The People Of Afghanistan Essay

2043 words - 8 pages

As an American, I realized just how little I actually knew about the Middle East after the tragedy of September 11th. Although, I had heard of numerous terrorist attacks in Israel and even as close as Ireland; it was very hard to comprehend that such acts of violence had now become a part of my world as well. There were many disturbing images shown by the media shortly after the U.S. bombings in Afghanistan. But, the media coverage of thousands of Afghan people fleeing their country and living in refugee camps left a very powerful impression upon me. In this paper, I hope to share some important information and facts that I have gathered in my personal research regarding the cultural aspects of the people of Afghanistan.The People of AfghanistanAfghanistan is located in Southern Asia, bordering China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Afghan society has been based primarily on agricultural and pastoral traditions. In 1979 more than 85 percent of the population lived in rural areas, with about 15 percent in urban settings. Of the urban dwellers, probably about half lived in Kabul, the capital city. The nomadic population was estimated to be about 2.5 million people. During the war with the Soviets the number of Afghan refugees outside the country escalated dramatically, with as many as 2.5 million to 3 million refugees in Pakistan and another 1.5 million in Iran. About 150,000 Afghans were able to migrate permanently to other countries, including the United States, Australia, and various European countries (Afghanistans 2003).Afghanistan has a population growth rate of about 2.6 percent. The growth rate is 2.3 percent in rural areas and 4.7 percent in urban areas, reflecting an increase in migration to urban centers. In the beginning of the civil war, the population of Kabul had reached 2 million people because of the extensive fighting in the countryside. Now that situation has reversed because much of Kabul has been destroyed by rocket attack and other combat. Afghanistan's infant mortality rate is the highest in the world; as many as 38 percent of all newborn children do not survive beyond their first birthday (Afghanistans 2003). A more recent population estimate is 25,838,797 (July 2002).Ethnic groups in Afghanistan are: Pashtun 38%; Tajik 25%; Hazara 19%; Aimak, Turkmen, Baloch, others 12%; Uzbek 6%. About 50% of Afghan people speak Afghan Persian (Dari) and 35% speak Pashtu; 11% speak Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen) and 4% speak 30 minor languages (primarily Balochi and Pashai) (Women for Women International 2003).Although the Afghan population is composed of many distinct ethnic groups, certain elements of their way of life are much the same. Character-istically, the family is the mainstay of Afghan society. Extremely close bonds exist within the family, which consists of the members of several generations. The family is headed by the oldest man, or patriarch, whose word is law for the whole family....

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