Spike in Google searches 'Where is Afghanistan?' in UK, US

Spike in UK, US Google searches for 'Where is Afghanistan?' after Taliban capture Kabul
2 min read
17 August, 2021
The number of Google searches for 'Where is Afghanistan?' in the US and UK dramatically increased during the week the Taliban swept through the country.
Both the UK and US have spent twenty years fighting in Afghanistan [Getty-file photo]

The number of Google Searches for "Where is Afghanistan?" in the UK and US jumped dramatically from 8 to 14 August, as the Taliban surged through the country before capturing the capital Kabul on Sunday. 

In the UK, the number of searches for "Where is Afghanistan" reached peak interest from 8 to 14 August, almost 2.5 times higher than at any other point in the last 12 months, according to data from Google Trends. 

The highest number of searches in the UK in the last seven days was on 16 August at 07:00 and 22:00 BST, the day after Taliban forces stormed the capital and led to chaotic scenes at Kabul airport on Monday. 

There was also a sharp rise in searches for "Where is Afghanistan?" in the US between 8 and 14 August, with a peak on 16 and 17 August, based on Google Trends data.

The US decided to withdraw its troops from the country after twenty years of military operations, forcing the UK and other European countries to follow. 

The UK’s mission cost around £4 billion a year at its peak and resulted in the deaths of 457 British service personnel, according to figures quoted by Channel 4 News.

The US mission cost around $1 trillion, according to official government data, with a total of $824 billion spent on defence. 

UK ministers, journalists, and pundits have been fiercely critical of the US's decision to withdraw, with UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace calling the pullout a "mistake" that the international community will "pay the consequences for". 

These comments were made the same day a UK poll showed that over 50 percent of British adults surveyed believed the war in Afghanistan "did not achieve anything". 

Twenty-four percent said they don’t know.