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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. A series of subsequent 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 and Washington, D.C., 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, a presidential election in 2004, and National Assembly elections in 2005. In December 2004, Hamid KARZAI became the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan and the National Assembly was inaugurated the following December. KARZAI was re-elected in August 2009 for a second term. Despite gains toward building a stable central government, a resurgent Taliban and continuing provincial instability - particularly in the south and the east - remain serious challenges for the Afghan Government. In January 2011, Afghanistan assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2012-13 term.


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Geography

Location
Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran

Geographic coordinates
33 00 N, 65 00 E

Map references
Asia

Area World Ranking: 41
Total 652,230 sq km
Land 652,230 sq km
Water 0 sq km

Area - comparative
Slightly smaller than Texas

Land boundaries
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
0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims
None (landlocked)

Climate
Arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers

Terrain
Mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest

Elevation extremes
Lowest point Amu Darya 258 m
Highest point Noshak 7,485 m

Natural resources
Natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones

Land use
Arable land 12.13%
Permanent crops 0.21%
Other 87.66% (2005)

Irrigated land
31,990 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources
65 cu km (1997)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Total 23.26 cu km/yr (2%/0%/98%)
Per capita 779 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards
Damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding; droughts

Environment - current issues
Limited natural freshwater 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
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
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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  Afghanistan (Kabul):


  GPS points from Afghanistan (Kabul)

Ghaslambar Herat

Shur Aregh Jowzjan

Surkh Zabul

Ahengaro Wilayat-e Bamyan

Kismarun Herat


Kwarg Ghar-e Farah

Janubi Wilayat-e Laghman




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