Afghanistan is a diverse country with a population of around 38 million people. The majority of the population is ethnically Pashtun, followed by Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek and other minority groups. Sunni Muslims make up 80% of the population while Shia Muslims comprise 19%. The remaining 1% is made up of Hindus, Sikhs and other religious groups. The official language is Dari, but Pashto and Uzbek are also commonly spoken. Most Afghans live in rural areas and work in agriculture, with over 70% relying on subsistence farming to make a living. About 40% of the population lives below the poverty line, with unemployment estimated to be around 20%. Check hyperrestaurant to learn more about Afghanistan in 2009.
More than 70 percent of the Afghan population belongs to a traditional type of society, where the conditions and norms of peasant and nomadic communities are crucial. The power holders are landowners, clan leaders and mules – who, however, have never developed into a total upper class. In the traditional society, for example, the medical tradition according to Islamic tradition was based on alms, and the schooling that took place was mainly conducted by the mulls. Visit AbbreviationFinder to see the definitions of AFG and acronym for Afghanistan.
In connection with the reform and modernization programs implemented in Afghanistan during the decades before the Soviet invasion of 1979, a new, small but urban and politically influential social sector emerged. Dominant occupational groups were technicians, engineers, economists, trained workers, teachers and students. It is mainly from these groups that demands for social and democratic reforms have come. Several reforms have also been implemented; For example, responsibility for health care and teaching has increasingly been taken over by the authorities. In practice, however, the reforms were of little importance for the majority of the population for a long time. The war in the 1980s meant that social reform programs stopped. Check to see Afghanistan population.
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The fundamentalist Taliban’s takeover of power in 1996 meant, among other things, that women were forced to wear veil and that girls’ schooling was restricted in accordance with traditional Islamic injunctions. The change was greatest in the cities, where women in the previous decades have taken a greater part in social life.
In health care, several projects were started during the 1960s and 1970s, including in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. However, the country has one of the world’s highest infant mortality rates – approximately 71 of 1,000 live births (2013) – and a very high maternal mortality rate. In 2010, approximately 0.5 percent of pregnant women are estimated to have died during pregnancy or in connection with childbirth. The figures reflect women’s difficult living conditions in Afghanistan. At least 60 percent are illiterate (at least 90 percent in rural areas).
In 2019, the World Bank noted that poverty increased. It was estimated to be at a level comparable to the conditions at the end of the Taliban regime in 2001, but with significantly larger income gaps. More than half of the population was estimated to live below the poverty line.
Alongside the ongoing civil war, poverty is a major cause of escape. UNHCR in 2019 estimated the number of Afghan refugees in the world to be around 2.5 million. Most of them are in neighboring countries, but a small part have made their way to Europe, often during major hardships on deadly roads. In 2015, Afghans have been one of the largest groups of asylum seekers in Sweden since 2015; Among unaccompanied youth, the group of Afghan boys is by far the largest. In addition to those seeking asylum abroad, there are hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people who have been forced away from their homes and end up in camps within the country’s borders. There, conditions are often difficult with limited access to education and health care.
The most common diseases are intestinal infections and tuberculosis. Malaria has been combated with some success during the 2000s, but is still a major problem in parts of the country. Also, eye disease trachoma is common, and Afghanistan is one of the few countries where polio is still spreading, although the number of new cases has fallen sharply since 1997.
In the early 1990s, there were approximately 7,000 hospital beds and 2,200 doctors in Afghanistan, the vast majority in Kabul. The war in Afghanistan during the 1980s and 1990s devastated much of the health care organization in the country. Some aid organizations, including the Swedish Afghanistan Committee, still managed to carry on some health care activities and, due to the state’s limited resources, continued to do so during the 2000s.