66 Interesting Facts About Afghanistan

Last updated on September 21st, 2017

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.

66 Interesting facts about Afghanistan

#1. Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan is its largest city.

#2. Afghanistan is a landlocked country. Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and China border Afghanistan from all sides.

#3. 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.

#4. Agriculture is the main source of income for Afghans. Afghanistan is also rich in natural resources like natural gas and oil.

#5. “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.

buzkashi in afghanistan
Buzkashi in Afghanistan

#6. 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.

#7. Afghanistan has been in news more than any country in the last decade.

#8. New Year is celebrated by Afghans on 21st They call it “Nawroz”. It is a pre-Islamic festival which is celebrated by a gathering of thousands of travelers from across the 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).

mazari-e-sharif
Mazar-e-Sharif: The Shrine of Hazrat Ali (A.S). Image source

#9. Mobile phone coverage is available in more than 90% of the country. Mobile phones are status symbols.

#10. 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.

#11. Alexander the Great captured the city of Herat in 330BC and built its ancient citadel. Alexander had a son with a beautiful woman from the province of Balkh in Afghanistan.

#12. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the poster boy in many of the muscle building centers in Afghanistan. They say he (Arnold Schwarzgenegger) looks like an Afghan.

#13. 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.

#14. World’s largest Buddhas (two of these) were first built in Afghanistan. These statues were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.

#15. The world’s first oil paintings were drawn in the caves of “Bamiyan” around 650BC.

An oil painting of a Buddhist image, discovered in a cave in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan. Image credit – abc.net.au

#16. There is only one Jewish person living in Afghanistan. His name is Zablon Simintov and he is a restaurateur and an Afghan carpet trader. He was born in 1959.

#17. There has been 300% increase in Opium cultivation in the Afghanistan in 2013 when compared to the last seven years before the U.S. invasion. Afghanistan is also the largest producer of cannabis.

Flag of Afghanistan

Flag of Afghanistan
Flag of Afghanistan. Image credit – CIA

Facts about Afghanistan’s history

#18. 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, Maurays, Alexandra the Great, and in the recent times under western powers.

#19. Afghanistan is estimated to be inhabited by humans at least 50,000 years ago.

#20. 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.)

#21. Buddhism and Zoroastrianism were dominant religions in Afghanistan before the introduction of Islam.

#22. Genghis Khan and his Mongol army spread rapidly in Afghanistan in 1219 AD.

Read: some key facts about Mongolia and Genghis Khan

#23. 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.

#24. After the death of Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1772, his son, Timur Shah succeeded him.

#25. In 1776, Timur Shah transferred the capital of Afghanistan from Kandahar to Kabul.

#26. A 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.

#27. The Taliban (a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist political movement in Afghanistan) also ruled the country for almost 5 years between 1996 and 2001.

#28. In 2004, Hamid Karzai became the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan.

#29. After the September 2011 attack on the United States allegedly carried by the Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda forces, a U.S and U.K coalition launched a military attack on the major cities of Afghanistan including Kabul, against the Taliban regime.

#30. Afghanistan translates to “the land of Afghans”.

#31. Afghanistan is also the land of many historical sites. And it is the 40th most populous country in the world.

#32. Afghanistan’s location on the silk route gave it various economic and cultural advantages.

#33. Afghanistan is considered as the place of origin of the religion Zoroastrianism.

Afghanistan’s cultural facts

#34. Pasthu, one of the two official languages of Afghanistan, was declared the national language of Afghanistan during the beginning of the reign of Zahir Shah.

#35. Dari (Persian), the other official language was always used for government and business purposes.

#36. An estimated 35% of the population of the country speaks Pasthu while 50% of the population speaks Dari.

#37. Today, as Islam is a dominant religion in Afghanistan, the culture is heavily influenced by the religion of peace and monotheism.

#38. In Afghanistan, most of the shops and businesses are closed on Friday, which is the Islamic holy day.

#39. The legal, political, economic and personal lives of the Afghans is governed by Islamic laws.

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