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Afghanistan

Afghanistan

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Timeline

1760   Afghans defeat Marathas in the Battle of Barari Ghat.

1761   The Third Battle of Panipat is fought in India between the Afghans under Ahmad Shah Durrani and the Marhatas. The Afghan victory changes the course of Indian History.

1919   Afghanistan gains full independence from the United Kingdom.

1946   Afghanistan, Iceland and Sweden join the United Nations.

1973   King Mohammed Zahir Shah of Afghanistan is deposed by his cousin Mohammed Daoud Khan while in Italy undergoing eye surgery.

1979   In Kabul, Muslims kidnap the American ambassador to Afghanistan, Adolph Dubs who is later killed during a gunfight between his kidnappers and police.

1979   In Afghanistan, Maoists undertake an attempted military uprising.

1979   Soviet Union invades Afghanistan

1982   The Salang tunnel fire in Afghanistan kills up to 2,000 people.

1983   Soviet war in Afghanistan: The United Nations General Assembly passes United Nations Resolution 37/37, stating that Soviet Union forces should withdraw from Afghanistan.

 
Encyclopedia
Afghanistan officially the Islamic Republic
Islamic republic
Islamic republic is the name given to several states in the Muslim world including the Islamic Republics of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mauritania. Pakistan adopted the title under the constitution of 1956. Mauritania adopted it on 28 November 1958. Iran adopted it after the 1979 Iranian...

 of Afghanistan
, is a landlocked country
Country
A country is a region legally identified as a distinct entity in political geography. A country may be an independent sovereign state or one that is occupied by another state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with a previously...

 located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

, Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 and the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of 647500 km² (250,001 sq mi), making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world. It is bordered
Durand Line
The Durand Line refers to the porous international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which has divided the ethnic Pashtuns . This poorly marked line is approximately long...

 by Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 in the southeast, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 in the west, Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

, Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

 and Tajikistan
Tajikistan
Tajikistan , officially the Republic of Tajikistan , is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east....

 in the north, and China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 in the far northeast. The territory that now forms Afghanistan has been an ancient focal point of the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

 and human migration
Human migration
Human migration is physical movement by humans from one area to another, sometimes over long distances or in large groups. Historically this movement was nomadic, often causing significant conflict with the indigenous population and their displacement or cultural assimilation. Only a few nomadic...

. Archaeologists
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 have found evidence of human habitation from as far back as 50,000 BC
Middle Paleolithic
The Middle Paleolithic is the second subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age as it is understood in Europe, Africa and Asia. The term Middle Stone Age is used as an equivalent or a synonym for the Middle Paleolithic in African archeology. The Middle Paleolithic and the Middle Stone Age...

. Urban civilization
Civilization
Civilization is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally...

 may have begun in the area as early as 3,000 to 2,000 BC.

The country sits at an important geostrategic
Geostrategy
Geostrategy, a subfield of geopolitics, is a type of foreign policy guided principally by geographical factors as they inform, constrain, or affect political and military planning...

 location that connects the Middle East with Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

, which has been home to various peoples through the ages. The land has witnessed many military conquests
Conquest (military)
Conquest is the act of military subjugation of an enemy by force of arms. One example is the Norman conquest of England, which provided the subjugation of the Kingdom of England and the acquisition of the English crown by William the Conqueror in 1066...

 since antiquity
Ancient history
Ancient history is the study of the written past from the beginning of recorded human history to the Early Middle Ages. The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, with Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing, from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC...

, notably by Alexander the Great, Chandragupta Maurya
Chandragupta Maurya
Chandragupta Maurya , was the founder of the Maurya Empire. Chandragupta succeeded in conquering most of the Indian subcontinent. Chandragupta is considered the first unifier of India and its first genuine emperor...

, and Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

. It has also served as a source from which local dynasties such as the Greco-Bactrians
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom was the easternmost part of the Hellenistic world, covering Bactria and Sogdiana in Central Asia from 250 to 125 BC...

, Kushans
Kushan Empire
The Kushan Empire originally formed in the early 1st century AD under Kujula Kadphises in the territories of ancient Bactria on either side of the middle course of the Oxus in what is now northern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and southern Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.During the 1st and early 2nd centuries...

, Saffarids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Timurids, Mughals
Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire ,‎ or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...

 and many others have established empires of their own.

The political history
Political history
Political history is the narrative and analysis of political events, ideas, movements, and leaders. It is distinct from, but related to, other fields of history such as Diplomatic history, social history, economic history, and military history, as well as constitutional history and public...

 of modern Afghanistan begins in 1709 with the rise of the Pashtuns
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

, when the Hotaki dynasty was established in Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

 followed by Ahmad Shah Durrani
Ahmad Shah Durrani
Ahmad Shah Durrani , also known as Ahmad Shāh Abdālī and born as Ahmad Khān, was the founder of the Durrani Empire in 1747 and is regarded by many to be the founder of the modern state of Afghanistan.Ahmad Khan enlisted as a young soldier in the military of the Afsharid kingdom and quickly rose...

's rise to power in 1747. The capital of Afghanistan was shifted in 1776 from Kandahar to Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 and part of the Afghan Empire
Durrani Empire
The Durrani Empire was a Pashtun dynasty centered in Afghanistan and included northeastern Iran, the Kashmir region, the modern state of Pakistan, and northwestern India. It was established at Kandahar in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, an Afghan military commander under Nader Shah of Persia and chief...

 was ceded to neighboring empires by 1893. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state
Buffer state
A buffer state is a country lying between two rival or potentially hostile greater powers, which by its sheer existence is thought to prevent conflict between them. Buffer states, when authentically independent, typically pursue a neutralist foreign policy, which distinguishes them from satellite...

 in the "Great Game
The Great Game
The Great Game or Tournament of Shadows in Russia, were terms for the strategic rivalry and conflict between the British Empire and the Russian Empire for supremacy in Central Asia. The classic Great Game period is generally regarded as running approximately from the Russo-Persian Treaty of 1813...

" between the British
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

 and Russian
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 empires. Following the third Anglo-Afghan war and the signing of the Treaty of Rawalpindi
Treaty of Rawalpindi
The Treaty of Rawalpindi was an armistice made between the United Kingdom and Afghanistan during the Third Anglo-Afghan War...

 in 1919, the nation regained control over its foreign policy
Foreign policy
A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries...

 from the British.

After the 1978 Marxist revolution
Saur Revolution
The Saur Revolution is the name given to the Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan takeover of political power from the government of Afghanistan on 28 April 1978. The word 'Saur', i.e...

, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 began a 10-year war
Soviet war in Afghanistan
The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against the Afghan Mujahideen and foreign "Arab–Afghan" volunteers...

 in which over a million Afghans lost lives. The mujahidin insurgency generated by the Marxist government and the Soviet invasion signaled the first sustained entry of Islam into Afghan politics as the religion served as a force to unify the tribally divided multiethnic population. This was followed by the Afghan civil war (1992–1996), the rise and fall of the extremist
Extremism
Extremism is any ideology or political act far outside the perceived political center of a society; or otherwise claimed to violate common moral standards...

 Taliban government
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was founded in 1996 when the Taliban began their rule of Afghanistan and ended with their fall from power in 2001...

 and the 2001-present war
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

. In December 2001, the United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 authorized the creation of the International Security Assistance Force
International Security Assistance Force
The International Security Assistance Force is a NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan established by the United Nations Security Council on 20 December 2001 by Resolution 1386 as envisaged by the Bonn Agreement...

 (ISAF) to help maintain security in Afghanistan and assist the Karzai administration. While NATO and other countries are rebuilding war-torn Afghanistan, terrorist
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 groups such as the Haqqani network
Haqqani network
The Haqqani Network is an insurgent group fighting against US-led NATO forces and the government of Afghanistan. Originating from Afghanistan during the mid-1970s, it was nurtured by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence during the 1980s Soviet war in...

 with alleged support and guidance from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence
Inter-Services Intelligence
The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence , is Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, responsible for providing critical national security intelligence assessment to the Government of Pakistan...

 (ISI) spy network are actively involved in a nationwide Taliban
Quetta Shura
The Quetta Shura is a militant organization composed of top leadership of the Afghan Taliban, that is believed to be based since about 2001 in the city of Quetta in the Balochistan province of Pakistan. The Shura was formed after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was toppled in late 2001 and the...

-led insurgency
Taliban insurgency
The Taliban insurgency took root shortly after the group's fall from power following the 2001 war in Afghanistan. The Taliban continue to attack Afghan, U.S., and other ISAF troops and many terrorist incidents attributable to them have been registered. The war has also spread over the southern and...

, which includes countless assassination
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

s and suicide attack
Suicide attack
A suicide attack is a type of attack in which the attacker expects or intends to die in the process.- Historical :...

s. According to the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, the insurgents were responsible for 75% of civilian casualties in 2010 and 80% in 2011.

Etymology



The name Afghānistān
Name of Afghanistan
The name of Afghanistan is believed to be as old as the ethnonym Afghan, which is documented in a 10th century geography book called Hudud ul-'alam focusing on territories south of the Hindu Kush around the Sulaiman Mountains. The root name "Afghan" has been used historically in reference to the...

  means "Land of the Afghans", which originates from the ethnonym
Ethnonym
An ethnonym is the name applied to a given ethnic group. Ethnonyms can be divided into two categories: exonyms and autonyms or endonyms .As an example, the ethnonym for...

 "Afghan". The first part of the name "Afghan" designates the Pashtun people
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

 since ancient times, the founders and the largest ethnic group of Afghanistan
Ethnic groups in Afghanistan
Afghanistan is a multiethnic society. The population of the country is divided into a wide variety of ethnolinguistic groups. The ethnic groups of the country are as follow: Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Aimak, Turkmen, Baloch, Pashai, Nuristani, Arab, Brahui, Pamiri and some others.-Ethnic...

. This name is mentioned in the form of Abgan in the 3rd century CE by the Sassanians
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

 and as Avagana (Afghana
Afghana
Afghana or Avagana is considered in Afghan folklore a tribal chief or prince of Bani Israel origin and a progenitor of modern-day Pashtuns , the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan and second largest in Pakistan...

) in the 6th century CE by Indian astronomer Varahamihira
Varahamihira
Varāhamihira , also called Varaha or Mihira, was an Indian astronomer, mathematician, and astrologer who lived in Ujjain...

. A people called the Afghans are mentioned several times in a 10th century geography book
Guide book
A guide book is a book for tourists or travelers that provides details about a geographic location, tourist destination, or itinerary. It is the written equivalent of a tour guide...

, Hudud al-'alam, particularly where a reference is made to a village. Al-Biruni
Al-Biruni
Abū al-Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-BīrūnīArabic spelling. . The intermediate form Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī is often used in academic literature...

 referred to them in the 11th century as various tribes living on the western frontier mountains of the Indus River
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

, which would be the Sulaiman Mountains
Sulaiman Mountains
The Sulaiman Mountains are a major geological feature of southeastern Afghanistan and northern Balochistan province of Pakistan. In Pakistan, it forms the eastern edge of the Iranian plateau where the Indus River separates it from the Asian Subcontient...

. Ibn Battuta
Ibn Battuta
Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta , or simply Ibn Battuta, also known as Shams ad–Din , was a Muslim Moroccan Berber explorer, known for his extensive travels published in the Rihla...

, a famous Moroccan
Moroccan people
The Moroccan people are a people that share a common Moroccan culture, ancestry and speak the Moroccan variant of the Arabic language or a Berber language as a mother tongue....

 scholar visiting the region in 1333, writes: "We travelled on to Kabul
Kabulistan
Kabulistan is a historical term referring to the eastern territories of Greater Khorasan that is centered around present-day Kabul, Afghanistan...

, formerly a vast town, the site of which is now occupied by a village inhabited by a tribe of Persians called Afghans. They hold mountains and defiles and possess considerable strength, and are mostly highwaymen. Their principle mountain is called Kuh Sulayman
Sulaiman Mountains
The Sulaiman Mountains are a major geological feature of southeastern Afghanistan and northern Balochistan province of Pakistan. In Pakistan, it forms the eastern edge of the Iranian plateau where the Indus River separates it from the Asian Subcontient...

."
One prominent 16th century Persian scholar explains extensively about the Afghans. For example, he writes:
It is widely accepted that the terms "Pashtun" and Afghan are synonyms. In the writings of the 17th-century Pashto poet Khushal Khan Khattak
Khushal Khan Khattak
Khushal Khan Khattak was a prominent Pashtun malik, poet, warrior,A charismatic personality and tribal chief of the Khattak tribe. He wrote a huge collection of Pashto poems during the Mughal Empire in the 17th century, and admonished Pashtuns to forsake their divisive tendencies and unite...

 it is mentioned:

The last part of the name, -stān
-stan
The suffix -stan is Persian for "place of", a cognate to Pashto -tun and to Indo-Aryan -sthāna , a Sanskrit suffix with a similar meaning...

is a Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 suffix
Suffix
In linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns or adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs...

 for "place", prominent in many languages of the region. The name "Afghanistan" is described by the 16th century Mughal Emperor Babur
Babur
Babur was a Muslim conqueror from Central Asia who, following a series of setbacks, finally succeeded in laying the basis for the Mughal dynasty of South Asia. He was a direct descendant of Timur through his father, and a descendant also of Genghis Khan through his mother...

 in his memoirs
Baburnama
Bāburnāma is the name given to the memoirs of Ẓahīr ud-Dīn Muḥammad Bābur , founder of the Mughal Empire and a great-great-great-grandson of Timur...

 as well as by the later Persian scholar Firishta
Firishta
Firishta or Ferishta, full name Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah , was born in 1560 and died in 1620 and he was a Persian historian. The name Firishta means angel or one who is sent in Persian.-Life:...

 and Babur's descendants, referring to the traditional ethnic Afghan (Pashtun) territories between the Hindu Kush
Hindu Kush
The Hindu Kush is an mountain range that stretches between central Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. The highest point in the Hindu Kush is Tirich Mir in the Chitral region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.It is the westernmost extension of the Pamir Mountains, the Karakoram Range, and is a...

 mountains and the Indus River
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

. In the early 19th century, Afghan politicians
Politics of Afghanistan
The politics of Afghanistan consists of the Council of Ministers and the National Assembly, with a president serving as the head of state and commander-in-chief of the military. The nation is currently led by the Karzai administration under President Hamid Karzai who is backed by two vice...

 decided to adopt the name Afghanistan for the entire Afghan Empire
Durrani Empire
The Durrani Empire was a Pashtun dynasty centered in Afghanistan and included northeastern Iran, the Kashmir region, the modern state of Pakistan, and northwestern India. It was established at Kandahar in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, an Afghan military commander under Nader Shah of Persia and chief...

 after its English translation had already appeared in various treaties with Qajarid Persia
Qajar dynasty
The Qajar dynasty was an Iranian royal family of Turkic descent who ruled Persia from 1785 to 1925....

 and British India
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

. In 1857, in his review of J.W. Kaye's
John William Kaye
Sir John William Kaye was a British military historian.The son of Charles Kaye, a solicitor, he was educated at Eton College and at the Royal Military College, Addiscombe. From 1832 to 1841 he was an officer in the Bengal Artillery, afterwards spending some years in literary pursuits both in...

 The Afghan War, Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels was a German industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research...

 describes "Afghanistan" as:
The Afghan kingdom was sometimes referred to as the Kingdom of Kabul
Durrani Empire
The Durrani Empire was a Pashtun dynasty centered in Afghanistan and included northeastern Iran, the Kashmir region, the modern state of Pakistan, and northwestern India. It was established at Kandahar in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, an Afghan military commander under Nader Shah of Persia and chief...

, as mentioned by the British statesman and historian Mountstuart Elphinstone
Mountstuart Elphinstone
Mountstuart Elphinstone was a Scottish statesman and historian, associated with the government of British India. He later became the Governor of Bombay where he is credited with the opening of several educational institutions accessible to the Indian population...

. Afghanistan was officially recognized as a sovereign state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 by the international community after the signing of the 1919 Treaty of Rawalpindi
Treaty of Rawalpindi
The Treaty of Rawalpindi was an armistice made between the United Kingdom and Afghanistan during the Third Anglo-Afghan War...

.

Geography




A landlocked mountainous country with plains in the north and southwest, Afghanistan is described as being located within South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

 or Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

. It is part of the Greater Middle East
Greater Middle East
The Greater Middle East is a political term coined by the Bush administration to group together together various countries, pertaining to the Muslim world, specifically Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Various Central Asian countries are sometimes also included. Some speakers may use the...

 Muslim world
Muslim world
The term Muslim world has several meanings. In a religious sense, it refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Islam, referred to as Muslims. In a cultural sense, it refers to Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization...

, which lies between latitude
Latitude
In geography, the latitude of a location on the Earth is the angular distance of that location south or north of the Equator. The latitude is an angle, and is usually measured in degrees . The equator has a latitude of 0°, the North pole has a latitude of 90° north , and the South pole has a...

s
{{pp-semi-indef|small=yes}}
Afghanistan (
Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

/Pashto: {{linktext|افغانستان}}, Afġānistān), officially the Islamic Republic
Islamic republic
Islamic republic is the name given to several states in the Muslim world including the Islamic Republics of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mauritania. Pakistan adopted the title under the constitution of 1956. Mauritania adopted it on 28 November 1958. Iran adopted it after the 1979 Iranian...

 of Afghanistan
, is a landlocked country
Country
A country is a region legally identified as a distinct entity in political geography. A country may be an independent sovereign state or one that is occupied by another state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with a previously...

 located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

, Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 and the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of 647500 km² (250,001 sq mi), making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world. It is bordered
Durand Line
The Durand Line refers to the porous international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which has divided the ethnic Pashtuns . This poorly marked line is approximately long...

 by Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 in the southeast,{{ref label|crown|note|none}} Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 in the west, Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

, Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

 and Tajikistan
Tajikistan
Tajikistan , officially the Republic of Tajikistan , is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east....

 in the north, and China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 in the far northeast. The territory that now forms Afghanistan has been an ancient focal point of the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

 and human migration
Human migration
Human migration is physical movement by humans from one area to another, sometimes over long distances or in large groups. Historically this movement was nomadic, often causing significant conflict with the indigenous population and their displacement or cultural assimilation. Only a few nomadic...

. Archaeologists
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 have found evidence of human habitation from as far back as 50,000 BC
Middle Paleolithic
The Middle Paleolithic is the second subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age as it is understood in Europe, Africa and Asia. The term Middle Stone Age is used as an equivalent or a synonym for the Middle Paleolithic in African archeology. The Middle Paleolithic and the Middle Stone Age...

. Urban civilization
Civilization
Civilization is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally...

 may have begun in the area as early as 3,000 to 2,000 BC.

