Afghanistan

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Ahmad Shah DURRANI unified the Pashtun tribes and founded Afghanistan in 1747. The country served as a buffer between the British and Russian Empires until it won independence from notional British control in 1919. A brief experiment in democracy ended in a 1973 coup and a 1978 communist counter-coup. The Soviet Union invaded in 1979 to support the tottering Afghan communist regime, touching off a long and destructive war. The USSR withdrew in 1989 under relentless pressure by internationally supported anti-communist mujahedin rebels. A series of subsequent civil wars saw Kabul finally fall in 1996 to the Taliban, a hardline Pakistani-sponsored movement that emerged in 1994 to end the country's civil war and anarchy. Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, a US, Allied, and anti-Taliban Northern Alliance military action toppled the Taliban for sheltering Osama BIN LADIN.

A UN-sponsored Bonn Conference in 2001 established a process for political reconstruction that included the adoption of a new constitution, a presidential election in 2004, and National Assembly elections in 2005. In December 2004, Hamid KARZAI became the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan and the National Assembly was inaugurated the following December. KARZAI was reelected in August 2009 for a second term. The 2014 presidential election was the country's first to include a runoff, which featured the top two vote-getters from the first round, Abdullah ABDULLAH and Ashraf GHANI. Throughout the summer of 2014, their campaigns disputed the results and traded accusations of fraud, leading to a US-led diplomatic intervention that included a full vote audit as well as political negotiations between the two camps. In September 2014, GHANI and ABDULLAH agreed to form the Government of National Unity, with GHANI inaugurated as President and ABDULLAH elevated to the newly-created position of Chief Executive Officer. The day after the inauguration, the Ghani administration signed the US-Afghan Bilateral Security Agreement and NATO Status of Forces Agreement, which provide the legal basis for the post-2014 international military presence in Afghanistan.

Despite gains toward building a stable central government, the Taliban remain a serious challenge for the Afghan Government in almost every province. The Taliban still considers itself the rightful government of Afghanistan and it remains a capable and confident insurgent force despite reports in 2015 that its founder and spiritual leader, Mullah Mohammad OMAR, probably died in 2013.

Geography

Location

Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran

Geographic coordinates

33.00° N, 65.00° E

Area 41/257

total: 652,230 sq km

land: 652,230 sq km

water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative

almost six time the size of Virginia; slightly smaller than Texas

Land boundaries

total: 5,987 km

border countries (6): China 91 km, Iran 921 km, Pakistan 2,670 km, Tajikistan 1,357 km, Turkmenistan 804 km, Uzbekistan 144 km

Coastline

0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)

Climate

arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers

Terrain

mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest

Elevation

mean elevation: 1,884 m

elevation extremes: lowest point: Amu Darya 258 m

highest point: Noshak 7,485 m

Natural resources

natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 58.1%

arable land 11.9%; permanent crops 0.2%; permanent pasture 46%

forest: 2.1%

other: 39.8% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

32,080 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

65.33 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 20.28 cu km/yr (1%/1%/98%)

per capita: 823.1 cu m/yr (2005)

Natural hazards

damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding; droughts

Environment - current issues

limited natural freshwater resources; inadequate supplies of potable water; soil degradation; overgrazing; deforestation (much of the remaining forests are being cut down for fuel and building materials); desertification; air and water pollution

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection

signed, but not ratified: Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation

Geography - note

landlocked; the Hindu Kush mountains that run northeast to southwest divide the northern provinces from the rest of the country; the highest peaks are in the northern Vakhan (Wakhan Corridor)

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Afghan(s)

adjective: Afghan

Ethnic groups

Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, other (includes smaller numbers of Baloch, Turkmen, Nuristani, Pamiri, Arab, Gujar, Brahui, Qizilbash, Aimaq, Pashai, and Kyrghyz)

note: current statistical data on the sensitive subject of ethnicity in Afghanistan is not available, and ethnicity data from small samples of respondents to opinion polls are not a reliable alternative; Afghanistan's 2004 constitution recognizes 14 ethnic groups: Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Baloch, Turkmen, Nuristani, Pamiri, Arab, Gujar, Brahui, Qizilbash, Aimaq, and Pashai (2015)

Languages

Afghan Persian or Dari (official) 50%, Pashto (official) 35%, Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen) 11%, 30 minor languages (primarily Balochi and Pashai) 4%, much bilingualism, but Dari functions as the lingua franca

note: the Turkic languages Uzbek and Turkmen, as well as Balochi, Pashai, Nuristani, and Pamiri are the third official languages in areas where the majority speaks them

Religions

Muslim 99.7% (Sunni 84.7 - 89.7%, Shia 10 - 15%), other 0.3% (2009 est.)

