Afghanistan in 1982

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 increased democracy ended in a 1973 coup and a 1978 communist countercoup. 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 mujahidin 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, a US, Allied, and anti-Taliban Northern Alliance military action toppled the Taliban for sheltering Usama BIN LADIN.


647,500 km²; 22% arable (12% cultivated, 10% pasture), 75% desert, waste, or urban, 3% forested

Land boundaries: 5,510 km


Population: 15,328,000 (July 1982), average annual growth rate 1.4%; this estimate includes an adjustment for net emigration to Pakistan during recent years, but it does not take into account other demographic consequences of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan

Nationality: noun—Afghan(s); adjective—Afghan

Ethnic divisions: 50% Pashtuns, 25% Tajiks, 9% Uzbeks, 9% Hazaras; minor ethnic groups include Chahar Aimaks, Turkmen, Baluchi, and others

Religion: 87% Sunni Muslim, 12% Shia Muslim, 1% other

Language: 50% Pashtu, 35% Afghan Persian (Dari), 11% Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen), 10% thirty minor languages (primarily Baluchi and Pashai); much bilingualism

Literacy: 10%

Labor force: 4.98 million (1980 est.); 67.8% agriculture and animal husbandry, 10.2% industry, 6.3% construction, 5.0% commerce, 7.7% services and other

Organized labor: government-controlled unions are being established


Official name: Democratic Republic of Afghanistan

Type: Communist regime backed by multidivisional Soviet force

Capital: Kābul

Political subdivisions: 29 provinces with centrally appointed governors

Legal system: not established; legal education at University of Kābul; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Branches: Revolutionary Council acts as legislature and final court of appeal; President of Council acts as chief of state; Cabinet and judiciary responsible to Council; Presidium chosen by Council has full authority when Council not in session; Loya Jirga (Grand Assembly) supposed to convene eventually and approve permanent constitution

Government leaders: President of the Revolutionary Council and head of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan Babrak KARMAL; Prime Minister Soltan Ali KESHTMAND

Suffrage: universal from age 18

Political parties and leaders: The People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) is the sole legal political party

Communists: the PDPA reportedly claims 50,000 members; the Parcham faction of the PDPA was installed on 27 December 1979; members of the deposed Khalqi faction continue to hold some important posts; the Sholaye-Jaweid is a much smaller pro-Beijing group

Other political or pressure groups: the military and other branches of internal security are being rebuilt by the Soviets; insurgency continues throughout the country; widespread opposition on religious grounds and anti-Soviet sentiment

Member of: ADB, Colombo Plan, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, ITU, NAM, UN, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WMO, WTO, WSG; suspended from ISCON in January 1980


GNP: $2.8 billion (FY79), $225 per capita; real growth rate 2.5% (1975-79)

Agriculture: subsistence farming and animal husbandry; main crops—wheat, cotton, fruits

Major industries: carpets and textiles

Electric power: 360,000 kW capacity (1980); 756 million kWh produced (1980), 50 kWh per capita

Exports: $670.2 million (f.o.b., 1980); mostly fruits and nuts, natural gas, and carpets

Imports: $438.4 million (commercial, c.i.f., 1980); mostly food supplies and petroleum products

Major trade partners: exports—mostly USSR and other Eastern bloc countries; imports—mostly USSR and other Eastern bloc countries

Budget: current expenditure Afl6.7 billion, capital expenditure Afl1.7 billion for FY79 (est.)

Monetary conversion rate: 44.85 Afghanis=US$1 (official, end 1980)

Fiscal year: 21 March-20 March


Railroads: 9.6 km (single track) 1.524-meter gauge, government-owned spur of Soviet line

Highways: 21,000 km total (1981); 3,000 km paved, 2,100 km gravel, 8,900 km improved earth, and 7,000 km unimproved earth

Inland waterways: total navigability 1,070 km; steamers up to about 500 metric tons use sections of Amu Darya

Ports: 3 minor river ports; largest Sher Khan

Civil air: 6 major transport aircraft

Airfields: 37 total, 36 usable; 10 with permanent-surface runways; 8 with runways 2,440-3,659 m, 12 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: limited telephone, telegraph, and radiobroadcast services; television introduced in 1980; telephones (0.2 per 100 popl.); 5 AM and no FM stations, 1 TV station, 1 earth satellite station


Military manpower: males 15-49, about 3,602,000; 1,998,000 fit for military service; about 146,000 reach military age (22) annually

Supply: dependent on foreign sources, almost exclusively the USSR

Military budget: estimated expenditures for fiscal year ending 31 March 1979, about $63.8 million; approximately 12% of central government budget

The World Factbook (1982)

Categories: CIVIL

Tagged as: