AFGHANI Facts & Figures
Size: 251,772 square miles
Weather / Climate:
Afghanistan Weather is characterized by dry hot cloudless summers and severe winters. The areas lying in the northeastern part of the mountains experience sub-arctic conditions having dry, cold winters.
The Afghanistanweather is marked by great variance in temperatures from region to region. It is accompanied by huge differences in day and night temperatures and summer and winter temperatures. The drought-ridden regions of the southwestern plateau experience daytime temperatures of 35 degree Celsius. Jalalabad is among the hottest places in the country recording the maximum temperature of 49 degree Celsius in the month of July. January temperatures fall to -15°C or below in regions situated at high altitudes in the mountains.
There is a rise in the mean precipitation as one goes from the western side to the eastern side of the mountains, the average being 400mm in the southeastern monsoon areas. Mostly, the precipitation takes place from December to April. Highlands experience snowfall during December-March and the lowlands experience intermittent rainfall from December to May.
KabulWeather: Kabul is situated at a height of 5900 feet above sea level. Kabul weather is characterized by summer temperatures varying from 16° C at sunrise to 38° C at noon. The average temperature in January is 0°C. Kabul has recorded the lowest temperature of -31 °C. Summers are accompanied with bright sunshine. The average rainfall varies from 25 cm to 30cm. Mostly the precipitation occurs in the form of snow in the winter and spring seasons. The snow stays for three months in Kabul forcing the people to stay indoors and sleep nearer to the kitchen stoves.
Bagram Weather, Kandahar Weather, Herat Weather: At Kandahar, during summer the days are scorching hot and the nights are of no relief either. On the other hand Kabul is at least blessed with cool nights in summer. Herat experiences temperate summer temperatures with violent winds blowing from the northwest during May-September. The winters in heart are not so severe with snow melting as it falls.
Taken from Wikipedia
The two official languagesof Afghanistan are Pashto(since 1936) and Dari Persian(since 1964). Both are Indo-European languagesfrom the Iranian languagessub-family.Persian has always been the prestige languageand as the main means of inter-ethnic communication it has maintained its status of lingua franca. Persian is the native tongue of various Afghan ethnic groups including the Tajiks, Afghanistan's second largest ethnic group, the Hazara, Aimakand Kizilbash.Pashto is the native tongue of the Pashtuns, the single largest ethno-linguistic group within Afghanistan. Other languages, such as Uzbek, Arabic, Turkmen, Balochi, Pashayiand Nuristani languages(Ashkunu, Kamkata-viri, Vasi-vari, Tregamiand Kalasha-ala), are used as native tongue by minority groups across the country and have official status in the regions where they are widely spoken. Minor languages also include Pamiri(Shughni, Munji, Ishkashimiand Wakhi), Brahui, Hindko, Kyrgyz, etc. A fair number of Afghans can also speak and understand Urdu, Punjabi, Hindiand English.
Taken from Wikipedia
o Islam is practised by the majority of Afghanis and governs much of their personal, political, economic and legal lives.
o Among certain obligations for Muslims are to pray five times a day - at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset, and evening.
o Friday is the Muslim holy day. Most shops and offices will be closed. Government offices and businesses may also close on Thursday, making the weekend Thursday and Friday.
o During the holy month of Ramadan all Muslims must fast from dawn to dusk and are only permitted to work six hours per day. Fasting includes no eating, drinking, cigarette smoking, or gum chewing.
o Foreigners are not required to fast; however, they must not eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum in public.
The Ethnic Make-up and Tribes
o Afghanistan is a vast country and as a result has a rich mix of ethnicities and tribes.
o The Pashtun are Sunni Muslims who Pashtu. They constitute around 42% of the population and are concentrated in Nangrahar and Pakhtya provinces. A large population also live in neighbouring Pakistan.
o Tajiks comprise roughly 27% of the population. They are Iranian in origin and speak a form of Persian found in Eastern Iran. Most are Sunni Muslim. Most reside in Kabul and Herat provinces,although some reside in the mountains north of Hindu Kush, and the Iranian border. o Hazaris make up about 9% of the population. They are descendants of the Mongols, and speak a dialect of Persian that contains many Turkish words. They are also Shiite Muslims which led to much of their persecution under Taliban rule. Most live in the Hazarajat region.
o Uzbeks live in the northern parts of the country and also comprise only 9% of the population. They are Sunni Muslims and speak a dialect of Turkish.
o The Turkomen are a small minority with making only 3% of the population.
o Baluchis are pastoral nomads who speak Baluchi, an Iranian language. They comprise 2% of the population.
o The family is the single most important unit in the Afghan culture.
o Men and women's roles are much more defined along traditional lines.
o Women are generally responsible for household duties, where as men will be the bread winners. In the cities professional women do exist.
o Families commonly arrange marriages for their children. Factors such as tribe, status, network, and wealth are the major factors forming any choice.
o Families traditionally live together in the same walled compound, known as the kala. When a son gets married he and his wife begin their married lives in a room under the same roof.
o As with much of the Muslim world, the family is sacred and as such, is highly protected. As a result, probing about the family is not advised.
