Afghanistan in South-central Asia is a country of geographical extremes and has a rich history of more than six thousand years. Interested in knowing more about this fascinating country? Here are some of the most interesting facts about Afghanistan.
7 Interesting Facts about Afghanistan
1. Afghanistan is the 37th most populous country in the world
The country’s official name is the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. With a population of almost 40-million, it is the 37th most populous country in the world. Kabul is the capital and largest city in Afghanistan. Around 10% of the population lives in Kabul. The official languages of Afghanistan are Pashto and Dari.
2. Afghanistan is the 41st largest country in the world
Afghanistan is a landlocked country in South-Central Asia. It has borders with six countries: Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Pakistan and China. With a total land area of 652,860 Km2 (252,071 sq. miles), Afghanistan is the 41st largest country in the world.
3. There are no public Christian churches in Afghanistan
Islam is the official state religion of Afghanistan. Approximately 99.7% of the Afghan population are Muslim. Between 80% and 89% practice Sunni Islam while 10-19% practice Shia Islam. There are no public Christian churches in Afghanistan. The only legally recognised Christian church building in Afghanistan is the Our Lady of Divine Providence Chapel. This is in the Italian Embassy in Kabul. This catholic chapel was first authorised in 1933.
4. The world’s oldest oil paintings are in Afghanistan
Bamyan in central Afghanistan is home to the world’s oldest oil paintings. Scientists discovered the paintings on cave walls and dated them from the 7th-century AD. Europeans didn’t start adding oil to paint until much later, around the 13th-century. The cave paintings depict Buddhas in vermilion robes and mythical creatures. The caves were near the Buddhas of Bamyan. These were two 6th-century statues of Vairocana Buddha and Gautama Buddha carved into a sandstone cliff. These were at one time the tallest standing Buddhas in the world. However, in 2001, Afghanistan’s Taliban government blew them up saying the Buddhas were un-Islamic.
5. Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium
Afghanistan is the world’s top cultivator of poppies. These poppies produce a sticky, yellow residue that people use to make heroin and opium. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium. As of 2021, Afghanistan is the source of more than 90% of the world’s opium supply. It is the source of more than 95% of the European opium supply. Opium farming is a major source of employment in Afghanistan. According to the United Nations, poppy farming employs an estimated 120,000 Afghans and brings in an estimated USD$300-400 million a year.
6. Afghanistan has had 26 different flags
The flag of Afghanistan is a black, red and green tricolour with its national emblem in white in the centre. The colour black represents Afgahnaistan’s dark, troubled past. Red represents the blood of those who fought for the country’s independence. Green symbolises Islam and prosperity. The national emblem features a mosque and pulpit and two flags. It also features sheaves of wheat, the Takbir, the Shahada and the word “Afghanistan”. The flag says “There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his Prophet, and Allah is Great”. However, since the use of the first flag in 1709, Afghanistan has had 26 different flags.
7. Afghanistan is a country of extremes
Afghanistan is a country of extremes, for instance, there is more than 100ºC (180ºF) separating the record high and low temperatures. The record high temperature was 49.9 °C (121.8 °F) and the low was −52.2 °C (−62.0 °F). Also, there are 7,234 metres (23,734 feet) between its highest point (Noshakh) and its lowest point (Amu Darya). Therefore, Afghanistan has the sixth-highest elevation span in the world.