+93 is the dialing code for Afghanistan.
Afghanistan in southern Central Asia has been traversed throughout history by migrations and invading war armies. Since the 1970s, the country has never had peace. Soviet invasion, militia, Taliban rule and US bombings have ruined economy and infrastructure. Millions of Afghans are on the run. The government of Kabul is divided and dependent on the support of the Western powers.
- Abbreviationfinder: Brief profiles of Afghanistan, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
Afghanistan is located in South Central Asia. Most of the country consists of inaccessible mountain areas with peaks up to 7,000 meters above sea level. Afghanistan has a pronounced inland climate with hot summers and cold winters.
The long narrow Wakhan corridor in the northeast pushes in as a wedge between Tajikistan and Pakistan in the Pamir mountain massif. Southwest, therefore, Hindukush extends into central Afghanistan and divides into a spring-shaped series of mountain ranges to the west, southwest and south. At the far north is a grassy plain that partly consists of fertile loose soil. A relatively low-lying area in the southwest consists largely of desert and salt marsh.
The Afghan highlands form a divide between Central and South Asia and from this rivers flow in all directions. Kabul is one of several rivers that flow into the Indus River in Pakistan. To the southwest flows, among others, Helmand, which after a short turn through Iran, culminates in Lake Hamun-i-Saberi (or Hamun-i-Helmand). From Pamir, Amu-Darja runs to the northwest and forms a long distance border with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
|Cultivated land||58 %|
|Land area||652230 km 2|
Population and health
|Population development||2.32 ‰|
|Urban population (Urbanization)||26.7 %|
|Death rate||13.89 per 1000 residents|
|Life expectancy: Women||52.29 years|
|Life expectancy: Men||49.52 years|
|Birth rate||38.57 births per 1000 residents|
|Infant mortality||115.08 deaths / 1000 births|
Population Graph Source: Countryaah.com
|Electricity, production||884 million kWh|
|Energy consumption per resident||kg. oil per resident|
|Natural gas, production||160 million cubic meters|
|Crude oil, production||million tons|
|Internet users||5.9 per 100 residents|
|Mobile subscriptions||74 per 100 residents|
|Passenger cars||28 per 1000 residents|
Business and economics
|Unemployment||35% of the workforce|
|GDP||1900 per resident|
|Primary occupations||78.6 %|
|Secondary profession||5.7 %|
|Tertiary professions||15.7 %|
During the summer, the so-called 120-day wind blows in from the west and can give day temperatures of almost 50 degrees. In winter, the temperature in the highlands can drop below 25 min.
Afghanistan is a dry country. Nearly all precipitation falls during the winter, from December to April. The eastern parts of the country receive more rainfall than the lowlands in the north and west. In parts of the mountain regions, large amounts of snow fall in the winter. Some mountain villages may be isolated for several months at a time due to a thick snow cover.
FACTS – GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
652 000 km2 (2018)
Swedish +3.5 hours
Adjacent country (s)
Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, China, Pakistan
Capital with number of residents
Kabul about 3,700,000
Other major cities
Kandahar 534,000, Herat 477,000, Mazar-i-Sharif 403,000 (official estimate 2016)
Nowshak (Noshaq) (approx. 7,490 m asl)
Helmand, Amu-Darja, Kabul
Average Precipitation / month
Kabul 91 mm (March), 1 mm (Sept)
Average / day
Kabul 25 °C (July), 2 °C (Jan)
At least 40 dead in suicide bombings in Kabul
At least 40 people are killed and about 30 injured in a suicide bombing in Kabul. Tabayan, a Shi’a Muslim cultural organization, is the target of the act, but also a local news agency, Afghan Voice, is affected. The Islamic State (IS) takes on the blame for the attack. A Taliban spokesman stresses that his organization is not involved in the act.
IS attack in Kabul
IS takes on a suicide attack in Kabul that requires at least five lives. This is the second time in a week that IS is attacking the same target, the national security service.
US visit with new strategy
Vice President Mike Pence makes an unannounced visit to the US forces in the US’s most prolonged war. This is the first time since Donald Trump took office as President at the beginning of the year as a US high-ranking official visiting Afghanistan. Pence’s visit, including a quick helicopter ride to President Ghani, takes place four months after Trump announced a new strategy in Afghanistan with the motto “not nation-building, but terrorist hunting.”
High-level power play
It is reported that Atta Mohammad Noor, sometimes called “the king of the north”, will step down as governor of the Balkh province. Recently, he has criticized the unity government and hinted that he may run in the 2019 presidential election. Noor still has not left his post. Recently, Noor has also voiced support for hard-fought warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, ethnic Uzbek who became vice president in 2014 but fled to Turkey earlier this year from a legal process.
