Country of the World Afghanistan

About the country Afghanistan, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Lay of the Land: Located in west central Asia. The Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges, which rise to 25,000 ft. in places, divide the country into three watersheds, the Amu Darya (Oxus) River basin along the northern border, the Indus headwaters in the east, and in the southwest the Helmand River, which drains into an inland basin called the Seistan along the Afghanistan-Iran border. Winters in Afghanistan are cold and windy; summers are hot, dry, and often dusty.

Size: 250,000 sq. mi. (647,500 sq. km.).

Population: 20.7 million. Languages: Pushtu 60%; Dari, 30%; Uzbek, 6%; Turkoman, 3%; others, 1%.

Who Rules: Afghanistan has been a republic since 1973. A constitution promulgated in 1977 provides for a unicameral legislature to be elected in 1979 and one political party.

Who REALLY Rules: The national government has relatively little influence in rural Afghanistan, but its power is growing with the spread of agricultural and infrastructural--roads, dams, etc.--development projects sponsored by foreign nations and international agencies. None of the major aid donors, including the U.S., U.S.S.R., and Iran, appear to have much influence on Afghanistan's internal or external policies although Soviet influence is increasing.

On Apr. 27, 1978, Pres. Mohammed Daud was killed and his government overthrown by a military group which pledged an end to the power of Daud's Yahya Khel clan of the Mohammadzai (Durrani) tribe of Pathans (Pushtuns). Members of the clan had ruled Afghanistan since 1929.

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