The Concepts of Honour and Shame
o Honour in Afghan culture defines the reputation and worth of an individual, as well as those they are associated with.
o The head male of a family is responsible for protecting the honour of the family.
o The issue of honour drives much of the behaviour surrounding the protection of women, modes of dress, social interaction, education and economic activity.
o If someone's honour has been compromised, they are shamed and will look for a way to exact revenge for themselves, their family or group.
o The role of honour and tribalism has fuelled much of the disharmony in the country's recent history - with one group carrying out violent acts against another, the victims are forced to respond causing a circle of violence.
The Role of Hospitality
o Hospitality is an essential aspect of Afghan culture.
o No matter who you are, if you visit a home you will be given the best the family has.
o This relates back to the idea of gaining honour.
o If you are invited for tea, which you inevitably will be, you will be offered snacks and your tea glass will be constantly filled. When you have had enough cover the glass with your hand and say "bus" (meaning 'enough').
In 2010, the population of Afghanistan was approximately 29,835,392. There are approximately 3 million refugees living outside Afghanistan and it is unclear whether they are included in the 29 million. Afghanistan is a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual society, reflecting its location astride historic trade and invasion routes between Western Asia, Central Asia, and Southern Asia. The majority of Afghanistan's population consist of the Iranic peoples, notably the Pashtunsand Tajiks. The Pashtun is the largest group followed by Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Aimak, Turkmen, Baloch and others.
Despite being of various ethnicities, in a research poll that was conducted in Afghanistan in 2009, 72% of the populationlabelledtheir identity as Afghan first, before ethnicity.
The overwhelming majority (99.7%) of Afghans are Muslim, usually either followers of Sunni (80-89% of the population) or Shia Islam. The people of Afghanistan are related to many of the ethnic groups in Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan; the borders drawn between these groups are arbitrary. For the most part, Afghans are farmers, although a significant minority follows a nomadic lifestyle.
The remainder practice other religions such as Sikhismand Hinduism. Despite attempts during the 1980s to secularize Afghan society, Islamic practices pervade all aspects of life. In fact, Islam served as the principal basis for expressing opposition to the Soviet invasion. Likewise, Islamic religious tradition and codes, together with traditional practices, provide the principal means of controlling personal conduct and settling legal disputes. Excluding urban populations in the principal cities, most Afghans are organized into tribal and other kinship-based groups, which follow their own traditional customs: for instance Pashtunwali.
Afghan food is tasteful fusion of the regions that neighbour Afghanistan. Major ethnic groups are Pashtuns, Tajiks and Uzbeks. Modern Afghan cuisine is the blending of the cooking methods of the cooking methods of the three. Influence of India is obvious in the use of spices like saffron, coriander, cardamom and black pepper. The Afghans prefer cuisine which is neither too spicy nor hot.
Qabli Pulao:It is the most popular dish of Afghanistan. It is steamed rice with chops of raisins and carrot. It is often served with lamb. Other variants of pulao are also available in Afghanistan. People eat it with meat, vegetables orbeans.
Kababs:Lamb kabab is a favorite of the Afghans. Afghan kabab is mostly served with naan, and rarely rice. Lamb chops, ribs, kofta (ground beef) and chicken kababs are served in good Kabul restaurants.
Qorma:Qormas are veru popular among Afghan people. Onions are fried and meats, fruits, spices or vegetables are added to them.
Mantu:Mantu are steamed dumplings fattened with minced onion beef.
Rice Dishes:Afghans put in plenty of time and effor to prepare their rice dishes. One popular rice dish is chalow.. Chalow is fluffy white rice with each grain separated. The Afghans love to eat chalow with Qormas.
Dairy Products: The Afghans like dairy products like yogurt and whey.
Habits of Eating
Afghan people are fond of non-vegetarian dishes. Usually they don't use cutlery. Food is gulped with righ hand, using nan (a kind of bread) as scoop. The Afghans treat their guests with great respect and try to serve their guests with as good food as they can provide.
Places to go in AFGHANISTAN
Kabulhas been the capital of Afghanistan since 1776. Though most of the attractions in Kabul city have been destroyed due to heavy bombardment, there still remains the Bala Hisar Citadel, the Arg Palace, the Mausoleum of Amir Abdur Rahman and the various mosques such as Masjid-e-Pule Kheshti, Masjid-e-Shahe Du Shamshira, Masjid-e-Sherpur (Blue Mosque) and Masjid-e-Wazir Akbar Khan – all places to be visited for their unique architecture. The life of the Afghans can be observed in various teahouses, restaurants and shops located on Chicken Street. Some of the best antiques of Persia, India, China, Central Asia, Greece and the Arabs were once stored in the Kabul Museum. Unfortunately, it has had nearly three-quarters of its finest collections looted. It is still possible to see the remaining artefacts - those without any significant monetary value.
