Know : Afghanistan Facts & Gallery from 1960s, 70s

Fractured by internal conflict and foreign intervention for centuries, Afghanistan made several tentative steps toward modernization in the mid-20th century. In the 1950s and 1960s, some of the biggest strides were made toward a more liberal and westernized lifestyle, while trying to maintain a respect for more conservative factions. Though officially a neutral nation, Afghanistan was courted and influenced by the U.S. and Soviet Union during the Cold War, accepting Soviet machinery and weapons, and U.S. financial aid. This time was a brief, relatively peaceful era, when modern buildings were constructed in Kabul alongside older traditional mud structures, when burqas became optional for a time, and the country appeared to be on a path toward a more open, prosperous society.

Keep in mind, when looking at these images, that the average life expectancy for Afghans born in 1960 was 31, so the vast majority of those pictured have likely passed on since.

Picture taken in 1962 at the Faculty of Medicine in Kabul of two Afghan medicine students listening to their professor (at right) as they examine a plaster cast showing a part of a human body. (Photo by AFP/Getty Images via The Atlantic) 
Picture taken in 1962 at the Faculty of Medicine in Kabul of two Afghan medicine students listening to their professor (at right) as they examine a plaster cast showing a part of a human body. (Photo by AFP/Getty Images via The Atlantic)
The modern new (completed 1966) government printing plant in Kabul, on June 9, 1966, which houses Kabul Times. Most of its machinery was furnished by West Germany. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
The modern new (completed 1966) government printing plant in Kabul, on June 9, 1966, which houses Kabul Times. Most of its machinery was furnished by West Germany. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic)
Men stroll past roadside vendors as a painted truck makes its way through the busy street in Kabul, Afghanistan, November, 1961. (Photo by Henry S. Bradsher/AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
Men stroll past roadside vendors as a painted truck makes its way through the busy street in Kabul, Afghanistan, November, 1961. (Photo by Henry S. Bradsher/AP Photo via The Atlantic)
Architecture in Kabul, Afghanistan, seen on May 28, 1968. (Photo by James Martenhoff/AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
Architecture in Kabul, Afghanistan, seen on May 28, 1968. (Photo by James Martenhoff/AP Photo via The Atlantic)
Street scene in Kabul, Afghanistan in November, 1961. (Photo by Henry Burroughs/AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
Street scene in Kabul, Afghanistan in November, 1961. (Photo by Henry Burroughs/AP Photo via The Atlantic)
Afghan boys, men, and women, some in bare feet, shop at a marketplace in Kabul, Afghanistan, in May of 1964. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
Afghan boys, men, and women, some in bare feet, shop at a marketplace in Kabul, Afghanistan, in May of 1964. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic)
Motorcade for President Eisenhower's visit to Kabul, Afghanistan, on December 9, 1959. Eisenhower met briefly with the 45-year-old Afghan king, Mohammad Zahir Shah, to discuss Soviet influence in the region and increased U.S. aid to Afghanistan. (Photo by Thomas J. O'Halloran/LOC via The Atlantic) 
Motorcade for President Eisenhower’s visit to Kabul, Afghanistan, on December 9, 1959. Eisenhower met briefly with the 45-year-old Afghan king, Mohammad Zahir Shah, to discuss Soviet influence in the region and increased U.S. aid to Afghanistan. (Photo by Thomas J. O’Halloran/LOC via The Atlantic)
Residents of Afghanistan line the route of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower's tour in Kabul, Afghanistan, on December 9, 1959. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
Residents of Afghanistan line the route of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower’s tour in Kabul, Afghanistan, on December 9, 1959. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic)
Dancers perform in street of Kabul, Afghanistan, December 9, 1959 following President Eisenhower's arrival from Karachi. After a five hour stay in Kabul, Ike flew on to New Delhi. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
Dancers perform in street of Kabul, Afghanistan, December 9, 1959 following President Eisenhower’s arrival from Karachi. After a five hour stay in Kabul, Ike flew on to New Delhi. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic)
Afghan Air Force Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 fighters and Ilyushin Il-28 bombers in Kabul, Afghanistan, during the visit of the U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower, in December of 1959. (Photo by Thomas J. O'Halloran/LOC via The Atlantic) 
Afghan Air Force Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 fighters and Ilyushin Il-28 bombers in Kabul, Afghanistan, during the visit of the U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower, in December of 1959. (Photo by Thomas J. O’Halloran/LOC via The Atlantic)
A modern traffic light stands incongruously amid burqa-clad women sitting on a Kabul street corner with their backs to their men on May 25, 1964. (Photo by Henry Burroughs/AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