The country sits at an important geostrategic
Geostrategy
Geostrategy, a subfield of geopolitics, is a type of foreign policy guided principally by geographical factors as they inform, constrain, or affect political and military planning...

 location that connects the Middle East with Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

, which has been home to various peoples through the ages. The land has witnessed many military conquests
Conquest (military)
Conquest is the act of military subjugation of an enemy by force of arms. One example is the Norman conquest of England, which provided the subjugation of the Kingdom of England and the acquisition of the English crown by William the Conqueror in 1066...

 since antiquity
Ancient history
Ancient history is the study of the written past from the beginning of recorded human history to the Early Middle Ages. The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, with Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing, from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC...

, notably by Alexander the Great, Chandragupta Maurya
Chandragupta Maurya
Chandragupta Maurya , was the founder of the Maurya Empire. Chandragupta succeeded in conquering most of the Indian subcontinent. Chandragupta is considered the first unifier of India and its first genuine emperor...

, and Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

. It has also served as a source from which local dynasties such as the Greco-Bactrians
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom was the easternmost part of the Hellenistic world, covering Bactria and Sogdiana in Central Asia from 250 to 125 BC...

, Kushans
Kushan Empire
The Kushan Empire originally formed in the early 1st century AD under Kujula Kadphises in the territories of ancient Bactria on either side of the middle course of the Oxus in what is now northern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and southern Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.During the 1st and early 2nd centuries...

, Saffarids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Timurids, Mughals
Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire ,‎ or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...

 and many others have established empires of their own.

The political history
Political history
Political history is the narrative and analysis of political events, ideas, movements, and leaders. It is distinct from, but related to, other fields of history such as Diplomatic history, social history, economic history, and military history, as well as constitutional history and public...

 of modern Afghanistan begins in 1709 with the rise of the Pashtuns
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

, when the Hotaki dynasty was established in Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

 followed by Ahmad Shah Durrani
Ahmad Shah Durrani
Ahmad Shah Durrani , also known as Ahmad Shāh Abdālī and born as Ahmad Khān, was the founder of the Durrani Empire in 1747 and is regarded by many to be the founder of the modern state of Afghanistan.Ahmad Khan enlisted as a young soldier in the military of the Afsharid kingdom and quickly rose...

's rise to power in 1747. The capital of Afghanistan was shifted in 1776 from Kandahar to Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 and part of the Afghan Empire
Durrani Empire
The Durrani Empire was a Pashtun dynasty centered in Afghanistan and included northeastern Iran, the Kashmir region, the modern state of Pakistan, and northwestern India. It was established at Kandahar in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, an Afghan military commander under Nader Shah of Persia and chief...

 was ceded to neighboring empires by 1893. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state
Buffer state
A buffer state is a country lying between two rival or potentially hostile greater powers, which by its sheer existence is thought to prevent conflict between them. Buffer states, when authentically independent, typically pursue a neutralist foreign policy, which distinguishes them from satellite...

 in the "Great Game
The Great Game
The Great Game or Tournament of Shadows in Russia, were terms for the strategic rivalry and conflict between the British Empire and the Russian Empire for supremacy in Central Asia. The classic Great Game period is generally regarded as running approximately from the Russo-Persian Treaty of 1813...

" between the British
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

 and Russian
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 empires. Following the third Anglo-Afghan war and the signing of the Treaty of Rawalpindi
Treaty of Rawalpindi
The Treaty of Rawalpindi was an armistice made between the United Kingdom and Afghanistan during the Third Anglo-Afghan War...

 in 1919, the nation regained control over its foreign policy
Foreign policy
A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries...

 from the British.

After the 1978 Marxist revolution
Saur Revolution
The Saur Revolution is the name given to the Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan takeover of political power from the government of Afghanistan on 28 April 1978. The word 'Saur', i.e...

, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 began a 10-year war
Soviet war in Afghanistan
The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against the Afghan Mujahideen and foreign "Arab–Afghan" volunteers...

 in which over a million Afghans lost lives. The mujahidin insurgency generated by the Marxist government and the Soviet invasion signaled the first sustained entry of Islam into Afghan politics as the religion served as a force to unify the tribally divided multiethnic population. This was followed by the Afghan civil war (1992–1996), the rise and fall of the extremist
Extremism
Extremism is any ideology or political act far outside the perceived political center of a society; or otherwise claimed to violate common moral standards...

 Taliban government
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was founded in 1996 when the Taliban began their rule of Afghanistan and ended with their fall from power in 2001...

 and the 2001-present war
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

. In December 2001, the United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 authorized the creation of the International Security Assistance Force
International Security Assistance Force
The International Security Assistance Force is a NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan established by the United Nations Security Council on 20 December 2001 by Resolution 1386 as envisaged by the Bonn Agreement...

 (ISAF) to help maintain security in Afghanistan and assist the Karzai administration. While NATO and other countries are rebuilding war-torn Afghanistan, terrorist
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 groups such as the Haqqani network
Haqqani network
The Haqqani Network is an insurgent group fighting against US-led NATO forces and the government of Afghanistan. Originating from Afghanistan during the mid-1970s, it was nurtured by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence during the 1980s Soviet war in...

 with alleged support and guidance from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence
Inter-Services Intelligence
The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence , is Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, responsible for providing critical national security intelligence assessment to the Government of Pakistan...

 (ISI) spy network are actively involved in a nationwide Taliban
Quetta Shura
The Quetta Shura is a militant organization composed of top leadership of the Afghan Taliban, that is believed to be based since about 2001 in the city of Quetta in the Balochistan province of Pakistan. The Shura was formed after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was toppled in late 2001 and the...

-led insurgency
Taliban insurgency
The Taliban insurgency took root shortly after the group's fall from power following the 2001 war in Afghanistan. The Taliban continue to attack Afghan, U.S., and other ISAF troops and many terrorist incidents attributable to them have been registered. The war has also spread over the southern and...

, which includes countless assassination
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

s and suicide attack
Suicide attack
A suicide attack is a type of attack in which the attacker expects or intends to die in the process.- Historical :...

s. According to the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, the insurgents were responsible for 75% of civilian casualties in 2010 and 80% in 2011.

Etymology


{{Main|Name of Afghanistan|Afghan (ethnonym)|Afghana}}
The name Afghānistān
Name of Afghanistan
The name of Afghanistan is believed to be as old as the ethnonym Afghan, which is documented in a 10th century geography book called Hudud ul-'alam focusing on territories south of the Hindu Kush around the Sulaiman Mountains. The root name "Afghan" has been used historically in reference to the...

 ({{lang-fa|افغانستان}}, avɣɒnestɒn) means "Land of the Afghans", which originates from the ethnonym
Ethnonym
An ethnonym is the name applied to a given ethnic group. Ethnonyms can be divided into two categories: exonyms and autonyms or endonyms .As an example, the ethnonym for...

 "Afghan". The first part of the name "Afghan" designates the Pashtun people
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

 since ancient times, the founders and the largest ethnic group of Afghanistan
Ethnic groups in Afghanistan
Afghanistan is a multiethnic society. The population of the country is divided into a wide variety of ethnolinguistic groups. The ethnic groups of the country are as follow: Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Aimak, Turkmen, Baloch, Pashai, Nuristani, Arab, Brahui, Pamiri and some others.-Ethnic...

. This name is mentioned in the form of Abgan in the 3rd century CE by the Sassanians
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

 and as Avagana (Afghana
Afghana
Afghana or Avagana is considered in Afghan folklore a tribal chief or prince of Bani Israel origin and a progenitor of modern-day Pashtuns , the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan and second largest in Pakistan...

) in the 6th century CE by Indian astronomer Varahamihira
Varahamihira
Varāhamihira , also called Varaha or Mihira, was an Indian astronomer, mathematician, and astrologer who lived in Ujjain...

. A people called the Afghans are mentioned several times in a 10th century geography book
Guide book
A guide book is a book for tourists or travelers that provides details about a geographic location, tourist destination, or itinerary. It is the written equivalent of a tour guide...

, Hudud al-'alam, particularly where a reference is made to a village.{{quote|Saul, a pleasant village on a mountain. In it live Afghans.}} Al-Biruni
Al-Biruni
Abū al-Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-BīrūnīArabic spelling. . The intermediate form Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī is often used in academic literature...

 referred to them in the 11th century as various tribes living on the western frontier mountains of the Indus River
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

, which would be the Sulaiman Mountains
Sulaiman Mountains
The Sulaiman Mountains are a major geological feature of southeastern Afghanistan and northern Balochistan province of Pakistan. In Pakistan, it forms the eastern edge of the Iranian plateau where the Indus River separates it from the Asian Subcontient...

. Ibn Battuta
Ibn Battuta
Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta , or simply Ibn Battuta, also known as Shams ad–Din , was a Muslim Moroccan Berber explorer, known for his extensive travels published in the Rihla...

, a famous Moroccan
Moroccan people
The Moroccan people are a people that share a common Moroccan culture, ancestry and speak the Moroccan variant of the Arabic language or a Berber language as a mother tongue....

 scholar visiting the region in 1333, writes: "We travelled on to Kabul
Kabulistan
Kabulistan is a historical term referring to the eastern territories of Greater Khorasan that is centered around present-day Kabul, Afghanistan...

, formerly a vast town, the site of which is now occupied by a village inhabited by a tribe of Persians called Afghans. They hold mountains and defiles and possess considerable strength, and are mostly highwaymen. Their principle mountain is called Kuh Sulayman
Sulaiman Mountains
The Sulaiman Mountains are a major geological feature of southeastern Afghanistan and northern Balochistan province of Pakistan. In Pakistan, it forms the eastern edge of the Iranian plateau where the Indus River separates it from the Asian Subcontient...

."
One prominent 16th century Persian scholar explains extensively about the Afghans. For example, he writes:
{{quote|The men of Kábul and Khilj
Khilji dynasty
The Khilji Sultanate was a dynasty of Turko-Afghan Khalaj origin who ruled large parts of South Asia from 1290 - 1320. They were the second dynasty to rule the Delhi Sultanate of India...

 also went home; and whenever they were ques­tioned about the Musulmáns of the Kohistán (the mountains), and how matters stood there, they said, "Don't call it Kohistán, but Afghánistán; for there is nothing there but Afgháns and dis­turbances." Thus it is clear that for this reason the people of the country call their home in their own language
Pashto language
Pashto , known as Afghani in Persian and Pathani in Punjabi , is the native language of the indigenous Pashtun people or Afghan people who are found primarily between an area south of the Amu Darya in Afghanistan and...

 Afghánistán, and themselves Afgháns.|Firishta
Firishta
Firishta or Ferishta, full name Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah , was born in 1560 and died in 1620 and he was a Persian historian. The name Firishta means angel or one who is sent in Persian.-Life:...

|1560-1620 AD}}

It is widely accepted that the terms "Pashtun" and Afghan are synonyms. In the writings of the 17th-century Pashto poet Khushal Khan Khattak
Khushal Khan Khattak
Khushal Khan Khattak was a prominent Pashtun malik, poet, warrior,A charismatic personality and tribal chief of the Khattak tribe. He wrote a huge collection of Pashto poems during the Mughal Empire in the 17th century, and admonished Pashtuns to forsake their divisive tendencies and unite...

 it is mentioned:{{quote|Pull out your sword and slay any one, that says Pashtun and Afghan are not one! Arabs know this and so do Romans: Afghans are Pashtuns, Pashtuns are Afghans!}}

The last part of the name, -stān
-stan
The suffix -stan is Persian for "place of", a cognate to Pashto -tun and to Indo-Aryan -sthāna , a Sanskrit suffix with a similar meaning...

is a Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 suffix
Suffix
In linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns or adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs...

 for "place", prominent in many languages of the region. The name "Afghanistan" is described by the 16th century Mughal Emperor Babur
Babur
Babur was a Muslim conqueror from Central Asia who, following a series of setbacks, finally succeeded in laying the basis for the Mughal dynasty of South Asia. He was a direct descendant of Timur through his father, and a descendant also of Genghis Khan through his mother...

 in his memoirs
Baburnama
Bāburnāma is the name given to the memoirs of Ẓahīr ud-Dīn Muḥammad Bābur , founder of the Mughal Empire and a great-great-great-grandson of Timur...

 as well as by the later Persian scholar Firishta
Firishta
Firishta or Ferishta, full name Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah , was born in 1560 and died in 1620 and he was a Persian historian. The name Firishta means angel or one who is sent in Persian.-Life:...

 and Babur's descendants, referring to the traditional ethnic Afghan (Pashtun) territories between the Hindu Kush
Hindu Kush
The Hindu Kush is an mountain range that stretches between central Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. The highest point in the Hindu Kush is Tirich Mir in the Chitral region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.It is the westernmost extension of the Pamir Mountains, the Karakoram Range, and is a...

 mountains and the Indus River
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

. In the early 19th century, Afghan politicians
Politics of Afghanistan
The politics of Afghanistan consists of the Council of Ministers and the National Assembly, with a president serving as the head of state and commander-in-chief of the military. The nation is currently led by the Karzai administration under President Hamid Karzai who is backed by two vice...

 decided to adopt the name Afghanistan for the entire Afghan Empire
Durrani Empire
The Durrani Empire was a Pashtun dynasty centered in Afghanistan and included northeastern Iran, the Kashmir region, the modern state of Pakistan, and northwestern India. It was established at Kandahar in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, an Afghan military commander under Nader Shah of Persia and chief...

 after its English translation had already appeared in various treaties with Qajarid Persia
Qajar dynasty
The Qajar dynasty was an Iranian royal family of Turkic descent who ruled Persia from 1785 to 1925....

 and British India
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

. In 1857, in his review of J.W. Kaye's
John William Kaye
Sir John William Kaye was a British military historian.The son of Charles Kaye, a solicitor, he was educated at Eton College and at the Royal Military College, Addiscombe. From 1832 to 1841 he was an officer in the Bengal Artillery, afterwards spending some years in literary pursuits both in...

 The Afghan War, Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels was a German industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research...

 describes "Afghanistan" as:
{{quote|[...] an extensive country of Asia [...] between Persia
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and the Indies, and in the other direction between the Hindu Kush and the Indian Ocean. It formerly included the Persian provinces of Khorassan and Kohistan
Quhistan
Quhistan or Kohistan was a region of medieval Persia, essentially the southern part of Greater Khorasan. Its boundaries appear to have been indeterminate, and the term generally seems to have been applied loosely....

, together with Herat
Herat Province
Herat is one the 34 provinces of Afghanistan; together with Badghis, Farah, and Ghor provinces, it makes up the South-western region of the country...

, Beluchistan
Balochistan
Balochistan or Baluchistan is a region which covers parts of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. It can also refer to one of several modern and historical territories within that region:...

, Cashmere
Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

, and Sinde
Sindh
Sindh historically referred to as Ba'ab-ul-Islam , is one of the four provinces of Pakistan and historically is home to the Sindhi people. It is also locally known as the "Mehran". Though Muslims form the largest religious group in Sindh, a good number of Christians, Zoroastrians and Hindus can...

, and a considerable part of the Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

 [...] Its principal cities are Kabul, the capital, Ghuznee
Ghazni
For the Province of Ghazni see Ghazni ProvinceGhazni is a city in central-east Afghanistan with a population of about 141,000 people...

, Peshawer, and Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

.}}

The Afghan kingdom was sometimes referred to as the Kingdom of Kabul
Durrani Empire
The Durrani Empire was a Pashtun dynasty centered in Afghanistan and included northeastern Iran, the Kashmir region, the modern state of Pakistan, and northwestern India. It was established at Kandahar in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, an Afghan military commander under Nader Shah of Persia and chief...

, as mentioned by the British statesman and historian Mountstuart Elphinstone
Mountstuart Elphinstone
Mountstuart Elphinstone was a Scottish statesman and historian, associated with the government of British India. He later became the Governor of Bombay where he is credited with the opening of several educational institutions accessible to the Indian population...

. Afghanistan was officially recognized as a sovereign state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 by the international community after the signing of the 1919 Treaty of Rawalpindi
Treaty of Rawalpindi
The Treaty of Rawalpindi was an armistice made between the United Kingdom and Afghanistan during the Third Anglo-Afghan War...

.

Geography


{{Main|Geography of Afghanistan}}

A landlocked mountainous country with plains in the north and southwest, Afghanistan is described as being located within South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

 or Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

. It is part of the Greater Middle East
Greater Middle East
The Greater Middle East is a political term coined by the Bush administration to group together together various countries, pertaining to the Muslim world, specifically Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Various Central Asian countries are sometimes also included. Some speakers may use the...

 Muslim world
Muslim world
The term Muslim world has several meanings. In a religious sense, it refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Islam, referred to as Muslims. In a cultural sense, it refers to Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization...

, which lies between latitude
Latitude
In geography, the latitude of a location on the Earth is the angular distance of that location south or north of the Equator. The latitude is an angle, and is usually measured in degrees . The equator has a latitude of 0°, the North pole has a latitude of 90° north , and the South pole has a...

s
{{pp-semi-indef|small=yes}}
Afghanistan (
Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

/Pashto: {{linktext|افغانستان}}, Afġānistān), officially the Islamic Republic
Islamic republic
Islamic republic is the name given to several states in the Muslim world including the Islamic Republics of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mauritania. Pakistan adopted the title under the constitution of 1956. Mauritania adopted it on 28 November 1958. Iran adopted it after the 1979 Iranian...

 of Afghanistan
, is a landlocked country
Country
A country is a region legally identified as a distinct entity in political geography. A country may be an independent sovereign state or one that is occupied by another state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with a previously...

 located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

, Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 and the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of 647500 km² (250,001 sq mi), making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world. It is bordered
Durand Line
The Durand Line refers to the porous international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which has divided the ethnic Pashtuns . This poorly marked line is approximately long...

 by Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 in the southeast,{{ref label|crown|note|none}} Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 in the west, Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

, Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

 and Tajikistan
Tajikistan
Tajikistan , officially the Republic of Tajikistan , is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east....

 in the north, and China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 in the far northeast. The territory that now forms Afghanistan has been an ancient focal point of the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

 and human migration
Human migration
Human migration is physical movement by humans from one area to another, sometimes over long distances or in large groups. Historically this movement was nomadic, often causing significant conflict with the indigenous population and their displacement or cultural assimilation. Only a few nomadic...

. Archaeologists
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 have found evidence of human habitation from as far back as 50,000 BC
Middle Paleolithic
The Middle Paleolithic is the second subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age as it is understood in Europe, Africa and Asia. The term Middle Stone Age is used as an equivalent or a synonym for the Middle Paleolithic in African archeology. The Middle Paleolithic and the Middle Stone Age...