The ruined Buddhas are the main reason that most people visit Bamiyan. Created in the 6th century, they were once the largest in the world and a pilgrimage site for Buddhists. The area around the Buddhas and to the west is interesting to walk around. Shahr-i- Gholghola is a fort high above the town that gives some of the best views of the entire valley.
Mazar-i-Sharif is located in northern Afghanistan, close to the old city of Balkh. The name of the city means something like "Tomb of The Chosen One". The main sight in town is the great Blue Mosque, Tomb of Hazrat Ali, cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Mohammad. The tomb was covered with earth to escape the ravage of Genghis Khan in 1220 and remained lost until it was uncovered during the rebuilding work in 1480s.
The five lakes of Band-i-Amir are arguably Afghanistan's greatest natural asset. The Band-i-Amir lakes mean the "dams of the king." These five natural lakes have been formed through the ages as minerals from the spring-fed water are deposited at the outlet of the lakes to form massive natural dams that have elevated the water level of the lakes. Each of the lakes is of a different hue of blue, creating a dramatic contrast to the barren red cliffs that surround the lakes. The most visited lake is Band-i-Haibat, which means, the lake of wonder.
Khaybar has been an important link between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Throughout history it served as an important trade route between Central Asia and South Asia. Most foreign invaders in India entered through Khyber Pass.
Minaret of Jam is one of the buildings listed in the UNESCO's world heritage list. Minaret of Jam is also called Minaret of Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad bin Sam. Minaret of Jam is quite isolated in itself, located in a remote valley next to the Hari Rud River.
When Afghanistan was on the tourist trail, Panjshir Valley was one of the most visited tourist destinations due to its proximity to Kabul and its astonishing natural beauty. It is located 150km north of Kabul, near the Hindu Kush.
- 21 March – Nowroze
- 27 April – Revolution Day
- 1 May – Labour Day
- 4 May – Remembrance day for Martyrs & Disabled
- 19 August – Independence Day
Apart from these national holidays, there are various religious holidays (e.g. Ashura Day, Eid-Milad-un-Nabi, Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha), which dates change on a yearly basis according to the Lunar Calendar.
Doing business in AFGHANISTAN
o Business cards are not widely used in Afghanistan. They therefore carry a sense of importance and prestige.
o If you are given a business card, take it respectfully and study it so that they see that you are spending time considering their credentials. Comment on it and any qualifications the giver may have.
o Try not to keep cards in your pocket - slip it into a holder and somewhere else respectful.
o There is no real protocol used for exchanging cards except to use your right hand.
o It may be a good idea to have your card translated into Dari or Pashtu. Make sure you don't "translate" the address.
What to Wear?
o Men should wear conservative suits and shoes.
o If working in the country in a non-commercial capacity then wearing the traditional Afghan dress (long shirt and trousers) is best.
o Women must always dress modestly and conservatively. The general rule is to show as little flesh from the neck downwards.
o If working in business, women should wear knee-length, loose fitting business skirts with loose fitting professional trousers underneath. Wearing headscarf is advisable.
o Business is very much personal in Afghanistan. If you have not already invested some quality time in getting to know your counterparts, then you must use initial meetings to establish trust.
o Once this has been accomplished you can move on to the nitty-gritty of business.
o Do not be surprised or offended if during meetings people walk in and out of a room or phone calls are taken.
o If the meeting involves a group of people it will be led by the leader who will set the agenda, the content, and the pace of the activities.
o Meetings are usually held to communicate information and decisions that have already been rather than a forum for discussion and brain storming.
o Meeting schedules are not very structured. Start times, points of discussion, etc are all fluid and flexible. Be prepared for a lot of tangents in the discussions.
o Afghani communication style is rather indirect. It is therefore sometimes necessary to read between the lines for an answer rather than expect it to be explicitly stated. For example, if someone is asked if they can complete a job on time, you will rarely get "no" as the answer. It is therefore also important to phrase questions intelligently.
o Honour and shame should always be considered. Always express yourself in a way that is not direct or pins blame on someone. Never make accusations or speak down to anyone.
o Negotiating can be a tricky, frustrating but often an enjoyable affair if approached correctly.
o Always make sure you negotiate with the most senior person possible as they are the decision makers. If you negotiate with someone more junior they may be there to simply test the waters.
o As a rule Afghans generally negotiate with a win-lose mentality. The goal is always to get the best for yourself at all costs.
o This means that there is always a stronger/weaker party. This can however be used to your advantage if you play your cards right. Always start wildly high in negotiations and very slowly work your way down, always explaining why you are dropping in price but at the same time explaining the damage it is doing to you.
o Always appeal to their sense of fairness and justice and use the fact you are looking to build a strong relationship.
o If monetary matters do not work then try pushing the idea that a deal with you will bring prestige, honour and respect.