Children are killed by mines
At least 8,605 people in the world were killed or injured by personal mines last year, says the organization Handicap International, which says there is an increase and that Afghans and Yemenis are particularly vulnerable. A very large part of those affected are children.
New ministers approved
Parliament approves eleven persons nominated for ministerial posts. For several months, half of the collection government’s posts have been vacant, among them the interior minister’s job. The defense minister resigned after the Taliban attack on a military base in Mazar-i-Sharif in April. The only woman, proposed as a new mining minister, is the only one not approved.
More than 15,000 Americans on site
The US Defense Headquarters promises greater openness to military operations abroad, following a quarterly report showing that as of September 30, there were 15,298 Americans in place in Afghanistan. One explanation is that not all categories of personnel are reported in all contexts. The US force in Afghanistan is about twice the size of Iraq.
US forces reinforced
US military personnel in Afghanistan now amount to about 14,000 men, according to Pentagon Defense Headquarters since reinforcements of 3,000 have been added. President Donald Trump approved an extension in August at the request of US military commanders in the country.
Transport corridor is set up
Five countries have agreed to create a transport corridor by rail between Europe and Afghanistan. In addition to Turkey and Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia are behind the project, called the Lapis lazuli corridor, after the valuable blue stone found in Afghanistan. The connection from Istanbul to Afghanistan includes crossing the Caspian Sea.
NATO sends more soldiers
NATO intends to send another 3,000 military trainers to Afghanistan, says Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Half should come from the United States. The plans President Donald Trump has aired include strengthening the government army and increasing pressure on neighboring countries, mainly Pakistan, to reduce the Taliban’s freedom of movement. With all the promises of supplements fulfilled, the number of soldiers from western countries may amount to 20,000 in total.
False cops storm TV station
The TV channel Shamshad in Kabul is stormed by armed men dressed to police. The Islamic State (IS) is taking on the assault that requires at least one life, a security guard. After the exchange of shots in the TV house, the broadcasts resume. IS has expanded its attacks in Afghanistan. It is feared to have recruited Afghans in exile to the battles against IS in Syria. Many Shiite Muslim refugees live in Iran, whose governing recruits are fighting for Syria, to support the Assad regime.
Prosecutors want to investigate war crimes
Prosecutors are asking the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an investigation into suspected war crimes in Afghanistan. Investigators have been gathering information on incidents since 2003. The prosecutor’s request is controversial; they want to investigate suspicions against both Taliban and Afghan government forces as well as soldiers in international forces. In that case, it could also lead to US military personnel being brought to trial at the ICC.
Army recruits killed
A suicide bomber kills 15 young army recruits on their way home by bus from their base in Kabul. Thus, the bloodiest week in Afghanistan in a long time has claimed well over 200 lives in a number of blast attacks.
Around 90 killed in attacks on mosques
Fifty-six people are killed and 55 injured in a suicide attack against a Shiite Muslim mosque in Kabul. On the same day, 33 people were killed and about ten injured in a similar attack in the central province of Ghor. IS is suspected of the attack in Kabul, while the attack in Ghor appears to have been directed at a local politician.
Attack on military base kills dozens
At least 50 soldiers are believed to have been killed and about 20 injured when Taliban attack a military base in Kandahar province. The approach is the same as with the attacks earlier this week. One or a couple of vehicles are blown up at the entrance to the area and armed men then enter the area. Only two soldiers are said to have survived the attack, while six are reported missing. The plant burns to the ground. In 2016, 6,800 Afghan soldiers and police were killed, which was an increase of 35 percent since the year before. By all accounts, the increase continues in 2017. The Afghan forces have had a hard time defending themselves against Taliban and other insurgency groups since the majority of NATO soldiers left the country at the end of 2014.
Many are killed by the Taliban
At least 80 people are killed and close to 300 injured in two attacks that the Taliban claim to have carried out. The worst hit is a police headquarters in the province of Paktia, where at least 60 people are killed and over 200 injured when three vehicles are blown up at the entrance so that eleven armed men can enter the area. In the neighboring province of Ghazni, 15 soldiers and five civilians are killed by a car bomb and in a subsequent fire fight at the police headquarters.
New attempt at peace talks
Representatives from Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the United States meet in Oman to try to establish new peace talks with the Taliban. It is unclear if any representative of the Taliban is present. They have previously denied that they would have received any invitation.
