Pashto and Dari (Afghan Persian/Farsi) are the official languages of Afghanistan and both belong to the Indo-European group of languages. Approximately 50 percent of Afghan population speaks Dari and about 35 percent speak Pashto. The Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen) and other minor languages are the third official languages, in addition to Pashto and Dari in areas where majority speaks them. Bilingualism amongst Afghans is very common.  Both Pashto and Dari are mainly written with Arabic alphabets, with some modifications.

Dari, Afghan version of Persian language is spoken by more than half of the population of Afghanistan and by very diverse groups including- Tajiks, Hazaras, Farsiwan and Aimaq. Afghan Farsi, Herati, Tajiki and Kabuli are various dialects of Dari. The word ‘Dari’ comes from the word ‘Dar’ or valley; thus, ‘Dari’ refers to the language spoken by the people of valleys. This language originates from Khorasan, a mountainous land where valleys are found in abundance. It belongs to the group of western Iranian languages.

Pashto is spoken by more than 9 million people in Afghanistan, with Kabul and Kandhar being the major Pashto speaking towns. Pashto belongs toEast Iranian group of languages and can be further categorised into two major dialects: Western Pashto and Eastern Pashto varying from region to region in Afghanistan. Pashto has rich writing tradition, including thousands of two and four line folk poems. It has a long tradition of classic poets, Khoshal Khan Khattak being the most notable one, who is also considered as national poet of Afghanistan.

Minor Languages

In Afghanistan, Turkmen and Uzbek are more popular among other minor languages like Aimaq, Arabic (Tajiki Spoken), Ashkun, Azerbaijani, Balochi, Darwazi, Gawar-Bati, Gujari, Hazaragi, Jakati, Kamviri, Karakalpak, Kazakh, Kirghiz, Malakhel, Mogholi, Pashayi, Sanglechi-Ishkashimi, Tangshewi, Tatar, Tirahi, Uyghur, Waigali, Wakhi, Warduji and Wotapuri-Katarqali.

Turkmen is spoken by approximately 500,000 people in Afghanistan, mainly along the border of Turmenistan, in Faryab and Badghis provinces. Uzbek is spoken by about 1,400,000 people, mainly in North Afghanistan, especially Fariyab province.


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