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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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Government

Country name
\\\conventional long form
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Conventional short form Afghanistan
Local long form
Jamhuri-ye Islami-ye Afghanistan
Local short form Afghanistan
Former Republic of Afghanistan

Government type
Islamic republic

Capital
Name Kabul
Geographic coordinates 34 31 N, 69 11 E
Time difference
UTC+4.5 (9.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions
34 provinces (welayat, singular - welayat); Badakhshan, Badghis, Baghlan, Balkh, Bamyan, Daykundi, Farah, Faryab, Ghazni, Ghor, Helmand, Herat, Jowzjan, Kabul, Kandahar, Kapisa, Khost, Kunar, Kunduz, Laghman, Logar, Nangarhar, Nimroz, Nuristan, Paktika, Paktiya, Panjshir, Parwan, Samangan, Sar-e Pul, Takhar, Uruzgan, Wardak, Zabul

Independence
19 August 1919 (from UK control over Afghan foreign affairs)

Constitution
Sixth constitution drafted 14 December 2003-4 January 2004; signed 16 January 2004; ratified 26 January 2004

Legal system
Mixed legal system of civil, customary, and Islamic law

International law organization participation
Has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Suffrage
18 years of age; universal

Executive branch
Chief of state
President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid KARZAI (since 7 December 2004); First Vice President Mohammad FAHIM Khan (since 19 November 2009); Second Vice President Abdul Karim KHALILI (since 7 December 2004); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Head of government
President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid KARZAI (since 7 December 2004); First Vice President Mohammad FAHIM Khan (since 19 November 2009); Second Vice President Abdul Karim KHALILI (since 7 December 2004)
Cabinet
25 ministers; note - ministers are appointed by the president and approved by the National Assembly
Elections
The president and two vice presidents elected by direct vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); if no candidate receives 50% or more of the vote in the first round of voting, the two candidates with the most votes will participate in a second round; election last held on 20 August 2009 (next to be held in 2014)
Election results
Hamid KARZAI reelected president; percent of vote (first round) - Hamid KARZAI 49.67%, Abdullah ABDULLAH 30.59%, Ramazan BASHARDOST 10.46%, Ashraf GHANI 2.94%; other 6.34%; note - ABDULLAH conceded the election to KARZAI following the first round vote

Legislative branch
The bicameral National Assembly consists of the Meshrano Jirga or House of Elders (102 seats, one-third of members elected from provincial councils for four-year terms, one-third elected from local district councils for three-year terms, and one-third nominated by the president for five-year terms) and the Wolesi Jirga or House of People (no more than 250 seats); members directly elected for five-year terms
Note
On rare occasions the government may convene a Loya Jirga (Grand Council) on issues of independence, national sovereignty, and territorial integrity; it can amend the provisions of the constitution and prosecute the president; it is made up of members of the National Assembly and chairpersons of the provincial and district councils
Elections
Last held on 18 September 2010 (next election expected in 2015)
Election results
Results by party - NA; note - ethnicity is the main factor influencing political alliances; composition of Loya Jirga seats by ethnic groups - Pashtun 96, Hazara 61, Tajik 53, Uzbek 15, Aimak 8, Arab 8, Turkmen 3, Nuristani 2, Baloch 1, Pahhai 1, Turkic 1; women hold 68 seats

Judicial branch
Highest courts
Supreme Court; consists of nine judges
Judge selection & term of office
Judges appointed by president for up to two nonrenewable four-year terms
Subordinate courts Cassation and sharia
Note
New constitution of January 2004 specifies as many as 12 Supreme Court judges

Political parties and leaders
Afghanistan's Islamic Mission Organization [Abdul Rasoul SAYYAF]; Afghanistan's Welfare Party [Meer Asef ZAEEFI]; Afghan Social Democratic Party [Anwarul Haq AHADI]; Islamic Movement of Afghanistan [Sayed Hussain ANWARI]; Islamic Party of Afghanistan [Mohammad Khalid FAROOQI, Abdul Hadi ARGHANDIWAL]; Islamic Society of Afghanistan [Salahuddin RABBANI]; Islamic Unity of the Nation of Afghanistan Party [Qurban Ali URFANI]; Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan [Mohammad Karim KHALILI]; Islamic Unity Party of the People of Afghanistan [Haji Mohammad MOHAQQEQ]; Law and Justice Party [Hanif ATMAR]; National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan [Pir Sayed Ahmad GAILANEE]; National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan [Sayed NOORULLAH]; National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan [Pir Sayed Eshaq GAILANEE]; National Linkage Party of Afghanistan [Sayed Mansoor NADERY]; United Islamic Party of Afghanistan [Ustad Mohammad AKBARI]; note - includes only political parties approved by the Ministry of Justice

Political pressure groups and leaders
Other
Religious groups; tribal leaders; ethnically based groups; Taliban

International organization participation
ADB, CICA, CP, ECO, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OSCE (partner), SAARC, SACEP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNSC (temporary), UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)

Diplomatic representation in the us
Chief of mission Ambassador Eklil Ahmad HAKIMI
Chancery
2341 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Telephone [1] (202) 483-6410
FAX [1] (202) 483-6488
Consulate(s) general Los Angeles, New York

Diplomatic representation from the us
Chief of mission Ambassador James B. CUNNINGHAM
Embassy The Great Masood Road, Kabul
Mailing address
U.S. Embassy Kabul, APO, AE 09806
Telephone [93] 0700 108 001
FAX [93] 0700 108 564

Flag description
Three equal vertical bands of black (hoist side), red, and green, with the national emblem in white centered on the red band and slightly overlapping the other two bands; the center of the emblem features a mosque with pulpit and flags on either side, below the mosque are numerals for the solar year 1298 (1919 in the Gregorian calendar, the year of Afghan independence from the UK); this central image is circled by a border consisting of sheaves of wheat on the left and right, in the upper-center is an Arabic inscription of the Shahada (Muslim creed) below which are rays of the rising sun over the Takbir (Arabic expression meaning "God is great"), and at bottom center is a scroll bearing the name Afghanistan; black signifies the past, red is for the blood shed for independence, and green can represent either hope for the future, agricultural prosperity, or Islam
Note
Afghanistan had more changes to its national flag in the 20th century than any other country; the colors black, red, and green appeared on most of them

National symbol(s)
Lion

National anthem
Name
"Milli Surood" (National Anthem)
Lyrics/music Abdul Bari JAHANI/Babrak WASA
Note
Adopted 2006; the 2004 constitution of the post-Taliban government mandated that a new national anthem should be written containing the phrase "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great) and mentioning the names of Afghanistan's ethnic groups


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  Afghanistan (Kabul):


  GPS points from Afghanistan (Kabul)

Jare Khusnaw Ghowr

Yosufzay Zabul


Khodadadkhel Kalay Wilayat-e Kandahar


Pushta-i- Gasak Sar-e Pol

Hajikhel Wilayat-e Parwan

Deldar Khowray Paktika




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