (which literally means Land of the Afghan) is a mountainous land-locked country located in South-Central Asia. It has a history and culture that goes back over 5000 years. Throughout its long, splendid, and sometimes chaotic history, this area of the world has been known by various names. In ancient times, its inhabitants called the land Aryana. In the medieval era, it was called Khorasan, and in modern times, its people have decided to call it Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is a heterogeneous nation, in which there are four major ethnic groups: Pashtoons (Pashtuns), Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks. Numerous other minor ethnic groups (Nuristanis, Baluchis, Turkmens, etc.) also call Afghanistan their home. While the majority of Afghans (99%) belong to the Islamic faith, there are also small numbers of Sikhs and Hindus. The official languages of the country are Pashto and Dari (Afghan Persian aka Farsi) iii. The capital of Afghanistan is Kabul, which throughout history, was admired by many great figures, such as the great Central Asian conqueror, Zahirudeen Babur.

Official Name:
English: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Pashto: د افغانستان اسلامي جمهوریت
Persian: جمهوری اسلامی افغانستان
Other Facts:
  • Nationality – noun: Afghan(s) /  adjective: Afghan
  • Leader: President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai
  • Population: 34,124,811  (July 2017 est.) (i) / Growth Rate: 2.14% (iv)
  • Language spoken: Dari (lingua franca) – 80% / Pashto – 47% / Uzbek – 11%  (see i, ii & iii)
  • Time zone:  (UTC+4:30)
  • Internet country code: .af
  • Calling code:  +93
  • Electric current: 220 volts
  • Geographic coordinates: 33 00 N, 65 00 E
  • Climate: arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers
  • Independence Day: August 19 (from UK control over Afghan foreign affairs)
  • Right to vote: Men & women (18 and older)
  • Currency (code): afghani (AFA)
  • Fiscal year: 21 March – 20 March
  • Calendars used: Solar Hijiri (national holidays) and Lunar Hijiri (religious holidays)
  • Measurement system: Metric (traditional measurement units are also used for weight and area).
  • Driving side: Right
  • Working Days: Saturday – Thursday (Friday is not a workday).

(i) CIA Factbook (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/af.html), accessed on June 19, 2018

(ii) Most Afghans are bilingual, especially Pashtuns, therefore, the sum adds up to more than 100%; 5 percent of the population also speaks English as a second language.

(iii) Per Chapter 1, Article 16 of Afghanistan’s Constitution: The Turkic languages (Uzbeki and Turkmen), Baluchi, Pashai, Nuristani and Pamiri (alsana) are – in addition to Pashto and Dari – the third official language in areas where the majority speaks them. 

(iv) Minister of Economy Mustafa Mastoor – Khaama Press: Officials express concerns regarding population growth rate in Afghanistan – July 17, 2018.