Population 41/238

32,564,342 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 41.47% (male 6,861,021/female 6,644,780)

15-24 years: 22.41% (male 3,716,738/female 3,579,701)

25-54 years: 29.69% (male 4,928,181/female 4,741,601)

55-64 years: 3.88% (male 621,970/female 641,307)

65 years and over: 2.55% (male 384,267/female 444,776) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 87%

youth dependency ratio: 82.3%

elderly dependency ratio: 4.6%

potential support ratio: 21.7% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 18.4 years

male: 18.3 years

female: 18.4 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 34/233

2.32% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 11/224

38.57 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 9/225

13.89 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 156/222

-1.51 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 26.7% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 3.96% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

KABUL (capital) 4.635 million (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female

total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

20.1

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2010 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 22/184

396 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 1/224

total: 115.08 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 122.64 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 107.15 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 222/224

total population: 50.87 years

male: 49.52 years

female: 52.29 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 10/224

5.33 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

21.2% (2010/11)

Health expenditures 46/191

8.1% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

0.27 physicians/1,000 population (2013)

Hospital bed density

0.5 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Drinking water source

improved:

urban: 78.2% of population

rural: 47% of population

total: 55.3% of population

unimproved:

urban: 21.8% of population

rural: 53% of population

total: 44.7% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved:

urban: 45.1% of population

rural: 27% of population

total: 31.9% of population

unimproved:

urban: 54.9% of population

rural: 73% of population

total: 68.1% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.04% (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

6,700 (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

300 (2014 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate 182/191

2.4% (2014)

Education expenditures

NA

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 9 years

male: 11 years

female: 7 years (2011)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

conventional short form: Afghanistan

local long form: Jamhuri-ye Islami-ye Afghanistan

local short form: Afghanistan

former: Republic of Afghanistan

etymology: the name "Afghan" originally refered to the Pashtun people (today it is understood to include all the country's ethnic groups), while the suffix "-stan" means "place of" or "country"; so Afghanistan literally means the "Land of the Afghans"

Government type

Islamic republic

Capital

name: Kabul

geographic coordinates: 34.31° N, 69.11° E

time difference: UTC+4.5 (9.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

34 provinces (welayat, singular - welayat); Badakhshan, Badghis, Baghlan, Balkh, Bamyan, Daykundi, Farah, Faryab, Ghazni, Ghor, Helmand, Herat, Jowzjan, Kabul, Kandahar, Kapisa, Khost, Kunar, Kunduz, Laghman, Logar, Nangarhar, Nimroz, Nuristan, Paktika, Paktiya, Panjshir, Parwan, Samangan, Sar-e Pul, Takhar, Uruzgan, Wardak, Zabul

Independence

19 August 1919 (from UK control over Afghan foreign affairs)

National holiday

Independence Day, 19 August (1919)

Constitution

several previous; latest drafted 14 December 2003 - 4 January 2004, signed 16 January 2004, ratified 26 January 2004 (2015)

Legal system

mixed legal system of civil, customary, and Islamic law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must have been born in - and continuously lived in - Afghanistan

