When Afghanistan began to plan the development of its economy in the mid-1950s, it lacked not only the necessary social organization and institutions for modern economic activities but also managerial and technical skills. The country was at a much lower stage of economic development than most of its neighbours. Between 1956 and 1979, however, the country's economic growth was guided by several five-year and seven-year plans and was aided by extensive foreign assistance, primarily from the Soviet Union and the United States. Roads, dams, power plants, and factories were constructed, irrigation projects carried out, and education broadened.

The Soviet invasion in 1979 and the subsequent civil war severely disrupted Afghanistan's economic development. Agricultural production declined, food shortages were reported, and, with the exception of natural gas production and some other industries considered essential by the Soviet Union, industrial output stagnated. Thus, Afghanistan remains economically one of the world's poorest countries.


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