As is consistent with Afghanistan's modest and extremely hospitable culture, greeting Afghan people correctly is important to show both sincerity and respect. Follow our guide to Afghan languages and greetings:

What languages are spoken in Afghanistan?

Dari and Pashto are official languages in Afghanistan and are both part of the Iranian language family. Dari is the official name of the Persian spoken in Afghanistan - although it is widely known as Farsi, the Afghan government changed its name to Dari in 1964. In addition to Dari and Pashto, there are a number of regional languages spoken across Afghanistan including Uzbek, Turkmen and Balochi. 

Verbal greetings

Arabic greetings and phrases are widespread in Afghanistan as it is the language of Islam, the official religion in the country. The shortest common verbal greeting is Salaam or Salaam Alaikum, meaning "Peace be upon you" in Arabic - it is used amongst Muslims across the world.

It is then customary for prolonged enquiries to take place, with each person asking about the health, business, or family of the other - "how are you?" is "tsenga yee? in Pashto and “chetoor hasti? or "khoob hasti?" in Dari. Starting off with a direct question can be considered impolite when greeting people in Afghanistan. 

Image description: Stood on dusty sand-coloured earth in Samangan against the backdrop of rocky mountains and a sliver of faint blue sky above them are 2 men shaking hands. The one on the left is wearing a black turban and long-sleeved top and grey-b

Physical greetings

The handshake is a common form of greeting, however this greeting is dependent on your gender, as well as the gender of, and your relation to, the person you are meeting.

Generally, people of the opposite gender who are not family members do not touch during greetings. As a reflection of modesty, it is polite to keep eye contact to a minimum during greetings with people who are not close friends or family, especially if you are greeting someone of the opposite gender, or as a means to respect the wisdom and seniority of someone who is older.

A very common form of physical greeting is to place your right hand over your heart and nod gently to show both respect and sincerity in your exchange. 

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