Posted On April 29, 2020
Hey, everybody. Welcome to the first blog post of geek guru Geography! We’re going through the list of all the internationally recognized sovereign nations of the world and we’re going to do it alphabetically, which means our first post is going to be on Afghanistan.
It’s time to learn geography!
So, today is gonna be Afghanistan. I’m actually really glad we’re getting this country covered because it’s a very complex and deep country and we can’t cover all of it, so I’m going to try to do my best.
Before we get into anything though, let’s dissect the flag.
The Afghani flag is a tricolor band of three different colors: red, black, and green. The red representing the blood of those who fought for Afghanistan, the black representing the obscure and difficult past that they’ve had, and the green representing hope and a future and Islam as it is the state religion. In the middle of the flag is the Afghani emblem. On the emblem mosque with two little miniature Afghani flags on the side, which by the way makes Afghanistan one of the only two countries in the world (correction: there are lots of countries do that) that has a flag with miniature versions of its own flag on its own flag. On the side are sheaves of wheat, on the top, is the Shahada, or the Muslim Creed, on the bottom, is the name of Afghanistan, written in Arabic and on top of that is the Arabic year of 1298, written in Arabic numerals, which also, in the standardGregorian calendar is 1919, which was the year that Afghanistan was relinquished from its British protectorate status and became an internationally recognized sovereign nation known as Afghanistan.
In terms of its political geography, Afghanistan is located in the central Asian region surrounded by six other countries. Technically seven if you consider the Jammu Kashmir region part of India, but Pakistan will tell you it totally is NOT, but we’ll discuss that in another blog.
Now, when you look at the shape of Afghanistan it just kind of looks like a big amorphous blob in the middle of nowhere but then when you look at the northeast you start to see this longa narrow stretch of land that kind of reaches out into the Hindu Kush mountain range. You might ask yourself: Why does Afghanistan have that long panhandle? And the reason why is kind of technically because of England and Russia. See, back in the 1800s the British and the Russians were competing against each other to see who could amass the largest global empire in terms of colonization and influence? Russia took over what is now known as many of the Central Asian countries, like Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. While the British took over many of the South Asian regions, such as India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Now, when it came to Afghanistan, things were a little difficult because of the Afghani people really did not want to be taken over. It was also a really crucial point on the map because essentially it was the area where the British and the Russian empires got really close to each other. Eventually the British kind of took over at the end of the 19th century, much to the reluctance of the Afghans. However, they still have to distinguish the borders between Afghanistan and the rest of the other nations in the empire. When it came to Pakistan, or back then British India, the British decided to use the Durand Line, and when it came to the Russian empire, they decided to use the Panj and Palmer rivers. Now, the thing is when both the empires drew these lines, they technically didn’t touch each other in the northeast and left a huge long narrow buffer zone.
Which is now today known as the Wakhan Corridor. By default, it was given to Afghanistan, and to this the Wakhan Corridor plays a very crucial role in Afghanistan’s geography because for a very, very small twenty or so mile border at the very end of the Wakhan Corridor, is a border with China. Now, I know twenty miles doesn’t really sound like much but in the world of geopolitical analytics that can be a very important thing!
Now, when it comes to physical geography, Afghanistan has a large vast array of different kinds of landscapes. However, the large portion of the country is actually mountainous, with the Hindu Kush mountain range dominating the northeast regions and the central regions of the country. In fact, the snow from these mountains accounts for the vast majority of the complex, immense river systems that flow throughout Afghanistan allowing their country to have lush, green valleys where most of their agricultural sector can be found. Now, despite all the rivers and water reservoirs, Afghanistan still remains a relatively dry nation. In fact, the further south you go, closer to the Kandahar region, almost immediately after you pass the Dori river, you hit the Sistan Basin. This is basically what geologists speculate may have actually been a large body of water at some point but is now a dry, desolate desert wasteland. Nonetheless, with the arable land that it does have, Afghanistan is still able to produce some of the world’s best produce, including pomegranates, almonds, apricots…and poppy. That’s right, for the past few hundred years, Afghanistan has been a leading nation in opium production.
In terms of its demographics, Afghanistan has just about 31 million people or roughly a little bit smaller than the size of Canada. A slight majority of these people identify as ethnically Pashtun, or people from the Pashtun tribe. They speak the Pashtun language, known as Pashto. Now, there are some other ethnic minorities like Uzbeks and Tajiks and Hazaras. However, the interesting thing is that the majority of the people, about 85% including the Pashtunsspeak Dari. Dari is actually a dialect of the Persian language, Farsi. So that means someone who speaks Dari can actually interchangeably travel between Afghanistan and Iran without really having any trouble being understood. Interesting side note, there is one last living Jew living in all of Afghanistan.I’m not even joking his name is Zablon Simintov, he lives in Kabul. He used to own a restaurant and he maintains the last synagogue in all of Afghanistan. Which brings us to our final segment, the friend zone. Afghanistan has a very interesting way of how it interacts with other countries. Now, because of the whole language thing, Afghans and Iranians have typically kind of had somewhat of cultural similarity and resonance with each other. However, they also have had some controversy. Now, Pakistan and India are the biggest business partners in Afghanistan. However again, there’s some drama there as well. Now when it comes to their best friend, Afghanistan considers Turkey their best friend. They’ve cooperated with each other peacefully for over a hundred years, and there’s an old Afghani saying: “No Afghani was ever killed by a Turkish bullet and no Afghani trained by a Turk ever betrayed his country.”So in conclusion, I guess this is the last segment, never mind. Putting aside all the modern-day controversies, Afghanistan is actually a very beautiful country with a very rich and vibrant, yet often hidden cultural and historical past that very often goes overlooked. And that’s our objective here at geek guru. We want to shine a light on the obscure and put on display the often neglected, yet fascinating attributes of every region of the world.
We hope you did you justice. Stay tuned, Albania is coming next!