Afghanistan's strategic position between
Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent has
made it an area of conflict for millenia.
The Soviet Union intervened in 1979 to prop up a pro-communist regime, but after they withdraw many years later the civil war dragged on until the Taleban took control - initially bringing a measure of stability after 20 years of conflict.
The Taleban government fell in October 2001, after US initiated attacks (although power lingers in some areas).
In late 2001 Radio Afghanistan played music on air for the first time in 5 years, and soon after Kabul TV returned to the air with a woman presenting the news.
The drugs industry makes up around 60% of the economy, and has boomed since the fall of the Taleban. 90% of European heroin comes from Afghanistan.
The first direct presidential elections were held in October 2004. Hamid Zarai won a 5-year mandate, gaining 55.4% of the vote.
The next task is to hold National Assembly elections, tentatively scheduled for April 2005.
Population: 28 million. Of the 4 million refugees in 2001, about 2.5 million have returned.
Approx 15-20,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan.
Source: The BBC & CIA Factbook.
This article is from the April 6, 2005 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.
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