Official languagesDari (Persian), Pashto
Other DialectsHazaragi, Uzbek, Turkmen, Balochi, Nuristani, Pashai, Brahui, Pamiri, Hindko
AreaTotal 647,500 km2
Country Profile: Afghanistan
Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country that is located approximately in the center of Asia. It is variously designated as geographically located within Central Asia, South Asia and the Middle East. It is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east, Iran in the south and west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far northeast. Afghanistan is a crossroads between the East and the West, and has been an ancient focal point of trade and migration. It has an important geo-strategic location, connecting South and Central Asia and Middle East. During its long history, the land has seen various invaders and conquerors, while on the other hand, local entities invaded the surrounding vast regions to form their own empires.
The most common languages spoken in Afghanistan are Eastern Persian (also known as Dari; roughly 50%) and Pashto (roughly 35%). Both are Indo-European languages from the Iranian languages sub-family, and the official languages of the country. Hazaragi, spoken by the Hazara minority, is a distinct dialect of Persian. Other languages spoken include the Turkic languages Uzbek and Turkmen as well as 30 minor languages, primarily Balochi, Nuristani, Pashai, Brahui, Pamiri languages and Hindko.
Afghanistan is a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The nation's economy began to improve since 2002 due to the infusion of multi-billion US dollars in international assistance and investments, as well as remittances from expats. It is also due to dramatic improvements in agricultural production and the end of a four-year drought in most of the country.
Communications and Technology
Telecommunication services in the country are provided by Afghan Wireless, Etisalat, Roshan, Areeba and Afghan Telecom. In 2006, the Afghan Ministry of Communications signed a US$64.5 million agreement with ZTE Corporation for the establishment of a countrywide fibre optic cable network. This will improve telephone, internet, television and radio broadcast services throughout the country. Television and radio broadcastings are available in most parts of the country, with local and international channels or stations.
The nation's post service is also operating. Package delivery services such as FedEx, DHL and others are also available.
The media was tightly controlled under the Taliban and other periods in its history, and was relatively free in others. Under the Taliban, television was shut down in 1996, and print media were forbidden to publish commentary, photos or readers letters. The only radio station broadcast religious programmes and propaganda, and aired no music. After the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, press restrictions were gradually relaxed and private media diversified. Freedom of expression and the press is promoted in the 2004 constitution and censorship is banned, though defaming individuals or producing material contrary to the principles of Islam is prohibited. Over 400 publications are now registered and 60 radio stations, a major source of information, currently exist. Foreign radio stations, such as the BBC World Service, also broadcast into the country.
Afghanistan will look to continue and expand its nation's infrastructure as well as to expand on its telecommunications industry as well. There is much room to grow and expand within their economy and they look to continue to do so in the near future, cementing their identity as an important link between Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
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