. Urban civilization
Civilization
Civilization is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally...

 may have begun in the area as early as 3,000 to 2,000 BC.

The country sits at an important geostrategic
Geostrategy
Geostrategy, a subfield of geopolitics, is a type of foreign policy guided principally by geographical factors as they inform, constrain, or affect political and military planning...

 location that connects the Middle East with Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

, which has been home to various peoples through the ages. The land has witnessed many military conquests
Conquest (military)
Conquest is the act of military subjugation of an enemy by force of arms. One example is the Norman conquest of England, which provided the subjugation of the Kingdom of England and the acquisition of the English crown by William the Conqueror in 1066...

 since antiquity
Ancient history
Ancient history is the study of the written past from the beginning of recorded human history to the Early Middle Ages. The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, with Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing, from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC...

, notably by Alexander the Great, Chandragupta Maurya
Chandragupta Maurya
Chandragupta Maurya , was the founder of the Maurya Empire. Chandragupta succeeded in conquering most of the Indian subcontinent. Chandragupta is considered the first unifier of India and its first genuine emperor...

, and Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

. It has also served as a source from which local dynasties such as the Greco-Bactrians
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom was the easternmost part of the Hellenistic world, covering Bactria and Sogdiana in Central Asia from 250 to 125 BC...

, Kushans
Kushan Empire
The Kushan Empire originally formed in the early 1st century AD under Kujula Kadphises in the territories of ancient Bactria on either side of the middle course of the Oxus in what is now northern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and southern Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.During the 1st and early 2nd centuries...

, Saffarids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Timurids, Mughals
Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire ,‎ or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...

 and many others have established empires of their own.

The political history
Political history
Political history is the narrative and analysis of political events, ideas, movements, and leaders. It is distinct from, but related to, other fields of history such as Diplomatic history, social history, economic history, and military history, as well as constitutional history and public...

 of modern Afghanistan begins in 1709 with the rise of the Pashtuns
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

, when the Hotaki dynasty was established in Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

 followed by Ahmad Shah Durrani
Ahmad Shah Durrani
Ahmad Shah Durrani , also known as Ahmad Shāh Abdālī and born as Ahmad Khān, was the founder of the Durrani Empire in 1747 and is regarded by many to be the founder of the modern state of Afghanistan.Ahmad Khan enlisted as a young soldier in the military of the Afsharid kingdom and quickly rose...

's rise to power in 1747. The capital of Afghanistan was shifted in 1776 from Kandahar to Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 and part of the Afghan Empire
Durrani Empire
The Durrani Empire was a Pashtun dynasty centered in Afghanistan and included northeastern Iran, the Kashmir region, the modern state of Pakistan, and northwestern India. It was established at Kandahar in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, an Afghan military commander under Nader Shah of Persia and chief...

 was ceded to neighboring empires by 1893. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state
Buffer state
A buffer state is a country lying between two rival or potentially hostile greater powers, which by its sheer existence is thought to prevent conflict between them. Buffer states, when authentically independent, typically pursue a neutralist foreign policy, which distinguishes them from satellite...

 in the "Great Game
The Great Game
The Great Game or Tournament of Shadows in Russia, were terms for the strategic rivalry and conflict between the British Empire and the Russian Empire for supremacy in Central Asia. The classic Great Game period is generally regarded as running approximately from the Russo-Persian Treaty of 1813...

" between the British
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

 and Russian
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 empires. Following the third Anglo-Afghan war and the signing of the Treaty of Rawalpindi
Treaty of Rawalpindi
The Treaty of Rawalpindi was an armistice made between the United Kingdom and Afghanistan during the Third Anglo-Afghan War...

 in 1919, the nation regained control over its foreign policy
Foreign policy
A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries...

 from the British.

After the 1978 Marxist revolution
Saur Revolution
The Saur Revolution is the name given to the Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan takeover of political power from the government of Afghanistan on 28 April 1978. The word 'Saur', i.e...

, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 began a 10-year war
Soviet war in Afghanistan
The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against the Afghan Mujahideen and foreign "Arab–Afghan" volunteers...

 in which over a million Afghans lost lives. The mujahidin insurgency generated by the Marxist government and the Soviet invasion signaled the first sustained entry of Islam into Afghan politics as the religion served as a force to unify the tribally divided multiethnic population. This was followed by the Afghan civil war (1992–1996), the rise and fall of the extremist
Extremism
Extremism is any ideology or political act far outside the perceived political center of a society; or otherwise claimed to violate common moral standards...

 Taliban government
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was founded in 1996 when the Taliban began their rule of Afghanistan and ended with their fall from power in 2001...

 and the 2001-present war
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

. In December 2001, the United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 authorized the creation of the International Security Assistance Force
International Security Assistance Force
The International Security Assistance Force is a NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan established by the United Nations Security Council on 20 December 2001 by Resolution 1386 as envisaged by the Bonn Agreement...

 (ISAF) to help maintain security in Afghanistan and assist the Karzai administration. While NATO and other countries are rebuilding war-torn Afghanistan, terrorist
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 groups such as the Haqqani network
Haqqani network
The Haqqani Network is an insurgent group fighting against US-led NATO forces and the government of Afghanistan. Originating from Afghanistan during the mid-1970s, it was nurtured by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence during the 1980s Soviet war in...

 with alleged support and guidance from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence
Inter-Services Intelligence
The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence , is Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, responsible for providing critical national security intelligence assessment to the Government of Pakistan...

 (ISI) spy network are actively involved in a nationwide Taliban
Quetta Shura
The Quetta Shura is a militant organization composed of top leadership of the Afghan Taliban, that is believed to be based since about 2001 in the city of Quetta in the Balochistan province of Pakistan. The Shura was formed after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was toppled in late 2001 and the...

-led insurgency
Taliban insurgency
The Taliban insurgency took root shortly after the group's fall from power following the 2001 war in Afghanistan. The Taliban continue to attack Afghan, U.S., and other ISAF troops and many terrorist incidents attributable to them have been registered. The war has also spread over the southern and...

, which includes countless assassination
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

s and suicide attack
Suicide attack
A suicide attack is a type of attack in which the attacker expects or intends to die in the process.- Historical :...

s. According to the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, the insurgents were responsible for 75% of civilian casualties in 2010 and 80% in 2011.

Etymology


{{Main|Name of Afghanistan|Afghan (ethnonym)|Afghana}}
The name Afghānistān
Name of Afghanistan
The name of Afghanistan is believed to be as old as the ethnonym Afghan, which is documented in a 10th century geography book called Hudud ul-'alam focusing on territories south of the Hindu Kush around the Sulaiman Mountains. The root name "Afghan" has been used historically in reference to the...

 ({{lang-fa|افغانستان}}, avɣɒnestɒn) means "Land of the Afghans", which originates from the ethnonym
Ethnonym
An ethnonym is the name applied to a given ethnic group. Ethnonyms can be divided into two categories: exonyms and autonyms or endonyms .As an example, the ethnonym for...

 "Afghan". The first part of the name "Afghan" designates the Pashtun people
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

 since ancient times, the founders and the largest ethnic group of Afghanistan
Ethnic groups in Afghanistan
Afghanistan is a multiethnic society. The population of the country is divided into a wide variety of ethnolinguistic groups. The ethnic groups of the country are as follow: Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Aimak, Turkmen, Baloch, Pashai, Nuristani, Arab, Brahui, Pamiri and some others.-Ethnic...

. This name is mentioned in the form of Abgan in the 3rd century CE by the Sassanians
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

 and as Avagana (Afghana
Afghana
Afghana or Avagana is considered in Afghan folklore a tribal chief or prince of Bani Israel origin and a progenitor of modern-day Pashtuns , the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan and second largest in Pakistan...

) in the 6th century CE by Indian astronomer Varahamihira
Varahamihira
Varāhamihira , also called Varaha or Mihira, was an Indian astronomer, mathematician, and astrologer who lived in Ujjain...

. A people called the Afghans are mentioned several times in a 10th century geography book
Guide book
A guide book is a book for tourists or travelers that provides details about a geographic location, tourist destination, or itinerary. It is the written equivalent of a tour guide...

, Hudud al-'alam, particularly where a reference is made to a village.{{quote|Saul, a pleasant village on a mountain. In it live Afghans.}} Al-Biruni
Al-Biruni
Abū al-Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-BīrūnīArabic spelling. . The intermediate form Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī is often used in academic literature...

 referred to them in the 11th century as various tribes living on the western frontier mountains of the Indus River
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

, which would be the Sulaiman Mountains
Sulaiman Mountains
The Sulaiman Mountains are a major geological feature of southeastern Afghanistan and northern Balochistan province of Pakistan. In Pakistan, it forms the eastern edge of the Iranian plateau where the Indus River separates it from the Asian Subcontient...

. Ibn Battuta
Ibn Battuta
Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta , or simply Ibn Battuta, also known as Shams ad–Din , was a Muslim Moroccan Berber explorer, known for his extensive travels published in the Rihla...

, a famous Moroccan
Moroccan people
The Moroccan people are a people that share a common Moroccan culture, ancestry and speak the Moroccan variant of the Arabic language or a Berber language as a mother tongue....

 scholar visiting the region in 1333, writes: "We travelled on to Kabul
Kabulistan
Kabulistan is a historical term referring to the eastern territories of Greater Khorasan that is centered around present-day Kabul, Afghanistan...

, formerly a vast town, the site of which is now occupied by a village inhabited by a tribe of Persians called Afghans. They hold mountains and defiles and possess considerable strength, and are mostly highwaymen. Their principle mountain is called Kuh Sulayman
Sulaiman Mountains
The Sulaiman Mountains are a major geological feature of southeastern Afghanistan and northern Balochistan province of Pakistan. In Pakistan, it forms the eastern edge of the Iranian plateau where the Indus River separates it from the Asian Subcontient...

."
One prominent 16th century Persian scholar explains extensively about the Afghans. For example, he writes:
{{quote|The men of Kábul and Khilj
Khilji dynasty
The Khilji Sultanate was a dynasty of Turko-Afghan Khalaj origin who ruled large parts of South Asia from 1290 - 1320. They were the second dynasty to rule the Delhi Sultanate of India...

 also went home; and whenever they were ques­tioned about the Musulmáns of the Kohistán (the mountains), and how matters stood there, they said, "Don't call it Kohistán, but Afghánistán; for there is nothing there but Afgháns and dis­turbances." Thus it is clear that for this reason the people of the country call their home in their own language
Pashto language
Pashto , known as Afghani in Persian and Pathani in Punjabi , is the native language of the indigenous Pashtun people or Afghan people who are found primarily between an area south of the Amu Darya in Afghanistan and...

 Afghánistán, and themselves Afgháns.|Firishta
Firishta
Firishta or Ferishta, full name Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah , was born in 1560 and died in 1620 and he was a Persian historian. The name Firishta means angel or one who is sent in Persian.-Life:...

|1560-1620 AD}}

It is widely accepted that the terms "Pashtun" and Afghan are synonyms. In the writings of the 17th-century Pashto poet Khushal Khan Khattak
Khushal Khan Khattak
Khushal Khan Khattak was a prominent Pashtun malik, poet, warrior,A charismatic personality and tribal chief of the Khattak tribe. He wrote a huge collection of Pashto poems during the Mughal Empire in the 17th century, and admonished Pashtuns to forsake their divisive tendencies and unite...

 it is mentioned:{{quote|Pull out your sword and slay any one, that says Pashtun and Afghan are not one! Arabs know this and so do Romans: Afghans are Pashtuns, Pashtuns are Afghans!}}

The last part of the name, -stān
-stan
The suffix -stan is Persian for "place of", a cognate to Pashto -tun and to Indo-Aryan -sthāna , a Sanskrit suffix with a similar meaning...

is a Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 suffix
Suffix
In linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns or adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs...

 for "place", prominent in many languages of the region. The name "Afghanistan" is described by the 16th century Mughal Emperor Babur
Babur
Babur was a Muslim conqueror from Central Asia who, following a series of setbacks, finally succeeded in laying the basis for the Mughal dynasty of South Asia. He was a direct descendant of Timur through his father, and a descendant also of Genghis Khan through his mother...

 in his memoirs
Baburnama
Bāburnāma is the name given to the memoirs of Ẓahīr ud-Dīn Muḥammad Bābur , founder of the Mughal Empire and a great-great-great-grandson of Timur...

 as well as by the later Persian scholar Firishta
Firishta
Firishta or Ferishta, full name Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah , was born in 1560 and died in 1620 and he was a Persian historian. The name Firishta means angel or one who is sent in Persian.-Life:...

 and Babur's descendants, referring to the traditional ethnic Afghan (Pashtun) territories between the Hindu Kush
Hindu Kush
The Hindu Kush is an mountain range that stretches between central Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. The highest point in the Hindu Kush is Tirich Mir in the Chitral region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.It is the westernmost extension of the Pamir Mountains, the Karakoram Range, and is a...

 mountains and the Indus River
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

. In the early 19th century, Afghan politicians
Politics of Afghanistan
The politics of Afghanistan consists of the Council of Ministers and the National Assembly, with a president serving as the head of state and commander-in-chief of the military. The nation is currently led by the Karzai administration under President Hamid Karzai who is backed by two vice...

 decided to adopt the name Afghanistan for the entire Afghan Empire
Durrani Empire
The Durrani Empire was a Pashtun dynasty centered in Afghanistan and included northeastern Iran, the Kashmir region, the modern state of Pakistan, and northwestern India. It was established at Kandahar in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, an Afghan military commander under Nader Shah of Persia and chief...

 after its English translation had already appeared in various treaties with Qajarid Persia
Qajar dynasty
The Qajar dynasty was an Iranian royal family of Turkic descent who ruled Persia from 1785 to 1925....

 and British India
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

. In 1857, in his review of J.W. Kaye's
John William Kaye
Sir John William Kaye was a British military historian.The son of Charles Kaye, a solicitor, he was educated at Eton College and at the Royal Military College, Addiscombe. From 1832 to 1841 he was an officer in the Bengal Artillery, afterwards spending some years in literary pursuits both in...

 The Afghan War, Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels was a German industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research...

 describes "Afghanistan" as:
{{quote|[...] an extensive country of Asia [...] between Persia
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and the Indies, and in the other direction between the Hindu Kush and the Indian Ocean. It formerly included the Persian provinces of Khorassan and Kohistan
Quhistan
Quhistan or Kohistan was a region of medieval Persia, essentially the southern part of Greater Khorasan. Its boundaries appear to have been indeterminate, and the term generally seems to have been applied loosely....

, together with Herat
Herat Province
Herat is one the 34 provinces of Afghanistan; together with Badghis, Farah, and Ghor provinces, it makes up the South-western region of the country...

, Beluchistan
Balochistan
Balochistan or Baluchistan is a region which covers parts of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. It can also refer to one of several modern and historical territories within that region:...

, Cashmere
Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

, and Sinde
Sindh
Sindh historically referred to as Ba'ab-ul-Islam , is one of the four provinces of Pakistan and historically is home to the Sindhi people. It is also locally known as the "Mehran". Though Muslims form the largest religious group in Sindh, a good number of Christians, Zoroastrians and Hindus can...

, and a considerable part of the Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

 [...] Its principal cities are Kabul, the capital, Ghuznee
Ghazni
For the Province of Ghazni see Ghazni ProvinceGhazni is a city in central-east Afghanistan with a population of about 141,000 people...

, Peshawer, and Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

.}}

The Afghan kingdom was sometimes referred to as the Kingdom of Kabul
Durrani Empire
The Durrani Empire was a Pashtun dynasty centered in Afghanistan and included northeastern Iran, the Kashmir region, the modern state of Pakistan, and northwestern India. It was established at Kandahar in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, an Afghan military commander under Nader Shah of Persia and chief...

, as mentioned by the British statesman and historian Mountstuart Elphinstone
Mountstuart Elphinstone
Mountstuart Elphinstone was a Scottish statesman and historian, associated with the government of British India. He later became the Governor of Bombay where he is credited with the opening of several educational institutions accessible to the Indian population...

. Afghanistan was officially recognized as a sovereign state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 by the international community after the signing of the 1919 Treaty of Rawalpindi
Treaty of Rawalpindi
The Treaty of Rawalpindi was an armistice made between the United Kingdom and Afghanistan during the Third Anglo-Afghan War...

.

Geography


{{Main|Geography of Afghanistan}}

A landlocked mountainous country with plains in the north and southwest, Afghanistan is described as being located within South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

 or Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

. It is part of the Greater Middle East
Greater Middle East
The Greater Middle East is a political term coined by the Bush administration to group together together various countries, pertaining to the Muslim world, specifically Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Various Central Asian countries are sometimes also included. Some speakers may use the...

 Muslim world
Muslim world
The term Muslim world has several meanings. In a religious sense, it refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Islam, referred to as Muslims. In a cultural sense, it refers to Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization...

, which lies between latitude
Latitude
In geography, the latitude of a location on the Earth is the angular distance of that location south or north of the Equator. The latitude is an angle, and is usually measured in degrees . The equator has a latitude of 0°, the North pole has a latitude of 90° north , and the South pole has a...

s {{nowrap
29th parallel north
The 29th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 29 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and {{nowrap
39th parallel north
The 39th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 39 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

, and longitude
Longitude
Longitude is a geographic coordinate that specifies the east-west position of a point on the Earth's surface. It is an angular measurement, usually expressed in degrees, minutes and seconds, and denoted by the Greek letter lambda ....

s {{nowrap
60th meridian east
The meridian 60° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and {{nowrap
75th meridian east
The meridian 75° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

. The country's highest point is Noshaq
Noshaq
Noshaq is the highest mountain in Afghanistan and the second highest independent peak of the Hindu Kush after Tirich Mir . Noshaq is located in the northeastern corner of the country along the Durand line which marks the border with Pakistan. It is the westernmost peak in the world...

, at 7492 metres (24,580.1 ft) above sea level
Sea level
Mean sea level is a measure of the average height of the ocean's surface ; used as a standard in reckoning land elevation...

. {{Reference necessary|It has a continental climate
Continental climate
Continental climate is a climate characterized by important annual variation in temperature due to the lack of significant bodies of water nearby...

 with very harsh winters in the central highlands
Hazarajat
The Hazarajat is the original homeland of the Hazara people, and lies in the central highlands of Afghanistan, among the Koh-i-Baba mountains and the western extremities of the Hindu Kush. Its physical boundaries, however, are roughly marked by the Bamiyan Basin to the north, the headwaters of...