ICRC reduces operations
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announces that it will reduce its operations in Afghanistan “drastically” after losing seven staff in terrorist attacks during the year. The ICRC has about 1,800 employees in Afghanistan, 120 of whom come from other countries. Now the organization is putting the work completely into a couple of provinces in the north and reducing its efforts in a third province.
Amnesty criticizes, among other things, Sweden
Amnesty International strongly criticizes European countries, including Sweden, forcing Afghan asylum seekers back to their home country. The organization accuses the responsible political leaders of “shameless violations of international law” and says they “close their eyes to the evidence that violence is at a record high and that no part of Afghanistan is safe”. According to Amnesty, some of the Afghans who have been forced back from Sweden, among others, have been killed or injured in blast attacks or live in constant fear of abuse for their sexual orientation or religious beliefs.
Single female governor deposed
The country’s only female provincial governor is dismissed and replaced by a man. Masooma Muradi had faced strong protests from conservative groups ever since she was named governor of the remote mountain province of Daikundi in central Afghanistan in 2015. Earlier, President Ghani dismissed the first female governor, stationed in Ghor, following protests by religious forces. Muradi holds a university degree in business administration, which has made her formally significantly more qualified for the mission than most warlords and other “strong men” appointed to lead other provinces.
Afghanistan’s “honorary grandmother” dies
American historian Nancy Dupree dies in Kabul at the age of 89. She had lived in the city for decades after coming there for the first time in 1962. She devoted much of her life to documenting Afghanistan’s history and making it available to the country’s students. She visited Sweden several times and wrote regular chronicles in the Swedish Afghanistan Committee’s journal Afghanistan-ny. In the announcement of her death, the Afghan government describes her as the country’s “honorary grandmother”.
About 30 civilians killed by US flights
Two US air strikes targeting the Taliban have claimed 28 civilian lives over the course of a few days, the UN confirms.
More American soldiers
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis orders more troops to be sent to Afghanistan. He does not reveal details, but says there will be enough “to help the Afghan force to fight more effectively”. According to US media data, it is also about more fighter and attack flights as well as increased support of bombers stationed in Qatar.
Armed attack against Shia mosque
At least 28 people gathered for Friday prayers in a Shiite mosque in Kabul are killed when a suicide bomber triggers an explosive charge at the entrance and four other attackers then rush into the building and open fire on the prayers. About 50 people are injured in the shooting, which lasts for four hours before security forces can knock down the attack. As with several previous attacks on Shi’ites, IS is taking on the deed.
The United States continues the war
21th of August
US President Trump says that US troops in Afghanistan will remain there indefinitely and take on a more offensive role again. He says that the task of the Americans should not be to “build a nation” but to “kill terrorists” and to “fight until they win”. Trump gives no specific information, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis says it is not determined how many more soldiers the United States will send. The Afghan government says it is grateful for the continued commitment of the United States, while the Taliban promise to turn Afghanistan into “the cemetery of the US Empire.”
Massacre of civilians in the north
Nearly 50 people, most civilians, are reported to have been killed when Islamist militia attacks a village in the northern province of Sar-e Pul. The details of what happened are vague, but local sources claim that it is Taliban and members of IS who have attacked the Shiite-dominated village together. However, a Taliban spokesman dismisses this.
Many dead on attack against Shia mosque
At least 29 people are killed and 63 injured when two men attack a Shiite mosque in Herat. One attacker fires an explosive charge and the other opens fire into the mosque. IS, which mainly attacked Shiite targets in Afghanistan, is taking on the deed. The day before, IS takes on an attack on Iraq’s embassy in Kabul when at least two people inside the building are killed.
About 30 soldiers are killed in Kandahar
Taliban are said to have killed 30 soldiers in an attack on an army base in the southern province of Kandahar. The fighting has intensified in large parts of the country.
Devastating car bomb in Kabul
Up to 35 people are killed and more than 40 are injured by a car bomb detonated in the western part of Kabul. The explosion is triggered by a suicide bomber and the Taliban claim to have been behind the attack, which took place near one of the country’s highest-ranking politicians.
US flights kill police officers
Sixteen Afghan police officers were killed accidentally in a US air raid in the province of Helmand. The attack is carried out when police try to drive Taliban out of a village.
Civilian victims are steadily increasing
In the first half of 2017, 1,662 civilian Afghans were killed and more than 3,500 were injured in fighting and blast attacks in the country, UN delegation reports Unama. Almost a fifth of the deadly attacks occurred in Kabul. The vast majority of those killed were shot dead by hostile groups, mainly the Taliban and IS. This is an increase of 15 percent since the first half of 2016 and the highest figures since statistics began to take place in 2009.
