Afghanistan, situated in the heart of the Middle East, is an arid to semiarid landlocked country between Iran and Pakistan. The tall and forbidding Hindu Kush mountain range divides the country into three geographical regions and, while dry deserts make up most of the country's landscape, the southeast consists of lush fertile plains. 

Afghanistan is a country that has witnessed decades of war, and violent clashes and terrorist attacks are common. In 2021, the Taliban seized power from the Islamic Republic that had ruled over Afghanistan since 2004. Since then, the Taliban has reformed the government and enforces a particularly harsh interpretation of Sharia Law.

Presently, expats are advised not to travel to Afghanistan due to the ongoing violence, human rights violations and high risk of terrorist attacks.

Living in Afghanistan as an expat

Safety and security are the main concerns for expats contemplating a move to Afghanistan. That said, some expats will appreciate Afghanistan's multiculturalism, rugged pastoral beauty as well as the tenacity of the Afghan people. 

Many expats living in Afghanistan have relocated. In the past, expats typically worked in the armed forces, private security field or development and diplomatic sectors. While Afghanistan didn't offer the comforts of other expat destinations, the 'hardship factor' combined with high risks to personal safety ensured that expats were well compensated financially. They were typically housed within secure military compounds, surrounded by heavy security.

Due to the ongoing conflict, many governments advise their citizens to avoid travelling to certain areas of the country, if not all of Afghanistan. An expat assignment to Afghanistan should therefore be considered very carefully. Whether the benefits outweigh the risks is for each expat to decide for themselves.

Fast facts

Population:  More than 41 million   

Capital city: Kabul

Neighbouring countries: Afghanistan shares borders with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to the north, China to the northeast, Pakistan to the east and south and Iran to the west. 

Geography: Afghanistan is a mountainous and landlocked country with plains to the north and southwest. The Hindu Kush stretches from central Afghanistan towards Pakistan, forming the central highland region. 

Political system: Unitary totalitarian provisional theocratic Islamic emirate – the Taliban currently holds a monopoly on power

Major religions: Islam

Main languages: Pashto and Dari

Time: GMT+4.5

Electricity: 220V, 50Hz. Two-pin 'type C' and 'type F' plugs are used.

Money: The Afghani (AFN) is subdivided into 100 pul, although pul coins are no longer in circulation due to inflation.  

International dialling code: +93

Emergency numbers: 112 (fire); 119 (police); 102 (ambulance)

Internet domain: .af

Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road.

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