About Afghanistan

The landlocked Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has suffered from such conflict that its economy and infrastructure are in ruins. However, for some expats and adventurous travellers, its allure has only been heightened by its inaccessibility over the past few decades.

The Bamiyan Valley, with its distinctive sandstone cliffs, was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 2003 and is one of the must-see places in the world. The capital of Kabul has boomed in recent years with new buildings, busy bazaars and fancy restaurants, and the sun-baked fortress of Herat is still a sight to behold. With great mountain ranges and a rich mix of cultures (the Afghan people are charming and hospitable), it remains a stunning and proud country, in spite of the chronic instability that it has suffered in modern times.

The 1979 Soviet invasion resulted in a devastating civil war that came back to haunt the West in the form of the medieval Taliban, which imposed strict Islamic rule on Afghan society. Following the 9/11 attacks, Taliban were ousted by a US-led military invasion,

but the country's rebirth as a democracy hasn't been easy. Afghanistan may have remained united against invaders, but it has been divided in itself, and a deep-rooted and growing insurgency continues to hinder stability.

In 2014, Ashraf Ghani was elected president, and NATO — whose combat troops had the responsibility of maintaining security since 2001 — formally ended its mission and handed over to Afghan forces. However, the end of this 13-year operation was followed by an upsurge in Taliban activity (2014 was said to be the bloodiest year in Afghanistan since 2001), and poverty has increased in line with a decline in economic growth.

As a result of the increase in violence, a NATO-led follow-up mission called Resolute Support began in 2015. Some 12,000 personnel were tasked with providing further support for Afghan security forces, and former US president Barack Obama announced that America would delay its troop withdrawal, at the request of President Ashraf Ghani.

Afghanistan's biggest economic challenge is arguably finding sustainable sources of growth, as it currently remains principally driven by agriculture. Many of Afghanistan's 31-million population is straining to remain resilient and, in 2017, approximately 250,000 Afghans were displaced as a result of conflict or natural disasters.

Economic recovery is slow due to the continued instability that curtails private investment and consumer demand, but there are still positions for expatriates in the security and aid sector.

Afghanistan may not be an expat paradise, but it does offer a fascinating, albeit challenging, way of life for those looking to try to protect its citizens and help the country to get back on its feet.