, the glaciated northeast (around Nuristan) and the Wakhan Corridor
Wakhan Corridor
Wakhan Corridor is commonly used as a synonym for Wakhan, an area of far north-eastern Afghanistan which forms a land link or "corridor" between Afghanistan and China. The Corridor is a long and slender panhandle or salient, roughly long and between wide. It separates Tajikistan in the north...

, where the average temperature in January is below −15 C, and hot summers in the low-lying areas of the Sistan Basin
Sistan Basin
The Sistan Basin is an inland endorheic basin encompassing large parts of southwestern Afghanistan and southeastern Iran, one of the driest regions in the world and an area subjected to prolonged droughts...

 of the southwest, the Jalalabad
Jalalabad
Jalalabad , formerly called Adinapour, as documented by the 7th century Hsüan-tsang, is a city in eastern Afghanistan. Located at the junction of the Kabul River and Kunar River near the Laghman valley, Jalalabad is the capital of Nangarhar province. It is linked by approximately of highway with...

 basin in the east, and the Turkestan
Afghan Turkestan
Afghan Turkestan is a region in northern Afghanistan, on the border with the former Soviet republics of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. It was the name of a former province in this area until its division by Abdur Rahman, and was centred on Mazari Sharif and included territory in the...

 plains along the Amu River in the north, where temperatures average over 35 °C (95 °F) in July.|date=October 2011}}
Despite having numerous rivers and reservoirs, large parts of the country are dry. The endorheic Sistan Basin is one of the driest regions in the world. Afghanistan does not face water shortages {{Reference necessary|because, aside from the usual rain falls, it receives plenty of snow
Snow
Snow is a form of precipitation within the Earth's atmosphere in the form of crystalline water ice, consisting of a multitude of snowflakes that fall from clouds. Since snow is composed of small ice particles, it is a granular material. It has an open and therefore soft structure, unless packed by...

 during winter in the Hindu Kush
Hindu Kush
The Hindu Kush is an mountain range that stretches between central Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. The highest point in the Hindu Kush is Tirich Mir in the Chitral region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.It is the westernmost extension of the Pamir Mountains, the Karakoram Range, and is a...

 and Pamir Mountains
Pamir Mountains
The Pamir Mountains are a mountain range in Central Asia formed by the junction or knot of the Himalayas, Tian Shan, Karakoram, Kunlun, and Hindu Kush ranges. They are among the world’s highest mountains and since Victorian times they have been known as the "Roof of the World" a probable...

, and the melting snow in the spring season enters the rivers, lakes, and streams.|date=October 2011}} However, two-thirds of the country's water flows into neighboring countries of Iran, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan. The state needs more than {{US$|2 billion}} to rehabilitate its irrigation systems so that the water is properly managed.

The northeastern Hindu Kush mountain range
Mountain range
A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

, in and around the Badakhshan Province
Badakhshan Province
Badakhshan is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, consisting of 28 districts. It is located in the north-east of the country, between the Hindu Kush and the Amu Darya. It is part of the Badakhshan region.-Geography:...

 of Afghanistan, is in a geologically active area where earthquake
Earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

s may occur almost every year. They can be deadly and destructive sometimes, causing landslide
Landslide
A landslide or landslip is a geological phenomenon which includes a wide range of ground movement, such as rockfalls, deep failure of slopes and shallow debris flows, which can occur in offshore, coastal and onshore environments...

s in some parts or avalanche
2009 Afghan avalanches
The 2009 Afghan avalanches occurred near Kabul in the central Asian country of Afghanistan on 16 January 2009. At least ten people were killed and twelve vehicles and machinery used to clear the road of snow were swept away when the avalanche struck a highway. Forty people were rescued, eleven of...

 during winter. The last strong earthquake was in 1998
1998 Afghanistan earthquake
There were two major earthquakes in Afghanistan in 1998:*February 4, 1998 Afghanistan earthquake*May 30, 1998 Afghanistan earthquake...

, which killed about 6,000 people in Badakhshan near Tajikistan. This was followed by the 2002 Hindu Kush earthquakes
2002 Hindu Kush earthquakes
The 2002 Hindu Kush earthquakes were two earthquakes which hit the Hindu Kush mountain range area in Afghanistan on March 3 and March 25, 2002.- The March 3 earthquake :At 12:08:19 UTC a 7.4 tremor hit an area S of Feyzabad, Afghanistan...

 in which over 150 people of various regional countries were killed and over 1,000 injured. The 2010 earthquake
2010 Afghanistan earthquake
The 2010 Afghanistan earthquake was an intensity VII earthquake that occurred on April 18, 2010.Eleven people were killed and more than 70 were injured. More than two thousand houses were destroyed...

 left 11 Afghans dead, over 70 injured and more than 2,000 houses destroyed.

The country's natural resources include: coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

, copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

, iron ore, lithium
Lithium
Lithium is a soft, silver-white metal that belongs to the alkali metal group of chemical elements. It is represented by the symbol Li, and it has the atomic number 3. Under standard conditions it is the lightest metal and the least dense solid element. Like all alkali metals, lithium is highly...

, uranium
Uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

, rare earth element
Rare earth element
As defined by IUPAC, rare earth elements or rare earth metals are a set of seventeen chemical elements in the periodic table, specifically the fifteen lanthanides plus scandium and yttrium...

s, chromite
Chromite
Chromite is an iron chromium oxide: FeCr2O4. It is an oxide mineral belonging to the spinel group. Magnesium can substitute for iron in variable amounts as it forms a solid solution with magnesiochromite ; substitution of aluminium occurs leading to hercynite .-Occurrence:Chromite is found in...

, gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

, zinc
Zinc
Zinc , or spelter , is a metallic chemical element; it has the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element in group 12 of the periodic table. Zinc is, in some respects, chemically similar to magnesium, because its ion is of similar size and its only common oxidation state is +2...

, talc
Talc
Talc is a mineral composed of hydrated magnesium silicate with the chemical formula H2Mg34 or Mg3Si4O102. In loose form, it is the widely-used substance known as talcum powder. It occurs as foliated to fibrous masses, its crystals being so rare as to be almost unknown...

, barites, sulfur
Sulfur
Sulfur or sulphur is the chemical element with atomic number 16. In the periodic table it is represented by the symbol S. It is an abundant, multivalent non-metal. Under normal conditions, sulfur atoms form cyclic octatomic molecules with chemical formula S8. Elemental sulfur is a bright yellow...

, lead
Lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

, marble
Marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

, precious and semi-precious stones, natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

, and petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 among other things. In 2010, US and Afghan government officials estimated that untapped mineral deposits located in 2007 by the US Geological Survey
United States Geological Survey
The United States Geological Survey is a scientific agency of the United States government. The scientists of the USGS study the landscape of the United States, its natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten it. The organization has four major science disciplines, concerning biology,...

 are worth between {{nowrap|$900 bn}} and {{nowrap|$3 trillion}}.

At 652230 square kilometres (251,827.4 sq mi), Afghanistan is the world's 41st largest country, slightly bigger than France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and smaller than Burma, about the size of Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 in the United States. It borders Pakistan in the south and east, Iran in the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far east.

History


{{Main|History of Afghanistan}}
{{History of Afghanistan}}
Excavations of prehistoric sites by Louis Dupree
Louis Dupree (professor)
Professor Louis Duprée was an American archaeologist, anthropologist, and scholar of Afghan culture and history. He was the husband of Nancy Hatch Duprée, who is the Board Director of the Afghanistan Center at Kabul University in Afghanistan and author of five books about Afghanistan...

 and others suggest that humans were living in what is now Afghanistan at least 50,000 years ago, and that farming communities in the area were among the earliest in the world. An important site of early historical activities, many say that Afghanistan compares to Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 in terms of the historical value of its archaeological sites.

Afghanistan is at a unique nexus point where numerous civilizations have interacted and often fought. It has been home to various peoples through the ages, among them the ancient Iranian peoples
Ancient Iranian peoples
Iranian peoples first appear in Assyrian records in the 9th century BCE. In Classical Antiquity they were found primarily in Scythia and Persia...

 who established the dominant role of Indo-Iranian languages
Indo-Iranian languages
The Indo-Iranian language group constitutes the easternmost extant branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It consists of three language groups: the Indo-Aryan, Iranian and Nuristani...

 in the region. At multiple points, the land has been incorporated within large regional empires, among them the Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

, the Macedonian Empire, the Indian Maurya Empire
Maurya Empire
The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age historical power in ancient India, ruled by the Mauryan dynasty from 321 to 185 BC...

, the Islamic Empire
Islamic conquest of Afghanistan
The Islamic conquest of Afghanistan began in the middle of the 7th century after the Islamic conquest of Persia was completed, when Arab Muslims defeated the Sassanid Empire at the battles of Walaja, al-Qādisiyyah and Nahavand. The Muslim Arabs then began to move towards the lands east of Persia...

 and the Sassanid Empire.

Many kingdoms have also risen to power in what is now Afghanistan, such as the Greco-Bactrians
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom was the easternmost part of the Hellenistic world, covering Bactria and Sogdiana in Central Asia from 250 to 125 BC...

, Kushans
Kushan Empire
The Kushan Empire originally formed in the early 1st century AD under Kujula Kadphises in the territories of ancient Bactria on either side of the middle course of the Oxus in what is now northern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and southern Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.During the 1st and early 2nd centuries...

, Hephthalites, Kabul Shahis, Saffarids
Saffarid dynasty
The Saffarids or the Saffarid dynasty was a Persian empire which ruled in Sistan , a historical region in southeastern Iran, southwestern Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan...

, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Kartids
Kartids
The Kartid Dynasty was a Persian dynasty that ruled over a large part of Khorassan during the 13th and 14th centuries...

, Timurids
Timurid Dynasty
The Timurids , self-designated Gurkānī , were a Persianate, Central Asian Sunni Muslim dynasty of Turko-Mongol descent whose empire included the whole of Iran, modern Afghanistan, and modern Uzbekistan, as well as large parts of contemporary Pakistan, North India, Mesopotamia, Anatolia and the...

, Mughals
Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire ,‎ or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...

, and finally the Hotaki and Durrani
Durrani Empire
The Durrani Empire was a Pashtun dynasty centered in Afghanistan and included northeastern Iran, the Kashmir region, the modern state of Pakistan, and northwestern India. It was established at Kandahar in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, an Afghan military commander under Nader Shah of Persia and chief...

 dynasties that marked the political origins of the modern state of Afghanistan.

Pre-Islamic period


{{Main|Pre-Islamic period of Afghanistan}}
Archaeological
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 exploration done in the 20th century suggests that the geographical area of Afghanistan has been closely connected by the culture of and trade with neighboring regions to the east, west, and north. Artifacts typical of the Paleolithic
Paleolithic
The Paleolithic Age, Era or Period, is a prehistoric period of human history distinguished by the development of the most primitive stone tools discovered , and covers roughly 99% of human technological prehistory...

, Mesolithic
Mesolithic
The Mesolithic is an archaeological concept used to refer to certain groups of archaeological cultures defined as falling between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic....

, Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

, Bronze
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

, and Iron age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

s have been found in Afghanistan. Urban civilization may have begun as early as 3000 BCE, and the early city of Mundigak (near Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

 in the south of the country) may have been a colony of the nearby Indus Valley Civilization
Indus Valley Civilization
The Indus Valley Civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that was located in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, consisting of what is now mainly modern-day Pakistan and northwest India...

.
After 2000 BCE, successive waves of semi-nomadic people from Central Asia moved south into the boundaries of modern Afghanistan, among them were many Indo-European-speaking
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 Indo-Iranians
Indo-Iranians
Indo-Iranian peoples are a linguistic group consisting of the Indo-Aryan, Iranian, Dardic and Nuristani peoples; that is, speakers of Indo-Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family....

. These tribes later migrated further south to India, west to what is now Iran, and towards Europe via the area north of the Caspian. The region was called Ariana
Ariana
Ariana was a region of the eastern countries of ancient Iran, next to India.Ariana may also refer to:* Ariana In places:*Ariana Governorate, a governorate in Tunisia*Ariana, Tunisia*Lake Ariana, a lake in Sofia, Bulgaria...

.

The ancient Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

 religion is believed by some to have originated in what is now Afghanistan between 1800 and 800 BCE, as its founder Zoroaster
Zoroaster
Zoroaster , also known as Zarathustra , was a prophet and the founder of Zoroastrianism who was either born in North Western or Eastern Iran. He is credited with the authorship of the Yasna Haptanghaiti as well as the Gathas, hymns which are at the liturgical core of Zoroastrianism...

 is thought to have lived and died in Balkh
Balkh
Balkh , was an ancient city and centre of Zoroastrianism in what is now northern Afghanistan. Today it is a small town in the province of Balkh, about 20 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital, Mazar-e Sharif, and some south of the Amu Darya. It was one of the major cities of Khorasan...

. Ancient Eastern Iranian languages
Iranian languages
The Iranian languages form a subfamily of the Indo-Iranian languages which in turn is a subgroup of Indo-European language family. They have been and are spoken by Iranian peoples....

 may have been spoken in the region around the time of the rise of Zoroastrianism. By the middle of the 6th century BCE, the Achaemenid Persians
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

 overthrew the Medians
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

 and incorporated Afghanistan (Arachosia
Arachosia
Arachosia is the Latinized form of the Greek name of an Achaemenid and Seleucid governorate in the eastern part of their respective empires, around modern-day southern Afghanistan. The Greek term "Arachosia" corresponds to the Iranian land of Harauti which was between Kandahar in Afghanistan and...

, Aria and Bactria
Bactria
Bactria and also appears in the Zend Avesta as Bukhdi. It is the ancient name of a historical region located between south of the Amu Darya and west of the Indus River...

) within its boundaries. An inscription
Epigraphy
Epigraphy Epigraphy Epigraphy (from the , literally "on-writing", is the study of inscriptions or epigraphs as writing; that is, the science of identifying the graphemes and of classifying their use as to cultural context and date, elucidating their meaning and assessing what conclusions can be...

 on the tombstone of King Darius I of Persia
Darius I of Persia
Darius I , also known as Darius the Great, was the third king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire...

 mentions the Kabul Valley
Kabulistan
Kabulistan is a historical term referring to the eastern territories of Greater Khorasan that is centered around present-day Kabul, Afghanistan...

 in a list of the 29 countries he had conquered.

Alexander the Great and his Macedonian army arrived in the area of Afghanistan in 330 BCE after defeating Darius III of Persia
Darius III of Persia
Darius III , also known by his given name of Codomannus, was the last king of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia from 336 BC to 330 BC....

 a year earlier in the Battle of Gaugamela
Battle of Gaugamela
The Battle of Gaugamela took place in 331 BC between Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia. The battle, which is also called the Battle of Arbela, resulted in a massive victory for the ancient Macedonians and led to the fall of the Achaemenid Empire.-Location:Darius chose a flat, open plain...

. Following Alexander's brief occupation, the successor state of the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 controlled the area until 305 BCE when they gave much of it to the Indian Maurya Empire
Maurya Empire
The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age historical power in ancient India, ruled by the Mauryan dynasty from 321 to 185 BC...

 as part of an alliance treaty.{{Quote|Alexander took these away from the Aryan
Aryan
Aryan is an English language loanword derived from Sanskrit ārya and denoting variously*In scholarly usage:**Indo-Iranian languages *in dated usage:**the Indo-European languages more generally and their speakers...

s and established settlements of his own, but Seleucus Nicator
Seleucus I Nicator
Seleucus I was a Macedonian officer of Alexander the Great and one of the Diadochi. In the Wars of the Diadochi that took place after Alexander's death, Seleucus established the Seleucid dynasty and the Seleucid Empire...

 gave them to Sandrocottus
Chandragupta Maurya
Chandragupta Maurya , was the founder of the Maurya Empire. Chandragupta succeeded in conquering most of the Indian subcontinent. Chandragupta is considered the first unifier of India and its first genuine emperor...

 (Chandragupta
Chandragupta Maurya
Chandragupta Maurya , was the founder of the Maurya Empire. Chandragupta succeeded in conquering most of the Indian subcontinent. Chandragupta is considered the first unifier of India and its first genuine emperor...

), upon terms of intermarriage and of receiving in exchange 500 elephants.
|Strabo
Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

|64 BC – 24 AD}} The Mauryans brought Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 from India and controlled the area south of the Hindu Kush until about 185 BCE when they were overthrown. Their decline began 60 years after Ashoka's rule ended, leading to the Hellenistic
Hellenistic civilization
Hellenistic civilization represents the zenith of Greek influence in the ancient world from 323 BCE to about 146 BCE...

 reconquest of the region by the Greco-Bactrians. Much of it soon broke away from the Greco-Bactrians and became part of the Indo-Greek Kingdom. The Indo-Greeks had been defeated and expelled by the Indo-Scythians
Indo-Scythians
Indo-Scythians is a term used to refer to Sakas , who migrated into Bactria, Sogdiana, Arachosia, Gandhara, Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, from the middle of the 2nd century BCE to the 4th century CE....

 in the late 2nd century BCE.

During the 1st century BCE, the Parthian Empire
Parthian Empire
The Parthian Empire , also known as the Arsacid Empire , was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Persia...

 subjugated the region, but lost it to their Indo-Parthian vassals. In the mid to late 1st century CE the vast Kushan Empire
Kushan Empire
The Kushan Empire originally formed in the early 1st century AD under Kujula Kadphises in the territories of ancient Bactria on either side of the middle course of the Oxus in what is now northern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and southern Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.During the 1st and early 2nd centuries...

, centered in modern Afghanistan, became great patrons of Buddhist culture. The Kushans were defeated by the Sassanids
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

 in the 3rd century CE. Although various rulers calling themselves Kushanshas (generally known as the Indo-Sassanids) continued to rule at least parts of the region, they were probably more or less subject to the Sassanids.

The late Kushans were followed by the Kidarite Huns who, in turn, were replaced by the short-lived but powerful Hephthalites, as rulers in the first half of the 5th century. The Hephthalites were defeated by Khosrau I
Khosrau I
Khosrau I , also known as Anushiravan the Just or Anushirawan the Just Khosrau I (also called Chosroes I in classical sources, most commonly known in Persian as Anushirvan or Anushirwan, Persian: انوشيروان meaning the immortal soul), also known as Anushiravan the Just or Anushirawan the Just...

 in CE 557, who re-established Sassanid power in Persia. However, in the 6th century CE
Common Era
Common Era ,abbreviated as CE, is an alternative designation for the calendar era originally introduced by Dionysius Exiguus in the 6th century, traditionally identified with Anno Domini .Dates before the year 1 CE are indicated by the usage of BCE, short for Before the Common Era Common Era...

