86 Interesting Facts About Afghanistan

Last updated on January 28th, 2024

66. Polygamy is permissible in Afghanistan however it is rare. Many of the marriages are consummated between cousins.

67. Marriages are three-day lavish ceremonies during which a marriage contract is signed and the couple is brought together.

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

69. One of the highest and most dangerous highways in the world is in Afghanistan in the Baghlan and Parwan Province. It is known as the Salang Pass Highway and is about 12,000 feet high.

70. Hundreds of years before oil paints were used in Europe, oil paint was used in cave paintings in Afghanistan. Scholars claim these oil cave paintings to be the oldest in the world.

facts about Afghanistan: an oil painting of a Buddhist image
An oil painting of a Buddhist image discovered in a cave in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan. Facts about Afghanistan. Image credit – abc.net.au

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

72. 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.

73. The year 2023 marks one of the coldest winters Afghanistan has had in more than a decade. Many people died in the bitter cold because they didn’t have fuel to heat their homes.

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

75. Mirwais Azizi (born 1962) from the Azizi Group of Companies is considered the wealthiest person in Afghanistan. He is known as the ‘Mukesh Ambani of Afghanistan’ and lives in Dubai, from where he runs his vast business empire.

76. Noshaq (7,492 meters or 24,580 ft) is the highest point in Afghanistan.

77. Helmand is the longest river in Afghanistan.

78. One of the most beautiful sights in all of Afghanistan is the Gardens of Babur in Kabul. It is also one of the largest green pieces of land in the city at about 11 hectares.

79. Afghanistan is considered as the place of origin of the religion Zoroastrianism.

80. Another interesting fact is that no Jews are living in Afghanistan after the Taliban took over. The last Jew to leave the country was Zabulon Simantov, who looked after the last synagogue in Kabul.

81. The Salang Tunnel, located on the Salang Pass, is the only connection between North and South Afghanistan. It is about 1,600 miles long and was built by the former USSR in 1964.

82. In Afghanistan, there are no pigs on farms or found in any place except for the one in the Kabul Zoo named Khanzi. It was given to them by China together with its companion.

83. Dogs are considered evil, impure, and dirty by most people in Afghanistan. You won’t find a dog near places where people pray. It also means that dogs are not people’s best friends in Afghanistan.

84. 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.

85. The ‘Ring Road’ or Highway 1 is the backbone of Afghanistan’s road transport system. They also rely heavily on rail, air, and waterways for their internal transport.

86. Afghanistan doesn’t have a large tourism industry because of security problems and the 30 years of war the country saw. Since 2016, more than 20,000 tourists have visited the country, and more will go in the future.

About the flag of Afghanistan

Flag of Afghanistan
The current flag of Afghanistan. 

1. Design and Symbolism

The flag of Afghanistan reflects its state after sweeping changes in 2021. It is now called the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which raises the flag of the Taliban.

The current design features the Shahada in black script on a white field. It is an Islamic oath and creed which declares that there is only one God and that Muhammad (P.B.U.H) is his messenger. According to traditional schools, an honest recitation is all it takes for an individual to become a Muslim.

The white field represents “the purity of faith and government” of the Islamic Movement of Taliban. It reverses the typical color scheme for jihadist groups that prefer a black field. It comes from the 7th century Umayyad Caliphate which was responsible for taking Islam to the country.

2. Adoption

Afghanistan initially adopted this design on October 27, 1997. They reinstated it on August 15, 2021.

3. Technical Details

The official flag uses a proportion of 1:2. A variant flag with the same ratio has an elevated Shahada to make room for the script “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” at the bottom.

4. History

In 1994, the Taliban emerged from student militias in Islamic schools. They took over key cities and drove out the government with the help of Pakistan. In 1997, the Taliban flag became the flag of Afghanistan.

In 2001, the US launched a military offensive to overthrow the Taliban after it coddled Osama Bin Laden – the prime suspect in the 9/11 Attacks. Western forces worked with the local resistance movement to end the regime. An interim government ran the country with assistance from the United Nations.

In 2002, the flag changed to a vertical tricolor and a golden coat of arms. It resembles older Afghan flags in which the black remembers the past kingdoms, the red represents the blood spilled for independence, and the green signifies hope for the future. The flag of Germany inspired this tricolor design after King Amanullah Khan visited Europe in 1928.

Meanwhile, the Taliban regrouped in Pakistan. When NATO started withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in 2021, the resurgent Taliban advanced quickly into the capital and reinstated their flag. The government collapsed, with most officials fleeing the country. A resistance led by the first Vice President Amrullah Saleh and the Northern Alliance’s Ahmad Massoud continued to oppose the Taliban from Tajikistan.

5. Flag Facts

The central emblem in many past Afghan flags features a mosque. Habibullah Khan, the Emir from 1901 to 1919, added this detail to his father’s flag. Some depictions surround it with wheat, while others encircle it with the sun’s rays forming an octagram. It is one of Afghanistan’s chief crops, along with rice, barley, and maize.

Other flags replace the mosque with a sun rising over snow-capped mountains, like the fourth flag during the reign of King Amanullah. It represents a new beginning for his kingdom. It is the first flag to make the tricolor bands vertical instead of horizontal – a format retained for the rest of the 1900s.

Quick facts about Afghanistan

Independence19 August, 1919 (from the UK)
Capital CityKabul
(34°32′N 69°08′E)
Largest CityKabul
(34°32′N 69°08′E)
Areatotal: 652,230 sq km
land: 652,230 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Population37,466,414 (July 2021 est.)
Population growth rate2.38% (2020 est.)
Official LanguagePashto and Dari
Languages spokenAfghan Persian or Dari (official) 50%, Pashto (official) 35%, Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen) 11%, 30 minor languages (primarily Balochi and Pashai) 4%, much bilingualism, but Dari functions as the lingua franca
Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Literacy rate43%
BordersChina 91 km, Iran 921 km, Pakistan 2670 km, Tajikistan 1357 km, Turkmenistan 804 km, Uzbekistan 144 km
Government typeUnitary autocratic Islamic provisional government
LeaderHibatullah Akhundzada
Prime ministerHasan Akhund (acting)
Chief JusticeAbdul Hakim Ishaqzai
National AnthemPashto: Milli Surood
National holidayIndependence Day, 19 August (1919)

National symbollion
National colorsred, green, black
Life expectancy at birth53.25 years (2021 est.)
Climatearid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers
Terrainmostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest
Mean elevation1,884 m
Highest pointNoshak 7,492 m
Lowest pointAmu Darya 258 m
Natural resourcesnatural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones, arable land
Agricultural land58.1%
Birth rate36.08 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)
Death rate12.57 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)
Sex ratio1.03 male(s)/female (2020 est.)
Industriessmall-scale production of bricks, textiles, soap, furniture, shoes, fertilizer, apparel, food products, non-alcoholic beverages, mineral water, cement; handwoven carpets; natural gas, coal, copper
Exports$784 million (2017 est.)
opium, fruits and nuts, handwoven carpets, wool, cotton, hides and pelts, precious and semi-precious gems
Imports$7.616 billion (2017 est.)
machinery and other capital goods, food, textiles, petroleum products
GDP - per capita (PPP)$2,065 (2019 est.)
CurrencyAfghani (AFN)
Calling Code+93
Drives on theRight
Time ZoneD† (UTC+4:30)
Internet country code.af
Table last updatedJanuary 13, 2022