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    Nepal: Phewa Lake. Go Now!

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AfghanistanThe name Afghanistan comes from two words: the Persian word stan means "place of" or "country" and the word Afghan simply refers to the people, historically the Pashtun-speaking people. The root of the word Afghan is unknown, but has been used to refer to the people for over 1,000 years.

WARNING: Afghanistan is currently unstable, please read this travel warning before going!

Introduction:

The people in Afghanistan have been nearly isolated for centuries and over time other people have fled to Afghanistan to escape persecution or harsh rulers in outside lands. Once in the region, the mountains and fertile valleys have encouraged the people to stay, making the country quite diverse, and still fairly isolated.

The people of Afghanistan tend to maintain a lifestyle that caused their migration to the region in the beginning. Through the country's isolation due to the mountains the people can do as they please and live in any manner they choose. Historically the people have lived off the land and raised animals to survive as the waters from the mountains are plentiful and the valleys provide enough food for any mountain valley's population to remain hidden or simply left alone.

Like the people, when something is successfully introduced to Afghanistan it tends to stay and in the 800s the Pashtuns introduced Islam, which has since altered and dictated a great proportion of Afghan culture. The people tend to regularly practice Islam and follow nearly all aspects demanded by the faith, including the absence of pork and alcohol, as well as women covering their hair.

More than these laws, the form of Islam in Afghanistan encourages a conservative lifestyle, which has translated to a traditional way of life with strong family ties and conservative views on relationships between the sexes and marriage. These viewpoints aren't shared across the country and seemingly each mountain valley or ethnic minority has a varying interpretation of laws and moral beliefs, but they tend to be similar and quite conservative as a whole.

This has led to a very fragmented nation in which the Pashtuns, Tajiks, and Uzbeks, among many others, differ in opinions, but agree in that they seek independence from the other groups and outside parties. To magnify this situation, it has historically been rather difficult to enforce laws in Afghanistan's wilderness so the people have learned to rule themselves in small groups. This has led to strengthening family and clan ties, while also widening the differences between groups.

Today there remains a general lack of faith in governmental systems and politics as the people return to inwardly solving issues that are real or perceived. Unlike so much of the world, technology and communication found elsewhere in the world are rare in Afghanistan outside the larger cities, for the most part, the people continue to live as they have for centuries: off the land and reliant on their family, neighbors, and friends.

Information for Afghanistan was last updated: March, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks