Interesting Facts About Afghanistan

Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in South Asia and Central Asia. Afghanistan is famous for its pomegranates in Asia. Let’s explore more about this war-torn country with some interesting facts.

  • Rumi (Maulana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi Rumi) is From Balkh Province of Modern Afghanistan;
  • Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan is its largest city;
  • Afghanistan is a landlocked country. Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and China border Afghanistan from all sides;
  • The people of Afghanistan are called Afghans and their currency is Afghanis. Most of the time, people get confused between the use of these two terms;
  • Agriculture is the main source of income for Afghans. Afghanistan is also rich in natural resources like natural gas and oil, Uranium, Lithium etc;

  • “Buzkashi” is Afghanistan’s national game. Players in two teams try to catch a goat while riding a horse. This game is being played for centuries and is a tough sport;
  • Afghanistan became independent on August 19, 1919. They fought three wars with Britain after which they declared themselves independent. They were not directly ruled by the British but their foreign affairs were influenced by the United Kingdom;
  • Afghanistan has been in news more than any country in the last decade;
  • New Year is celebrated by Afghans on 21st March. They call it “Nawroz”. It is a pre-Islamic festival which is celebrated by a gathering of thousands of travelers from across Afghanistan to the city of Mazar-e-Sharif. There is a mosque in the center of the city.It is known as the Blue Mosque or ‘the Shrine of Hazrat Ali’ the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H)’;
  • Mobile phone coverage is available in more than 90% of the country. Mobile phones are status symbols;
  • They celebrate poetry night on Thursdays in the western city of Herat. People of all age groups gather there to share modern and ancient verses of poetry and indulge in some nice food along with some sweet tea;
  • Alexander the Great captured the city of Herat in 330 BC and built its ancient citadel. Alexander had a son with a beautiful woman from the province of Balkh in Afghanistan;
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger is the poster boy in many of the muscle building centers in Afghanistan. They say he (Arnold Schwarzenegger) looks like an Afghan;
  • Kandahar airfield was once the busiest single-runway airstrip in the world when it handled 1,700 to 5,000 flights a week. Here NATO installed its first complete air traffic capability in a non-NATO country;
  • World’s largest Buddhas (two of these) were first built in Afghanistan. These statues were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.
  • The world’s first oil paintings were drawn in the caves of “Bamiyan” around 650 BC.
  • There is only one Jewish person livingin Afghanistan. His name is Zablon Simintov and he is a restaurateur and an Afghan carpet trader. He was born in 1959;
  • Afghanistan has been a war-torn country for decades and has been under the military influence of many powers including Soviet, British, Mongols, Muslim Arabs, Mauryas, Alexandra the Great, and in the recent times under western powers.
  • Afghanistan is called the Graveyard of Empires;
  • Afghanistan is estimated to be inhabited by humans at least 50,000 years ago.
  • Arab Muslims spread the religion of Islam in Afghanistan in 642 CE in Herat and Zarang. They recognized Afghanistan as Al Hind (due to Afghanistan’s proximity to India.)
  • Buddhism and Zoroastrianism were dominant religions in Afghanistan before the introduction of Islam.
  • Genghis Khan and his Mongol army spread rapidly in Afghanistan in 1219 AD.

  • Ahmad Shah Durrani, also known as “the Father of the Nation”, is the founder of the last Afghan empire. He was crowned in 1747. He consolidated the country from principalities and fragmented provinces into one kingdom.
  • Ahmad Shah Durrani was a patriot poet as well.
  • After the death of Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1772, his son, Timur Shah succeeded him;
  • In 1776, Timur Shah transferred the capital of Afghanistan from Kandahar to Kabul;
  • civil war took place in the country between 1992 and 1996, and it is estimated that at least 50,000 people died in the country in mujahidin infightings during the civil war;
  • The Taliban also ruled the country for almost 5 years between 1996 and 2001.
  • In 2004, Hamid Karzai became the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan.
  • The term Afghanistan translates to “the land of Afghans”.
  • Afghanistan is also the land of many historical sites. And it is the 40th most populous country in the world;
  • Afghanistan’s location on the silk route gave it various economic and cultural advantages.
  • Afghanistan is considered as the place of origin of the religion Zoroastrianism.
  • Pashto, one of the two official languages of Afghanistan, was declared the national language of Afghanistan during the beginning of the reign of Zahir Shah.
  • Dari (Persian), the other official language was always used for government and business purposes.