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ashraf GHANI Ahmadzai (since 29 September 2014 ); CEO Abdullah ABDULLAH (since 29 September 2014); First Vice President Abdul Rashid DOSTAM (since 29 September 2014 ); Second Vice President Sarwar DANESH (since 29 September 2014); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ashraf GHANI Ahmadzai (since 29 September 2014 ); CEO Abdullah ABDULLAH (since 29 September 2014); First Vice President Abdul Rashid DOSTAM (since 29 September 2014 ); Second Vice President Sarwar DANESH (since 29 September 2014)

cabinet: Cabinet consists of 25 ministers appointed by the president, approved by the National Assembly

elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held in 2 rounds on 5 April and 14 June 2014 (next to be held in 2019)

election results: percent of vote in first round - Abdullah ABDULLAH (National Coalition of Afghanistan) 45%, Ashraf GHANI (independent) 31.6%, Zalmai RASSOUL 11.4%, other 12%; percent of vote in second round - Ashraf GHANI 56.4%, Abdullah ABDULLAH 43.6%

Legislative branch

description: the bicameral National Assembly consists of the Meshrano Jirga or House of Elders (102 seats; 34 members indirectly elected by district councils to serve 3-year terms, 34 indirectly elected by provincial councils to serve 4-year terms, and 34 nominated by the president of which 17 must be women, 2 must represent the disabled, and 2 must be Kuchi nomads; members serve 5-year terms) and the Wolesi Jirga or House of People (no more than 250 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote to serve 5-year terms)

note: the constitution allows the government to convene a constitutional Loya Jirga (Grand Council) on issues of independence, national sovereignty, and territorial integrity; it can amend the provisions of the constitution and prosecute the president; it is made up of members of the National Assembly and chairpersons of the provincial and district councils; no Loya Jirga of this type has ever been held, and district councils have never been elected

elections: last held on 18 September 2010 (15 October 2016)

election results: results by party - NA; note - ethnicity is the main factor influencing political alliances; approximate percentage of seats by ethnic group - Pashtun 39%, Hazara 24%, Tajik 21%, Uzbek 6%, other 10% (including Aimak, Arab, Baloch, Nuristani, Pahhai, Turkmen, Turkic); women hold 69 seats

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court or Stera Mahkama (consists of the Supreme Court Chief and 8 justices organized into criminal, public security, civil, and commercial divisions or dewans)

judge selection and term of office: court chief and justices appointed by the president with the approval of the Wolesi Jirga; court chief and justices serve single 10-year terms

subordinate courts: Appeals Courts; Primary Courts; Special Courts for issues including narcotics, security, property, family, and juveniles

Political parties and leaders

note - the Ministry of Justice licensed 84 political parties as of December 2012

Political pressure groups and leaders

other: religious groups, tribal leaders, ethnically based groups, Taliban

International organization participation

ADB, CP, ECO, EITI (candidate country), FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, MIGA, NAM, NATO (pending), OIC, OPCW, OSCE (partner), SAARC, SACEP, SCO (dialogue member), SICA (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Flag description

three equal vertical bands of black (hoist side), red, and green, with the national emblem in white centered on the red band and slightly overlapping the other two bands; the center of the emblem features a mosque with pulpit and flags on either side, below the mosque are numerals for the solar year 1298 (1919 in the Gregorian calendar, the year of Afghan independence from the UK); this central image is circled by a border consisting of sheaves of wheat on the left and right, in the upper-center is an Arabic inscription of the Shahada (Muslim creed) below which are rays of the rising sun over the Takbir (Arabic expression meaning "God is great"), and at bottom center is a scroll bearing the name Afghanistan; black signifies the past, red is for the blood shed for independence, and green can represent either hope for the future, agricultural prosperity, or Islam

note: Afghanistan had more changes to its national flag in the 20th century than any other country; the colors black, red, and green appeared on most of them

National symbol(s)

lion; national colors: red, green, black

National anthem

name: "Milli Surood" (National Anthem)

lyrics/music: Abdul Bari JAHANI/Babrak WASA

note: adopted 2006; the 2004 constitution of the post-Taliban government mandated that a new national anthem should be written containing the phrase "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great) and mentioning the names of Afghanistan's ethnic groups

Economy

Economy - overview

Afghanistan's economy is recovering from decades of conflict. The economy has improved significantly since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 largely because of the infusion of international assistance, the recovery of the agricultural sector, and service sector growth. Despite the progress of the past few years, Afghanistan is extremely poor, landlocked, and highly dependent on foreign aid. Much of the population continues to suffer from shortages of housing, clean water, electricity, medical care, and jobs. Criminality, insecurity, weak governance, lack of infrastructure, and the Afghan Government's difficulty in extending rule of law to all parts of the country pose challenges to future economic growth. Afghanistan's living standards are among the lowest in the world.

