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name Afghanistan comes from two words: the Persian word stan means "place
of" or "country" and the word Afghan simply refers to the
people, historically the Pashtun-speaking people. The root of the word Afghan is
unknown, but has been used to refer to the people for over 1,000 years.
WARNING: Afghanistan is currently
unstable, please read this travel
warning before going!
The people in Afghanistan have been nearly isolated for centuries and over time
other people have fled to Afghanistan to escape persecution or harsh rulers in outside
lands. Once in the region, the mountains and fertile valleys have encouraged the
people to stay, making the country quite diverse, and still fairly isolated.
The people of Afghanistan tend to maintain a lifestyle that caused their migration
to the region in the beginning. Through the country's isolation due to the mountains
the people can do as they please and live in any manner they choose. Historically
the people have lived off the land and raised animals to survive as the waters from
the mountains are plentiful and the valleys provide enough food for any mountain
valley's population to remain hidden or simply left alone.
The colors on Afghanistan's
flag represent the past, symbolized by black, red for blood shed lost seeking independence,
and green for hope, the future, agricultural prosperity, and Islam. On the center
of the flag is the national emblem, which consists of a mosque, the year 1298 (on
the Gregorian calendar this is 1919), an Arabic creed, the Takbir (an Arabic
expression meaning "God is great"), the sun, and the name Afghanistan.
The mosque, creed, and Takbir represent Islam while the year 1298 (1919)
is the year Afghanistan gained independence.
Name: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Independence: August 19, 1919
Population: 31,108,077 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: Pashtun, Tajik, & others
Language: Dari & Pashto
Religion: Sunni Muslim
Like the people, when something is successfully introduced to Afghanistan it tends
to stay and in the 800s the Pashtuns introduced Islam, which has since altered and
dictated a great proportion of Afghan culture. The people tend to regularly practice
Islam and follow nearly all aspects demanded by the faith, including the absence
of pork and alcohol, as well as women covering their hair.
More than these laws, the form of Islam in Afghanistan encourages a conservative
lifestyle, which has translated to a traditional way of life with strong family
ties and conservative views on relationships between the sexes and marriage. These
viewpoints aren't shared across the country and seemingly each mountain valley
or ethnic minority has a varying interpretation of laws and moral beliefs, but they
tend to be similar and quite conservative as a whole.
This has led to a very fragmented nation in which the Pashtuns, Tajiks, and Uzbeks,
among many others, differ in opinions, but agree in that they seek independence
from the other groups and outside parties. To magnify this situation, it has historically
been rather difficult to enforce laws in Afghanistan's wilderness so the people
have learned to rule themselves in small groups. This has led to strengthening family
and clan ties, while also widening the differences between groups.
Today there remains a general lack of faith in governmental systems and politics
as the people return to inwardly solving issues that are real or perceived. Unlike
so much of the world, technology and communication found elsewhere in the world
are rare in Afghanistan outside the larger cities, for the most part, the people
continue to live as they have for centuries: off the land and reliant on their family,
neighbors, and friends.
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