  • Rumi Balkhi, Mirza Abdul Qadir Bedil, Sanai Ghazaniv, Nooruddin Abdul Rahman Jami, Khushal Khan Khattak are famous Afghan poets;
  • An estimated 35% of the population of the country speaks Pashto while 50% of the population speaks Dari.
  • Today, as Islam is a dominant religion in Afghanistan,the culture is heavily influenced by the religion of peace and monotheism.
  • In Afghanistan, most of the shops and businesses are closed on Friday, which is the Islamic holy day.
  • The legal, political, economic and personal lives of the Afghans is governed by Islamic laws.
  • Fasting and praying during the month of Ramadan is a mandatory act except for a few such as foreigners, and those who are sick, traveling or having some other issues.
  • The family is an important aspect of Afghanistan’s culture. Men are laden with the responsibility to earn while women are expected to stay home and serve the family. However, in modern Afghanistan, you may also find some women working in the cities and earning a living for themselves and their families.
  • In most of the cases, the family lives togetherin the same house. Upon marriage, the son and his wife live separately in a different room in the house under the same roof.
  • Hospitalityplays a significant role in the country’s culture and tradition. The visitors are treated with utmost respect and are offered the best that the household has.
  • Women are highly respected in the society and are not expected to mix with the members of the opposite sex, except out of marriage or direct family relations.
  • Women are also expected to wear clothes that honor their modesty and are not revealing. Tight clothes and western dresses are not much welcomed in the society, at least in the rural areas. Head scarves for women are advisable.
  • Direct eye contact between men and women is not considered acceptable and must be avoided.
  • Gifts are a means of strengthening the relationship between a visitor and his/her host. The visitors can carry a small gift for the host when invited for tea or food.
  • Afghanistan is a multicultural and multi-ethnic country.
  • Afghan hound is the most beautiful dog in the world. You don’t believe look at the pictures.

  • In the past few years, an estimated 2.6 million Afghans left their home country and sought refuge in others.
  • handshake is the most usual form of greeting in Afghanistan’s culture. Some people also place their hand on their heart and nod slightly to show respect and approval to the other party. However, shaking hands between the members of opposite sex is not usual and is avoided.
  • Food is generally served on the floor, on clothes made from various materials. Making use of the right hand while eating the food is the norm, and the food is generally shared from the same dish unless required otherwise.
  • The host does their best to serve the best possible food, and special attention is paid to fill the visitor’s plate when it is empty.
  • Snow leopards in Afghanistan are rare in the world;
  • While consuming food, it is also a norm to sit in a respectable positionand not with your feet facing people or your legs outstretched.
  • Marriageis considered an importantelement of one’s life in Afghanistan. Divorce is rare and is not much welcomed in the society.
  • Polygamy is permissible in Afghanistan however it is rare. Many of the marriages are consummated between cousins.
  • Marriages are three-day lavish ceremonies during which a marriage contract is signed and the couple is brought together.
  • Living together in a common house is encouraged but never forced. Depending on the financial condition or personal preference, the sons of the family can live separately or with his father, mother and other siblings.
  • The total area of Afghanistan is 652,230 sq km.
  • Dari Persian and Pashto are official languages of Afghanistan.
  • Afghanistan is inhabited by – 80% Sunni Muslim, 19% Shia Muslim and 1% others.
  • Afghanistan’s national holiday is on August, 19.
  • Literacy rate in Afghanistan is 38.2%.

  • Noshaq (7,492 meters or 24,580 ft) is the highest point in Afghanistan.
  • Helmand River is the longest river in Afghanistan.

