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FYE Common Reader (2012-2013): The Kite Runner: The Setting: Afghanistan

A guide for faculty and First Year Experience students on the common reader, The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

Quick Facts



·         Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran

·         slightly smaller than Texas

·         mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest


Ethnic groups:

·         Pashtun  42%, Tajik 27%, Hazara 9%, Uzbek 9%, Aimak 4%, Turkmen 3%, Baloch 2%, other 4%



·         Primarily  Dari and Pashto



·         Sunni Muslim 80%, Shia Muslim 19%, other 1%



·         30,419,928 (July 2012 est.)


Median age:

·         18.2 years


Life Expectancy:

·         49.72 years



·         male  43.1%   female 12.6% (2000 est.)



·         male 11 years   female: 7 years (2009)


Capital city:

·         Kabul



·         Islamic Republic


Labor force:

·         agriculture  78.6%    industry: 5.7%  services: 15.7% (FY08/09 est.)


Unemployment rate:

·         35% (2008 est.)




CIA World Factbook, May 23, 2012 



Three equal vertical bands:  black for the past; red for the blood shed for independence;  green for hope for the future, or agricultural prosperity, or Islam


Central image: national emblem in white, features a mosque with pulpit and flags on both sides


Date (solar year 1298) for 1919 (Gregorian calendar) when Afghan received independence from the UK


Image bordered by sheaves of wheat (left and right); Arabic inscription of Muslim creed with rays of rising sun over the Takbir, meaning"God is great” (upper center); scroll with name Afghanistan (bottom center)

CIA World Factbook, May 23, 2012





Afghan Network  [April 24, 2012]



 Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection  [April 24, 2012]


Kite Flying, Kite Fighting, and Kite Running

Kite Flying 

·         Requires two people: one to hold the wooden spool which the wire is wound; the other (the kite flyer) to control the movement of the kite in the air


Kite Fighting

·         Two kites flown close to one another, object to use the wire of one kite to cut the wire of the other’s kite and set it free.


·         Quality of wire very important, uses finely ground glass combined with an adhesive mixture to coat the wire it strong and sharp 


·         Kite-fighting champion crowned in each neighborhood


Kite Runner

·         Cut free kites “free and legal”; neighborhood children run to retrieve the kite to fly another day

Kite Fighting

"Shows how Afghan fighter kites are flown. These kites are similar to the kites from The Kite Runner book." (4.22 minutes)  May 30, 2012

Kite Fighting

"Al Jazeera's David Foster learns first-hand about the Afghan obsession with kite fighting when he is taken to a Kabul graveyard to participate in the game." (2.07 minutes) May 30, 2012