General elections 2018
The Independent Election Commission announces parliamentary elections until July 7, 2018, about three years late. On the same day elections shall be held for local congregations. Both political contradictions and the difficult security situation have caused the elections to be delayed. The Election Commission says that a prerequisite for the planned elections to be carried out correctly is that the funding can be arranged and that the security situation at the relevant time allows elections.
Attack on bank branch takes dozens of lives
At least 34 people are killed and 58 injured when a car bomb explodes outside a bank office in Lashkar Gah, the capital of the troubled southern province of Helmand. Many people queued outside the bank to collect salaries for the big weekend at al-fitr, which ends the fasting month of Ramadan. The victims include ordinary civilians as well as police and military personnel as well as bank employees.
Half a billion in emergency aid
The World Bank approves aid to Afghanistan for $ 520 million. Half the sum will be used to help refugees, both those who are fleeing within the country and those returning from neighboring Pakistan. The rest of the money will go to poverty reduction measures in the province of Herat, for example in the form of increased electricity supply to households and businesses.
The death toll is rising
Six days after the suicide bombing in Kabul, President Ghani says the death toll has risen to over 150 and that the number of injured is now estimated to be over 300. The government is accusing the Haqqani network of the attack. At the same time, reports from the city of Herat in the west that an explosive charge hidden on a motorcycle killed seven people and injured 16.
The violence is escalating
The attack in Kabul (see May 2017) will have consequences in the coming days. Four people are killed when a protest demonstration in central Kabul against the government’s inability to protect the population results in crowds. Police are pushing sharply to disperse a crowd of hundreds of people throwing stones. The following day, at least seven people were killed and dozens injured by at least three explosions during the funeral of one of the latest victims, the son of a senator. Several members of the government attend the funeral, but manage to remain undamaged.
Truck bomb causes death and destruction
At least 90 people are killed and over 400 injured when a powerful explosive charge hidden in a water tanker explodes in the diplomatic district in Kabul. The charge is believed to have contained more than 1.5 tons of explosives and the explosion causes a seven meter deep crater. The attack causes severe material destruction in a large area. Many embassy buildings are damaged and at least eleven local employees are guards at the US embassy. It is unclear exactly what was the target of the attack and what group is behind it.
Record for American bombs and robots
24th of May
In April, US flights dropped more bombs and fired more robots than during any other month since 2012. The increase is said to be partly due to an attempt to crush the Islamic State (IS) before it has a proper foothold in Afghanistan.
At least 20 police officers killed
At least 20 policemen are killed in a series of concerted attacks by Taliban against police stations in the southern province of Zabul.
The Vice President leaves the country
Vice President Rashid Dostum travels to Turkey, where he is officially said to seek medical care. However, Dostum is the subject of a criminal investigation following allegations of kidnapping, raping and torturing a political rival. For decades, Dostum has been notorious for his brutality and lived in exile in Turkey for several years from 2008 following similar charges.
“Kabul’s Butcher” back
Former militia leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of Afghanistan’s most notorious warlords, returns to Kabul after 20 years. His organization Hezb-i-Islami made peace with the government in September 2016, giving him the opportunity to re-enter political life. During the civil war of 1992–1995, his militia, Kabul, was subjected to heavy shootings, which destroyed one-third of the city and killed tens of thousands of people. Now he says he wants to work for peace in the country.
IS takes on attack against NATO
At least eight people are killed and 28 injured in a blast attack in central Kabul. The attack is aimed at a vehicle column belonging to the NATO force and the ” Islamic State ” says it carried out the attack. A spokesman for the Afghan home ministry says “most” victims are civilians.
Big losses for the army
The Afghan government army has suffered “shockingly large losses” during the winter, a period usually characterized by a low level of combat, reports the US Agency for Afghanistan’s Reconstruction (Sigar). According to Sigar, 807 soldiers were killed between 1 January and 24 February.
The Minister of Defense and the army chief are leaving
26th of April
As a result of the Taliban attack on an army base in Mazar-i-Sharif, the defense minister and army chief resign. Thirty-five soldiers stationed at the base have been arrested since the suspicions were reinforced that the Taliban had been helped to enter the area.
The use of torture is increasing
The UN believes that Afghan authorities are increasingly using torture to force confessions from suspected insurgents. Children are also being tortured, according to a report by the UN organization in Afghanistan, Unama. The report is based on interviews with 469 arrested, of which 39 percent are said to have provided credible information on how they have been subjected to torture or other forms of inhuman or abusive treatment. Among those interviewed are 85 children.
