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Afghanistan:
Geography

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Background
Definition
Ahmad Shah DURRANI unified the Pashtun tribes and founded Afghanistan in 1747. The country served as a buffer between the British and Russian empires until it won independence from notional British control in 1919. A brief experiment in democracy ended in a 1973 coup and a 1978 Communist counter-coup. The Soviet Union invaded in 1979 to support the tottering Afghan Communist regime, touching off a long and destructive war. The USSR withdrew in 1989 under relentless pressure by internationally supported anti-Communist mujahedin rebels. Subsequently, a series of civil wars saw Kabul finally fall in 1996 to the Taliban, a hardline Pakistani-sponsored movement that emerged in 1994 to end the country's civil war and anarchy. Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City, a US, Allied, and anti-Taliban Northern Alliance military action toppled the Taliban for sheltering Osama BIN LADIN. The UN-sponsored Bonn Conference in 2001 established a process for political reconstruction that included the adoption of a new constitution and a presidential election in 2004, and National Assembly elections in 2005. On 7 December 2004, Hamid KARZAI became the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan. The National Assembly was inaugurated on 19 December 2005.
Location
Definition
Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran
Geographic coordinates
Definition
33 00 N, 65 00 E
Map references
Definition
Asia
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 647,500 sq km
land: 647,500 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
slightly smaller than Texas
Land boundaries
Definition
total: 5,529 km
border countries: China 76 km, Iran 936 km, Pakistan 2,430 km, Tajikistan 1,206 km, Turkmenistan 744 km, Uzbekistan 137 km
Coastline
Definition
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims
Definition
none (landlocked)
Climate
Definition
arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers
Terrain
Definition
mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Amu Darya 258 m
highest point: Nowshak 7,485 m
Natural resources
Definition
natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 12.13%
permanent crops: 0.21%
other: 87.66% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
27,200 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
Definition
65 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Definition
total: 23.26 cu km/yr (2%/0%/98%)
per capita: 779 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
Definition
damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding; droughts
Environment - current issues
Definition
limited natural fresh water resources; inadequate supplies of potable water; soil degradation; overgrazing; deforestation (much of the remaining forests are being cut down for fuel and building materials); desertification; air and water pollution
Environment - international agreements
Definition
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note
Definition
landlocked; the Hindu Kush mountains that run northeast to southwest divide the northern provinces from the rest of the country; the highest peaks are in the northern Vakhan (Wakhan Corridor)


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