Afghanistan has long been one of the very poorest countries
in the world, being placed among the bottom three countries
in the world on the UNDP’s Human
Development Index. It thus has among the highest levels of
infant and maternal mortality and of illiteracy, and one of
the lowest levels of life expectancy.
Afghanistan is located in Central Asia, bordering Iran on
the west, China on the northeast, and Pakistan on the east
Afghanistan's northern neighbours are Turkmenistan,
Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Northern Afghanistan is linked
ethnically to Central Asia.
Afghanistan sits uneasily between the Arab world, Iran,
Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
Politically, economically, ethnically and culturally, it has
strong links with each of these but retains its own identity
as a rugged remote mountainous desert, interspersed by lush
river valleys and oases.
Contrary to general opinion,
female literacy in Afghanistan
was never high. Before the 1979 Soviet invasion,
only 1% of women graduated from high school. It is thought
that everything was perfect before the advent of the
Taliban, but education was generally only for the privileged
women, as well as having contended with laws passed by the
Taliban, have still to contend with age-old prejudices.
Their lives have shown only marginal improvement and further
progress is continually threatened by those same ethnic and
principally male dominated age-old prejudices.
In the rural countryside, where approx. 90% of Afghan women
live, life remains much the same, and these same women are
unable to read or write at a functional level!
Afghans, particularly in rural areas,
suffer from one of the lowest life expectancies in the world
due to a continuing lack of adequate healthcare facilities
and proper education in domestic hygiene. The educational
system almost non-existent (but very slowly recovering since
2002) suffers from an acute shortage of properly trained
teachers, particularly women, in rural areas. Many schools
are overcrowded and often lack basic facilities and proper
to a prolonged drought, the worst in living memory, many
farmers suffered repeated crop failure and the loss of most
of their livestock. A partial drought was again experienced
in 2011. Unfortunately devastating rainfall producing flash
floods and landslides often follows drought. Roads, farmland
and even livestock are regularly swept away.
in all its shapes, for the whole society, is a dire need.
However, it must be done in a proper way. There must be the
necessary consultation, guidance, and support to emerging
Educational Departments in the provinces and particularly to
those in authority in Kabul. There must also be a necessary
respect for Islam and the regional and ethnic cultures and
customs within the country.
Sensitivity, understanding, and genuine long-term commitment
must be the watchwords for those countries and agencies
wishing to help. Above all they must avoid paternalism,
patronising attitudes, ignorance and arrogance.
But, it is important not to rush. Afghans need to digest all
inputs. It is their country and it is they who will re-build
it, albeit with obligatory assistance from the West.
The path ahead will not be easy and will be strewn with
May Allah hold the Afghan people in the palm of His hand.
Historically, mining in Afghanistan has focused on the
production of precious stones -
Lapis Lazuli, Turquoise, Emeralds, Rubies, & Semi-precious
Lapis Lazuli, Afghanistan’s most famous stone, bejewelled
the clothing and ornaments of the Egyptian Pharaohs.
More recent explorations have resulted in the discovery of
significant deposits of
Lead, Manganese, Gypsum, Barites,
Gold, Halite, Talc, Mica and many varieties of Marble. In
addition there are fields of Natural Gas, Oil and Coal (both
Wheat (irrigated) and Lal Mai (rain-fed wheat), augmented by
Barley, Alfalfa, Rice and Corn and
People living in the more high altitude areas depend heavily
on livestock for their survival.
Afghanistan produced the finest in the world: - (Now
rarely exported abroad) Apricots, Figs, Raisins, Mulberry.
Melons, Apples, Cherries, Plums, Grapes, Apricots,
Almonds, Walnuts, Pistachios,
Chelgoza (Pine nuts) – (Now rarely exported abroad)
A wide range of
vegetables, including potatoes.
- (Northern areas).
Hides/Skins, Wool (sheep,
goat, camel, karakul),
Provinces of Afghanistan: 34
Badakshan, Badghis, Baghlan, Balkh, Bamyan, Daikondi, Farah,
Faryab Ghazni, Ghor, Herat, Helmand, Jawzian, Kabul,
Kandahar, Kapista, Khost, Kunar, Kunduz, Laghman, Logar,
Nangarhar, Nimroz, Nuristan, Patika, Pakyta, Panshir, Parwan,
Samangan, Sari Pul, Takhar, Uruzgan, Wardak, Zabul.