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9 Maps to Understand Afghanistan

9 Maps to Understand Afghanistan

Here are the maps to help you understand Afghanistan.

1. 34 provinces – 421 districts
Afghanistan has a population of 38 million. About 4.5 million people (12 percent of the country) live in the capital Kabul, which is located in the east of the country. Other major provinces include Herat (1.9 million), Nangarhar (1.5 million), Balkh (1.3 million) and Kandahar (1.2 million).

2. How big is Afghanistan?
The South Asian country is among the top 40 most populated countries in the world. At 652,860 sq km (252,071 sq miles), the country is roughly the size of the US state of Texas and more than twice the size of the UK.

3. Mineral Resources
In 2010, a report by US military experts and geologists estimated that Afghanistan was sitting on nearly $1 trillion (€850 billion) in mineral wealth, thanks to huge iron, copper, lithium, cobalt and rare-earth deposits. A follow-up report by the Afghan government in 2017 estimated that Kabul’s new mineral wealth may be as high as $3 trillion, including fossil fuels.

4. A country of mountains and deserts
It is the eighth most mountainous country in the world making many parts difficult to access. The country’s capital Kabul reaches a mean elevation of just more than 2km (6,562 feet) above sea level. The Hindu Kush Himalayas spans the northeast of the country while the southwest is mainly covered in desert.

5. Opium poppy cultivation
Afghanistan is the biggest producer of opium in the world. According to the latest opium survey conducted in 2020, 224,000 hectares (about 553,500 acres) of land was used to cultivate opium poppy across the country. More than half of all poppy cultivation – 115,597 hectare (285,650 acres) was cultivated in the southwestern province of Helmand alone.
According to UN estimates, ​​about 6,300 tonnes of opium, with a value of $350m, was produced in 2020.

6. Most Afghans live in poverty
Before the coronavirus pandemic, at least 54.5 percent of the country lived below the poverty line with current estimates reaching up to 72 percent.

7. Very low literacy rates
Following decades of devastating wars, literacy rates in Afghanistan are among the lowest in the world at 43 percent. Just over half of all males above the age of 15 can read and write, while the ratio is much lower among females – less than one-third.

8. Who controls what?
After 20 years of war, the Taliban have swept to victory in Afghanistan. The group completed their shockingly rapid advance across the country by capturing the capital Kabul, the last major city to fall to the offensive, on 15th August.

9. Refugees in neighbouring countries
According to the latest report from UNHCR, the total number of Afghan refugees globally in 2020 reached 2.6 million. Almost 86 percent of those registered refugees are in three of the neighbouring countries, with an additional 12 percent living in Europe.

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