Afghanistan, an Asian state bordered on the north by Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, on the east by China, the Hindu states of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan, on the south by Pakistan and on the west by Iran. It has 647,497 km2. The capital is Kabul.
TERRITORY AND RESOURCES
According to Themotorcyclers, Afghanistan is a mountainous country. The main mountain system is the Hindu Kush with an average altitude of 4,270 m and peaks of 7,620 m. The main rivers are the Amu Darya, Kabul and Helmand. The last two flow into lakes and swamps. Climatic conditions show great variations according to the day and the season. The average annual precipitation is 305mm. Cedar, pine and other coniferous forests are between 1,830 and 3,660 m in altitude. At medium altitudes, there are bushes and trees, such as hazel and pistachio. At altitudes below 900 m, vegetation is very sparse. The most characteristic fauna is made up of the dromedary and the camel. Caracul sheep are famous for their fur.
POPULATION AND GOVERNMENT
The predominantly rural Afghan population is structured into tribes and clans. It is divided into four major ethnic groups: Pathans (50% of the population), Tajiks (25%), Uzbeks (9%) and Hazaras (9%). According to 1993 data, the population is 21,970,000 inhabitants, of which 2,500,000 are nomads. The demographic density is 24 inhab / km2. According to data from 1988, the capital, Kabul, has a population of 1,424,400 inhabitants. Other cities are Kandahar and Herat. More than 90% of the inhabitants are Muslims, from the Sunni branch. The rest, especially the Hazara, are Shiites. Pushtu and Persian (Dari) are the official languages. Of the many dialects spoken, Turkish Uzbek, Turkmen and Kyrgyz are the most common. Afghanistan was a monarchy until 1973, when the republic was proclaimed. The 1977 Constitution declared a one-party state and Islam as the official religion. After the fall of the communist regime in 1992, a provisional council took power.
Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a per capita income of $ 220. Approximately 80% of the population is dedicated to agriculture and livestock. The main crops are cereals, tobacco, cotton and sugar beet. Sheep are obtained from large quantities of meat, fats, wool and hides for export. Mineral reserves are not fully exploited. Iron ore, sulfur, chromium, zinc and uranium have not yet been explored. Gas reserves stand out. Industrial production grew between 1960 and 1980. Most of the industries are textiles, with an emphasis on the handmade manufacture of carpets. The currency unit is Afghani. All private banks in Afghanistan were nationalized in 1975.
In the 6th century BC, Afghanistan formed part of the Persian Empire of the Achaemenids, which was dominated around 330 BC by Alexander III the Great. In the 3rd and 4th centuries, the Persian Sassanids invaded the country. White Huns had control of Afghanistan when the Arabs conquered the region in the middle of the 8th century. Islam became the dominant religion and Arab political control was replaced by Iranian and Turkish rule in the 10th and early 11th centuries. They were vanquished by Genghis Khan around 1220 and the country came under Mongol rule until the 14th century, when another Mongolian invader, Tamerlan, seized northern Afghanistan. In the 16th century, the Safavids of Iran and the Uzbeks of the North made expeditions through the region.
Iranians and Mongols stifled Afghans’ ongoing rebellions. Throughout the 17th century and part of the 19th century, indigenous Afghans began to expand their power and came to conquer eastern Iran, Baluchistan, Kashmir and part of Punjab. The emirate disintegrated in 1818. Then there was a period of anarchy. Dost Muhammad, a member of a notable Afghan family, took control of eastern Afghanistan, receiving the title of emir in 1835. In 1838, the Anglo-Indian army invaded Afghanistan, triggering the First Afghan War (1838-1842).
The invaders captured the main cities. In 1841, a son of Dost Muhammad successfully led a rebellion, and in December 1842, the British left the country. Dost Muhammad regained his throne. The struggle between the emir’s sons has sparked unrest in the country for more than a decade. In 1878, Anglo-Indian forces invaded Afghanistan again. After that Second Afghan War (1878-1879), Abd-ar-Rahman, grandson of Dost Muhammad, installed himself on the throne and confirmed the assignment to the British of the Khyber Pass and other Afghan territories. Border disputes were resolved with India and Russia, a permanent army was created and limits were placed on the power of the different tribal chiefs.
The Emir was assassinated and his successor, Amanullah Khan, declared war on Britain in 1919. Britain recognized Afghanistan as a sovereign and independent state. Amanullah Khan changed his title from emir to king. In 1923, a constitutional regime was established. The titles of nobility were abolished. Education for women was enacted and other modernization measures were approved. These reforms provoked the 1929 rebellion, which forced Amanullah to abdicate. His uncle, Nadir Shah, supported by members of the tribes, defeated the rebels and seized power.
The new sovereign restored order in the kingdom, but was assassinated in 1933. During the reign of Zahir Shah, son of Nadir, the modernization program was intensified. In 1946, Afghanistan became part of the United Nations (UN). In 1965, the king promulgated a new constitution with some liberal principles. Afghanistan experienced great economic difficulties in the late 1960s. In 1973, King Zahir Shah was overthrown and the Republic of Afghanistan was proclaimed. A new constitution was passed in early 1977. In 1978, a violent coup d’état took place and the new rulers, organized in a Revolutionary Council, suspended the constitution and initiated a program of scientific socialism, provoking the armed resistance of Muslims. Since the rebellion could not be contained,
More than 3 million people have taken refuge in neighboring Pakistan. Throughout the 1980s, government forces and Soviet soldiers were unable to defeat the rebels. Between 1988 and 1989, the USSR withdrew all troops, but the civil war continued. In 1992, the rebels took Kabul. The rival factions agreed to form an interim council to govern Afghanistan. In 1993, the leaders of the guerrilla factions, by mutual agreement, tried to establish a provisional constitution, as a prelude to the 1994 elections. However, that year, the fighting started in Kabul between troops loyal to President Rabbani and supporters of the Prime Minister. , leader of the Shiite fundamentalist military faction.
In 1994, the struggle extended to other parts of Afghanistan. The division between the rebels allowed the growth of the Taliban, a fundamentalist group belonging to the Sunni branch of Islam, which was financed by Pakistan. In 1996, a strong offensive by the Taliban militias allowed them to conquer Kabul and control almost 70 percent of Afghan territory. This new reality forced the unification of the remaining Afghan groups, which initially achieved some victories over the Taliban.
But after the Mazari-Sharif conquest in 1998, the fundamentalists’ total control of the territory seems very close. His government has been characterized by a strict application of Islamic law, which includes whipping in the public square for those who consume alcohol, the amputation of members for those guilty of theft and a strict segregation of women. At the same time, Taliban relations with neighboring Iran deteriorated due to the execution of seven Iranian citizens during the conquest of Mazar-i-Sharif, which led the ayatollah government to concentrate some 70,000 soldiers over the Afghan border. . Diplomatic problems are compounded by religious rivalry, as Iranian Shiites view the advance of Taliban Sunni radicals with concern.