The international community remains committed to Afghanistan's development, pledging over $67 billion at nine donors' conferences between 2003-10. In July 2012, the donors at the Tokyo conference pledged an additional $16 billion in civilian aid through 2015. Despite this help, the Government of Afghanistan will need to overcome a number of challenges, including low revenue collection, anemic job creation, high levels of corruption, weak government capacity, and poor public infrastructure.

Afghanistan's growth rate slowed markedly in 2014-15. The drawdown of international security forces that started in 2014 has negatively affected economic growth, as a substantial portion of commerce, especially in the services sector, has catered to the ongoing international troop presence in the country. Afghan President Ashraf GHANI is dedicated to instituting economic reforms to include improving revenue collection and fighting corruption. However, the reforms will take time to implement and Afghanistan will remain dependent on international donor support over the next several years.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 102/230

$62.79 billion (2015 est.)

$61.53 billion (2014 est.)

$59.46 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$20.84 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 146/225

2% (2015 est.)

2% (2014 est.)

3.9% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 202/230

$2,000 (2015 est.)

$1,900 (2014 est.)

$1,900 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 45/179

25.9% of GDP (2015 est.)

27.4% of GDP (2014 est.)

30% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 108.7%

government consumption: 12.8%

investment in fixed capital: 15.8%

investment in inventories: 0%

exports of goods and services: 6.5%

imports of goods and services: -43.9%

(2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 24%

industry: 21%

services: 55%

note: data exclude opium production (2014 est.)

Agriculture - products

opium, wheat, fruits, nuts; wool, mutton, sheepskins, lambskins

Industries

small-scale production of bricks, textiles, soap, furniture, shoes, fertilizer, apparel, food products, non-alcoholic beverages, mineral water, cement; handwoven carpets; natural gas, coal, copper

Industrial production growth rate 137/202

1.2% (2014 est.)

Labor force 60/233

7.983 million (2012 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 78.6%

industry: 5.7%

services: 15.7% (FY08/09 est.)

Unemployment rate 192/207

35% (2008 est.)

40% (2005 est.)

Population below poverty line

36% (FY08/09 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 3.8%

highest 10%: 24% (2008)

Budget

revenues: $1.7 billion

expenditures: $6.639 billion (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 212/219

8.2% of GDP (2013 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 217/220

-23.7% of GDP (2013 est.)

Fiscal year

21 December - 20 December

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 3/226

-1.9% (2015 est.)

4.6% (2014 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 40/184

15% (31 December 2014 est.)

15.08% (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of narrow money 90/192

$6.644 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$6.192 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of broad money 119/193

$6.945 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$6.544 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 190/191

$-454 million (31 December 2014 est.)

$-767.8 million (31 December 2013 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$NA

Current account balance 39/197

$918 million (2015 est.)

$1.252 billion (2014 est.)

Exports 131/224

$2.679 billion (2013 est.)

$2.785 billion (2012 est.)

note: not including illicit exports or reexports

Exports - commodities

opium, fruits and nuts, handwoven carpets, wool, cotton, hides and pelts, precious and semi-precious gems

Exports - partners

India 33.5%, Pakistan 27%, US 8.7%, Tajikistan 7.1%, Germany 4.2% (2014)

Imports 91/223

$12.19 billion (2013 est.)

$11.66 billion (2012 est.)

Imports - commodities

machinery and other capital goods, food, textiles, petroleum products

Imports - partners

Pakistan 30.4%, Russia 13%, US 10.7%, India 6.1%, China 5.4%, Turkmenistan 4.8%, Kazakhstan 4.6% (2014)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 89/170

$6.681 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$6.443 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Debt - external 160/206

$1.28 billion (FY10/11)

$2.7 billion (FY08/09)

Exchange rates

afghanis (AFA) per US dollar -

63 (2015 est.)

57.25 (2014 est.)

57.25 (2013 est.)

