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Pashtun 42%, Tajik 27%, Hazara 9%, Uzbek 9%, Aimak 4%, Turkmen 3%, Baloch 2%, other 4%
Afghan Persian or Dari (official) 50%, Pashto (official) 35%, Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen) 11%, 30 minor languages (primarily Balochi and Pashai) 4%, much bilingualism
Sunni Muslim 80%, Shia Muslim 19%, other 1%
source: CIA World Factbook
Ahmad Shah DURRANI unified the Pashtun tribes and founded Afghanistan in 1747. The country served as a buffer between the British and Russian Empires until it won independence from notional British control in 1919. A brief experiment in democracy ended in a 1973 coup and a 1978 Communist counter-coup. The Soviet Union invaded in 1979 to support the tottering Afghan Communist regime, touching off a long and destructive war. The USSR withdrew in 1989 under relentless pressure by internationally supported anti-Communist mujahedin rebels. A series of subsequent civil wars saw Kabul finally fall in 1996 to the Taliban, a hardline Pakistani-sponsored movement that emerged in 1994 to end the country's civil war and anarchy. Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., a US, Allied, and anti-Taliban Northern Alliance military action toppled the Taliban for sheltering Osama BIN LADIN. The UN-sponsored Bonn Conference in 2001 established a process for political reconstruction that included the adoption of a new constitution, a presidential election in 2004, and National Assembly elections in 2005. In December 2004, Hamid KARZAI became the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan and the National Assembly was inaugurated the following December. KARZAI was re-elected in August 2009 for a second term. Despite gains toward building a stable central government, a resurgent Taliban and continuing provincial instability - particularly in the south and the east - remain serious challenges for the Afghan Government. In January 2011, Afghanistan assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2012-13 term.
Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran
total: 652,230 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Texas
total: 5,529 km
China 76 km, Iran 936 km, Pakistan 2,430 km, Tajikistan 1,206 km, Turkmenistan 744 km, Uzbekistan 137 km
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)
0 km (landlocked)
arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers
mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest
lowest point: Amu Darya 258 m
highest point: Noshak 7,485 m
natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones
arable land: 12.13%
permanent crops: 0.21%
other: 87.66% (2005)
31,990 sq km (2008)
Total renewable water resources:
65 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 23.26 cu km/yr (2%/0%/98%)
per capita: 779 cu m/yr (2000)
Damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding; droughts
Environment - current 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
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation
source: CIA World Factbook
Intensive Language Programs
The American Association for Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (AATSEEL) website has a page that describes intensive programs in Slavic and East European languages as well as in the languages of the Republics of the former Soviet Union. The listings include those programs offered in U.S. (and some Canadian) colleges and universities as well as in programs abroad. This is a free service provided by AATSEEL to such programs.
Each language has its own page, and programs are divided into the following categories: Summer Programs in the U.S., Summer Programs Abroad, and Semester/Year Programs Abroad. Information is added to this page as it is received, so check frequently for updates.
The website has a table which allows you to click on the language you are interested in, and it directs you to links to the program/school websites teaching the language.