Theme Week Afghanistan

Monday, 25 May 2020 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Bon voyage, Theme Weeks, UNESCO World Heritage
Reading Time:  12 minutes

Landscapes of Afghanistan © PD-USGov-USAID - PD-USGov-Military-Army - PD-USGov-Military-Army-USACE

Landscapes of Afghanistan © PD-USGov-USAID – PD-USGov-Military-Army – PD-USGov-Military-Army-USACE

Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country in South and Central Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south; Iran to the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north; and China to the northeast. Occupying 652,000 square kilometers (252,000 sq mi), it is a mountainous country with plains in the north and southwest. Kabul is the capital and largest city. The population is around 32 million, mostly composed of ethnic Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks. Human habitation in Afghanistan dates back to the Middle Paleolithic Era, and the country’s strategic location along the Silk Road connected it to the cultures of the Middle East and other parts of Asia. The land has historically been home to various peoples and has witnessed numerous military campaigns, including those by Alexander the Great, Mauryas, Muslim Arabs, Mongols, British, Soviets, and by the United States with allied countries. The land also served as the source from which the Kushans, Hephthalites, Samanids, Saffarids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Khaljis, Mughals, Hotaks, Durranis, and others have risen to form major empires.

The political history of the modern state of Afghanistan began with the Hotak and Durrani dynasties in the 18th century, with Ahmad Shah Abdali being considered as the founder of the state. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in the “Great Game” between British India and the Russian Empire. Its border with British India, the Durand Line, was formed in 1893 but it is not recognized by the Afghan government and it has led to strained relations with Pakistan since the latter’s independence in 1947. In the First Anglo-Afghan War, the British East India Company seized control of Afghanistan briefly, but following the Third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919 the country was free of foreign influence, eventually becoming a monarchy under Amanullah Khan, until almost 50 years later when Zahir Shah was overthrown and a republic was established. In 1978, after a second coup Afghanistan first became a socialist state and then a Soviet protectorate. This evoked the Soviet–Afghan War in the 1980s against mujahideen rebels. By 1996 most of Afghanistan was captured by the Islamic fundamentalist group the Taliban, who ruled as a totalitarian regime for over five years. Following the 9/11 attacks, an intervention by the US and its allies forcibly removed the Taliban from power, and a new democratically-elected government was formed, but the Taliban still control a significant portion of the country. Afghanistan is a unitary presidential Islamic republic. The country has high levels of terrorism, poverty, child malnutrition, and corruption. It is a member of the United Nations, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Group of 77, the Economic Cooperation Organization, and the Non-Aligned Movement. Afghanistan’s economy is the world’s 96th largest, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $72. billion by purchasing power parity; the country fares much worse in terms of per-capita GDP (PPP), ranking 169th out of 186 countries as of 2018.

A landlocked mountainous country with plains in the north and southwest, Afghanistan is located at the crossroads of South Asia and Central Asia. The country’s highest point is Noshaq, at 7,492 m (24,580 ft) above sea level. It has a continental climate with harsh winters in the central highlands, the glaciated northeast (around Nuristan), and the Wakhan Corridor, where the average temperature in January is below −15 °C (5 °F), and hot summers in the low-lying areas of the Sistan Basin of the southwest, the Jalalabad basin in the east, and the Turkestan plains along the Amu River in the north, where temperatures average over 35 °C (95 °F) in July. The lowest point lies in Jowzjan Province along the Amu River bank, at 258 m (846 ft) above sea level. Despite having numerous rivers and reservoirs, large parts of the country are dry. The endorheic Sistan Basin is one of the driest regions in the world. Afghanistan receives snow during the winter in the Hindu Kush and Pamir Mountains, and the melting snow in the spring season enters the rivers, lakes, and streams. However, two-thirds of the country’s water flows into the neighboring countries of Iran, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan. The state needs more than US$2 billion to rehabilitate its irrigation systems so that the water is properly managed. The northeastern Hindu Kush mountain range, in and around the Badakhshan Province of Afghanistan, is in a geologically active area where earthquakes may occur almost every year. They can be deadly and destructive, causing landslides in some parts or avalanches during the winter. The last strong earthquakes were in 1998, which killed about 6,000 people in Badakhshan near Tajikistan. This was followed by the 2002 Hindu Kush earthquakes in which over 150 people were killed and over 1,000 injured. A 2010 earthquake left 11 Afghans dead, over 70 injured, and more than 2,000 houses destroyed. At over 652,230 km² (251,830 sq mi), Afghanistan is the world’s 41st largest country, slightly bigger than France and smaller than Burma, about the size of Texas in the United States (Geography of Afghanistan).

