Afghanistan has dominated the news over the past week as the Taliban seize control in the country for the first time since 2001. 

While the middle eastern country has been a common feature in the narrative of the past 20-years as a result of the war, the situation has recently escalated with alarming speed. 

Thousands and thousands of Afghan and international civilians in the country are fleeing for their lives, terrified of a domineering Taliban regime categorised by fear so reminiscent of the late 1990s. 

Those desperate to escape include Afghan interpreters who have helped the UK over the course of the war, and whose lives could be in severe danger if they are forced to remain in the country. 

But what languages are spoken in Afghanistan? Here's what you need to know...

What languages are spoken in Afghanistan? 

There are two official languages in Afghanistan, Pashto and Dari. 

Dari is a variety of the Persian language Farsi spoken in Afghanistan, which is also referred to as Afghan Persian.

The name was officially changed from Farsi to Dari in 1964, but many native speakers still refer to it as Farsi. 

It is thought to be spoken by around 78% of the Afghan population and has been the language promoted by the Afghan Government since 1964. 

Dari is therefore the lingua franca, which means it is the common language spoken throughout the country.

Meanwhile, Pashto is the native language of Pashtuns, the ethnic group historically known as Afghans, and is spoken by around 50% of the population. 

The lyrics of the current Afghan national anthem are in Pashtun. 

Both languages use the Arabic alphabet. 

What language is spoken by the Taliban? 

While Dari was promoted by the Afghan Government in 1964 and the ally backed Government more recently, it is Pashto that the Taliban primarily speak. 

During their rule between 1996 and 2001, the Taliban forced Pashto on non-Pashto speakers, rewriting textbooks and signs. 

With the group's recent takeover of power, a similar regime could be implemented in the coming months.

What regional dialects are spoken in Afghanistan? 

Aside from the two officially recognised languages, regional dialects are also spoken throughout Afghanistan. 

These are Turkic languages Uzbek and Turkmen and Indo-Iranian languages Balochi, Pashayi, Hazaragi, and Nuristan.