Afghanistan is a poor country in Central Asia and has been characterized by hard warfare over the past three decades.

Geography and the Environment

Most of Afghanistan are made up of rugged mountain terrain with deep valleys and high mountains with peaks at 7000 meters above sea level. In the northern areas there are low lying plains with fertile soil, where it operated extensive agriculture. In the southern parts of the country there are dry, desert lowlands in the border area with Iran and Pakistan. A number of major rivers flow through the country on its way to Central Asia, including the Amu Darya and Helmand. Afghanistan has a typical inland climate, with hot summers and cold winters. The country is struggling with drought and soil erosion, and lack of clean drinking water is a constant problem for the population. Decades of warfare without a functioning central government have helped to destroy large areas of land, which are covered with land mines or are unusable due to heavy metal pollution. The already scarce forest areas have become even thinner in recent years because of uncontrolled logging.


Afghanistan has been an important thoroughfare for trade and travel between east and west since ancient times, when the old Silk Road passed through the country. Today’s Afghanistan was conquered by Alexander the Great around 300 BC, and was later occupied by Turkish and Persian empires that arose in neighboring countries. In the 1700s the country was more or less independent, during a Persian seeded royal family. In the 1800s, Russian and British forces fought for control of the area, and the weak Afghan state power fell apart. After the British gradually withdrew themselves to British India in the 1920s were the Afghans given more control over their own area. After the Second World War, the country fell under the Soviet sphere of influence in Central Asia, but without being incorporated into the Union. In 1978, the Afghan committed a Communist Party coup with Soviet help, but already the year after the Communists were overthrown again. The Soviet Union responded by invading the country, an occupation that lasted for ten years. When the Russians had pulled out they left behind a devastated country without state structures, where the fundamentalist Islamic Taliban movement eventually came to power.

Society and politics

The Taliban was overthrown when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001. Since then, the Afghan policy has been characterized by the occupying power’s attempt to build a functioning central government. This has worked very badly, on the count that the rebel forces with close ties to the Taliban still fight, especially in the rugged mountainous areas in southern parts of the country. Rebels based in neighboring countries have also participated actively in the struggle to get out the occupiers. Large sections of the population do not recognize the government that is appointed by the occupiers, and the rebels have been steadily increasing support in the war-weary and impoverished population. Large sections of Afghan society is completely out of service after many decades of war. The population lacks education, corruption affects all public bodies and there is no functioning health system or the legal system. Whatever happens in relation to the occupation forces is Afghanistan facing enormous challenges when the country should attempt to build a government from scratch.

Economy and Trade

Afghanistan has relatively abundant natural resources, including the form of minerals such as coal, copper and iron ore. There are also a number of oil and natural gas. These resources have generally not been exploited because of unrest in the country, and because Afghanistan lacks proper roads and other transport facilities. There are also no private businesses that can invest and create growth in the economy, since the bulk of the population makes their living through trade and transactions in the black sector of the economy. The most important value creation in the country takes place in agriculture, where it is grown a few different crops. A significant part of the economy is dominated by the opium growers, who have been free to roam in the chaotic country. Afghanistan is today among the world’s largest drug manufacturers, and a poor farmer earns many times more on cultivating opium poppies than other crops.

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