Soldiers look for perfect holiday gift at Bagram bazaar

PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - A shopkeeper stands by his store in the Bagram Airfield bazaar Dec. 11. The bazaar brings in more than $30,000 into the local economy on a (click for more)

AUP, TF Lethal capture munitions cache in Jaji

PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A member of the AUP performs a search during an AUP-led operation with Company A, 1st Battalion, 168 Infantry Regiment in Jaji District Dec. 16. (click for more)

Kapisa PRT visits Ghayn Valley

KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Local children watch members of Kapisa PRT pass as they leave the Abdul Salam High School in Ghayn Valley Dec. 15. (click for more)

Veterinary Services keep donkeys in the fight

LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Maj. Ted A. Broome (right), and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Eleazar Vizcaino, both assigned to 358th Medical Detachment Veterinary Services, evaluate a donkey at (click for more)

Kunar PRT attends Manogai District elections

KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Haji Sher Badir, Manogai District subgovernor, speaks during the election ceremony for the Manogai District Community Council Dec. 9. (click for more)

Next step to Ghazni 2013 project

GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Key elders listen intently while the U.S. and Polish ambassadors, Musa Khan, Ghazni provincial governor, and Amina Safi Afzaly, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, speak (click for more)

Iowa ADT supports Kunar veterinary conference

U.S. Army Maj. Loren Adams, veternarian from New Liberty, Iowa, supervises as an Afghan veterinarian puts final sutures into a neutered dog at a continuing education conference organized by the (click for more)

USO Holiday Tour comes to Bagram

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Actor and comedian Robin Williams talks with U.S. Army Maj. Gen John F. Campbell, Combined Joint Task Force 101 and Regional Command East commander, before the (click for more)

Ambassador Eikenberry dedicates playground at Ghazni orphanage

GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Karl Eikenberry, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, shakes a little girl's hand during the playground dedication at Ghazni City Orphanage in Ghazni Dec. 15. (click for more)

Bravo strengthens relationship with Afghan people

PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Shane Taylor, a Slater, Iowa, native and Bravo Troop Soldier, 1st Squadron, 113th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Red Horse, plays with Afghan children (click for more)

General Information 

Afghanistan is comprised of 34 provinces with a population of approximately 27 million.  98 percent of the country are Muslims (80 percent Sunni and 20 percent Shiite), and the other two percent are Hindus, Zoroastrians, and Jews.  Major languages are Dari and Pashto with a small percentage of Tajiki and Uzbeki.  Major ethnic groups are: Pashtuns-40 percent, Tajiks – 25 percent, Hazara – 18 percent, Uzbeks, Aimaqs, Turkmen and others 17 percent.

The capital of Afghanistan is Kabul.  Major cities in the south which border Pakistan are Zabul, Kandahar, Helmand, Nimroz, and in the east are Paktika, Khost, Paktya, Nangarhar, Kunar, and Nuristan;  to the north bordering Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan are Badakshan, Takhar, Kunduz, Samangan, Balkh, Jozjon, Faryab and Badghis; in the west to Iran are Herat and Farah.

Afhganistan’s hand-woven rugs are world renowned.  Some of the best Lapis lazuli, Emerald, and Ruby come from the Northern areas.   Dried nuts and fruits, pomegranates, and grapes are among the export products.

A Brief History of Afghanistan:

Although Afghanistan is an extremely impoverished country but it is a tapestry of rich culture, history, and ethnicities.  Many colorful threads of diverse ethnicities are apparent in this ancient historical land.

The geographic location of Afghanistan is in the heart of Asia, but, sometimes it is ascribed to be in South Asia or even in the Middle East because of its cultural and ethno-linguistic links with its neighbors.  The large borders to Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and much smaller eastern border to China have made Afghanistan the trade route and the crossroads of Asia and the Middle East.

Throughout the history, from the ancient times to today, Afghanistan has seen many invading military forces come and go including Indo-Iranians, Greeks, Arabs, Turks, Mongols, Russians, Americans, and NATO forces.
In 1978, the Republic of Afghanistan government was established.  In 1978, the communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan took over the government by a military coup.  The opposition of the communist party organized an anti-government Mujahideen resistance.  In the meantime, as part of the Cold War strategy, the National Security Advisor, Brzezinski, started to fund and to strengthen the Mujahideen through the Inter Services Intelligence of Pakistan.  The Mujahideen movement was a symbol of discontentment of Muslims against the atheist government that followed Marxism.  By December 1979, the Soviet Union invasion took place resulting in over five million Afghans leaving their country and becoming refugees to Pakistan, Iran and other countries.  After losing 15,000 troops and the harsh economic impacts of a 10-year war, the Soviet Union withdrew its troops completely in 1989.

The Mujahideen governed Afghanistan from 1989 to 1994 when a civil war erupted due to friction between political parties.  The rise of the Taliban to govern Afghanistan occurred in 1996. 

By the end of 2000, the Taliban controlled over 95 percent of the country and imposed the fundamentalist and strict Islamic Sharia law.  On September 9, 2001 two Al-Qaeda terrorists posed as reporters and assassinated the Northern Alliance leader and the great Mujahid, Ahmad Shah Massoud.  In 2001, the United States launched Operation Enduring Freedom.

Last Updated on Friday, 04 December 2009 09:40


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