Monday, April 4, 2011


What with the recent violence in Afghanistan, with innocent people being murdered by members of that "peace loving religion" because of what an idiot priest did in Florida: here's some info on th ecountry.

Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked and mountainous country in south-central Asia. It is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east, Iran in the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far northeast.

Economy of Afghanistan
Inside the fruit processing plant at Badam Bagh in Kabul Province
Afghan rug weavers in Herat ProvinceAfghanistan is a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). It is an impoverished and least developed country, one of the world's poorest. As of 2009, the nation's GDP exchange rate stands at $14 billion and the GDP per capita is $1,000. Its unemployment rate is 35%[174] and roughly 36% of its citizens live below the poverty line. About 42 percent of the population live on less than $1 a day, according to USAID.

The economy has suffered greatly from the 1978 to the present conflict, while severe drought added to the nation's difficulties in 1998–2001. However, due to the infusion of multi-billion dollars in international assistance and investments, as well as remittances from expats, the economy has steadily improved, growing at approximately 12 percent per year during the past six years.[177] It is also due to improvements in agricultural production, which is the backbone of the nation's economy since over 75% of its citizens are involved in this line of work.

Afghanistan is known for producing some of the finest pomegranates, grapes, apricots, melons, and several other fresh and dry fruits, including nuts. According to the World Bank, "economic growth has been strong and has generated better livelihoods" since late 2001. As much as one-third of the nations's GDP came from growing illicit drugs during the mid 2000s. Opium production in Afghanistan has soared to a record in 2007 with some 3.3 million Afghans reported to be involved in the business[181] but then declined significantly in the years following. The Afghan government began programs to reduce the cultivation of poppy and by 2010 it was reported that 24 out of the 34 provinces are free from poppy cultivation.

One of the main drivers for the current economic recovery is the return of over 5 million Afghan expatriates, who brought with them fresh energy, entrepreneurship and wealth-creating skills as well as much needed funds to start up businesses. The Afghan rugs have become a popular product again and this gives the large number of rug weavers in the country a chance to earn more income. While the country's current account deficit is largely financed with the donor money, only a small portion is provided directly to the government budget. The rest is provided to non-budgetary expenditure and donor-designated projects through the United Nations system and non-governmental organizations.

The Afghan Ministry of Finance is focusing on improved revenue collection and public sector expenditure discipline. Since 2003, over 16 new banks have opened in the country, including Afghanistan International Bank, Kabul Bank, Azizi Bank, Pashtany Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, First Micro Finance Bank, and others. Da Afghanistan Bank serves as the central bank of the nation and the "Afghani" (AFN) is the national currency, with an exchange rate of 50 Afghanis to 1 US dollar.

Culture of Afghanistan
Afghans display pride in their religion, country, ancestry, and above all, their independence. Like other highlanders, Afghans are regarded with mingled apprehension and condescension, for their high regard for personal honor, for their clan loyalty and for their readiness to carry and use arms to settle disputes. As clan warfare and internecine feuding has been one of their chief occupations since time immemorial, this individualistic trait has made it difficult for foreign invaders to hold the region.

Afghanistan has a complex history that has survived either in its current cultures or in the form of various languages and monuments. However, many of the country's historic monuments have been damaged in recent wars. The two famous statues of Buddha in Bamyan Province were destroyed by the Taliban, who regarded them as idolatrous. Other famous sites include the cities of Kandahar, Herat, Ghazni and Balkh. The Minaret of Jam, in the Hari River valley, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. A cloak reputedly worn by Muhammad is stored inside the famous Mosque of the Cloak of the Prophet Mohammed in Kandahar City.

Buzkashi is a national sport in Afghanistan. It is similar to polo and played by horsemen in two teams, each trying to grab and hold a goat carcass. Afghan hounds (a type of running dog) also originated in Afghanistan.

Although literacy levels are very low, classic Persian poetry plays a very important role in the Afghan culture. Poetry has always been one of the major educational pillars in Iran and Afghanistan, to the level that it has integrated itself into culture. Persian culture has, and continues to, exert a great influence over Afghan culture. Private poetry competition events known as "musha'era" are quite common even among ordinary people. Almost every homeowner owns one or more poetry collections of some sort, even if they are not read often.

Many of the famous Persian poets of the 10th to 15th centuries stem from what is now known as Afghanistan (then known as Khorasan), such as Jalal al-Din Muhammad Balkhi (also known as Rumi or Mawlānā), Rābi'a Balkhi (the first poetess in the history of Persian literature), Khwaja Abdullah Ansari (from Herat), Nasir Khusraw (born near Balkh, died in Badakhshan), Jāmī of Herāt, Alī Sher Navā'ī, Sanā'ī Ghaznawi, Daqiqi Balkhi, Farrukhi Sistani, Unsuri Balkhi, Anvari, and many others. Moreover, some of the contemporary Persian language poets and writers, who are relatively well-known in Persian-speaking world, include Khalilullah Khalili,[235] Sufi Ashqari,[236] Sarwar Joya, Qahar Asey, Parwin Pazwak and others.

In addition to poets and authors, numerous Persian scientists and philosophers were born or worked in the region of present-day Afghanistan. Most notable was Avicenna (Abu Alī Hussein ibn Sīnā) whose paternal family hailed from Balkh. Ibn Sīnā, who travelled to Isfahan later in life to establish a medical school there, is known by some scholars as "the father of modern medicine". George Sarton called ibn Sīnā "the most famous scientist of Islam and one of the most famous of all races, places, and times." His most famous works are The Book of Healing and The Canon of Medicine, also known as the Qanun. Ibn Sīnā's story even found way to the contemporary English literature through Noah Gordon's The Physician, now published in many languages.

Al-Farabi was another well-known philosopher and scientist of the 9th and 10th centuries, who, according to Ibn al-Nadim, was from the Faryab Province in Afghanistan. Other notable scientists and philosophers are Abu Rayhan Biruni (a notable astronomer, anthropologist, geographer, and mathematician of the Ghaznavid period who lived and died in Ghazni), Abu Zayd Balkhi (a polymath and a student of al-Kindi), Abu Ma'shar Balkhi (known as Albumasar or Albuxar in the west), and Abu Sa'id Sijzi (from Sistan).

Before the Taliban gained power, the city of Kabul was home to many musicians who were masters of both traditional and modern Afghan music, especially during the Nauroz-celebration. Kabul in the middle part of the 20th century has been likened to Vienna during the 18th and 19th centuries.

There are an estimated 60 major Pashtun tribes. The tribal system, which orders the life of most people outside metropolitan areas, is potent in political terms. Men feel a fierce loyalty to their own tribe, such that, if called upon, they would assemble in arms under the tribal chiefs and local clan leaders. In theory, under Islamic law, every believer has an obligation to bear arms at the ruler's call.

Heathcote considers the tribal system to be the best way of organizing large groups of people in a country that is geographically difficult, and in a society that, from a materialistic point of view, has an uncomplicated lifestyle.

The population of nomads in Afghanistan is estimated at about 2-3 million. Nomads contribute importantly to the national economy in terms of meat, skins and wool.

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