You are here -allRefer - Reference - Country Study & Country Guide - Afghanistan >

allRefer Reference and Encyclopedia Resource

allRefer    
allRefer
   


-- Country Study & Guide --     

 

Afghanistan

 
Country Guide
Afghanistan
Albania
Algeria
Angola
Armenia
Austria
Azerbaijan
Bahrain
Bangladesh
Belarus
Belize
Bhutan
Bolivia
Brazil
Bulgaria
Cambodia
Chad
Chile
China
Colombia
Caribbean Islands
Comoros
Cyprus
Czechoslovakia
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
Egypt
El Salvador
Estonia
Ethiopia
Finland
Georgia
Germany
Germany (East)
Ghana
Guyana
Haiti
Honduras
Hungary
India
Indonesia
Iran
Iraq
Israel
Cote d'Ivoire
Japan
Jordan
Kazakhstan
Kuwait
Kyrgyzstan
Latvia
Laos
Lebanon
Libya
Lithuania
Macau
Madagascar
Maldives
Mauritania
Mauritius
Mexico
Moldova
Mongolia
Nepal
Nicaragua
Nigeria
North Korea
Oman
Pakistan
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
Philippines
Poland
Portugal
Qatar
Romania
Russia
Saudi Arabia
Seychelles
Singapore
Somalia
South Africa
South Korea
Soviet Union [USSR]
Spain
Sri Lanka
Sudan
Syria
Tajikistan
Thailand
Turkmenistan
Turkey
Uganda
United Arab Emirates
Uruguay
Uzbekistan
Venezuela
Vietnam
Yugoslavia
Zaire

Afghanistan

Ethnic Groups

In 1996, approximately 40 percent of Afghans were Pashtun, 11.4 of whom are of the Durrani tribal group and 13.8 percent of the Ghilzai group. Tajiks make up the second largest ethnic group with 25.3 percent of the population, followed by Hazaras, 18 percent; Uzbeks, 6.3 percent; Turkmen, 2.5 percent; Qizilbash, 1.0; 6.9 percent other. The usual caveat regarding statistics is particularly appropriate here.

Pashtun

The largest and traditionally most politically powerful ethnic group, the Pashtun (or Pakhtun in northern Pakhtu dialects), is composed of many units totalling in 1995 an estimated 10.1 million, the most numerous being the Durrani and the Ghilzai. Other major tribes include the Wardak, Jaji, Tani, Jadran, Mangal, Khugiani, Safi, Mohmand and Shinwari. Like a number of other Afghan ethnic groups, the Pushtun extend beyond Afghanistan into Pakistan where they constitute a major ethnic group of about 14 million.

The Afghan Pushtun heartland roughly covers a large crescent-shaped belt following the Afghan-Pakistani border on the east, southward from Nuristan, across the south, and northward along the Iranian border almost to Herat. Enclaves of Pashtun also live scattered among other ethnic groups throughout the nation, where they have settled at various times since the end of the nineteenth century as shifts in populations, some forced, some voluntary, occurred in response to political expediency and economic opportunities (see Abdur Rahman Khan, 1880-1901, ch.1).

Physically the Pushtun are basically a Mediterranean variant of the greater Caucasian race and speak several mutually intelligible dialects of Pashtu; some also speak Dari. Both Pashtu and Dari belong to the Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. Pushtun are generally Hanafi Sunni Muslims, but some are Ithna Asharia Shia (see Ithna Asharia, this ch.).

The Pushtun have provided the central leadership for Afghanistan since the eighteenth century when Ahmad Khan Abdali of Kandahar established the Durrani Empire. This one-time general in Nadir Shah's Persian army was elected to power in 1747 at a tribal jirgah, an assembly which takes decisions by consensus. The legitimacy of his rule was sanctioned at the same time by the ulama (religious scholars) (see Ahmad Shah and the Durrani Empire, ch.1). Ahmad Khan assumed the title of Durr-i-Durran (Pearl of Pearls) and was henceforth known as Ahmad Shah Durrani and his tribe, the Pushtun Abdali tribe, as the Durrani. When his successors lost the support of the tribes after Ahmad Shah's death in 1772, control passed to the Mohammadzai lineage within the Barakzai section of the Durrani Pushtun.

