Afghanistan: 20 Facts You Might Not Have Known

Afghanistan is a land-locked country in South-Central Asia. It’s officially known as the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The country gained independence in 1919 from the UK. There’s probably a lot that you didn’t know about this country, but today my aim is to change that.

Here are 20 Facts That You Might Not Have Known About Afghanistan

1. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan to the East and South, Iran to the West, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the North; and China to the North-East. The country has an area of 652,230 square kilometres (251,830 square miles) – roughly the size of Texas.

2. The country has a population of 38.2 million (according to most recent estimates). It’s the 37th most populous country in the world.

3. Afghanistan has two official languages: Pashto and Dari Persian. Turkish dialects are also spoken by minorities.

4. 14 Afghan Ethnic groups are recognized and all of them are represented in the Afghan national anthem.

5. Kabul is the largest city and also the capital city of Afghanistan. Over 4.4 million people call this city their home.

Kabul, Afghanistan

6. “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.

7. The caves of Bamiyan in Afghanistan were home to the world’s first oil paintings. These paintings date back to 650 BC.

8. The new year is celebrated on the 21st of March here. It’s the first the first day of spring.

9. The percentage of rural Afghans that had access to electricity was one of the lowest in the world in 2008 (at 28%). By 2018 this percentage had risen to 98%.

Rural Afghanistan

10. Islam is the official religion of Afghanistan. 99% of the population practice this religion. Since most Afghans are Muslims, they don’t eat pork or drink alcohol. Many shops and businesses are closed on Fridays, which is considered a holy day. The legal, political, economic and personal lives of the Afghans is governed by Islamic laws.

11. Before Kandahar airfield was upgraded to the country’s second international airport, it was believed to be the busiest single runway airstrip in the world. The airfield handled 1,700 to 5,000 flights a week.

12. The world’s two largest Buddha statues once stood in this country. Sadly they were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. Buddhism and Zoroastrianism were dominant religions in Afghanistan before the introduction of Islam (in the 7th Century AD).

Buddha Statues, Afghanistan

13.  Afghanistan has been a war-torn country for decades and has been under the military influence of many powers including the Soviet Union (who invaded the country in 1979), the UK, the Mongols, the Muslim Arabs, the Mauryas, Alexander the Great and Western Powers (in more recent times).

14. The country also endured a civil war (from 1992 to 1996) and ruled by the Taliban from 1996 to 2001. The Taliban banned television, music and cinema. They also disapproved of girls aged 10 and over going to school. They were accused of various human rights and cultural abuses.

15. Afghans have interesting customs. Women and men will never shake hands or speak directly to one another. Eye contact between men and women is avoided. Between men eye contact is acceptable as long as it is not prolonged – it is best to only occasionally look someone in the eyes. 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.

16.  The country’s highest point is Noshaq (in the Hindu Kush mountain range): 7,492 metres (24,580 feet) above sea level.

Noshaq, Afghanistan

17. Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium. More than 90% of the world’s heroin supply is made from Afghan opium.

18. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the poster boy in many of the muscle building centers in Afghanistan. They say that he looks like an Afghan.

19. 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.

20. According to 2018 figures, the country has a literacy rate of 43,02%. That’s increase of 11% compared to 2011 figures.

Well, there you have it, 20 facts you might not have known about Afghanistan. If there’s something important that I’ve left out, feel free to comment below.

Watch this space for updates in the Facts category on Running Wolf’s Rant.


Henno Kruger

Blogger, Desktop Activist, Twitter / Facebook Addict, Music Festival Addict, Avid lover of South African music, Founder and owner of Running Wolf's Rant

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