2Afghanistan Islamic Republic Hamid Karzai- President since December 7, 2004Elected directly by the peopleIndependence: August 19, 1919 from UK
3Afghanistan Slightly smaller than Texas Afghanistan is a landlocked country, making the export of goods difficult and expensive.It has rugged mountains and plains and is prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes and drought.Temperatures are extreme, as hot as 120° F in the summer and as cold as -15° F in the winter.There are limited natural fresh water sources, and most of the land has been overgrazed and deforested, causing desertification and soil degradation, making farming difficult.Slightly smaller than Texas
4Afghanistan History and Facts 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 British control in 1919.Referred to as “a goat between two lions.”The Soviet Union invaded in 1979 to support the Afghan Communist party but withdrew 10 years later under relentless pressure by internationally supported anti-Communist mujahedin (holy warrior) rebels.
5A civil war between mujahedin factions erupted following the 1992 fall of the Communist regime. The Taliban, a hardline Pakistani-sponsored movement that emerged in 1994 to end the country's civil war, seized Kabul in 1996, promising traditional, Islamic values and imposing strict Islamic law, including revoking many women’s rights..Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, a US, Allied, and Northern Alliance military action toppled the Taliban for sheltering Osama bin Laden. US forces are still there.On December 7, 2004, Hamid Karzai became the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan. The National Assembly was inaugurated on 19 December 2005.
7Population: 31,056,997 (July 2006 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: years male: years female: years (2006 est.)Total fertility rate: children born/woman (2006 est.)Ethnic groups: Pashtun 42%, Tajik 27%, Hazara 9%, Uzbek 9%, Aimak 4%, Turkmen 3%, Baloch 2%, other 4%Religions: Sunni Muslim 80%, Shi'a Muslim 19%, other 1%
8Pashtun: largest ethnic group, mostly farmers and Sunni Muslims Tajik: live mostly in the northeast, second largest ethnic group, mostly Sunni MuslimsHazara: live in the Hindu Kush mountains, primarily Shiite MuslimsUzbek: live mostly along the northern border, mostly Sunni MuslimsAimaqs: a farming and herding tribe in the west, mostly Sunni MuslimsTurkmen and Kirghiz: nomadic herders and craftsmen, mostly Sunni MuslimsBaluch: nomadic tribe living in the southern deserts, Sunni Muslims
9Literacy: total population: 36% male: 51% female: 21% (1999 est.) GDP - per capita (PPP): $800 (2004 est.)Economy dependent on foreign aid, farming, opium and trade with neighborsUnemployment rate: 40% (2005 est.)Population below poverty line: 53% (2003)Climate: arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summersTerrain: mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest
10The Afghan people are some of the poorest in the world and are members of many different ethnic groups. This woman is part of a herding tribe and is drying dung to use as insulation in her home during the winter. Life is difficult for most Afghans as they have faced drought, famine and war for many years
12After 24 years of war, much of Kabul lies in ruins. -June 2003
13IssuesDamaging earthquakes, Flooding; DroughtsWar continuesHas 200, ,000 displaced people due to drought and warHas serious illegal drug production problem--#1 in opium production which makes heroin
14IslamIslam is the world’s second largest religion, with 21% of all people practicing this faith.Islam teaches that one can only find peace in life by submitting to Allah (Almighty God) in heart, soul, and deed.The Quran is the holy guide to Islam.Major aspects of the Islamic religion include testimony of faith, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and pilgrimage.“Covering” is a religious duty. Women can only have their faces and hands showing in public. Men must not expose anything from navel to knee.Sunni and Shia are the two most common forms of Islam with different beliefs in some of the specific premises of the religion.One of the main distinctions between Sunni and Shi’ite faiths is that Shi’ites follow a religious leader called an imam, who is regarded as Mohammed’s successor and an intermediary between Allah and the faithful.To calculate the Islamic year, subtract 621 years from the western Gregorian calendar date. For example: 2003 – 621 = 1382
15TalibanPrior to 2001, the Taliban, led by Mullah Mohammad Omar, ruled Afghanistan under Islamic law. During this time, women had virtually no rights and received no education. Watching television and listening to music were forbidden, as were playing games and sports.The United States entered Afghanistan in October 2001 and replaced the Taliban with an elected president. While the Taliban lost some power and the people regained some rights, the Taliban has not gone away. Instead, it has worked to regain power by promising to help Afghanistan’s poorest people and aligning itself with warlords, al-Qaida, and other militant groups to gain financial support and recruit new fighters.
16President Hamid Karzai was the first elected president in the history of Afghanistan. He came to power after the Taliban was overthrown in late He was formally elected to a five-year term in Karzai has survived numerous assassination attempts and has been assigned the task of rebuilding Afghanistan. Some of the major problems he must address include providing the country with an infrastructure so that citizens have the basic necessities of life, keeping the Taliban out of power and controlling the warlords who perpetuate the illegal drug trade.