Mohammadzai dominance continued from 1826 to 1978, interrupted only for a scant nine months in 1929. Then power shifted to the second largest Pushtun tribe, the Ghilzai, who dominated the leadership of the secular Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) after 1978, although most were essentially detribalized because of their close association with urban life. This regime was in turn replaced in 1992 by the Islamic State of Afghanistan, established by the mujahidin whose leaders were mostly from the Ghilzai, and a variety of eastern Pushtun tribes, although the President from 1992-1996 was a Tajik. This state has been challenged since the October 1994 takeover of Kandahar by the Pushtun Taliban. The Taliban heartland remains in the south and while the original leadership bid for unity by playing down tribal identities, divisions began to surface after Kabul was taken in September 1996.

Pushtun culture rests on Pushtunwali, a legal and moral code that determines social order and responsibilities. It contains sets of values pertaining to honor (namuz), solidarity (nang), hospitality, mutual support, shame and revenge which determines social order and individual responsibility. The defence of namuz, even unto death, is obligatory for every Pushtun. Elements in this code of behavior are often in opposition to the Shariah. Much of the resistance to the largely detribalized leadership of the DRA stemmed from the perception that in attempting to nationalize land and wealth, as well as regulate marriage practices, the DRA was unlawfully violating the prescriptions of Pushtunwali.

The Pushtun are basically farmers or herdsmen, or combinations of both, although several groups are renowned for specialized occupations. For instance, the monarchy and many government bureaucrats were Durrani Pushtun, the Ahmadzai Ghilzai are consulted for their legal abilities, the Andar Ghilzai specialize in constructing and repairing underground irrigation systems called karez, and the Shinwari of Paktya monopolize the lumber trade. Pushtun nomads are discussed below.

Data as of 1997

 

Afghanistan - TABLE OF CONTENTS

SOCIAL STRUCTURE


Go Up - Top of Page





GENERAL FACTS & LINKS

Country name
Afghanistan
conventional long form
Islamic State of Afghanistan
conventional short form
Afghanistan
local long form
Dowlat-e Eslami-ye Afghanestan
local short form
Afghanestan
former
Republic of Afghanistan

Area -
total: 647,500 sq km
land: 647,500 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Geographic Location - Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran

Map references - Asia

Capital - Kabul

Border Countries - China 76 km, Iran 936 km, Pakistan 2,430 km, Tajikistan 1,206 km, Turkmenistan 744 km, Uzbekistan 137 km

Major Cities - Kabul, Majar-e-Sharief, Jalalabad

Independence - Independence Day, 19 August (1919)

National holiday - Independence Day, 19 August (1919)

Languages Spoken - Pushtu, Dari Persian, other Turkic and minor languages

Weather Forecast -
 Farah
 Faizabad
 Herat
 Jalalabad
 Jabul Saraj
 Mazar I Sharif
 Shindand
 Shebirghan
 Zebak
 Zaranj

Airports - Kabul Airport

Ports - Kheyrabad, Shir Khan

Population - 27,755,775 (July 2002 est.)

Religion - Sunni Muslim 84%, Shi'a Muslim 15%, other 1%

Nationality - Afghan(s)

Currency - Afghani

Currency Code - AFA

Internet country code - .af

Mountains & Peaks - Shah Fuladi

Lakes - Helmand, Istada

Rivers - Amudarya, Harirud, Helmand, Kabul

Terrain - mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest

Climate - arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers

Geography - landlocked; the Hindu Kush mountains that run northeast to southwest divide the northern provinces from the rest of the country; the highest peaks are in the northern Vakhan (Wakhan Corridor)

Waterways - 1,200 km note: chiefly Amu Darya, which handles vessels up to 500 DWT (2001)

Natural hazards - damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding; droughts

Natural Resources - natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones


Afghanistan related links from
1Up Travel

Country Guide

Detailed Maps

Country Flag

More Flags

Geography

Travel Warnings

Weather

Make allRefer Reference your HomepageAdd allRefer Reference to your FavoritesGo to Top of PagePrint this PageSend this Page to a Friend


Information Courtesy: The Library of Congress - Country Studies


Content on this web site is provided for informational purposes only. We accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by any person resulting from information published on this site. We encourage you to verify any critical information with the relevant authorities.

 

 

 
 


About Us | Contact Us | Terms of Use | Privacy | Links Directory
Link to allRefer | Add allRefer Search to your site

allRefer
All Rights reserved. Site best viewed in 800 x 600 resolution.