Afghanistan: Profile and Photo Gallery

National Geographic News
October 9, 2001

Afghanistan PhotoGallery: Go>>

AfghanistanProfile

Excerpted from the U.S. CIA World Factbook

Background:
Afghanistan was invaded and occupied by the Soviet Union in 1979. The USSR was forced to withdraw ten years later by anti-communist mujahidin forces supplied and trained by the US, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and others.

Fighting subsequently continued among the various mujahidin factions, but the fundamentalist Islamic Taliban movement has been able to seize most of the country.

In addition to the continuing civil strife, the country suffers from enormous poverty, a crumbling infrastructure, and widespread land mines.

Area: 250,000 square miles (647,500 square kilometers)—slightly smaller than Texas

Border countries: China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

Climate: arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers

Terrain: mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest

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

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

Population: 26,813,057 (July 2001 estimate)

Age structure: 0-14 years: 42.2 percent; 15-64 years: 55.01 percent; 65 years and over: 2.79 percent

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