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Area: 647,500 sq. km. (249,935 sq. mi.); slightly smaller than Texas.
Cities: Capital--Kabul (1,780,000; 1999/2000 UN est.). Other cities (1988 UN est.; current figures are probably significantly higher)--Kandahar (226,000); Herat (177,000); Mazar-e-Sharif (131,000); Jalalabad (58,000); Konduz (57,000).
Terrain: Landlocked; mostly mountains and desert.
Climate: Dry, with cold winters and hot summers.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Afghan(s).
Population: 28,513,677 (July 2004 est.). More than 4 million Afghans live outside the country, mainly in Pakistan and Iran, although over two and a half million have returned since the removal of the Taliban.
Annual population growth rate (2004 est.): 4.92%. This rate does not take into consideration the recent war and its continuing impact.
Main ethnic groups: Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Turkmen, Aimaq, Baluch, Nuristani, Kizilbash.
Religions: Sunni Muslim 80%, Shi'a Muslim 19%, other 1%.
Main languages: Dari (Afghan Persian), Pashto.
Education: Approximately 4 million children, of whom some 30% are girls, enrolled in school during 2003. Literacy (2001 est.)--36% (male 51%, female 21%), but real figures may be lower given breakdown of education system and flight of educated Afghans.
Health: Infant mortality rate (2004 est.)--165.96 deaths/1,000 live births. Life expectancy (2004 est.)--42.27 yrs. (male); 42.66 yrs. (female).

Type: Islamic Republic.
Independence: August 19, 1919.
Constitution: January 4, 2004.
Branches: Executive—president (chief of state). Legislative—bicameral National Assembly (House of the People--249 seats, House of the Elders--102 seats). Judicial—Supreme Court, High Courts, and Appeals Courts.
Political subdivisions: 34 provinces.
Suffrage: Universal at 18 years.

GDP (2004 est.): $4.7 billion.
GDP growth (2004 est.): 7.5%.
GDP per capita (2004 est.): $164.83.
Natural resources: Natural gas, oil, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron, salt, precious and semiprecious stones.
Agriculture (estimated 52% of GDP): Products--wheat, corn, barley, rice, cotton, fruit, nuts, karakul pelts, wool, and mutton.
Industry (estimated 26% of GDP): Types--small-scale production for domestic use of textiles, soap, furniture, shoes, fertilizer, and cement; hand-woven carpets for export; natural gas, precious and semiprecious gemstones.
Services (estimated 22% of GDP): Transport, retail, and telecommunications.
Trade (2002-03 est.): Exports--$100 million (does not include opium): fruits and nuts, hand-woven carpets, wool, cotton, hides and pelts, precious and semiprecious gems. Major markets--Central Asian republics, Pakistan, Iran, EU, India. Imports--$2.3 billion: food, petroleum products, machinery, and consumer goods. Major suppliers--Central Asian republics, Pakistan, Iran.
Currency: The currency is the afghani, which was reintroduced as Afghanistan’s new currency in January 2003. At present, $1 U.S. equals approximately 45 afghanis.

Adapted from material published in the CIA World Factbook.
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