The country of Afghanistan was once visited by an immense number of visitors because of its hippy trails, lush mountain ranges and the beautiful merging of the old and new. It has a rich history, which is evident from its religious sites and architectural attractions that were at their best during the 1970s. When war brought chaos and destruction to the peaceful country and its hospitable people, a lot of changes can be noted, not just in the fascinating landscape of Afghanistan, but also in the community and culture. However, the National Government is striving to turn the tables and bring the glory that was once within its reach.
Important and Interesting Facts about Afghanistan
- Afghanistan is a land-locked country bordering on Iran to the west, Turkmenistan,Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north, a tiny border with China at the northeast, and Pakistan to the east and south.
- The desert experiences sandstorms, carried on winds moving at up to 177 kph (110 mph).
- The country’s most valuable export is opium; eradication efforts have done little to reduce production of this illegal cash crop. Other export goods include wheat, cotton, wool, handwoven rugs, and precious stones. Afghanistan imports much of its food and energy.
- Afghanistan is among the poorest countries on Earth. The per capita GDP is just $1,100 US, and about 36% of the population live under the poverty line.
- Summers are hot and dry in Afghanistan but the winters are very cold, especially north of the Hindu Kush, which is located in the eastern part of the country near Pakistan and Tajikistan. Many rivers flow through the mountain gorges. Snow melt and rain that flow out of the Hindu Kush pool into a low area and never reach the ocean.
- The mountain passes in Afghanistan allow travelers passage across Asia. The country was a busy section of the Silk Road, a route that merchants have traveled over land between China, India, and Europe for over 2,000 years.
- The country is rich in the vibrant blue stone, lapis lazuli, which was used to decorate the tomb of the Egyptian king Tutankhamun.
- Due to many years of war, the countryside is littered with unexploded mines and children who herd animals are often killed by stepping on mines. Many schools have been destroyed, but children, including girls, go to school in ruins or wherever possible.
- Ariana Afghan Airlines is the national carrier. Commercial flights have not yet resumed to Afghanistan. Afghanistan has no railroads. The country also has no navigable rivers.
- One of the world’s highest tunnels is found in Afghanistan, at Salang, which links the north to the south of the country. It is a 11,000-foot-high and 1.6-mile pass through the Hindu Kush mountains, built by the Soviets in 1964.
Cool Funny and Fun Facts about Afghanistan
- Those who wish to make domestic or international calls need to bring their own satellite telephone. Injured or distressed foreigners might face long delays before being able to communicate their needs to colleagues or family outside Afghanistan. Internet is not available through local service providers.
- There is only one Jewish person living in Afghanistan.
- The US Military airdropped 4 million Pop-Tarts over Afghanistan in 2001.
- In 2010 the International Council on Security and Development conducted a survey that found that 92% of Afghan men have never heard of 9/11.
- The people of Afghanistan are called Afghans and not Afghanis which is the currency. A common mistake that happens among people.
- From 1989-2003 Five secret “keyholders” protected a vault in Afghanistan filled with ancient Afghan treasures. They withstood poverty, Taliban threats and torture protecting their cultural heritage.
- The Leonardo from Titanic was so popular among afghan youths that it was banned by the Taliban and barbers went to jail for giving it.
- If your vehicle registration plate includes the allegedly cursed number 39, people in Afghanistan might think you’re a pimp.
- The U.S. has authorized $557 billion to fund the war in Afghanistan — enough for every man, woman and child in Chicago to buy 20 iPads, 30 Kindle Fires, Bulls season tickets, a campaign fundraiser photo with Michelle Obama and dinner at Alinea every night for a year.
- CIA operatives have occasionally offered Viagra to elderly tribal chieftains to secure their cooperation.
- A “jingle truck” or a “jingly” is a vehicle used by Afghans to deliver goods to Western troops. Often brightly painted, they have trinkets or tassels hung from the truck frame so that they jingle. Some troops also use the term “jinglies” to refer to the Afghans themselves.
- The Javelin missile is so expensive ($75,000, by one account) that British soldiers in Afghanistan refer to firing a Javelin as “throwing a Porsche at them.”
Historical and Cultural Facts about Afghanistan
- Afghanistan was settled at least 50,000 years ago. Early cities such as Mundigak and Balkh sprang up around 5,000 years ago; they likely were affiliated with the Aryan culture of India.
- Around 700 B.C., the Median Empire expanded its rule to Afghanistan. The Medes were an Iranian people, rivals of the Persians. By 550 B.C., the Persians had displaced the Medians, establishing the Achaemenid Dynasty.
- Alexander the Great of Macedonia invaded Afghanistan in 328 B.C., founding a Hellenistic empire with its capital at Bactria (Balkh). The Greeks were displaced around 150 B.C. by the Kushans and later the Parthians, nomadic Iranians. The Parthians ruled until about 300 A.D., when the Sassanians took control.
- Most Afghans were Hindu, Buddhist or Zoroastrian at that time, but an Arab invasion in 642 A.D. introduced Islam. The Arabs defeated the Sassanians, and ruled until 870, at which time they were driven out again by the Persians.
- In 1220, Mongol warriors under Genghis Khan conquered Afghanistan, and descendants of the Mongols would rule much of the region until 1747.
- In 1747, the Durrani Dynasty was founded by Ahmad Shah Durrani, an ethnic Pashtun. This marked the origin of modern Afghanistan.
- Afghanistan would like its national game, buzkashi, or goat-grabbing, to be an Olympic sport. Regarded as the world’s wildest game, it involves riders on horseback competing to grab a goat carcass, and gallop clear of the others to drop it in a chalked circle.
- Other pastimes that have returned in 2002 are dog fighting, camel fighting, motorcycle stunts, and karaoke. Soccer began to be played in Kabul’s sports stadium in December 2001, a venue that had previously been used for executions.
- In January 2002, the first independent newspaper in post-Taliban Afghanistan issued its first edition. The Kabul Weekly featured articles in English, French, Dari, and Pashtun.
- Poetry is a cherished part of Afghan culture. Afghans have told their stories in verse for more than 1,000 years. Thursday night is “poetry night” in the western city of Herat – men, women and children gather to share ancient and modern verse, listen to traditional Herati music, and enjoy sweet tea and pastries long into the night.
- The world’s first oil paintings were drawn not in Renaissance Europe but in the caves of Bamiyan, in the central highlands of Afghanistan around 650BC. Bamiyan boasted a flourishing Buddhist civilisation from the 2nd Century up to the Islamic invasion of the 9th Century