A modern traffic light stands incongruously amid burqa-clad women sitting on a Kabul street corner with their backs to their men on May 25, 1964. (Photo by Henry Burroughs/AP Photo via The Atlantic)
Children in a Kabul street, November, 1961. (Photo by Henry Burroughs/AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
Children in a Kabul street, November, 1961. (Photo by Henry Burroughs/AP Photo via The Atlantic)
A shopfront display of fruits and nuts in Kabul, in November of 1961. (Photo by Henry S. Bradsher/AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
A shopfront display of fruits and nuts in Kabul, in November of 1961. (Photo by Henry S. Bradsher/AP Photo via The Atlantic)
Afghan women, men, and child in traditional dress ride in a cart through an arid, rocky landscape, November, 1959. (Photo by Robert P. Martin/LOC via The Atlantic) 
Afghan women, men, and child in traditional dress ride in a cart through an arid, rocky landscape, November, 1959. (Photo by Robert P. Martin/LOC via The Atlantic)
An Afghan worker checks a Russian-made truck in the Kabul Janagalak factory in an unspecified date. The factory situated in the center of the city as the only firm for making vehicle's chassis was plundered, like other public properties in the Afghan capital, during the Afghan mujahedin rule from 1992 to 1996. (Photo by AFP/Getty Images via The Atlantic) 
An Afghan worker checks a Russian-made truck in the Kabul Janagalak factory in an unspecified date. The factory situated in the center of the city as the only firm for making vehicle’s chassis was plundered, like other public properties in the Afghan capital, during the Afghan mujahedin rule from 1992 to 1996. (Photo by AFP/Getty Images via The Atlantic)
The entrance to the Karkar coal mine around 12 kilometers northeast of Pulikhumri, the provincial town of the Northern province of Baghlan. The Karkar coal deposit at one time met the needs of Kabul city. (Photo by AFP/Getty Images via The Atlantic) 
The entrance to the Karkar coal mine around 12 kilometers northeast of Pulikhumri, the provincial town of the Northern province of Baghlan. The Karkar coal deposit at one time met the needs of Kabul city. (Photo by AFP/Getty Images via The Atlantic)
A caravan of mules and camels cross the high, winding trails of the Lataband Pass in Afghanistan on the way to Kabul, on October 8, 1949. (Photo by Max Desfor/AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
A caravan of mules and camels cross the high, winding trails of the Lataband Pass in Afghanistan on the way to Kabul, on October 8, 1949. (Photo by Max Desfor/AP Photo via The Atlantic)
Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev (black hat), and Marshal Nikolai Bulganin review an Afghan honor guard wearing old German uniforms, on their arrival in Kabul, Afghanistan, on December 15, 1955. At left is the Afghan Prime Minister Sardar Mohammed Daud Khan, and behind, in cap, the foreign minister, Prince Naim. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev (black hat), and Marshal Nikolai Bulganin review an Afghan honor guard wearing old German uniforms, on their arrival in Kabul, Afghanistan, on December 15, 1955. At left is the Afghan Prime Minister Sardar Mohammed Daud Khan, and behind, in cap, the foreign minister, Prince Naim. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic)
Street scene in Kabul, in November of 1966. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
Street scene in Kabul, in November of 1966. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic)
This photo shows the now-destroyed Kabul-Herat highway, that linked the Afghan capital to the Iranian border city of Mashad. Built in the early second half of the 20th century, the highway has been virtually destroyed through decades of warfare. (Photo by AFP/Getty Images via The Atlantic) 
This photo shows the now-destroyed Kabul-Herat highway, that linked the Afghan capital to the Iranian border city of Mashad. Built in the early second half of the 20th century, the highway has been virtually destroyed through decades of warfare. (Photo by AFP/Getty Images via The Atlantic)
Activity in a city park in Kabul, on May 28, 1968. (Photo by James Martenhoff/AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
Activity in a city park in Kabul, on May 28, 1968. (Photo by James Martenhoff/AP Photo via The Atlantic)
Modern new Finance Ministry building in Kabul, on June 9, 1966, with a public, western-style cafeteria and sidewalk restaurant, facing a water fountain which is illuminated in color at night. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
Modern new Finance Ministry building in Kabul, on June 9, 1966, with a public, western-style cafeteria and sidewalk restaurant, facing a water fountain which is illuminated in color at night. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic)
Scene inside the modern new government printing plant in Kabul on June 9, 1966, which houses Kabul Times. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
Scene inside the modern new government printing plant in Kabul on June 9, 1966, which houses Kabul Times. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic)