46.75 (2011 est.)

46.45 (2010)

Energy

Electricity - production 153/220

884.1 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 125/219

3.893 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 98/218

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 52/219

3.071 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 136/214

621,000 kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 171/214

35.4% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 37/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 34/214

64.4% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 112/212

0.2% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 104/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 94/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 153/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

NA bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 152/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 104/212

43,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 151/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 86/213

42,640 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 78/216

159.6 million cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 106/215

159.6 million cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 54/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 152/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 63/212

49.55 billion cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 108/212

8.552 million Mt (2012 est.)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines 145/219

total subscriptions: 100,000

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 51/217

total: 23.4 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 74 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: limited fixed-line telephone service; an increasing number of Afghans utilize mobile-cellular phone networks

domestic: aided by the presence of multiple providers, mobile-cellular telephone service continues to improve rapidly; the Afghan Ministry of Communications and Information claims that more than 90 percent of the population live in areas with access to mobile-cellular services

international: country code - 93; multiple VSAT's provide international and domestic voice and data connectivity (2012)

Broadcast media

state-owned broadcaster, Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA), operates a series of radio and television stations in Kabul and the provinces; an estimated 150 private radio stations, 50 TV stations, and about a dozen international broadcasters are available (2007)

Radio broadcast stations

48 (station types NA) (2009)

Television broadcast stations

16 (1 state-run station and 15 registered private stations) (2009)

Internet country code

.af

Internet hosts 199/232

223 (2012)

Internet users 100/217

total: 1.9 million

percent of population: 5.9% (2014 est.)

Transportation

Airports 91/236

52 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 23

over 3,047 m: 4

2,438 to 3,047 m: 4

1,524 to 2,437 m: 11

914 to 1,523 m: 2

under 914 m: 2 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 29

2,438 to 3,047 m: 4

1,524 to 2,437 m: 13

914 to 1,523 m: 6

under 914 m: 6 (2013)

Heliports

9 (2013)

Pipelines

gas 466 km (2013)

Roadways 84/223

total: 42,150 km

paved: 12,350 km

unpaved: 29,800 km (2006)

Waterways 60/107

1,200 km; (chiefly Amu Darya, which handles vessels up to 500 DWT) (2011)

Ports and terminals

river port(s): Kheyrabad, Shir Khan

Military and Security

Military branches

Afghan National Security Forces: Afghan National Army, Afghan Air Force, Afghan National Police, Afghan Local Police (2016)

Military service age and obligation

18 is the legal minimum age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2016)

Military expenditures

28.09% of GDP (2016)

4.74% of GDP (2011)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Afghan, Coalition, and Pakistan military meet periodically to clarify the alignment of the boundary on the ground and on maps and since 2014 have met to discuss collaboration on the Taliban insurgency and counterterrorism efforts; Afghan and Iranian commissioners have discussed boundary monument densification and resurvey; Iran protests Afghanistan's restricting flow of dammed Helmand River tributaries during drought; Pakistan has sent troops across and built fences along some remote tribal areas of its treaty-defined Durand Line border with Afghanistan which serve as bases for foreign terrorists and other illegal activities; Russia remains concerned about the smuggling of poppy derivatives from Afghanistan through Central Asian countries

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 241,641 (Pakistan) (2015)

IDPs: 1,116,546 (mostly Pashtuns and Kuchis displaced in the south and west due to drought and political instability) (2015)

Illicit drugs

world's largest producer of opium; poppy cultivation increased 7 percent, to a record 211,000 hectares in 2014 from 198,000 hectares in 2013 while eradication dropped sharply; relatively low opium yields due to poor weather kept potential opium production—6,300 metric tons—below the record set in 2007; the Taliban and other antigovernment groups participate in and profit from the opiate trade, which is a key source of revenue for the Taliban inside Afghanistan; widespread corruption and instability impede counterdrug efforts; most of the heroin consumed in Europe and Eurasia is derived from Afghan opium; Afghanistan is also struggling to respond to a burgeoning domestic opiate addiction problem; vulnerable to drug money laundering through informal financial networks; illicit cultivation of cannabis and regional source of hashish