Taliban attack on military base
At least 100, perhaps more than 140 soldiers are killed and several more are believed to have been injured when a group of Taliban attack a military base in Mazar-i-Sharif. The terrorists enter the base dressed in army uniforms. At least ten Taliban must also have been killed in the fighting that lasted for several hours. One of the attackers must have been captured.
Giant bomb against IS
American aviation drops the biggest conventional (non-nuclear) bomb used so far in combat. It is aimed at suspected detention for IS in an underground tunnel system in Nangarhar province. The Afghan army says it was aware of the attack in advance and that 36 members of the IS were killed. Later, local authorities say that 92 IS fighters were killed. The bomb, formally named the GBU-43 / B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, usually goes under the “nickname” of all bombers.
Officers are fired after a hospital attack
Two generals and ten other army officers are fired for neglect in connection with the attack on a military hospital in Kabul in March. Between 50 and 100 people are believed to have been killed in the attack, which according to witnesses was probably carried out by the Taliban, despite IS saying it was behind it.
Terrorist attack on military hospital
At least 49 people are killed and 63 injured when three men dressed as doctors storm into the country’s largest military hospital in Kabul. A six-hour firefight erupts since elite soldiers come to the scene. The Islamic State claims to have been behind the attack, which ends with the attackers being shot dead. The Taliban say they have had nothing to do with the attack.
Taliban attacks in Kabul
Sixteen people are killed in two concerted suicide attacks in Kabul by Taliban. Dozens of people are also injured in the attacks directed at a police station and an intelligence-related facility in various parts of the city. In both places, fire fights erupt between terrorists and security personnel.
The US is proposed to step up the military operation
US military commanders in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, say in Congress that the United States would need to strengthen with thousands of men to resist the pressure of Taliban and other resistance groups. A spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense welcomes the proposal.
The Supreme Court is attacked
At least 20 people are killed by a suicide bomber outside the Supreme Court in Kabul. About 40 people are taken to hospitals for injuries of varying degrees. The victims are mainly employed on the way home after the end of work. IS claims to have carried out the attack. The Islamist terrorist group is also suspected of assaulting Red Cross personnel in Jowzjan province in the north. Six local Afghans are killed when they are on their way to deliver supplies to emergency people in an area affected by avalanches following a snowstorm.
Record number of civilian victims 2016
6th of February
Nearly 11,500 civilians were killed or injured in fighting between government forces and insurgency groups in 2016, UN statistics show. It is the highest figure since such statistics began to be compiled in 2009. One third of the victims were children. The number of victims of the Islamic State (IS) was tenfold: 209 civilians were killed by the terrorist group and 690 were injured.
Warlord drops sanctions
The UN Security Council abolishes sanctions against former warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of the Hezb-i-Islami militia. The decision means he has access to frozen bank accounts, is allowed to travel freely and his militia is entitled to buy new weapons. The UN decision is a result of the Afghan government’s peace treaty with Hekmatyar in September 2016.
The government side is losing ground
In November 2016, the US military in Afghanistan estimates that the Afghan authorities controlled only 57.2 percent of the country’s 407 districts. That was a 6.2 percent decrease since August and 15 percent since November 2015. Nearly one-third of the country’s population lives in areas described as “disputed,” the U.S. Military Surveillance Authority report for Afghanistan reconstruction shows.
The relocation concerns the IMF
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expresses concern over how Afghan authorities can take care of returning refugees. In 2016, more than 700,000 Afghans returned from countries where they lived as refugees, and far more are expected to return in the coming year. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of residents are fleeing the country, and the fighting between the army and the Taliban is intensifying and spreading. The UN estimates that around a third of the population is in need of relief.
Deadly shooting was “self-defense”
An American military investigation confirms that US and Afghan forces killed 33 civilians and injured 27 in the city of Kunduz in November 2016, but adds that it was done in self-defense. According to the investigation, the soldiers were forced to request air support after being shot by Taliban who were hiding in civilian areas.
Taliban behind terrorist acts in several cities
At least 38 people are killed and 86 injured when two suicide bombers blast themselves at the entrance to an annex to the Kabul Parliament. The Taliban say they have carried out the attacks. The Taliban are also suspected of being behind a suicide bombing in Lashkar Gah with seven casualties and an explosion inside a state building in Kandahar, killing twelve people. Five of the victims in Kandahar are officials from the United Arab Emirates. The country’s ambassador is harmed.
Americans to Helmand
7th of January
The United States decides to send about 300 naval troops to the troubled province of Helmand. During the spring, they will participate in the training of Afghan soldiers in the province, which is largely dominated by the Taliban movement.