Geographic Coordinates: 33 00 N, 65 00 E
Population: 28,396,000 (July 2009 est.)
Main Religion: Sunni Muslim 80%, Shia Muslim 19%, other 1%
Language: Afghan Persian or Dari (official), Pashto (official), Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen)
Government Type: Islamic Republic
Head of State: President Hamid KARZAI
GDP in US Dollars (per capita): $800
Main Industries: Small-scale production of textiles, soap, furniture, shoes, fertilizer, cement; handwoven carpets; natural gas, coal, copper
Currency Code: Afghani (AFA)
Life Expectancy: 44 years (men), 44 years (women) (UN)
Environment - current issues: Limited natural fresh water resources; Inadequate supplies of potable water; Soil degradation; Overgrazing; Deforestation (much of the remaining forests are being cut down for fuel and building materials); Desertification; Air and water pollution
Issues facing Women and Children:
- Infant, under-five, and maternal mortality rates in Afghanistan are among the world’s highest. Twenty five per cent of children die before reaching their fifth birthday.
- Because immunization coverage is still very low, preventable diseases kill thousands of children annually. Malaria (which afflicts approximately 2 million people per year), measles, and respiratory infections are the leading causes of childhood death.
- The great majority of Afghanistan’s population lacks access to safe water or sanitation. Diarrhoeal diseases and tuberculosis are chronic threats to public health.
- Two million children of primary school age do not attend classes. Literacy rates are low.
Land Mine Ban Signatory: Y
Local Media: Press: Hewad ("Homeland"), Anis ("Companion"), Kabul Times,The Daily Afghanistan, Daily Outlook, Kabul Weekly; Radio and TV: Radio Afghanistan, National Television Afghanistan (NRTA)
Interesting Fact: A popular sport in Afghanistan is kite fighting. Opponents cover their kite strings with powdered glass and flour. When they fly their kites they try to move their kites in a way that will cut the other players' strings. The last kite flying wins. This was most recently made famous by Khaled Hosseini's bestselling novel "The Kite Runner".