(Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, جمهوری اسلامی افغانستان, Jomhūrī-ye Eslāmī-ye Afġānestān, د افغانستان اسلامي جمهوریت, Da Afġānistān Islāmī Jomhoriyat)
- Location: South-Central Asia
- Capital: Kabul
- Language(s): Pashto, Persian (Dari), Balochi, Dardic
- Population: 28,421,112
- Total Area: 652,225 sq km
- Currency: Afghani
- Curious Alcohol Fact: The country is an Islamic republic and alcohol is not easy to come by, even in the capital city of Kabul.
- Annual Average Liquor Consumption Per Capita: 0.49 liter
- Most Popular Drink(s): Tea (chai)
Located deep in the southern part of Central Asia, Afghanistan is a landlocked nation. It is so remote in relation to water that the nearest large hydrographic feature (the Arabian Sea) is more than 500 kilometers away. Known for its rugged terrain and desert landscape, Afghanistan shares borders with other Asian countries: Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. It also has a tiny border with the People’s Republic of China. Much of the country is dominated by the Hindu Kush, a mountain range and one of the largest watersheds in Asia. In addition to the Hindu Kush, there is also a highland region called the Pamir and it stretches to other parts of Central Asia.
Afghanistan is a multiethnic country and one thing that is common with all Afghanis is their fierceness and bravery, especially when it comes to fighting off an invading force. The independent spirit of Afghanis is partly responsible for the tumultuous nature of the country’s history. The largest ethnic group is the Pashtun and this can also be split into two –the Durani and Gilzay. Other ethnic groups are the Tajiks (originally from Tajikistan), Hazara, Uzbeks and Turkmen.
Although a country with a very mountainous terrain, Afghanistan is a beauty to behold and for most tourists, this Central Asian nation surely has something to offer the tourism world. In my stay in the country, I paid a visit to the countryside where I was able to be a spectator in a game called buzkashi. This is by far the most popular sport in the country and is regarded as the national sport but it is not like any other sport that you are familiar with. The game is played from the back of the horses and at full speed. The ‘ball’ is what will fascinate you –it is a headless calf that has been stuffed with sand and can weigh to 30kg! What the players have to do is to haul the ‘ball’ to the finish line while being pursued by other competitors. It is a rough and brutal game but you will surely enjoy it.
Although the land may be rugged and unforgiving, Afghan food is tasty and very delicious. One of the most popular dishes in the country is called qabli pulao and is made from rice and vegetables like carrot. There is also the kamirbob, which is made from pasta and is prepared during celebrations and festivals. In a village, I was treated to a large bowl of this delightful meal. I also noticed that Afghans are lovers of bread and in various parts of the country, you can see different types of bread, and I particularly enjoyed a type called naan.
Afghanistan is an Islamic republic, and just until about a decade ago, it was under the control of the Taliban. Thus, it is better if you perish the thought of guzzling gallons of beer in the country. Tea is the most popular drink and you can also enjoy warm milk. But in Kabul, you can buy a few bottles of liquor.
Although Afghanistan is a land of rugged landscape, you will be impressed with the beauty and majesty of the environment. With numerous places to visit, there is never a dull moment while you are staying in the country. As for me, one place that every tourist must visit is the site of the Buddhas of Bamyan, some of the largest Buddha statues in the world before the Taliban set explosives to them. The statues date back as far as 322BC! If you are also a lover of the military, you can pay a visit to the US Air Base in Bagram.
- Afghanistan is an Islamic Republic and under the rule of the Taliban, it had no national anthem. The Taliban rulers also banned schools, women working outside the homes and regularly handed out whipping sentences to the people.
- Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium poppy which is used in making heroin. The government is now making concerted efforts to reduce opium cultivation.
- Afghanistan was once occupied by Alexander the Great.
- The nation is known for producing some of the best pomegranates in the world.
- Although widely depicted as a poor nation, Afghanistan is very rich in natural resources such as lithium, gold and petroleum.
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Special thanks to our contributors:
Adebayo Ahmed Adebola (Ilorin, Nigeria).
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