Afghanistan

Location: South-central Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran
Area: 652,090 sq km
Capital: Kabul
Government Type: Islamic republic
Population: 35,320,000 (2011 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: 49 years
Literacy: 26% (male: 39%, female: 12%) (2008 est.)
Religion: Sunni Muslim 80%, Shi’a Muslim 19%, other 1%
Official Languages: Afghan Persian or Dari (official) 50%, Pashto (official) 35%, Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen) 11%, 30 minor languages (primarily Balochi and Pashai) 4%; much bilingualism
Currency: Afghani (AFN)
HDI ranking: 168

Afghanistan is a landlocked, mountainous country on the ancient Silk Route at the crossroads of South and Central Asia. The rugged beauty of the Hindu Kush and the high mountain passes has been attracting travelers for centuries.

With over a dozen ethnic groups, Afghanistan has two official languages, Dari and Pashto. The largely tribal society is divided into many tribes and clans which are often separated by both mountain and desert terrain. This geographic separation leads to significant ethnic and cultural differences.

The culture of Afghanistan is strongly established upon the principles of Islam. The two largest ethnic groups, Pashtun and Tajik, and most of the smaller groups practice Sunni Islam. The large Hazara minority, however, are Shi’a Muslim, looking west to Iran for spiritual guidance.

The agricultural economy produces many grains and delicious vegetables, fruits and nuts, despite the dry climate. Animal husbandry is also central to the economy.

Despite its rugged beauty and ancient history, Afghanistan struggles with many challenges to its continued development. Nearly four decades of war and conflict has caused a lack of education and teacher training, leaving roughly 70% of the population illiterate or with only a basic level of training. Additionally, many conservative families in the rural areas do not allow their girls to go to school, while security issues prevent others from receiving an education.

Afghanistan’s poor health care contributes to high child mortality rates, shorter life spans, and lack of basic care for many. Overall unemployment is very high causing poverty that fuels malnutrition, child labour, and a large discrepancy between the rich and poor.

The instability of war and ethnic feuds, as well as lack of basic education, has hindered Afghanistan’s development. In Serve Afghanistan we are committed to making the hopes of the Afghan people a reality. By partnering and networking with other development organisations, foundations, and individuals who have the same vision, we are able to tackle some of the issues burdening this land.