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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 isolation
of the mountains the people can do as they please and live in any manner they choose.
They 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 stick 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.
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. 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 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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