The currency in use in Afghanistan is appropriately called the Afghani. If you were to visit the country today you would use the new Afghani currency. The old one was in use until 2003, with the new one coming into circulation the year before that.
The Afghani currency is divided into 100 pul but in actual fact the pul coins are not in circulation anymore. This means all coins and banknotes are denominated in the Afghani. The coins are the 1, 2 and 5 Afghani coins. There are also banknotes for these three amounts, which is somewhat unusual. Aside from these you will also see the 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 Afghani notes. The currency is generally shortened to Afs when you see it next to an amount written in English.
1925 was the year the first version of the Afghani was brought into circulation. Before this the country used the Afghan rupee. For much of the time this first currency was in circulation it was solid and reliable. It was not until the late Seventies that problems started to become apparent. This was the point at which a number of individuals and groups decided they would start printing their own cash to enable them to buy whatever they liked. Very soon things descended into chaos since no one was certain which notes were counterfeit and which ones weren’t.
Inflation then took hold too, and this meant the days of the old Afghani currency were numbered. The new version came into effect in 2002 and it has been relatively stable ever since its introduction, much to the relief of those who use it on a daily basis.
This is really a moot point at the time of writing, since there are travel warnings in place for people who are considering visiting the country. The government has advised that well over half the country should not be visited by anyone, such is the delicate and dangerous situation that is currently in place there. Much of the eastern and southern border areas are no-go zones as far as travellers are concerned. These include Kabul, Balkh, Kandahar and Farah.
In addition there are other areas that are designated by the government as no-go zones for foreigners. These include Badghis in the north-west and Balkh in the north of the country. All other areas of the country are rated as being accessible to foreigners only if travel is absolutely necessary. Basically this means you should not consider visiting the country or worrying about getting hold of the currency there for any reason at all.
If you did want to find out how much your own home currency was worth against the Afghanistan Afghani, you can do this from the comfort of your own home. This can be done via a currency converter. There are ones that can be downloaded as apps as well as other more familiar ones you can use directly on a website of some kind. Just choose your favourite one and enter your own currency to convert into the Afghani. Use the currency code (AFN) to find the currency quickly and to convert whichever amount you want to use.
Those wanting to learn more about the country anyway can go to the Embassy of Afghanistan in London. You don’t have to make the actual journey either – you can simply visit their website at http://afghanistanembassy.org.uk/.
As we have already discovered there is no good reason to visit the country so you won’t have to worry about finding out where you are safe and what you should do to stay that way. Aid workers are in the country and do great work there but even they will be in danger on a daily basis. There are constant attacks and situations can arise very quickly that can put your life in danger. Even though people working there are much more familiar with the situation locally, this does not preclude them from the dangers that surround them on a daily basis.
The government website mentions the need to vary routines if you are there for any reason, so you do not do the same thing each day. There is a British Embassy in Kabul, the capital of the country, and the workers here are carefully and regularly briefed to ensure they stay as safe as possible. Even then though, there is no guarantee of their safety at all times. It is quite sobering to think some people are in the country for business reasons and to help those who live there, even though it can and does put their own lives at risk.
Afghanistan is situated in Asia and is surrounded by other countries on all sides. To the north it shares a very small border with Uzbekistan, and moving round in a clockwise direction it also shares borders with a number of other countries. These are Tajikistan, China, Pakistan, Iran and Turkmenistan.
The capital of the country is Kabul, which unfortunately (as with much of the country) has appeared on the news for altogether unsavoury reasons due to the situation in the country as a whole. The city is today in better condition than it was in during the war of more than a decade ago, but it is far from a safe place to be. Indeed suicide bombings still take place here and a number of attacks have taken place in the city that have led to the loss of many lives.
It is a shame that safety in the city is so precarious, since it has much to offer those who would like to visit. For example there is an older part of the city that has many charming bazaars lining the streets. There are also a number of hotels in the city that are used by business people and would certainly be a focal point if it ever got to the point where tourists could visit without worrying about their safety.
Those living in Kabul often visit the zoo there, which was damaged quite severely during the war but has since managed to get back to a better condition. Elsewhere in the city there are the Paghman Gardens. These are a mere shadow of what they were once like before the war, since they were heavily damaged. Even though this was the case they are still enjoyed by locals. Elsewhere you can find the Kabul Museum, a building that has been open since 1922. It once held more than 100,000 items from various periods in history, but many of them disappeared through looting in the civil war. A concerted effort was made to recover some of these since the war ended, but many still remain unaccounted for.
Elsewhere in the country you may one day have the chance to see the Pamir National Park. In a country that has been ravaged by war it is easy to forget there are some stunningly beautiful sights here as well as those we see on the news. This is surely one of them and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site too, known as the Mountains of the Pamirs. The area is large enough to boast several different regions, including alpine areas and those more akin to desert conditions. Needless to say a wide range of species have made their homes here.
Perhaps one day other attractions such as Qargha, a lake near Kabul, will also draw in the visitors. However until the country as a whole becomes more stable and safe to visit, this seems far in the future. This is a real shame as there are great areas and locations in the country that would make it onto most tourists’ lists of places to go. Perhaps one day the country will fully recover.
There are few countries in the world that are complete no-go zones as far as most people are concerned. Clearly the view of the UK government – and that of many others as well – is that this country is not one that should be visited at any point in the near future. Perhaps in years to come this will change but while the situation has improved since the days of the civil war, things are clearly a long way from ideal.
The currency is far more stable than its predecessor was in its last days, so at least those who live there can rely on it more than they could on the original Afghani currency before it was replaced with the new one. It remains to be seen what the future has in store for this troubled country, and how safe it might be to visit in the future.