  • Afghan rugs are very popular around the world.
  • The average life expectancy in Afghanistan is 51.3 years (2016).
  • Poetry, a Strong Part of the Culture: Poetry is a special part of Afghan culture. Afghans have conveyed their stories in poetry for over 1,000 years. The night of Thursday is regarded “poetry night” in the western city of Herat where men, women & children meet to communicate ancient & modern poetry and listen to the traditional music of Herati and enjoy drinking sweet tea & pastries all night long.
  • Afghanistan’s main agricultural products include wheat, fruits, nuts; wool, mutton, sheepskins, lambskins, and poppies.
  • At 250,000 square miles, Afghanistan is roughly the size of the state of Texas.
  • Fifteen percent of the population were married by the age of 15, according to UNICEF data.
  • About 33% of the population marries by the age of 18.
  • Sometimes, the people of Afghanistan are mistakenly called Afghanis. This is actually the country’s currency. The people of Afghanistan are known as Afghans.
  • Buzkashi is the national game of Afghanistan. This challenging game requires players to catch a headless goat while riding a horse.
  • The caves of Bamiyan in Afghanistan were home to the world’s first oil paintings.
  • Dari and Pushtu are the official languages of Afghanistan, but Turkish dialects are also spoken in some regions.
  • The most common foreign language spoken in the country is English.
  • There are at least 14 tribes found in Afghanistan.
  • The official religion of Afghanistan is Islam. Ninety-nine percent of Afghans practice Islam.
  • Since most Afghans are Muslims, they don’t eat pork or drink alcohol.
  • The new year in Afghanistan is celebrated on March 21, which is the first day of spring.
  • Even though electricity may be scarce, 18 million Afghans own and use mobile phones.
  • Poetry is a big part of Afghanistan’s culture and has been a part of its history for over 1,000 years.
  • Afghanistan achieved independence from the United Kingdom on August 19th, 1919 following the Third Anglo-African War.
  • Afghanistan was first settled over 9,000 years ago.
  • Many shops and businesses are closed on Friday, which is considered a holy day in Afghanistan.
  • Afghanistan’s government is a presidential Islamic republic, meaning that it is officially ruled by Islamic laws.
  • Fasting and praying is mandatory during Ramadan. Some exceptions are for foreigners, people who are sick, and people who are traveling.
  • Even though foreigners do not have to fast during Ramadan, they are still forbidden from eating, drinking, chewing gum, and smoking in public.
  • During Ramadan, the work day is reduced to six hours.
  • Family is very important to Afghans. After marriage, a son and his wife traditionally stay in the family home, in a separate room.
  • While handshakes are a common greeting, it is rare and unusual for men and women to shake hands with each other.
  • In Afghanistan, men and women also avoid eye contact as much as possible.
  • Kandahar airfield in Afghanistan is believed to be the busiest single runway airstrip in the world.
  • Each year, Afghanistan sees over 300 days of sunshine
  • The world’s two largest Buddha statues once stood in Afghanistan. However, they were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.

  • In the Afghan city of Herat, Thursday nights are poetry nights, where men, women, and children gather to recite and listen to poetry.
  • Afghanistan is a landlocked country that shares its borders with six other countries.
  • Popular Afghan dishes include a steamed dumpling known as manto, and rice cooked in broth that is called palao.

  • Snow leopard, red flying squirrel, corsac fox, and desert hedgehog are just some of the animals that call Afghanistan home;
  • Afghan rugs are a popular export that are found in homes around the world;
  • Hamid Karzai was the country’s first democratically elected president. He was voted into office in 2004;
  • Afghanistan is attempting to rebuild its economy following years of instability and invasions;
  • About half of the country’s residents have access to the internet;

  • The Hindu Kush is the tallest mountain in the country, and it measures in at over 18,000 feet;
  • Meals in Afghanistan are served with naan, an unleavened, flat bread;
  • Afghans drive on the right side of the road;

Afghanistan is a country that has a much different culture from other countries around the world. However, the Afghans have a rich culture rooted in deep religious beliefs and a loyalty to family.

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