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Afghanistan is a heterogeneous nation, in which there are four major ethnic groups: Pashtoons, Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks. Numerous other minor ethnic groups (Nuristanis, Baluchis, Turkmens, etc.) also call Afghanistan their home. While the majority of Afghans (99%) belong to the Islamic faith, there are also small pockets of Sikhs, Hindus and even some Jews. The official languages of the country are Pashto and Dari (Afghan Persian). The capital of Afghanistan is Kabul, which throughout history, was admired by many great figures, such as the great Central Asian conqueror, Zahirudeen Babur. Unfortunately, due to many years of war, this great city has been shattered and nearly destroyed.
Today, Afghanistan is on a road to recovery, however, after decades of war, the economy is still in ruins, and its environment is in a state of crises. The country is riddled with landmines left from the war, which are still injuring and killing people on a daily basis. Currently, Afghanistan is being run by a United States backed, transitional government headed by President Hamid Karzai. Presidential elections are expected to be held on October 9, 2004; so far the date has been pushed back twice.
With help from the United States and the
United Nations, Afghanistan adopted its new constitution, establishing
the country as an Islamic Republic, in early January 2004. The soon-to-be
Afghan government will consist of a powerful and popularly elected President,
two Vice Presidents, and a National Assembly consisting of two Houses:
the House of People (Wolesi Jirga), and the House of Elders (Meshrano
Jirga). There will also be an independent Judiciary branch consisting
of the Supreme Court (Stera Mahkama), High Courts and Appeal Courts. The
President will appoint the members of the Supreme Court with the approval
of the Wolesi Jirga.
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