Blue Mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif © flickr.com - Steve Evans/cc-by-2.0 Friday Mosque of Herat © DidierTais/cc-by-sa-3.0 Ghazni City © ISAF Headquarters Public Affairs Office New Afghan Parliament Building in Kabul © Guru chai/cc-by-sa-4.0 On the market street in Taloqan © flickr.com - Julian-G. Albert/cc-by-2.0 Puli Khumri © E.Heidtmann/cc-by-sa-3.0 Landscapes of Afghanistan © PD-USGov-USAID - PD-USGov-Military-Army - PD-USGov-Military-Army-USACE
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Landscapes of Afghanistan © PD-USGov-USAID - PD-USGov-Military-Army - PD-USGov-Military-Army-USACE
Afghanistan is a predominantly tribal society, with different regions of the country having their own cultures. In the southern and eastern region, the people live according to the Pashtun culture by following Pashtunwali (the Pashtun way). Key tenets of Pashtunwali include hospitality, the provision of sanctuary to those seeking refuge, and revenge for the shedding of blood. The Pashtuns (and Baloch) are largely connected to the culture of South Asia. The remaining Afghans are culturally Persian and Turkic. Some non-Pashtuns who live in proximity with Pashtuns have adopted Pashtunwali in a process called Pashtunization, while some Pashtuns have been Persianized. Those who have lived in Pakistan and Iran over the last 30 years have been further influenced by the cultures of those neighboring nations. Afghans, particularly Pashtuns, are noted for their tribal solidarity and high regard for personal honor. One writer considers the tribal system to be the best way of organizing large groups of people in a country that is geographically difficult, and in a society that, from a materialistic point of view, has an uncomplicated lifestyle. There are various Afghan tribes, and an estimated 2–3 million nomads. Afghan culture is deeply Islamic, but pre-Islamic practices persist. One example is bacha bazi, a term for activities involving sexual relations between older men and younger adolescent men, or boys. The nation has a complex history that has survived either in its current cultures or in the form of various languages and monuments. However, many of its historic monuments have been damaged in modern times. The two famous Buddhas of Bamiyan were destroyed by the Taliban, who regarded them as idolatrous. Despite that, archaeologists are still finding Buddhist relics in different parts of the country, some of them dating back to the 2nd century. This indicates that Buddhism was widespread in Afghanistan. Other historical places include the cities of Herat, Kandahar, Ghazni, Mazar-i-Sharif, and Zaranj. The Minaret of Jam in the Hari River valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site. A cloak reputedly worn by Islam’s prophet Muhammad is kept inside the Shrine of the Cloak in Kandahar, a city founded by Alexander and the first capital of Afghanistan. The citadel of Alexander in the western city of Herat has been renovated in recent years and is a popular attraction for tourists. In the north of the country is the Shrine of Ali, believed by many to be the location where Ali was buried. The National Museum of Afghanistan is located in Kabul.

Classic Persian and Pashto poetry are a cherished part of Afghan culture. Thursdays are traditionally “poetry night” in the city of Herat when men, women and children gather and recite both ancient and modern poems. Poetry has always been one of the major educational pillars in the region, to the level that it has integrated itself into culture. Some notable poets include Rumi, Rabi’a Balkhi, Sanai, Jami, Khushal Khan Khattak, Rahman Baba, Khalilullah Khalili, and Parween Pazhwak (Poetry of Afghanistan).

Afghan cuisine is largely based upon the nation’s chief crops, such as wheat, maize, barley and rice. Accompanying these staples are native fruits and vegetables as well as dairy products such as milk, yogurt and whey. Kabuli palaw is the national dish of Afghanistan. The nation’s culinary specialties reflect its ethnic and geographic diversity. Afghanistan is known for its high quality pomegranates, grapes, and sweet melons (Afghan cuisine).

Even if it is hard to imagine today, the Lebanon‘s capital Beirut, Iran‘s capital Tehran or Afghanistan‘s capital Kabul were not only the most progressive cities in the Near and Middle East, but in some cases even more western and more open-minded than some cities in the west and that in the Muslim world. This also included efforts to achieve equality between men and women, some of which went further than the movements in Europe and the USA. Today you can only watch it in old films and documentaries. Tragically, however, that was also the beginning of the downfall of the countries or the rise of Islamist extremists and terrorists. While the country’s elites gathered in the capitals, mostly well to very well educated, poor religious illiterates continued to live in the provinces, who lived on meager agriculture, representimg the exact counter-model of the way of life in the capitals. On the one hand they felt rightly left behind, on the other hand they had the impression that the only thing they had, namely their religion, would be denigrated by the western way of life. So one thing led to another via various detours and to today’s situations in which almost everyone is equally poor and has no serious prospects for the future, led by a badly corrupt elite.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on LonelyPlanet.com – Afghanistan, Tourism in Afghanistan, Culture of Afghanistan, Architecture of Afghanistan, History of Afghanistan, Politics of Afghanistan, Afghan civil war, Foreign relations of Afghanistan, Afghan cuisine, World Heritage sites in Afghanistan, Wikitravel Afghanistan, Wikivoyage Afghanistan and Wikipedia Afghanistan. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.












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