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Economy, Transportation

Ariana Airlines, Amu Darya, Shindand, Shir Khan, landlocked country

Travel within Afghanistan is severely limited by the rugged terrain. The country has only 25 km (16 mi) of railroad track, which is for shipping goods between Afghanistan and Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan when it is operational. Petroleum products are piped in from Uzbekistan to Bagram and from Turkmenistan to Shindand. Natural gas used to be piped into the part of the USSR that is now Uzbekistan through a 180-km (110-mi) pipeline, but the pipeline was closed sometime in the 1990s. Except for the Amu Darya, which has 1,400 km (900 mi) of navigable waters and handles vessels up to about 500 metric tons, the country’s narrow, fast-flowing rivers are nearly all unnavigable and are used chiefly for the transportation of free-floating timber. Ports on the Amu Darya include Keleft, Kheyrabad, and Shir Khan. There are 21,000 km (13,049 mi) of highways, about 13 percent are paved, 8 percent are gravel, and 79 percent are dirt.

Public transportation in Afghanistan is generally by bus and truck in which loads of people, animals, and produce are packed into small spaces or on the roof. In general women ride in the front, separated from men. City dwellers tend to travel by bus and bicycle. Horse-drawn carts are also commonly used in urban areas, probably due to the shortage of petroleum in the country. In the countryside most Afghans travel by foot, donkey, horseback, and occasionally by camel.

Kabul and Kandahar have international airports. There are about 50 airports in the country, about half of which have paved runways. The national airline is Ariana Airlines; Bakhtar Airlines is the domestic airline. International and domestic airline services were often suspended during the civil war, when the Taliban forced the closure of airports.

Camels and other pack animals are used for conveying goods. Because Afghanistan is a landlocked country without any seaports, it depends on neighboring countries for the shipment of goods to and from its borders.

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