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Re-Emerging from the Rubble?

Our key facts on Afghanistan and how the country is slowly getting back on its feet.

October 16, 2001

Our key facts on Afghanistan and how the country is slowly getting back on its feet.

Afghanistan has had its fair share of wars and upheavals. Sandwiched between Russian and British interests for most of the 19th century, the country’s history of invasions and insecure governments has continued up until this day. The economy is in shambles, the social structure practically obliterated — and there is still no end of conflict in sight. Our new Globalist Factsheet examines Afghanistan’s plight.

What are some of the consequences of Afghanistan’s economic problems?

In Afghanistan, one of every four children die before the age of 5. Life expectancy is about 43 years — and infant and maternal death rates are the second highest in the world. Only 12% of the population has access to safe drinking water. And barely 30% of the men and 15% of the women can read or write.

(Washington Post)

How much do Afghanis earn?

As of 2001, Afghanistan has an annual per capita income of $800.

(The Guardian)

How did the terrorist attacks worsen this situation?

Since the September 11 attacks, food prices in Afghan cities have risen between 30% and 50% due to shortages caused by civil strife and drought.

(Washington Post)

Is the present aid enough?

Between October 7 and 11, the U.S. military has dropped 111,000 — or more than 22,000 rations on a daily average — food rations into the country. That is less than 1% of what is actually needed.

(Washington Post)

Where does Afghanistan lead the world?

Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium, accounting for 75% of world supply.

(Financial Times)

How does the Taliban regime try to win additional manpower?

In an effort to attract refugees to return to Afghanistan, the Taliban is allowing men who arrive with short beards time to grow them — without risk of arrest.

(Washington Post)

Did women always have such a difficult standing in Afghanistan?

During the reign of the former Afghan king Mohammad Zahir Shah in the first half of the last century, women were able to vote — and made up part of his first cabinet. Neither were there any restrictions on women’s work and study.

(Washington Post)

When did the former king rule?

Mohammad Zahir Shah, the last King of Afghanistan ruled from 1933 — the year his father was assassinated — to 1973, when he was ousted in a coup led by his cousin Mohammad Daoud.


What is Afghanistan’s ethnic composition?

The Pashtun — the biggest ethnic group — accounts for 38% of the country’s population. Second are Tajik at 25%, followed by the Hazara at 19%. Other minor ethnic groups make up 18%.


Why is neighboring Pakistan nervous about a return of King Zahir?

Until 1973, when King Zahir, a Pashtun, ruled in Kabul, the Afghan government was pro-Soviet and friendly to India.

(Wall Street Journal)

Where else does Afghanistan cause problems?

As of 2001, Iran has 2.5 million Afghan refugees — and a debilitating drug problem fed by imports from Afghanistan.

(Wall Street Journal)

And finally, where did the Taliban come from?

The Taliban — literally the Islamic students — rose from an obscure organization founded in the religious schools of Pakistan’s refugee camps on its Afghan border.

(Washington Post)