, the successors to the Kushans and Hepthalites established a small dynasty in Kabulistan
Kabulistan
Kabulistan is a historical term referring to the eastern territories of Greater Khorasan that is centered around present-day Kabul, Afghanistan...

 called Kabul Shahi.

Islamization and Mongol invasion


{{Main|Islamic conquest of Afghanistan|Mongol invasion of Central Asia}}

Between the fourth and nineteenth centuries, much of modern Afghanistan was known by the regional name as Khorasan
Greater Khorasan
Greater Khorasan or Ancient Khorasan is a historical region of Greater Iran mentioned in sources from Sassanid and Islamic eras which "frequently" had a denotation wider than current three provinces of Khorasan in Iran...

. Two of the four main capitals of Khorasan (i.e. Balkh
Balkh
Balkh , was an ancient city and centre of Zoroastrianism in what is now northern Afghanistan. Today it is a small town in the province of Balkh, about 20 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital, Mazar-e Sharif, and some south of the Amu Darya. It was one of the major cities of Khorasan...

, Merv
Merv
Merv , formerly Achaemenid Satrapy of Margiana, and later Alexandria and Antiochia in Margiana , was a major oasis-city in Central Asia, on the historical Silk Road, located near today's Mary in Turkmenistan. Several cities have existed on this site, which is significant for the interchange of...

, Nishapur
Nishapur
Nishapur or Nishabur , is a city in the Razavi Khorasan province in northeastern Iran, situated in a fertile plain at the foot of the Binalud Mountains, near the regional capital of Mashhad...

 and Herat
Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

) are now located in modern Afghanistan, while Kandahar, Zabulistan
Zabul Province
Zabul is a historic province of Afghanistan. Zabul became an independent province from neighbouring Kandahar in 1963, with Qalat being named the provincial capital. It should not be confused with the city Zabol, on the Iranian side of the border with Afghanistan.- Political and security situation...

, Ghazni and Kabulistan formed the frontier
Frontier
A frontier is a political and geographical term referring to areas near or beyond a boundary. 'Frontier' was absorbed into English from French in the 15th century, with the meaning "borderland"--the region of a country that fronts on another country .The use of "frontier" to mean "a region at the...

 between Khorasan and Hindustan
Hindustan
Hindustan or Indostan, literal translation "Land of River Sindhu ", is one of the popular names of South Asia. It can also mean "the land of the Hindus"...

. The land inhabited by the Afghan tribes (i.e. ancestors of modern Pashtuns) was called Afghanistan
Name of Afghanistan
The name of Afghanistan is believed to be as old as the ethnonym Afghan, which is documented in a 10th century geography book called Hudud ul-'alam focusing on territories south of the Hindu Kush around the Sulaiman Mountains. The root name "Afghan" has been used historically in reference to the...

, which loosely covered the area between the Hindu Kush
Hindu Kush
The Hindu Kush is an mountain range that stretches between central Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. The highest point in the Hindu Kush is Tirich Mir in the Chitral region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.It is the westernmost extension of the Pamir Mountains, the Karakoram Range, and is a...

 and the Indus River
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

, with the Sulaiman Mountains
Sulaiman Mountains
The Sulaiman Mountains are a major geological feature of southeastern Afghanistan and northern Balochistan province of Pakistan. In Pakistan, it forms the eastern edge of the Iranian plateau where the Indus River separates it from the Asian Subcontient...

 being the center.

Arab Muslims
Islamic conquest of Afghanistan
The Islamic conquest of Afghanistan began in the middle of the 7th century after the Islamic conquest of Persia was completed, when Arab Muslims defeated the Sassanid Empire at the battles of Walaja, al-Qādisiyyah and Nahavand. The Muslim Arabs then began to move towards the lands east of Persia...

 brought the message of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 to the western area of what is now Afghanistan during the 7th century and began spreading eastward, some of the native inhabitants they encountered accepted it while others revolted. Afghanistan at that time was Zoroastrian, Buddhist
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 and Hindu
Hinduism in Afghanistan
Hinduism in Afghanistan has existed for almost as long as Hinduism itself. The religion was widespread in the region until the Islamic conquest of Afghanistan...

, with smaller populations of Jews, Christians and others. The Shahi rulers lost their Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 capital in around 870 AD after it was conquered by the Saffarid
Saffarid dynasty
The Saffarids or the Saffarid dynasty was a Persian empire which ruled in Sistan , a historical region in southeastern Iran, southwestern Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan...

 Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s of Zaranj
Zaranj
Zaranj or Zarang is a border town in south-western Afghanistan, with a population of approximately 49,851 people as of 2004. It is the capital of Nimruz province and is situated next to Milak, Iran. It is linked by highways with Lashkar Gah to the east, Farah to the north and Zabol in Iran to the...

. Later, the Samanids extended their Islamic influence into the Hindu Kush area from Bukhara
Bukhara
Bukhara , from the Soghdian βuxārak , is the capital of the Bukhara Province of Uzbekistan. The nation's fifth-largest city, it has a population of 263,400 . The region around Bukhara has been inhabited for at least five millennia, and the city has existed for half that time...

 in the north. It is reported that Muslims and non-Muslims lived side by side.{{quote|"Kábul has a castle
Castle
A castle is a type of fortified structure built in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages by European nobility. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble...

 celebrated for its strength, accessible only by one road. In it there are Musulmáns
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

, and it has a town, in which are infidels from Hind
Hindustan
Hindustan or Indostan, literal translation "Land of River Sindhu ", is one of the popular names of South Asia. It can also mean "the land of the Hindus"...

."
|Istahkrí
Estakhri
Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al-Farisi al Istakhri was a medieval Persian geographer in the 10th century.-Career:...

|921 AD}}

Afghanistan became one of the main centers in the Muslim world
Muslim world
The term Muslim world has several meanings. In a religious sense, it refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Islam, referred to as Muslims. In a cultural sense, it refers to Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization...

 during the Islamic Golden Age
Islamic Golden Age
During the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations...

. By the 11th century the Ghaznavids had finally Islamized all of the remaining non-Muslim areas, with the exception of the Kafiristan
Kafiristan
Kāfiristān or Kāfirstān was a historic name of Nurestan , a province in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan and Pakistan, prior to 1896. This historic region lies on, and mainly comprises, basins of the rivers Alingar, Pech , Landai Sin, and Kunar, and the intervening mountain ranges...

 region. They were replaced by the Ghurids who expanded and advanced the already powerful empire. In 1219 AD, Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

 and his Mongol
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

 barbarian
Barbarian
Barbarian and savage are terms used to refer to a person who is perceived to be uncivilized. The word is often used either in a general reference to a member of a nation or ethnos, typically a tribal society as seen by an urban civilization either viewed as inferior, or admired as a noble savage...

s overran the region. His troops are said to have annihilated the Khorasanian cities of Herat and Balkh. The destruction caused by the Mongols depopulated major cities and forced many of the locals to revert to an agrarian rural society. Mongol rule continued with the Ilkhanate
Ilkhanate
The Ilkhanate, also spelled Il-khanate , was a Mongol khanate established in Azerbaijan and Persia in the 13th century, considered a part of the Mongol Empire...

 in the northwest while the Khilji dynasty
Khilji dynasty
The Khilji Sultanate was a dynasty of Turko-Afghan Khalaj origin who ruled large parts of South Asia from 1290 - 1320. They were the second dynasty to rule the Delhi Sultanate of India...

 controlled the Afghan tribal areas south of the Hindu Kush, until the invasion of Timur
Timur
Timur , historically known as Tamerlane in English , was a 14th-century conqueror of West, South and Central Asia, and the founder of the Timurid dynasty in Central Asia, and great-great-grandfather of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Dynasty, which survived as the Mughal Empire in India until...

 who established the Timurid dynasty
Timurid Dynasty
The Timurids , self-designated Gurkānī , were a Persianate, Central Asian Sunni Muslim dynasty of Turko-Mongol descent whose empire included the whole of Iran, modern Afghanistan, and modern Uzbekistan, as well as large parts of contemporary Pakistan, North India, Mesopotamia, Anatolia and the...

 in 1370. During the Ghaznavid, Ghurid, and Timurid eras, Afghanistan produced many fine Islamic architectural monuments as well as numerous scientific and literary works.

Babur
Babur
Babur was a Muslim conqueror from Central Asia who, following a series of setbacks, finally succeeded in laying the basis for the Mughal dynasty of South Asia. He was a direct descendant of Timur through his father, and a descendant also of Genghis Khan through his mother...

, a descendant of both Timur and Genghis Khan, arrived from Central Asia and captured Kabul from the Arghun dynasty
Arghun Dynasty
The Arghun Dynasty was a dynasty of either Mongol, Turkish or Turko-Mongol ethnicity that ruled parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, and would later be focused around the region of Sindh in south east Pakistan for most of the 16th century...

, and from there he began to seize control of the central and eastern territories of Afghanistan. He remained in Kabulistan until 1526 when he and his army invaded Delhi
Delhi Sultanate
The Delhi Sultanate is a term used to cover five short-lived, Delhi based kingdoms or sultanates, of Turkic origin in medieval India. The sultanates ruled from Delhi between 1206 and 1526, when the last was replaced by the Mughal dynasty...

 in India to replace the Afghan Lodi dynasty with the Mughal Empire
Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire ,‎ or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...

. From the 16th century to the early 18th century, Afghanistan was part of three regional kingdoms: the Khanate of Bukhara
Khanate of Bukhara
Khanate of Bukhara was a significant state in Central Asia from the second quarter of 16th century to the late–18th century. Bukhara became the capital of the short-lived Shaybanid empire during the reign of Ubaydallah Khan . The khanate reached its greatest extent and influence under its...

 in north, the Shi'a
Shi'a Islam
Shia Islam is the second largest denomination of Islam. The followers of Shia Islam are called Shi'ites or Shias. "Shia" is the short form of the historic phrase Shīʻatu ʻAlī , meaning "followers of Ali", "faction of Ali", or "party of Ali".Like other schools of thought in Islam, Shia Islam is...

 Safavids
Safavid dynasty
The Safavid dynasty was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Iran. They ruled one of the greatest Persian empires since the Muslim conquest of Persia and established the Twelver school of Shi'a Islam as the official religion of their empire, marking one of the most important turning...

 in the west and the remaining larger area was ruled by the Delhi Sultanate
Delhi Sultanate
The Delhi Sultanate is a term used to cover five short-lived, Delhi based kingdoms or sultanates, of Turkic origin in medieval India. The sultanates ruled from Delhi between 1206 and 1526, when the last was replaced by the Mughal dynasty...

.

Hotaki dynasty and the Durrani Empire


{{Main|Hotaki dynasty|Durrani Empire}}

Mirwais Hotak, seen as Afghanistan's George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

, successfully rebelled against the Persian Safavids in 1709. He overthrew and killed Gurgin Khan
George XI of Kartli
George XI was a Georgian monarch who ruled Eastern Georgia from 1676 to 1688 and again from 1703 to 1709. He is best known for his struggle against the Safavid Persia which dominated his weakened kingdom. Being an Eastern Orthodox Christian, he converted to Islam prior to his appointment as...

, and made the Afghan region independent from Persia. By 1713, Mirwais had decisively defeated two larger Persian armies, one was led by Khusraw Khán
Kaikhosro of Kartli
Kaikhosro , of the House of Bagrationi, was a king of Kartli, eastern Georgia, from 1709 to 1711...

 (nephew of Gurgin) and the other by Rustam Khán. The armies were sent by Sultan Husayn, the Shah in Isfahan (now Iran), to re-take control of the Kandahar region. Mirwais died of a natural cause in 1715 and was succeeded by his brother Abdul Aziz
Abdul Aziz Hotak
Abdul Aziz Hotak , was the second ruler of the Ghilzai Hotaki dynasty of Kandahar, in what is now the modern state of Afghanistan. He was crowned in 1715 after the death of his brother, Mirwais Hotak. He is the father of Ashraf Hotaki, the fourth ruler of the Hotaki dynasty...

 followed by his son Mahmud. In 1722, Mahmud led an Afghan army to the Persian capital of Isfahan, sacked the city after the Battle of Gulnabad
Battle of Gulnabad
The Battle of Gulnabad was fought between the military forces from Afghanistan and the army of the Persian Safavid Empire. The battle resulted in Afghanistan, under Shah Mahmud, winning and controlling much of Persia. Persian Shah Husayn was taken captive during the battle...

 and proclaimed himself King of Persia. The Persians were disloyal to the Afghan rulers, and after the massacre of thousands of religious scholars, nobles, and members of the Safavid family, the Hotaki dynasty was ousted from Persia after the 1729 Battle of Damghan
Battle of Damghan
The Battle of Damghan was fought from September 29 to October 5, 1729, near the city of Damghan. On one side of the battle were the Afsharid Persians commanded by Nader Shah Afsharid. On the other side were the Hotaki forces led by Ashraf Hotaki...

.

In 1738, Nader Shah
Nader Shah
Nāder Shāh Afshār ruled as Shah of Iran and was the founder of the Afsharid dynasty. Because of his military genius, some historians have described him as the Napoleon of Persia or the Second Alexander...

 and his Afsharid forces
Afsharid dynasty
The Afsharids were members of an Iranian dynasty of Turkmen origin from Khorasan who ruled Persia in the 18th century. The dynasty was founded in 1736 by the military commander Nader Shah who deposed the last member of the Safavid dynasty and proclaimed himself King of Iran. During Nader's reign,...

 captured Kandahar from Shah Hussain Hotaki, at which point the incarcerated 16 year old Ahmad Shah Durrani
Ahmad Shah Durrani
Ahmad Shah Durrani , also known as Ahmad Shāh Abdālī and born as Ahmad Khān, was the founder of the Durrani Empire in 1747 and is regarded by many to be the founder of the modern state of Afghanistan.Ahmad Khan enlisted as a young soldier in the military of the Afsharid kingdom and quickly rose...

 was freed and made the commander of Nader Shah's four thousand Abdali
Durrani
Durrani or Abdali is the name of a chief Pashtun tribal confederation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Originally known by their ancient name Abdali later as Durrani they have been called Durrani since the beginning of the Durrani Empire in 1747. The number of Durranis are estimated to be roughly 16%...

 Afghans. From Kandahar they set out to conquer India, passing through Ghazni, Kabul, Lahore
Lahore
Lahore is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the second largest city in the country. With a rich and fabulous history dating back to over a thousand years ago, Lahore is no doubt Pakistan's cultural capital. One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Lahore remains a...

 and ultimately plundering Delhi
Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

 after the Battle of Karnal
Battle of Karnal
The Battle of Karnal , was a decisive victory for Nader Shah the emperor of Persia during his invasion of India. Shah's forces defeated the army of Muhammad Shah, the Mughal emperor in little more than three hours thus paving the way for the Persian sack of Delhi...

. Nader Shah and his army abandoned Delhi but took with them huge treasure, which included the Koh-i-Noor
Koh-i-Noor
The Kōh-i Nūr which means "Mountain of Light" in Persian, also spelled Koh-i-noor, Koh-e Noor or Koh-i-Nur, is a 105 carat diamond that was once the largest known diamond in the world. The Kōh-i Nūr originated in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India along with its double, the Darya-ye Noor...

 and Darya-ye Noor
Darya-ye Noor
The Darya-ye Noor is one of the largest diamonds in the world, weighing an estimated . Its colour, pale pink, is one of the rarest to be found in diamonds...

 diamonds. After the death of Nader Shah in 1747, the Afghans chose Ahmad Shah Durrani as their head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

. Regarded as the founder of modern Afghanistan, Durrani and his Afghan army conquered the entire present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, Khorasan and Kohistan
Quhistan
Quhistan or Kohistan was a region of medieval Persia, essentially the southern part of Greater Khorasan. Its boundaries appear to have been indeterminate, and the term generally seems to have been applied loosely....

 provinces of Iran, along with Delhi
Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

 in India. He defeated the Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

s of the Maratha Empire
Maratha Empire
The Maratha Empire or the Maratha Confederacy was an Indian imperial power that existed from 1674 to 1818. At its peak, the empire covered much of South Asia, encompassing a territory of over 2.8 million km²....

 in the Punjab region
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

 nine times, one of the biggest battles was the 1761 Battle of Panipat.

In October 1772, Ahmad Shah Durrani died of a natural cause and was buried at a site now adjacent to the Shrine of the Cloak in Kandahar. He was succeeded by his son, Timur Shah Durrani
Timur Shah Durrani
Timur Shah Durrani , was the second ruler of the Durrani Empire from October 16, 1772, until his death in 1793. An ethnic Pashtun, he was the second and eldest son of Ahmad Shah Durrani.- Early life :...

, who transferred the capital of Afghanistan from Kandahar to Kabul in 1776. After Timur Shah's death in 1793, the Durrani throne was passed down to his son Zaman Shah
Zaman Shah Durrani
Zaman Shah Durrani , , was ruler of the Durrani Empire from 1793 until 1800. He was the grandson of Ahmad Shah Durrani and the fifth son of Timur Shah Durrani...

 followed by Mahmud Shah
Mahmud Shah Durrani
Mahmud Shah Durrani was born Prince and ruler of the Durrani Empire between 1801 and 1803, and again between 1809 and 1818...

, Shuja Shah
Shuja Shah Durrani
Shuja Shah Durrani was ruler of the Durrani Empire from 1803 to 1809. He then ruled from 1839 until his death in 1842. Shuja Shah was of the Sadozai line of the Abdali group of Pashtuns...

 and others.

The Afghan Empire was under threat in the early 1800s by the Sikhs in the east and the Persians in the west. The western province of Herat was invaded by the Persians but was successfully fought off by Fateh Khan
Fateh Khan (disambiguation)
Fateh Khan may refer to:* Fateh Khan, a region in Pakistan* Fateh Khan Awan, a man from Pakistan who fought in WWII...

, brother of Dost Mohammad Khan
Dost Mohammad Khan
Dost Mohammad Khan was the Emir of Afghanistan between 1826 and 1863. He first ruled from 1826 to 1839 and then from 1843 to 1863. He was the 11th son of Sardar Pāyendah Khan who was killed by Zaman Shah Durrani in 1799...

. The Sikhs, under Ranjit Singh
Ranjit Singh
Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji was the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire.-Early life:...

, invaded Afghanistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region in 1809. Fateh Khan was defeated by Hari Singh Nalwa
Hari Singh Nalwa
Hari Singh Nalwa was Commander-in-chief of the Khalsa, the army of the Sikh Empire. He is known for his role in the conquests of Kasur, Sialkot, Multan, Kashmir, Attock, and Peshawar. He led the Sikh Army in freeing Shah Shuja from Kashmir and secured the Koh-i-Nor diamond for Maharaja Ranjit Singh...

 in the 1813 Battle of Attock
Battle of Attock
The Battle of Attock took place on 13 July 1813 between the Sikh Empire and the Durrani Empire. The battle was the first significant Sikh victory over the Durranis.- Background :...