Tajbeg (Queen's) Palace, the Palace of Amanullah Khan in Kabul, photographed on October 8, 1949. Amanullah Khan, King of Afghanistan in the early 20th century, attempted to modernize his country and make many reforms to eliminate many age-old customs and habits. His ambitious plans and ideas were based on what he had seen during a visit to Europe. Click here to see a present-day view of the palace, now an abandoned wreck. (Photo by Max Desfor/AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
Tajbeg (Queen’s) Palace, the Palace of Amanullah Khan in Kabul, photographed on October 8, 1949. Amanullah Khan, King of Afghanistan in the early 20th century, attempted to modernize his country and make many reforms to eliminate many age-old customs and habits. His ambitious plans and ideas were based on what he had seen during a visit to Europe. Click here to see a present-day view of the palace, now an abandoned wreck. (Photo by Max Desfor/AP Photo via The Atlantic)
Kabul, Afghanistan, November 1961. (Photo by Henry Burroughs/AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
Kabul, Afghanistan, November 1961. (Photo by Henry Burroughs/AP Photo via The Atlantic)
A quiet scene in a street through the bazaar of Kabul, on December 31, 1969. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
A quiet scene in a street through the bazaar of Kabul, on December 31, 1969. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic)
A panoramic view showing the old and new buildings in Kabul, in August of 1969. The Kabul River flows through the city, center right. In the background on the hilltop is the mausoleum of late King Mohammad Nadir Shah. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
A panoramic view showing the old and new buildings in Kabul, in August of 1969. The Kabul River flows through the city, center right. In the background on the hilltop is the mausoleum of late King Mohammad Nadir Shah. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic)
Afghan man leading laden camels and donkeys through an arid, rocky landscape, in November, 1959. (Photo by Robert P. Martin/LOC via The Atlantic) 
Afghan man leading laden camels and donkeys through an arid, rocky landscape, in November, 1959. (Photo by Robert P. Martin/LOC via The Atlantic)
The King of Afghanistan, Mohammad Zahir Shah rides in his limousine on Kabul's central road Idga Wat in this 1968 photo. Zahir Shah, the last of King of Afghanistan lived in exile in Rome since a 1973 coup, returning to Afghanistan in 2002, after the removal of the Taliban. He passed away in Kabul in 2007, at the age of 92. (Photo by AP Photo/Handout, The Family of the King of Afghansitan via The Atlantic) 
The King of Afghanistan, Mohammad Zahir Shah rides in his limousine on Kabul’s central road Idga Wat in this 1968 photo. Zahir Shah, the last of King of Afghanistan lived in exile in Rome since a 1973 coup, returning to Afghanistan in 2002, after the removal of the Taliban. He passed away in Kabul in 2007, at the age of 92. (Photo by AP Photo/Handout, The Family of the King of Afghansitan via The Atlantic)
Afghan boys play with kites as men walk past, in November of 1959. (Photo by Robert P. Martin/LOC via The Atlantic) 
Afghan boys play with kites as men walk past, in November of 1959. (Photo by Robert P. Martin/LOC via The Atlantic)
Women, wearing traditional burqas and Persian slippers, walk alongside men, cars and horse carts, in a street in Kabul, in 1951. At the time, this street was one of only three paved streets in the capital city. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
Women, wearing traditional burqas and Persian slippers, walk alongside men, cars and horse carts, in a street in Kabul, in 1951. At the time, this street was one of only three paved streets in the capital city. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic)
Vendors sell various fuits and nuts at an outdoor market in Kabul, in November of 1961. (Photo by Henry S. Bradsher/AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
Vendors sell various fuits and nuts at an outdoor market in Kabul, in November of 1961. (Photo by Henry S. Bradsher/AP Photo via The Atlantic)
A view of one of the new mosques erected in the suburb of Kabul, in November of 1961. (Photo by Henry S. Bradsher/AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
A view of one of the new mosques erected in the suburb of Kabul, in November of 1961. (Photo by Henry S. Bradsher/AP Photo via The Atlantic)
Afghan boys, men, and a woman walk through a street in Kabul, Afghanistan, on March 26, 1954. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic) 
Afghan boys, men, and a woman walk through a street in Kabul, Afghanistan, on March 26, 1954. (Photo by AP Photo via The Atlantic)
SOME FACTS
Where is Afghanistan?
Afghanistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia. It shares its borders with Pakistan to the southeast, Iran to west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north, and China to the northeast.
What is the capital of Afghanistan?
Kabul is the capital of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province. It is located in Eastern Afghanistan. Situated at 5,900 feet, it is an important economic and cultural center. Its geographic coordinates are 34 31N, 69 09E. Timur Shah Durrani made it the capital in 1776.

