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Facts about Afghanistan for Kids

Afghanistan is a landlocked country bordered by Pakistan in the south and east, Iran in the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north and China in the far northeast.

Afghanistan was first founded in 1747, when the tribes gathered under Ahmad Shah Durrani’s leadership. The country won its independence from England in 1919. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, but struggled to maintain its control over the fractured region. After heavy loses on both sides, the Soviet Union withdrew in 1989.

In 1996, Afghanistan came under the control of the Taliban, which had been established in 1994. After 9-11, the Taliban was overthrown by the United States, citing the group’s support for and protection of Osama Bin Laden as a casus belli.

Quick Facts about Afghanistan

  • Location: Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran
  • Area total: 652,230 sq km
  • Area – comparative: almost six times the size of Virginia; slightly smaller than Texas
  • Border countries (6): China 91 km, Iran 921 km, Pakistan 2,670 km, Tajikistan 1,357 km, Turkmenistan 804 km, Uzbekistan 144 km
  • Climate: arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers
  • Terrain: mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest
  • Elevation: highest point: Noshak 7,492 m
  • Natural resources: natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones, arable land
  • Land use: agricultural land: 58.07%, arable land 20.5%; permanent crops 0.37%, permanent pasture 79%, forest: 2.07%, other: 39.86% (2014 est.)
  • Natural hazards: damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding; droughts
  • Environment issues: limited natural freshwater resources; inadequate supplies of potable water; soil degradation; overgrazing; deforestation (much of the remaining forests are being cut down for fuel and building materials); desertification; air and water pollution in overcrowded urban areas
  • Geography – note:
    landlocked; the Hindu Kush mountains that run northeast to southwest divide the northern provinces from the rest of the country; the highest peaks are in the northern Vakhan (Wakhan Corridor)
  • Population: 34,124,811 (July 2017 est.)
  • Languages: Afghan Persian or Dari (official) 80% (Dari functions as the lingua franca), Pashto (official) 47%, Uzbek 11%, English 5%, Turkmen 2%, Urdu 2%, Pashayi 1%, Nuristani 1%, Arabic 1%, Balochi, Shughni, Pamiri, Hindi, Russian, German, French <.5% each, don’t know/refused <1%
  • Religions: Muslim 99.7% (Sunni 84.7 – 89.7%, Shia 10 – 15%), other 0.3% (2009 est.)