. Fateh Khan had installed 21 of his brothers in positions of power throughout the Afghan Empire. After his death, they rebelled and divided up the provinces of the empire between themselves. During this turbulent period, Afghanistan had many temporary rulers until Dost Mohammad Khan's take over in 1826. The Afghan army descended in 1837 through the Khyber Pass
Khyber Pass
The Khyber Pass, is a mountain pass linking Pakistan and Afghanistan.The Pass was an integral part of the ancient Silk Road. It is mentioned in the Bible as the "Pesh Habor," and it is one of the oldest known passes in the world....

 on Sikh forces at Jamrud
Jamrud
Jamrud , is a town located in the Khyber Agency, one of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. The town is the doorway to the Khyber pass, part of the Hindu Kush range...

. The Sikhs held off the Afghan offensive for over a week – the time it took reinforcements to reach Jamrud from Lahore
Lahore
Lahore is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the second largest city in the country. With a rich and fabulous history dating back to over a thousand years ago, Lahore is no doubt Pakistan's cultural capital. One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Lahore remains a...

. By this time the British
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

 had reached the area from the east, and in 1839 the First Anglo-Afghan War
First Anglo-Afghan War
The First Anglo-Afghan War was fought between British India and Afghanistan from 1839 to 1842. It was one of the first major conflicts during the Great Game, the 19th century competition for power and influence in Central Asia between the United Kingdom and Russia, and also marked one of the worst...

 or better known as the Great Game
The Great Game
The Great Game or Tournament of Shadows in Russia, were terms for the strategic rivalry and conflict between the British Empire and the Russian Empire for supremacy in Central Asia. The classic Great Game period is generally regarded as running approximately from the Russo-Persian Treaty of 1813...

 was initiated.

Barakzai dynasty and Western influence


{{See|European influence in Afghanistan|Reforms of Amanullah Khan and civil war}}

Following the 1842 Battle of Gandamak
Massacre of Elphinstone's Army
The Massacre of Elphinstone's Army was the destruction by Afghan forces, led by Akbar Khan, the son of Dost Mohammad Khan, of a combined British and Indian force of the British East India Company, led by Major General William Elphinstone, in January 1842....

 that was fought between Akbar Khan
Akbar Khan
Amir Akbar Khan Amir Akbar Khan Amir Akbar Khan (1816 – 1846;, born as Mohammad Akbar Khan and famously known as Wazir Akbar Khan, was an Afghan Prince, a general, a tribal leader and Emir. He was active in the First Anglo-Afghan War, which lasted from 1839 to 1842...

 and William Elphinstone, the British established diplomatic relations
Foreign relations of Afghanistan
The foreign relations of Afghanistan, like those of any country, have changed along with the political, sociological, and economic state of the various parts of Afghanistan.-Overview:...

 with the Afghan government but withdrew all forces from the country. They returned during the Second Anglo-Afghan War
Second Anglo-Afghan War
The Second Anglo-Afghan War was fought between the United Kingdom and Afghanistan from 1878 to 1880, when the nation was ruled by Sher Ali Khan of the Barakzai dynasty, the son of former Emir Dost Mohammad Khan. This was the second time British India invaded Afghanistan. The war ended in a manner...

 in the late 1870s for about two year military operations, which was to defeat Ayub Khan and assist Abdur Rahman Khan
Abdur Rahman Khan
Abdur Rahman Khan was Emir of Afghanistan from 1880 to 1901.The third son of Mohammad Afzal Khan, and grandson of Dost Mohammad Khan, Abdur Rahman Khan was considered a strong ruler who re-established the writ of the Afghan government in Kabul after the disarray that followed the second...

 establish authority. The United Kingdom began to exercise a great deal of influence after this and even controlled the state's foreign policy
Foreign policy
A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries...

. In 1893, Mortimer Durand
Mortimer Durand
Sir Henry Mortimer Durand was a British diplomat and civil servant of colonial British India.-Background:Born at Sehore, Bhopal, India, he was the son of Sir Henry Marion Durand, the Resident of Baroda and he was educated at Blackheath Proprietary School, and Tonbridge School.-Career:Durand...

 made Amir Abdur Rahman Khan sign a controversial agreement
Durand Line
The Durand Line refers to the porous international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which has divided the ethnic Pashtuns . This poorly marked line is approximately long...

 in which the ethnic Pashtun
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

 and Baloch
Baloch people
The Baloch or Baluch are an ethnic group that belong to the larger Iranian peoples. Baluch people mainly inhabit the Balochistan region and Sistan and Baluchestan Province in the southeast corner of the Iranian plateau in Western Asia....

 territories were divided by the Durand Line
Durand Line
The Durand Line refers to the porous international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which has divided the ethnic Pashtuns . This poorly marked line is approximately long...

. This was a standard divide and rule
Divide and rule
In politics and sociology, divide and rule is a combination of political, military and economic strategy of gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into chunks that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy...

 policy of the British and would lead to strained relations, especially with the later new state of Pakistan.
After the Third Anglo-Afghan War
Third Anglo-Afghan War
The Third Anglo-Afghan War began on 6 May 1919 and ended with an armistice on 8 August 1919. It was a minor tactical victory for the British. For the British, the Durand Line was reaffirmed as the political boundary between the Emirate of Afghanistan and British India and the Afghans agreed not to...

 and the signing of the Treaty of Rawalpindi
Treaty of Rawalpindi
The Treaty of Rawalpindi was an armistice made between the United Kingdom and Afghanistan during the Third Anglo-Afghan War...

 in 1919, King Amanullah Khan
Amanullah Khan
Amanullah Khan was the King of the Emirate of Afghanistan from 1919 to 1929, first as Amir and after 1926 as Shah. He led Afghanistan to independence over its foreign affairs from the United Kingdom, and his rule was marked by dramatic political and social change...

 declared Afghanistan a sovereign
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 and fully independent state
Independence
Independence is a condition of a nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory....

. He moved to end his country's traditional isolation by establishing diplomatic relations with the international community and, following a 1927–28 tour of Europe and Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, introduced several reforms intended to modernize his nation. A key force behind these reforms was Mahmud Tarzi
Mahmud Tarzi
Mahmūd Bēg Tarzī was one of Afghanistan's greatest intellectuals. He is known as the father of Afghan journalism...

, an ardent supporter of the education of women. He fought for Article 68 of Afghanistan's 1923 constitution
Constitution of Afghanistan
The Constitution of Afghanistan is the supreme law of the state Afghanistan, which serves as the legal framework between the Afghan government and the Afghan citizens...

 (declared through a loya jirga
Loya jirga
A loya jirga is a type of jirga regarded as "grand assembly," a phrase in the Pashto language meaning "grand council." A loya jirga is a mass meeting usually prepared for major events such as choosing a new king, adopting a constitution, or discussing important national political or emergency...

), which made elementary education compulsory.

Some of the reforms that were actually put in place, such as the abolition of the traditional burqa
Burqa
A burqa is an enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic religion to cover their bodies in public places. The burqa is usually understood to be the woman's loose body-covering , plus the head-covering , plus the face-veil .-Etymology:A speculative and unattested etymology...

 for women and the opening of a number of co-educational schools, quickly alienated many tribal and religious leaders. Faced with overwhelming armed opposition, Amanullah Khan was forced to abdicate in January 1929 after Kabul fell to rebel forces led by Habibullah Kalakani. Prince Mohammed Nadir Shah
Mohammed Nadir Shah
Mohammed Nadir Shah was King of Afghanistan from 15 October 1929 until his assassination in 1933. Previously, he served as Minister of War, Afghan Ambassador to France, and as a general in the military of Afghanistan...

, Amanullah's cousin, in turn defeated and killed Kalakani in November 1929, and was declared King Nadir Shah. He abandoned the reforms of Amanullah Khan in favor of a more gradual approach to modernisation but was assassinated in 1933 by Abdul Khaliq
Abdul Khaliq Hazara (assassin)
Abdul Khaliq Hazara was a teenaged Hazara student who was studying in Kabul. On November 8, 1933 he assassinated King Nadir Khan of Afghanistan during a high school visit. He was apprehended immediately after the assassination and later executed. Some books mention that he was first tortured and...

, a Hazara school student.

Mohammed Zahir Shah
Mohammed Zahir Shah
Mohammed Zahir Shah was the last King of Afghanistan, reigning for four decades, from 1933 until he was ousted by a coup in 1973...

, Nadir Shah's 19-year-old son, succeeded to the throne and reigned from 1933 to 1973. Until 1946 Zahir Shah ruled with the assistance of his uncle, who held the post of Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Afghanistan
The Prime Minister of Afghanistan is a currently defunct post in the Afghan Government.The position was created in 1927, and was appointed by the king, mostly as an advisor, until the end of the monarchy in 1973...

 and continued the policies of Nadir Shah. Another of Zahir Shah's uncles, Shah Mahmud Khan, became Prime Minister in 1946 and began an experiment allowing greater political freedom, but reversed the policy when it went further than he expected. He was replaced in 1953 by Mohammed Daoud Khan
Mohammed Daoud Khan
Sardar Mohammed Daoud Khan or Daud Khan was Prime Minister of Afghanistan from 1953 to 1963 and later becoming the President of Afghanistan...

, the king's cousin and brother-in-law. Daoud Khan sought a closer relationship with the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and a more distant one towards Pakistan. Afghanistan remained neutral and was neither a participant in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, nor aligned with either power bloc in the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

. However, it was a beneficiary of the latter rivalry as both the Soviet Union and the United States vied for influence by building Afghanistan's main highways, airports and other vital infrastructure. By the late 1960s, many Western travelers were using these as part of the hippie trail
Hippie trail
The hippie trail is a term used to describe the journeys taken by hippies and others in the 1960s and 1970s from Europe overland to and from southern Asia, mainly India, Pakistan and Nepal...

. In 1973, while King Zahir Shah was on an official overseas visit, Daoud Khan launched a bloodless coup and became the first President of Afghanistan
President of Afghanistan
Afghanistan has only been a republic between 1973 and 1992 and from 2001 onwards. Before 1973, it was a monarchy that was governed by a variety of kings, emirs or shahs...

.

Marxist revolution and Soviet war


{{Main|Saur Revolution|Soviet war in Afghanistan}}

In April 1978, a prominent member of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan
People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan
The People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan was a communist party established on the 1 January 1965. While a minority, the party helped former president of Afghanistan, Mohammed Daoud Khan, to overthrow his cousin, Mohammed Zahir Shah, and established Daoud's Republic of Afghanistan...

 (PDPA), Mir Akbar Khyber
Mir Akbar Khyber
Mir Akbar Khyber was an Afghan intellectual and a leader of the Parcham faction of the communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan...

, was mysteriously killed. Leaders of the PDPA feared that the government was planning to dismantle them because many were being arrested. Hafizullah Amin
Hafizullah Amin
Hafizullah Amin was the second President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan....

 along with other PDPA members managed to remain at large and organised an uprising. The PDPA, led by Nur Mohammad Taraki, Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal was the third President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is the best known of the Marxist leadership....

 and Hafizullah Amin, overthrew the regime of Daoud
Saur Revolution
The Saur Revolution is the name given to the Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan takeover of political power from the government of Afghanistan on 28 April 1978. The word 'Saur', i.e...

 by assassinating the President along with his family and relatives. Taraki quickly took over and moved to carry out an ill-conceived land reform
Land reform
[Image:Jakarta farmers protest23.jpg|300px|thumb|right|Farmers protesting for Land Reform in Indonesia]Land reform involves the changing of laws, regulations or customs regarding land ownership. Land reform may consist of a government-initiated or government-backed property redistribution,...

, which was misunderstood by virtually all Afghans. The PDPA began imprisoning, torturing and murdering thousands of members of the traditional elite, the religious establishment, and the intelligentsia. On the other hand, they prohibited usury
Usury
Usury Originally, when the charging of interest was still banned by Christian churches, usury simply meant the charging of interest at any rate . In countries where the charging of interest became acceptable, the term came to be used for interest above the rate allowed by law...

, made statements on women's rights by declaring equality of the sexes and introducing women to political life. Anahita Ratebzad
Anahita Ratebzad
Anahita Ratebzad is a female Afghan Marxist and former member of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan and the Revolutionary Council....

 was one of several female Marxist leaders and a member of the Revolutionary Council.

As part of its Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 strategy, the United States strengthened political ties with Pakistan
Pakistan – United States relations
Pakistan – United States relations refers to the bilateral relationship between the Pakistan and the United States. The United States first established diplomatic relations with Pakistan on 20 October 1947. The relationship since then was based primarily on U.S. economic and military assistance to...

 although Zbigniew Brzezinski
Zbigniew Brzezinski
Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski is a Polish American political scientist, geostrategist, and statesman who served as United States National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981....

, National Security Advisor
National Security Advisor (United States)
The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, commonly referred to as the National Security Advisor , serves as the chief advisor to the President of the United States on national security issues...

 to U.S. President Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

, has warned that this might prompt a Soviet intervention. The Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 (CIA) began using Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence
Inter-Services Intelligence
The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence , is Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, responsible for providing critical national security intelligence assessment to the Government of Pakistan...

 (ISI) as a proxy
Proxy
Proxy may refer to:* Proxy abuse , abuse committed on behalf of somebody else* Proxy bullying , bullying committed on behalf of somebody else...

 network to recruit, finance and arm the multi-national Mujahideen
Mujahideen
Mujahideen are Muslims who struggle in the path of God. The word is from the same Arabic triliteral as jihad .Mujahideen is also transliterated from Arabic as mujahedin, mujahedeen, mudžahedin, mudžahidin, mujahidīn, mujaheddīn and more.-Origin of the concept:The beginnings of Jihad are traced...

 fighters inside Pakistan, which was aimed to prevent the Soviet Union from reaching the oil-rich Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

 through Balochistan
Balochistan
Balochistan or Baluchistan is a region which covers parts of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. It can also refer to one of several modern and historical territories within that region:...

. In March 1979, Hafizullah Amin took over as Prime Minister of Afghanistan, retaining the position of field marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

 and becoming Vice-President of the Supreme Defence Council. Taraki remained the president and in control of the army until he was killed in September 1979.

To bolster the Parcham
Parcham
Parcham was the name of one of the factions of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. The Parcham faction seized power in the country after toppling Hafizullah Amin....

 faction and as part of its Cold War strategy to ultimately reach Gwadar
Gwadar
Gwadar also known as Godar is a developing port city on the southwestern Arabian Sea coast of Pakistan. It is the district headquarters of Gwadar District in Balochistan province and has a population of approximately 50,000.Gwadar is strategically located at the apex of the Arabian Sea and at the...

 in Balochistan, the Soviet Union decided to invade Afghanistan in December 1979 by sending 100,000 soldiers of the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 to its southern neighbor. In the meantime, Hafizullah Amin was killed and replaced by Babrak Karmal. In response to all these, the Reagan administration in the U.S. increased arming and funding of the Mujahideen, thanks in large part to the efforts of Charlie Wilson and CIA officer Gust Avrakotos
Gust Avrakotos
Gustav Lascaris "Gust" Avrakotos was an American case officer and Afghan Task Force Chief for the United States Central Intelligence Agency....

. Early reports estimated $6–20 billion but more recent reports suggest that up to $40 billion were provided by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 to Pakistan. This was in the forms of cash and weapons, which included over two thousand FIM-92 Stinger
FIM-92 Stinger
The FIM-92 Stinger is a personal portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile , which can be adapted to fire from ground vehicles and helicopters , developed in the United States and entered into service in 1981. Used by the militaries of the U.S...

 surface-to-air missiles. The money and weapons were directly given to Pakistani Armed Forces, which was distributed by its ISI network to various Mujahideen groups although much of it was secretly kept for Pakistan's own defense and other purposes. Despite receiving only minor aid compared to leaders of other Mujahideen groups, Ahmad Shah Massoud was named the "Afghan who won the cold war" by the Wall Street Journal.

The 10-year Soviet war resulted in the killings of over 1 million Afghans, mostly civilians. About 6{{nbsp}}million fled to Pakistan
Afghans in Pakistan
Afghans in Pakistan are mostly refugees who fled Afghanistan during the 1980s Soviet war as well as diplomats, traders, businesspersons, workers, exchange students, tourists and other visitors. As of March 2009, some 1.7 million registered Afghan nationals were reported to be living in Pakistan,...

 and Iran
Afghans in Iran
Afghans in Iran are mostly refugees who fled Afghanistan during the 1980s Soviet war as well as diplomats, traders, businesspersons, workers, exchange students, tourists and other visitors. As of March 2009, nearly 1 million Afghan nationals were reported to be living in Iran...

, and from there tens of thousands began immigrating to the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, United States
Afghan American
An Afghan American refers to an American with heritage or origins in Afghanistan.-History and population:Afghan Americans have a long history of immigrating to the United States, as they may have arrived as early as the 1920s...

, Australia
Afghan Australian
Afghan Australians are Australians whose ancestors came from Afghanistan or who were born in Afghanistan.According to the 2006 Australian census 16,751 Australians were born in Afghanistan while 19,416 claimed Afghan ancestry, either alone or with another ancestry.-Afghan cameleers:The first Afghan...

 and other parts of the world. Faced with mounting international pressure and great number of casualties on both sides, the Soviets withdrew in 1989 but continued to support Afghan President Mohammad Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah Ahmadzai , originally merely Najibullah, was the fourth and last President of the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is also considered the second President of the Republic of Afghanistan.-Early years:Najibullah was born in August 1947 to the Ahmadzai...

 until 1992.

Foreign interference and civil war


{{Main|Civil war in Afghanistan (1989-1992)|Civil war in Afghanistan (1992–1996)}}

After the fall of Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah Ahmadzai , originally merely Najibullah, was the fourth and last President of the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is also considered the second President of the Republic of Afghanistan.-Early years:Najibullah was born in August 1947 to the Ahmadzai...

's government in 1992, Afghan political parties agreed on a peace and power-sharing agreement (the Peshawar Accords). The accords created the Islamic State of Afghanistan
Islamic State of Afghanistan
The Islamic State of Afghanistan was the name of the state of Afghanistan after the collapse of the communist regime, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, in 1992. In 1996, the country was renamed the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan by the Taliban, after seizing control of the majority of the...

 and appointed an interim government for a transitional period, under President Burhanuddin Rabbani
Burhanuddin Rabbani
Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani was President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996. After the Taliban government was toppled during Operation Enduring Freedom, Rabbani returned to Kabul and served as a temporary President from November to December 20, 2001, when Hamid Karzai was...