17FAMILY LIFEAfghans usually live in extended families headed by an elder male, who together with other males has formal authority over the family. People usually marry within their own ancestral group, and tend to marry in their late teens. Since marriage affects economic, political and social standing, it is a public decision of two families. After a marriage contract has been signed, elaborate rituals and customs mark the formal engagement celebration and marriage ceremony.Afghan houses traditionally consist of a series of rooms surrounding a private, rectangular courtyard where women play with their children, cook and socialize. Married sons share the same compound with their parents, though often have separate quarters for their families. Houses may also contain a special room for men to entertain male friends. In cities, some Afghans live in apartment buildings. Nomadic Afghans live in tents.
18Traditional Afghan society segregates men and women and imposes special regulations for women’s conduct. Husbands traditionally had the power to decide when women could leave the house, and many women spent their adult lives in purdah (seclusion), seeing only men from their family. The introduction of universal suffrage in 1965 dramatically changed women’s position: while they still maintained their traditional responsibilities at home, many women, particularly in cities, moved into the workforce and established careers in the professions. Both the Mujahidin and Taliban governments instituted repressive measures against women, including prohibitions against women’s education and employment. However, with the Taliban’s loss of power, women have been regaining their old freedoms.
19Northern Afghan men adore buzkashi ("grab the goat"), an ancient game that is believed to have been developed in central Asia and is considered part of Afghan’s noble past. While various peoples play the game, the Uzbeks are considered its champions. Played on horseback, buzkashi may involve hundreds of players. Teams are limited to 10 men. A headless carcass, nowadays usually from a calf, is thrown on the ground in the centre of the circle of horsemen. At a signal, the riders rush in and each tries to lift the carcass onto his horse, a task that alone takes great strength. Yet to score a goal, the rider with the carcass must also gallop to a goal point (often over a mile away) through opposing riders armed with whips, then return to the starting point and drop the calf where it was picked up. The horses used for buzkashi are specially trained and costly.
20Children’s games in Afghanistan include tag, blind-man’s buff, kite flying and hopscotch. Girls enjoy volleyball, basketball and playing with homemade dolls, while boys play soccer or make slingshots. A game called buzul-bazi, similar to marbles, uses sheep knuckle bones. In winter, Afghan children enjoy having snowball fights. Some people also ski near Kabul.
21Kite flying is more than a pastime in Afghanistan -- it is a national obsession. The streets of the capital, Kabul, are filled with shops selling kite-flying equipment, and the skies above the city are decorated each day with hundreds of colorful kites fluttering in the wind. Banned by the Taliban as un-Islamic, kite flying has now hit new heights of popularity in the country. Afghans have elevated kite flying to an art form, and one of its chief attractions is kite fighting.
22During the fight, or "jang," two kites are flown close to one another, often to great heights. The object is then to use the wire or glass coated string of your kite to cut the wire of your opponent's kite to set it free and away.When an opponent's kite is cut free, it flutters away into the far reaches of the city. Such kites are said to be "azadi rawest," or "free and legal," and can be retrieved by neighborhood children to fly another day. These children are the kite runners. Each neighborhood also crowns its own "sharti," or kite-fighting champion.
23Winter is one of the most popular times for kite flying in Afghanistan Winter is one of the most popular times for kite flying in Afghanistan. The winds are strong, and schools are closed because of the cold weather.- While it brings mostly smiles, kite flying is also dangerous. Many people are injured when they fall from roofs while chasing free floating kites or when they lose concentration and footing during a heated battle.A kite figther named Sharif recalls the glory days of kite flying in Kabul, before the Taliban."Before the Taliban, people used to fly kites in a place called Chaman-i-Babrak (in northern Kabul), and kite flying competitions were held there. Kids, young people, and older people from all over Afghanistan and Kabul City would gather there. They used to lay wagers on fighting kites."
24 Khaled HosseiniHe was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in His father was a diplomat with the Afghan Foreign Ministry and his mother taught Farsi and History at a large high school in Kabul. In 1976, the Afghan Foreign Ministry relocated the Hosseini family to Paris. They were ready to return to Kabul in 1980, but by then Afghanistan had already witnessed a bloody communist coup and the invasion of the Soviet army. The Hosseinis sought and were granted political asylum in the United States. In September of 1980, Hosseini's family moved to San Jose, California. Hosseini graduated from high school in 1984 and enrolled at Santa Clara University where he earned a bachelor's degree in Biology in The following year, he entered the University of California-San Diego's School of Medicine, where he earned a Medical Degree in He completed his residency at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. Hosseini was a practicing internist between 1996 and 2004.While in medical practice, Hosseini began writing his first novel, The Kite Runner, in March of In 2003, The Kite Runner, was published and has since become an international bestseller, published in 38 countries. In 2006 he was named a goodwill envoy to UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency. His second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns was published in May of He lives in northern California.
25The Kite Runner is a powerful and moving novel set in Afghanistan and America. The narrator, Amir, is the privileged son of Baba, a rich businessman, member of the influential Pashtun tribe and Suni Muslim, who tells the story of his friendship with Hassan, a low-caste ethnic Hazara and Shi'a.