Afghanistan is a country in southern part of Asia. It shares borders with, among other countries, Pakistan, Iran, and Turkmenistan. Afghanistan is a landlocked country, and it is the 42nd most populous country in the world.
But there are quite a number of other facts which a lot of people may not be aware of. These not so known facts may appear to a lot of people as weird too. Look at the following, for example: On what days does “weekend” fall in Afghanistan? When must you not eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum in public? How does your kin’s getting shamed affect you?
Get the answers to these and many more in the following 14 weird facts about Afghanistan.
Population: 32,564,342 (2015 Estimate)
Languages: Pashtu and Dari
Government: Unitary Presidential Islamic Republic
President: Ashraf Ghani
Currency: Afghani (AFN)
Weird Facts About Afghanistan
1. Weird weekend
Afghanistan is predominantly Islamic. For this reason, Friday is a holy day and most shops and many offices are closed. Even government establishments may close on Thursdays. The weird fact then is “weekend” seems to fall on these two days.
2. “Don’ts” During Ramadan
In the month of Ramadan, if it compulsory for all Muslims to fast. And during that period, work hours are reduced to six, only during which time official appointments can hold. Foreigners who are not Muslims are not under obligation to fast. But they must not eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum in public.
3. Family is Solid Base
Family is the single most solid and most important unit in the culture of Afghanistan. It is the belief that a united family forms a united society. And every member of the family owes strong allegiance to the family and in turn relies on it for support in times of need. Well, nothing weird in that.
4. Traditional Gender Roles
Tradition and culture plays a very important role in the lives of the average Afghan. Traditionally, both men and women have their roles clearly defined. It is rare to find any conflicts arising from duplication of such roles by either gender, especially in the rural areas.
5. Arranged Marriages
Marriages are usually arranged. And the match making is usually taken care of by family members, especially the ones taking the lead. Factors usually taken into consideration when such match-making are done are: Tribe, Status, Network, and wealth. Weird!
6. Families Live Together
It is common to see usually large families living together in the same walled compound. Such large, walled compounds are called kala. And when a son of the family gets married, he and his bride would begin their married life in a room under the same roof in the kala.
7. The Place of Honour
The Afghans have a funny, yet interesting view of honour. In their culture, honour is defined as the reputation and worth of an individual. But it goes beyond that. The weird part is that an individual’s honour must be complimented by those of the people with whom he associates.
8. What Family Honour Means
To the Afghans, personal, as well as family honour is tied to behaviours sounding the following:
- Protection of women
- Modes of dress
- Social interaction
- Educational and economic activities
And it is the responsibility of the male head of a family to ensure these.
9. Honour Related Violence
It is also a fact that much of the violence and destruction of lives and property in the country today arose and still arise from protection of honour. One family does something that is considered dishonoring to another family. It is an act honour by the wronged family to do a similar thing to the offending family so as to restore the wronged family’s damaged honour. And the retaliation becomes a vicious circle. Is that weird or what?!
10. Honour and Hospitality
Hospitality is a most essential aspect of the Afghan culture. Irrespective of your background, when you visit the home of an Afghan, you will be given the best that the family has as a mark of hospitality. This is in conformity with the standing Afghan honour.
11. Invitation to Tea
In Afghanistan, it is important to know that by and by, you will be invited for tea. So you have to know that while there, you will be offered snacks as much as you can take. And your tea glass will constantly be filled. When you have enough, simply cover the glass with your h and say bas, “enough”.
12. General Greetings
In Afghanistan, greetings between men and men are usually with a firm handshake. And then the hands are placed on the heart with slight nodding. In addition, asking about the other person’s health, business, family, etc, is essential.
13. “Don’ts” in Men-Women Greeting
Men and women do not shake hands in Afghanistan. That means also that men and women do speak directly to each other at all. What is more? Men-women eye contact is to be avoided as much as possible. Mixed gender interactions are rare.
14. Dishonour to a Woman
Even foreign women must be careful to know the rules and live by them while in the country. If a man speaks to you directly in social context, he is dishonoring you. It is the same if a man speaks to you on the street. To maintain your reputation as a woman, do not look directly into men’s eyes and keep your eyes lowered when you walk along the street. Wow! Weird or what?!