How big is Afghanistan?
The geographic coordinates of Afghanistan are 29 39N, 60 75E. It is the 41st largest country in the world and is the 42nd most populous country in the world. It covers an area of 251,772 square miles and has an estimated population of 29,835,392.

What is the currency of Afghanistan?
The official currency of Afghanistan is Afghani. Its ISO 4217 code is AFN. It is subdivided into 100 pul. It is issued by Da Afghanistan Bank.

Which is the largest city of Afghanistan?
The capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, is the largest city of Afghanistan. It covers an area of 106.2 square miles and has an estimated population of 3,895,000.

What is the official language of Afghanistan?
Persian or Dari and Pashto are the official languages of Afghanistan. Other languages also spoken in the country are Uzbek, Turkmen, Balochi, Pashayi, and Nuristani.

What is the religion of Afghanistan?
Afghanistan is a Muslim state; almost 99% of the population is Muslim. The remaining 1% of the population comprises Sikhs, Hindus, and Jews.

What is the literacy rate of Afghanistan?
The literacy rate of Afghanistan is very low, with female literacy rate as low as 10% . The total literacy rate of the country is approximately 34%.

Who is the political leader of Afghanistan?
The government of Afghanistan is divided into three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. It is an Islamic republic and is currently led by th Karzai administration. Hamid Karzai is the current President of Afghanistan. He has been the president since December 7, 2004. Mohammed Fahim is the first Vice President since November 2009. Karim Khalili is the current second Vice President in the Karzai administration. He assumed office on December 7,2004.

When is the National Day of Afghanistan celebrated?
August 19 is celebrated as the National Day of Afghanistan. The Third Afghan War led to the sovereignty of Afghanistan. It began on May 6, 1919. It ended with the Treaty of Rawalpindi which was signed between Afghanistan and United Kingdom. On this day in 1919, King Amanullah Khan declared the nation a sovereign and fully independent state.

What is the economy of Afghanistan like?
In 2010, the GDP of Afghanistan was $27.36 billion, while its GDP per capita was $900. Agriculture accounts for 78.6% of the GDP, followed by services: 15.7%, and industry: 5.7%. Unemployment rate stands at 35%, and 36% of the population live below poverty line. Major industries in the country are soap, furniture, shoes, fertilizers, apparel, food-products, natural gas, coal, and copper. Major trade flows are with Pakistan, India, Russia, Germany, Tajikistan, and United States. It exports opium, fruits and nuts, wool, cotton, hides, precious and semi-precious stones, while it imports capital goods, food, textiles, and most consumer goods.

After decades of war, Afghanistan is rebuilding its economy, which is mostly agricultural, and has successfully held elections. A 2004 vote gave the country its first democratically elected president, Hamid Karzai. The government, however, still faces problems with the Taliban and internal security and public services. Afghanistan is the world’s largest supplier of opium, and the drug industry continues to make up a substantial part of Afghanistan’s economy.
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