. According to Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

:
{{blockquote|The sovereignty of Afghanistan was vested formally in the Islamic State of Afghanistan
Islamic State of Afghanistan
The Islamic State of Afghanistan was the name of the state of Afghanistan after the collapse of the communist regime, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, in 1992. In 1996, the country was renamed the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan by the Taliban, after seizing control of the majority of the...

, an entity created in April 1992, after the fall of the Soviet-backed Najibullah government. [...] With the exception of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is an Afghan Mujahideen leader who is the founder and leader of the Hezb-e Islami political party and paramilitary group. Hekmatyar was a rebel military commander during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan and was one of the key figures in the civil war that followed the...

's Hezb-e Islami, all of the parties [...] were ostensibly unified under this government in April 1992. [...] Hekmatyar's Hezb-e Islami, for its part, refused to recognize the government for most of the period discussed in this report and launched attacks against government forces and Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 generally. [...] Shells and rockets fell everywhere.}}
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar received operational, financial and military support from Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

. Afghanistan expert Amin Saikal
Amin Saikal
Professor Amin Saikal is Director of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies and Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University. Professor Saikal has specialised in the politics, history, political economy and international relations of the Middle East and Central Asia...

 concludes in Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival:
{{blockquote|Pakistan was keen to gear up for a breakthrough in Central Asia. [...] Islamabad
Islamabad
Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan and the tenth largest city in the country. Located within the Islamabad Capital Territory , the population of the city has grown from 100,000 in 1951 to 1.7 million in 2011...

 could not possibly expect the new Islamic government leaders [...] to subordinate their own nationalist objectives in order to help Pakistan realize its regional ambitions. [...] Had it not been for the ISI's logistic support and supply of a large number of rockets, Hekmatyar's forces would not have been able to target and destroy half of Kabul.}}

In addition, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 – as competitors for regional hegemony
Hegemony
Hegemony is an indirect form of imperial dominance in which the hegemon rules sub-ordinate states by the implied means of power rather than direct military force. In Ancient Greece , hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states...

 – supported Afghan militias hostile towards each other. According to Human Rights Watch, Iran was assisting the Shia Hazara Hezb-i Wahdat forces of Abdul Ali Mazari
Abdul Ali Mazari
Abdul Ali Mazari was a political leader of the Hezbe Wahdat during and following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Mazari was an ethnic Hazara, and believed the solution to the divisiveness in Afghanistan was in federalism, where every ethnic group would have specific constitutional...

, as Iran was attempting to maximize Wahdat's military power and influence. Saudi Arabia supported the Wahhabite Abdul Rasul Sayyaf
Abdul Rasul Sayyaf
Ustad Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf is an Afghan Islamist politician. He took part in the war against the PDPA government in the 1980s, leading the Mujahedin faction Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan....

 and his Ittihad-i Islami faction. Conflict between the two militias soon escalated into a full-scale war. A publication by the George Washington University
George Washington University
The George Washington University is a private, coeducational comprehensive university located in Washington, D.C. in the United States...

 describes:
{{blockquote|[O]utside forces saw instability in Afghanistan as an opportunity to press their own security and political agendas.}}

Due to the sudden initiation of the war, working government departments, police units or a system of justice and accountability for the newly-created Islamic State of Afghanistan did not have time to form. Atrocities were committed by individuals of the different armed factions while Kabul descended into lawlessness and chaos as described in reports by Human Rights Watch and the Afghanistan Justice Project. Because of the chaos, some leaders increasingly had only nominal control over their (sub-)commanders. For civilians there was little security from murder, rape and extortion. An estimated 25,000 people died during the most intense period of bombardment by Hekmatyar's Hezb-i Islami and the Junbish-i Milli forces of Abdul Rashid Dostum
Abdul Rashid Dostum
Abdul Rashid Dostum is a former pro-Soviet fighter during the Soviet war in Afghanistan and is considered by many to be the leader of Afghanistan's Uzbek community and the party Junbish-e Milli-yi Islami-yi Afghanistan...

, who had created an alliance with Hekmatyar in 1994. Half a million people fled Afghanistan. Human Rights Watch writes:
{{blockquote|Rare ceasefires, usually negotiated by representatives of Ahmad Shah Massoud, Sibghatullah Mojaddedi
Sibghatullah Mojaddedi
Sibghatullah Mojaddedi , served as the first President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan after the fall of the communist regime in 1992. He is also the leader of the Afghan National Liberation Front...

 or Burhanuddin Rabbani
Burhanuddin Rabbani
Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani was President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996. After the Taliban government was toppled during Operation Enduring Freedom, Rabbani returned to Kabul and served as a temporary President from November to December 20, 2001, when Hamid Karzai was...

 [the interim government], or officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross
International Committee of the Red Cross
The International Committee of the Red Cross is a private humanitarian institution based in Geneva, Switzerland. States parties to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005, have given the ICRC a mandate to protect the victims of international and...

 (ICRC), commonly collapsed within days.}}

Southern Afghanistan was under the control of neither foreign-backed militias nor the government in Kabul, but was ruled by local leaders such as Gul Agha Sherzai
Gul Agha Sherzai
Gul Agha Sherzai is the current Governor of Nangarhar province in Afghanistan.He previously served as Governor of Kandahar province, in the early 1990s and from 2001 until 2003.-Biography:...

 and their militias. In 1994, the Taliban (a movement originating from Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam
The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam is a political party in Pakistan. It formed a combined government in national elections in 2002 and 2008...

-run religious schools for Afghan refugees in Pakistan) also developed in Afghanistan as a politico-religious force, reportedly in opposition to the tyranny of the local governor. Mullah Omar
Mohammed Omar
Mullah Mohammed Omar , often simply called Mullah Omar, is the leader of the Taliban movement that operates in Afghanistan. He was Afghanistan's de facto head of state from 1996 to late 2001, under the official title "Head of the Supreme Council"...

 started his movement with fewer than 50 armed madrassah students in his hometown of Kandahar. When the Taliban took control of the city in 1994, they forced the surrender of dozens of local Pashtun leaders who had presided over a situation of complete lawlessness and atrocities. In 1994, the Taliban took power in several provinces in southern and central Afghanistan.

In late 1994, most of the militia factions (Hezb-i Islami, Junbish-i Milli and Hezb-i Wahdat) which had been fighting in the battle for control of Kabul were defeated militarily by forces of the Islamic State's Secretary of Defense Ahmad Shah Massoud. Bombardment of the capital came to a halt. The Islamic State government took steps to restore law and order. Courts started to work again. Massoud tried to initiate a nationwide political process with the goal of national consolidation
Democratic consolidation
Democratic consolidation is the process by which a new democracy matures, in a way that means it is unlikely to revert to authoritarianism without an external shock...

 and democratic elections, also inviting the Taliban
Quetta Shura
The Quetta Shura is a militant organization composed of top leadership of the Afghan Taliban, that is believed to be based since about 2001 in the city of Quetta in the Balochistan province of Pakistan. The Shura was formed after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was toppled in late 2001 and the...

 to join the process but they refused.

Taliban Emirate and the United Front


{{Main|Civil war in Afghanistan (1996-2001)|Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan}}

The Taliban started shelling Kabul in early 1995 but were defeated by forces of the Islamic State government under Ahmad Shah Massoud. (see video) Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

, referring to the Taliban offensive, wrote in a 1995 report:
{{blockquote|"This is the first time in several months that Kabul civilians have become the targets of rocket attacks and shelling aimed at residential areas in the city."}}
The Taliban's early victories in 1994 were followed by a series of defeats that resulted in heavy losses. Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 provided strong support to the Taliban. Many analysts like Amin Saikal
Amin Saikal
Professor Amin Saikal is Director of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies and Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University. Professor Saikal has specialised in the politics, history, political economy and international relations of the Middle East and Central Asia...

 describe the Taliban as developing into a proxy
Proxy war
A proxy war or proxy warfare is a war that results when opposing powers use third parties as substitutes for fighting each other directly. While powers have sometimes used governments as proxies, violent non-state actors, mercenaries, or other third parties are more often employed...

 force for Pakistan's regional interests which the Taliban decline.
On September 26, 1996, as the Taliban with military support by Pakistan and financial support by Saudi Arabia prepared for another major offensive, Massoud ordered a full retreat from Kabul. The Taliban seized Kabul on September 27, 1996, and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was founded in 1996 when the Taliban began their rule of Afghanistan and ended with their fall from power in 2001...

. They imposed on the parts of Afghanistan under their control their political and judicial interpretation of Islam issuing edicts forbidding women to work outside the home, attend school, or to leave their homes unless accompanied by a male relative. The Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) analyze:
{{blockquote|"To PHR's knowledge, no other regime in the world has methodically and violently forced half of its population into virtual house arrest, prohibiting them on pain of physical punishment."}}
After the fall of Kabul
Siege of Kabul
The term Battle of Kabul refers to a series of intermittent battles and sieges for the city since the Soviet intervention in 1979. Between 1979 until the Soviet troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 there were no sieges of the city and the area was largely peaceful. Fighting was mainly in the...

 to the Taliban on September 27, 1996, Ahmad Shah Massoud and Abdul Rashid Dostum, two former archnemesis, created the United Front
United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan
The United Islamic Front , known in the West and Pakistan as the Northern Alliance, was a military-political umbrella organization created by the Islamic State of Afghanistan in 1996 under the leadership of Defense Minister Ahmad Shah Massoud...

 (Northern Alliance) against the Taliban that were preparing offensives against the remaining areas under the control of Massoud and those under the control of Dostum. see video The United Front included beside the dominantly Tajik forces of Massoud and the Uzbek
Uzbeks
The Uzbeks are a Turkic ethnic group in Central Asia. They comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan, and large populations can also be found in Afghanistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Pakistan, Mongolia and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China...

 forces of Dostum, Hazara factions and some Pashtun
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

 forces under the leadership of commanders such as Abdul Haq
Abdul Haq (Afghan leader)
Abdul Haq was an Afghan Pashtun mujahideen commander who fought against the Soviets and Afghan communists during the Soviet-Afghan War...

, Haji Abdul Qadir
Abdul Qadir (Afghan leader)
Hajji Abdul Qadir Arsala was a former anti-Taliban leader in the United Islamic Front in Afghanistan...

, Qari Baba or diplomat Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai
Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai
Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai was a politician and diplomat of Afghanistan. He was an ethnic Pashtun, a member of the Mohammadzai tribe. During the 1970s he entered the Afghan foreign service. He was sent to the United States to represent the political administration supported by the Soviet Union. As...

.

According to Human Rights Watch, in late May 1997, some 3,000 captive Taliban soldiers were summarily executed in and around Mazar-i-Sharif by Dostum's Junbish forces and members of the Shia Hazara Hezb-i Wahdat faction. The Taliban defeated Dostum's Junbish forces militarily by seizing Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998. Dostum went into exile.
According to a 55-page report by the UN, the Taliban, while trying to consolidate control over northern and western Afghanistan, committed systematic massacres against civilians. UN officials stated that there had been "15 massacres" between 1996 and 2001. They also said, that "[t]hese have been highly systematic and they all lead back to the [Taliban] Ministry of Defense or to Mullah Omar himself." The Taliban especially targeted people of Shia religious or Hazara ethnic background. Upon taking Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998, about 4,000 civilians were executed by the Taliban and many more reported torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

d. The documents also reveal the role of Arab and Pakistani support troops in these killings. Bin Laden's so-called 055 Brigade
055 Brigade
The 055 Brigade was an elite guerrilla organization sponsored and trained by Al Qaeda that was integrated into the Taliban army between 1995 and 2001...

 was responsible for mass-killings of Afghan civilians. The report by the UN quotes eyewitnesses in many villages describing Arab fighters carrying long knives used for slitting throats and skinning people.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf
Pervez Musharraf
Pervez Musharraf , is a retired four-star general who served as the 13th Chief of Army Staff and tenth President of Pakistan as well as tenth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. Musharraf headed and led an administrative military government from October 1999 till August 2007. He ruled...

 – then as Chief of Army Staff – was responsible for sending thousands of Pakistanis to fight alongside the Taliban and bin Laden against the forces of Massoud. In total, there were believed to be 28,000 Pakistani nationals, many either from the Frontier Corps
Frontier Corps
The Frontier Corps is a federally-controlled paramilitary force of Pakistan, recruited mostly from the tribal areas along the western borders and led by officers from the Pakistan Army...

 or army, fighting inside Afghanistan. An estimated 8,000 Pakistani militants were recruited in madrassas filling the ranks of the estimated 25,000 regular Taliban force. A 1998 document by the U.S. State Department
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

 confirms that "20–40 percent of [regular] Taliban soldiers are Pakistani." The document further stated that the parents of those Pakistani nationals "know nothing regarding their child's military involvement with the Taliban until their bodies are brought back to Pakistan."

From 1996 to 2001 the al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

 terrorist network of Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

 and Ayman al-Zawahiri
Ayman al-Zawahiri
Ayman Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahiri is an Egyptian physician, Islamic theologian and current leader of al-Qaeda. He was previously the second and last "emir" of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, having succeeded Abbud al-Zumar in the latter role when Egyptian authorities sentenced al-Zumar to life...

 became a state within Afghanistan. Bin Laden sent Arab recruits to join the fight against the United Front.
3,000 fighters of the regular Taliban army were Arab and Central Asian militants. In total, of roughly 45,000 Pakistani, Taliban and al-Qaeda soldiers fighting against the forces of Massoud, only 14,000 were Afghans.

Ahmad Shah Massoud remained the only leader of the United Front in Afghanistan. In the areas under his control Massoud set up democratic institutions and signed the Women's Rights
Women's rights
Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...

 Declaration. Human Rights Watch cites no human rights crimes for the forces under direct control of Massoud for the period from October 1996 until the assassination of Massoud in September 2001. As a consequence many civilians fled to the area of Ahmad Shah Massoud. In total, estimates range up to one million people fleeing the Taliban. (see video) National Geographic concluded in its documentary "Inside the Taliban":
{{blockquote|"The only thing standing in the way of future Taliban massacres is Ahmad Shah Massoud."}}

In early 2001 Massoud addressed the European Parliament
European Parliament
The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union . Together with the Council of the European Union and the Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world...

 in Brussels asking the international community to provide humanitarian help to the people of Afghanistan. He stated that the Taliban and al-Qaeda had introduced "a very wrong perception of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

" and that without the support of Pakistan and bin Laden the Taliban would not be able to sustain their military campaign for up to a year. On this visit to Europe he also warned that his intelligence had gathered information about a large-scale attack on U.S. soil being imminent.

Recent history (2001–present)


{{See|War in Afghanistan (2001–present)|Taliban insurgency|Civilian casualties of the War in Afghanistan (2001–present)}}
On 9 September 2001, Ahmad Shah Massoud was assassinated by two Arab suicide attack
Suicide attack
A suicide attack is a type of attack in which the attacker expects or intends to die in the process.- Historical :...

ers inside Afghanistan and two days later about 3,000 people became victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks
September 11, 2001 attacks
The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th or 9/119/11 is pronounced "nine eleven". The slash is not part of the pronunciation...

 in the United States. Then US President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 accused Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the faces behind the attacks. When the Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden to US authorities and to disband al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom was launched in which teams of American and British special forces worked with commanders of the United Front (Northern Alliance) against the Taliban. At the same time the US-led forces were bombing Taliban and al-Qaida targets everywhere inside Afghanistan with cruise missile
Cruise missile
A cruise missile is a guided missile that carries an explosive payload and is propelled, usually by a jet engine, towards a land-based or sea-based target. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high accuracy...

s. These actions led to the fall of Mazar-i-Sharif in the north followed by all the other cities, as the Taliban and al-Qaida crossed over the porous
Porosity
Porosity or void fraction is a measure of the void spaces in a material, and is a fraction of the volume of voids over the total volume, between 0–1, or as a percentage between 0–100%...

 Durand Line
Durand Line
The Durand Line refers to the porous international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which has divided the ethnic Pashtuns . This poorly marked line is approximately long...

 border into Pakistan. In December 2001, after the Taliban government was toppled and the new Afghan government
Politics of Afghanistan
The politics of Afghanistan consists of the Council of Ministers and the National Assembly, with a president serving as the head of state and commander-in-chief of the military. The nation is currently led by the Karzai administration under President Hamid Karzai who is backed by two vice...

 under Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai, GCMG is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan, taking office on 7 December 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001...

 was formed, the International Security Assistance Force
International Security Assistance Force
The International Security Assistance Force is a NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan established by the United Nations Security Council on 20 December 2001 by Resolution 1386 as envisaged by the Bonn Agreement...

 (ISAF) was established by the UN Security Council to help assist the Karzai administration and provide basic security to the Afghan people
Demography of Afghanistan
The population of Afghanistan is around 29,835,392 as of the year 2011, which is unclear if the refugees living outside the country are included or not. The nation is composed of a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual society, reflecting its location astride historic trade and invasion routes between...

.

While the Taliban began regrouping inside Pakistan, more coalition troops entered the escalating US-led war
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

. Meanwhile, the rebuilding
Construction
In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...

 of war-torn Afghanistan kicked off in 2002. The Afghan nation was able to build democratic structures over the years, and some progress was made in key areas such as governance, economy, health, education, transport, and agriculture. NATO is training the Afghan armed forces
Military of Afghanistan
The military of Afghanistan is composed of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Army Air Force . Being a landlocked country, Afghanistan has no navy, and the private security forces who are sometimes seen wearing military uniforms are not part of Afghanistan's military...

 as well its national police
Afghan National Police
The Afghan National Police - ANP - is the primary national police force in Afghanistan. It serves as a single law enforcement agency all across the country. The Afghan police force was first created with the establishment of the Afghan nation in the early 18th century...

. ISAF and Afghan troops
Afghan National Army
The Afghan National Army is a service branch of the military of Afghanistan, which is currently trained by the coalition forces to ultimately take the role in land-based military operations in Afghanistan. , the Afghan National Army is divided into seven regional Corps. The strength of the Afghan...

 led many offensives against the Taliban but failed to fully defeat them. By 2009, a Taliban-led shadow government began to form in many parts of the country complete with their own version of mediation court. After U.S. President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 announced the deployment of another 30,000 soldiers in 2010 for a period of two years, Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel is a German weekly news magazine published in Hamburg. It is one of Europe's largest publications of its kind, with a weekly circulation of more than one million.-Overview:...

 published images of the US soldiers who killed unarmed Afghan civilians.

