Afghanistan on the globe (Asia centered).svg
Flag of Afghanistan.svg Afghanistan
A Buddha statue in Afghanistan. Buddhism was the major religion of Afghanistan before the Muslims invaded the region in the 7th century.
Gold coin of Kanishka, who helped the spread of Buddhism through his conquests and also helped develop the Silk Road
Mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan, 1987 performing Islamic prayer
Afghan president Ashraf Ghani and US Defense Secretary Mark Esper shaking hands at the US-Afghanistan Joint Declaration Announcement in Kabul
Lake Band-e-Amir in central Afghanistan

Afghanistan (Pashto/Dari: افغانستان‎), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country in the Middle East. Afghanistan has a population of 32 million people, making it the 42nd most populated country in the world. The country's strategic location along the Silk Road allowed Afghanistan to have significant interactions with other cultures in the Middle East and other parts of Asia, justifying Afghanistan's extreme diversity.

Afghanistan's history spans over thousands and thousands of years. Records show that Afghanistan was home to many settlers that had fixed settlements accompanied by farming and the use of domesticated crops/animals (known as the Neolithic Era, final phase of the Stone Age). These settlements eventually grew to be massive civilizations. Eventually, Zoroastrianism flourished throughout Afghanistan with the oncoming of the Yaz culture from about 1500 BCE to 1100 BCE. Historians say that the lack of burials founded in relation to the Yaz Culture correlates to the Zorastrian belief of sky burials, which is where a human body (after death) is left at the top of a mountain to be taken away by "natural elements" (scavengers, wind, rain, etc.). After invasions by the Persians (in 6 BCE) and Alexander the Great (in 4 BCE), Buddhism and Hinduism took over as the major religion with the arrival of the Mauryan Indians from the Indian subcontinent. In the 7th century, Islam took over Afghanistan when Arab Muslims arrived. What followed afterwards were several centuries of Islamic ruling by various Islamic dynasties, such as the Saffarid and Ghurid dynasties.

Eventually, the British attempted to keep Afghanistan under long British ruling, with a couple of wars between the two parties. By 1919, the country was completely free of British influences. A monarchy was created promptly afterwards, which lasted until 1973 when political crisises forced the king out of his power (a coup took place). A republic, non-religious government was established until the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979 after a Soviet-backed political party took over the government, sparking outrage and violent protests throughout the nation. The Soviets were met with the fierce fighting of the Mujahideen rebels, who were soldiers trained in neighbouring Pakistan to fight against the Soviets. The Soviet-Afghan war ended in February of 1989, resulting in the withdrawal of the Soviet troops. Various Afghan tribes started fighting each other for power over the nation, with the Taliban (Islamic militant group) emerging victorious over the other tribes in the 90s. They ruled with an iron fist, adhering to their strict version of the Islamic faith.

The Taliban were harshly criticized for their inhumane and cruel punishments and their severe restrictions on women's rights. They ruled the whole nation until the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 (occurring right after the 9/11 attacks), in which they were partially dethroned. This has caused conflicts between the Taliban and the Afghan government, resulting in many innocent civilian casualties over the past two decades. Although still facing many issues with the Taliban, Afghanistan has improved tremendously ever since the partial dethronement of the Taliban, with improved women's rights and educational standards.

Its capital and largest city is Kabul, the currency is Afghan Afghanis and the current president is Ashraf Ghani.

Where is Afghanistan?Edit

Map of Afghanistan in the Middle East

Afghanistan is located in Central and Southern Asia. It borders Iran towards the west, Pakistan towards the south and east, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan to the north, and China towards the northeast. The country's location gave away to many important and beneficial trade routes, including the Silk Road.

How many people live in Afghanistan?Edit

Pashtun schoolchildren during a graduation ceremony

The population, as of 2020, is reported to be at 38 million people (including 3 million Afghanis living in Pakistan and Iran). In 2017, out of a population of 29 million people in Afghanistan, 15 million were reported to be male and 14.2 million were reported to be female. Majority of Afghanis live in rural areas (a lot of land, very little peope). Life expectancy averages are reported to be about 60.5 years.

The Afghan Constitute mentions 14 ethnic groups, including but not limited to: Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Aymāq, Turkmen, Baloch, Pashai, Nuristani, Gujjar, Arab, Brahui, Pamiri and Kyrgyz. The biggest ethnic group of Afghanistan is the Pashtun, who take up about 40% of the total population. They are primarily located between the Hindu Kush mountains (northeastern Afghanistan). and the Indus River in Pakistan. The other two largest ethnic groups, in order, are the Tajiks (native Persian speakers; make up 27% of the population) and the Hazaras (in the Hazarat region in central Afghanistan; make up 9% of the population).

What is the most common religion in Afghanistan?Edit

A church in Bagram, Afghanistan
A Sikh factory worker in Herat, Afghanistan

99% of citizens are Muslim. 80% of Afghanistan Sunni Muslims while the rest are either Shia Muslims or other followers of other forms of Islam. Majority of the Shiites live in the central region of Afghanistan, with other significant bands of Shiites in cities towards the west (including the capital, Kabul).

The other 1% is made up of Sikhs, Hindus and Christians.

The constitution of Afghanistan gives priority to Islamic ruling whilst also allowing the freedom of other religions to practice and live peacefully.

What languages are spoken in Afghanistan?Edit

Pashto and Dari are official languages. It is common for people to speak two, or more, languages.

What are some important sites?Edit

  Wikijunior:Asia edit