At the 2010 International Conference on Afghanistan
International Conference on Afghanistan (2010)
On January 28, 2010, an International Conference on Afghanistan was held at Lancaster House in London, where members of the international community discussed the further progress on the Petersberg agreement from 2001 on the democratization of Afghanistan after the ousting of the Taliban regime...

 in London, Afghan President
President of Afghanistan
Afghanistan has only been a republic between 1973 and 1992 and from 2001 onwards. Before 1973, it was a monarchy that was governed by a variety of kings, emirs or shahs...

 Hamid Karzai said he intends to reach out to the Taliban leadership (including Mullah Omar
Mohammed Omar
Mullah Mohammed Omar , often simply called Mullah Omar, is the leader of the Taliban movement that operates in Afghanistan. He was Afghanistan's de facto head of state from 1996 to late 2001, under the official title "Head of the Supreme Council"...

, Sirajuddin Haqqani
Sirajuddin Haqqani
Sirajuddin "Siraj" Haqqani is a Pashtun warlord and military leader who fights against American and coalition forces from his base within North Waziristan in Pakistan, where it is claimed he provides shelter to Al Qaeda operatives...

 and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is an Afghan Mujahideen leader who is the founder and leader of the Hezb-e Islami political party and paramilitary group. Hekmatyar was a rebel military commander during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan and was one of the key figures in the civil war that followed the...

). Supported by NATO, Karzai called on the group's leadership to take part in a loya jirga
Loya jirga
A loya jirga is a type of jirga regarded as "grand assembly," a phrase in the Pashto language meaning "grand council." A loya jirga is a mass meeting usually prepared for major events such as choosing a new king, adopting a constitution, or discussing important national political or emergency...

 meeting to initiate peace talks. These steps have resulted in an intensification of bombings, assassinations and ambushes. Some Afghan groups (including the former intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh
Amrullah Saleh
Amrullah Saleh is an Afghan politician who last served as the head of the Afghan National Directorate of Security...

 and opposition leader Dr. Abdullah Abdullah
Abdullah Abdullah
Abdullah Abdullah is an Afghan politician and a doctor of medicine. He was an adviser and friend to Ahmad Shah Massoud, legendary anti-Taliban leader and commander known as the "Lion of Panjshir". After the fall of the Taliban regime, Dr. Abdullah served as Afghanistan's Foreign Minister from 2001...

) believe that Karzai plans to appease the insurgents' senior leadership at the cost of the democratic constitution, the democratic process and progess in the field of human rights especially women's rights. Dr. Abdullah stated:
"I should say that Taliban are not fighting in order to be accommodated. They are fighting in order to bring the state down. So it's a futile exercise, and it's just misleading. ... There are groups that will fight to the death. Whether we like to talk to them or we don't like to talk to them, they will continue to fight. So, for them, I don't think that we have a way forward with talks or negotiations or contacts or anything as such. Then we have to be prepared to tackle and deal with them militarily. In terms of the Taliban on the ground, there are lots of possibilities and opportunities that with the help of the people in different parts of the country, we can attract them to the peace process; provided, we create a favorable environment on this side of the line. At the moment, the people are leaving support for the government because of corruption. So that expectation is also not realistic at this stage."


In FY 2009, the United States resettled just 328 refugees from Afghanistan. By contrast, the U.S. admitted more than 100,000 Vietnamese refugees for resettlement during the Vietnam War. On the other hand, over five million Afghan refugees
Afghan diaspora
Afghan diaspora or Afghan immigrants are citizens of Afghanistan who have emigrated to other countries, or people of Afghan origin who are born outside Afghanistan.-List of countries:...

 were repatriated
Repatriation
Repatriation is the process of returning a person back to one's place of origin or citizenship. This includes the process of returning refugees or soldiers to their place of origin following a war...

 in the last decade, including many who were forcefully deported
Deportation
Deportation means the expulsion of a person or group of people from a place or country. Today it often refers to the expulsion of foreign nationals whereas the expulsion of nationals is called banishment, exile, or penal transportation...

 from NATO countries. This large return of Afghans may have helped the nation's economy but the country still remains one of the poorest in the world due to the decades of war, lack of foreign investment, ongoing government corruption and the Pakistani-backed Taliban insurgency
Taliban insurgency
The Taliban insurgency took root shortly after the group's fall from power following the 2001 war in Afghanistan. The Taliban continue to attack Afghan, U.S., and other ISAF troops and many terrorist incidents attributable to them have been registered. The war has also spread over the southern and...

. The United States also accuses neighboring Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 of providing small level of support to the Taliban insurgents. According to a report by the United Nations, the Taliban and other militants were responsible for 76% of civilian casualties in 2009, 75% in 2010 and 80% in 2011.

After the May 2011 death of Osama bin Laden
Death of Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden, then head of the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda, was killed in Pakistan on May 2, 2011, shortly after 1 a.m. local time by a United States special forces military unit....

 in Pakistan, many prominent Afghan figures began being assassinated, including Mohammed Daud Daud
Mohammed Daud Daud
General H.E. Mohammed Daud Daud , also known as General Daud Daud, was the police chief in northern Afghanistan and the commander of the elite 303 Pamir Corps. He was considered one of the most effective and important opponents of the Afghan Taliban.Gen. Daud studied engineering in college...

, Ahmad Wali Karzai, Jan Mohammad Khan, Ghulam Haider Hamidi
Ghulam Haider Hamidi
Ghulam Haider Hamidi was mayor of Kandahar in Afghanistan. Hamidi moved to Pakistan and spent a brief time in this US, he returned to Afghanistan after the Taliban regime was overthrown. He was killed in a suicide bombing on 27 July 2011.-Reference:...

, Burhanuddin Rabbani
Burhanuddin Rabbani
Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani was President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996. After the Taliban government was toppled during Operation Enduring Freedom, Rabbani returned to Kabul and served as a temporary President from November to December 20, 2001, when Hamid Karzai was...

 and others. Also in the same year, the Pak-Afghan border skirmishes intensified and many large scale attacks by the Pakistani-based Haqqani network
Haqqani network
The Haqqani Network is an insurgent group fighting against US-led NATO forces and the government of Afghanistan. Originating from Afghanistan during the mid-1970s, it was nurtured by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence during the 1980s Soviet war in...

 took place across Afghanistan. This led to the United States warning Pakistan of a possible military action against the Haqqanis in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas
Federally Administered Tribal Areas
The Federally Administered Tribal Areas are a semi-autonomous tribal region in the northwest of Pakistan, lying between the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and the neighboring country of Afghanistan. The FATA comprise seven Agencies and six FRs...

. The U.S. blamed Pakistan's government, mainly Pakistani Army and its ISI
Inter-Services Intelligence
The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence , is Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, responsible for providing critical national security intelligence assessment to the Government of Pakistan...

 spy network as the masterminds behind all of this. {{quote|"In choosing to use violent extremism as an instrument of policy, the government of Pakistan, and most especially the Pakistani army and ISI, jeopardizes not only the prospect of our strategic partnership but Pakistan's opportunity to be a respected nation with legitimate regional influence. They may believe that by using these proxies, they are hedging their bets or redressing what they feel is an imbalance in regional power. But in reality, they have already lost that bet."|Admiral
Admiral (United States)
In the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard and the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, admiral is a four-star flag officer rank, with the pay grade of O-10. Admiral ranks above vice admiral and below Fleet Admiral in the Navy; the Coast Guard and the Public Health...

 Mike Mullen
Michael Mullen
Michael Glenn "Mike" Mullen is a retired United States Navy four-star admiral, who served as the 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from October 1, 2007 to September 30, 2011. Mullen previously served as the Navy's 28th Chief of Naval Operations from July 22, 2005 to September 29, 2007...

|Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is by law the highest ranking military officer in the United States Armed Forces, and is the principal military adviser to the President of the United States, the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council and the Secretary of Defense...

}} U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan
United States Ambassador to Pakistan
The U.S. embassy in Karachi was established August 15, 1947 with Edward W. Holmes as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim, pending the appointment of an ambassador. The first ambassador, Paul H. Alling, was appointed on September 20, 1947. Anne W. Patterson was nominated as United States Ambassador to...

, Cameron Munter
Cameron Munter
Cameron Phelps Munter is a United States diplomat and career foreign service officer. He is the Ambassador to Pakistan. Earlier, he was an advisor for political and military issues to Christopher R...

, told Radio Pakistan that "The attack that took place in Kabul a few days ago, that was the work of the Haqqani network. There is evidence linking the Haqqani Network to the Pakistan government. This is something that must stop." Other top U.S. officials such as Hillary Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is the 67th United States Secretary of State, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. As the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, she was the First Lady of the...

 and Leon Panetta
Leon Panetta
Leon Edward Panetta is the 23rd and current United States Secretary of Defense, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama since 2011. Prior to taking office, he served as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency...

 made similar statements. On October 16, 2011, "Operation Knife Edge" was launched by NATO and Afghan forces against the Haqqani network in south-eastern Afghanistan. Afghan Defense Minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak, explained that the operation will "help eliminate the insurgents before they struck in areas along the troubled frontier".

Governance


{{Main|Politics of Afghanistan|Presidency of Hamid Karzai|Constitution of Afghanistan}}
The government of Afghanistan
Politics of Afghanistan
The politics of Afghanistan consists of the Council of Ministers and the National Assembly, with a president serving as the head of state and commander-in-chief of the military. The nation is currently led by the Karzai administration under President Hamid Karzai who is backed by two vice...

 is an Islamic republic
Islamic republic
Islamic republic is the name given to several states in the Muslim world including the Islamic Republics of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mauritania. Pakistan adopted the title under the constitution of 1956. Mauritania adopted it on 28 November 1958. Iran adopted it after the 1979 Iranian...

 consisting of three branches, executive, legislative and judicial. The nation is currently led by the Karzai administration with Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai, GCMG is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan, taking office on 7 December 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001...

 as the President and leader
Afghan Transitional Administration
The Afghan Transitional Administration was the name of a temporary administration of Afghanistan put in place by the 2002 Loya Jirga and followed the Afghan Interim Administration which was installed after the Bonn Conference.-Background:Following the US Invasion in Afghanistan, a UN sponsored...

 since late 2001. The National Assembly
National Assembly of Afghanistan
The National Assembly is Afghanistan's national legislature. It is a bicameral body, comprising two chambers:*Wolesi Jirga or the House of the People: the 250-member lower house.*Meshrano Jirga ) or the House of Elders: an upper house with 102 seats....

 is the legislature, a bicameral
Bicameralism
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

 body having two chambers, the House of the People
House of the People (Afghanistan)
The House of the People or Wolesi Jirga , abbreviated WJ, is the lower house of the bicameral National Assembly of Afghanistan, alongside the House of Elders....

 and the House of Elders
House of Elders
Mesherano Jirga or the House of Elders, is the upper house of the bicameral National Assembly of Afghanistan, alongside the Wolesi Jirga .It has 102 members...

.

The Supreme Court
Afghan Supreme Court
Stera Mahkama or the Afghan Supreme Court is the court of last resort in Afghanistan. It was created by the Constitution of Afghanistan, which was approved on January 4, 2004...

 is led by Chief Justice
Chief Justice of Afghanistan
The Chief Justice of Afghanistan is the head of the Afghan Supreme Court. The incumbent chief justice is Abdul Salam Azimi.-List of Chief Justices, 2001-present:*Faisal Ahmad Shinwari , was member of the Islamic Dawah Organisation of Afghanistan...

 Abdul Salam Azimi
Abdul Salam Azimi
Abdul Salam Azimi Abdul Salam Azimi Abdul Salam Azimi (Pashtu:عبدالسلام عظیمی (born: 1936, in Farah Province) is the Chief Justice of Afghanistan and, as such, the head of the Afghan Supreme Court since May 2006....

, a former university professor who had been a legal advisor to the president. The current court is seen as more moderate and led by more technocrats
Technocracy (bureaucratic)
Technocracy is a form of government where technical experts are in control of decision making in their respective fields. Economists, engineers, scientists, health professionals, and those who have knowledge, expertise or skills would compose the governing body...

 than the previous one, which was dominated by fundamentalist religious figures such as Chief Justice Faisal Ahmad Shinwari
Faisal Ahmad Shinwari
Faisal Ahmad Shinwari or Fazal Hadi Shinwari was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Afghanistan from 2001 until 2006. He was appointed to the post by Afghan President Hamid Karzai in accordance with the Afghan Constitution approved after the 2001 overthrow of the Taliban government...

 who issued several controversial rulings, including seeking to place a limit on the rights of women.

According to Transparency International
Transparency International
Transparency International is a non-governmental organization that monitors and publicizes corporate and political corruption in international development. It publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index, a comparative listing of corruption worldwide...

's corruption perceptions index 2010 results, Afghanistan was ranked as the third most-corrupt country in the world. A January 2010 report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is a United Nations agency that was established in 1997 as the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention by combining the United Nations International Drug Control Program and the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Division in the United Nations...

 revealed that bribery consumes an amount equal to 23 percent of the GDP of the nation. A number of government ministries
Council of Ministers (Afghanistan)
The Council of Ministers was the governmental organ in the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and later the Republic of Afghanistan. The leader of the Council of Ministers choose ministers for the different ministeral posts in the country. Under the leadership of Nur Mohammad Taraki, Hafizullah...

 are believed to be rife with corruption, and while President Karzai vowed to tackle the problem in late 2009 by stating that "individuals who are involved in corruption will have no place in the government", top government officials were busy stealing and misusing hundreds of millions of dollars through the Kabul Bank
Kabul Bank
Kabul Bank is a commercial bank in Afghanistan, with its main branch in the capital of Kabul. Established in 2004, it is the main bank used to pay the salaries of the army and security forces. The bank provides facilities to maintain accounts in Current, Savings Bank and Fixed Deposits; and offers...

. Although the nation's institutions are newly formed and steps have been taken to arrest some, the United States warned that aid to Afghanistan would be reduced to very little if the corruption is not stopped.

Elections and parties


{{Main|Elections in Afghanistan|List of political parties in Afghanistan}}
The 2004 Afghan presidential election was relatively peaceful, in which Hamid Karzai won in the first round with 55.4% of the votes. However, the 2009 presidential election
Afghan presidential election, 2009
The 2009 presidential election in Afghanistan was characterized by lack of security, low voter turnout and widespread ballot stuffing, intimidation, and other electoral fraud....

 was characterized by lack of security, low voter turnout and widespread electoral fraud. The vote, along with elections for 420 provincial council
Provinces of Afghanistan
The provinces of Afghanistan are the primary administrative divisions of Afghanistan. As of 2004, there are thirty-four provinces in the country. Each province is further divided into smaller districts....

 seats, took place in August 2009, but remained unresolved during a lengthy period of vote counting and fraud investigation.

Two months later, under international pressure, a second round run-off vote between Karzai and remaining challenger Abdullah
Abdullah Abdullah
Abdullah Abdullah is an Afghan politician and a doctor of medicine. He was an adviser and friend to Ahmad Shah Massoud, legendary anti-Taliban leader and commander known as the "Lion of Panjshir". After the fall of the Taliban regime, Dr. Abdullah served as Afghanistan's Foreign Minister from 2001...

 was announced, but a few days later Abdullah announced that he is not participating in the November 7 run-off because his demands for changes in the electoral commission had not been met. The next day, officials of the election commission cancelled the run-off and declared Hamid Karzai as President for another 5-year term.

In the 2005 parliamentary election
Afghan parliamentary election, 2005
Afghanistan held parliamentary and provincial council elections on 18 September 2005. The first results were declared on 9 October, with final results being delayed by accusations of fraud, and were finally announced on 12 November.-Results:...

, among the elected officials were former mujahideen, Islamic fundamentalists, warlords, communists, reformists, and several Taliban associates. In the same period, Afghanistan reached to the 30th nation in terms of female representation in parliament. The last parliamentary election
Afghan parliamentary election, 2010
The Afghan parliamentary election, 2010 to elect members of the Wolesi Jirga took place on 18 September 2010. The Afghan Independent Election Commission - established in accordance with the article 156 of the Constitution of Afghanistan for the purpose of organizing and supervising all elections in...

 was held in September 2010, but due to disputes and investigation of fraud, the sworn in ceremony took place in late January 2011. After the issuance of computerized ID cards for the first time, which is a $101 million project that the Afghan government plans to start in 2012, it is expected to help prevent major fraud in future elections and improve the security situation.

Administrative divisions


{{Main|Provinces of Afghanistan|Districts of Afghanistan}}
Afghanistan is administratively divided into 34 provinces
Provinces of Afghanistan
The provinces of Afghanistan are the primary administrative divisions of Afghanistan. As of 2004, there are thirty-four provinces in the country. Each province is further divided into smaller districts....

 (wilayats
Wilayah
A wilāyah or vilâyet , or vilayat in Urdu and Turkish, is an administrative division, usually translated as "province", rarely as "governorate". The word comes from the Arabic "w-l-y", "to govern": a wāli — "governor" — governs a wilayah, "that which is governed"...

), with each province having its own capital and a provincial administration. The provinces are further divided into about 398 smaller provincial districts
Districts of Afghanistan
The provinces of Afghanistan are divided into Wolaswalei or districts. The number of districts in Afghanistan has fluctuated over the years, with new districts created by splitting or merging parts of others. Prior to 1979, there were 325 districts. This was increased to 329 and, in 2004, a major...

, each of which normally covers a city or a number of villages. Each district is represented by a district governor.

The provincial governors are appointed by the President of Afghanistan
President of Afghanistan
Afghanistan has only been a republic between 1973 and 1992 and from 2001 onwards. Before 1973, it was a monarchy that was governed by a variety of kings, emirs or shahs...

 and the district governors are selected by the provincial governors. The provincial governors are representatives of the central government in Kabul and are responsible for all administrative and formal issues within their provinces. There are also provincial councils which are elected through direct and general elections for a period of four years. The functions of provincial councils are to take part in provincial development planning and to participate in monitoring and appraisal of other provincial governance institutions.

According to article 140 of the constitution and the presidential decree on electoral law, mayor
Mayor
In many countries, a Mayor is the highest ranking officer in the municipal government of a town or a large urban city....

s of cities should be elected through free and direct elections for a four-year term. However, due to huge election costs, mayoral and municipal elections have never been held. Instead, mayors have been appointed by the government. As for the capital city of Kabul, the mayor is appointed by the President of Afghanistan.

The following is a list of all the 34 provinces of Afghanistan
Provinces of Afghanistan
The provinces of Afghanistan are the primary administrative divisions of Afghanistan. As of 2004, there are thirty-four provinces in the country. Each province is further divided into smaller districts....

 in alphabetical order and on the right is a map showing where each province is located:


  1. Badakhshan
    Badakhshan Province
    Badakhshan is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, consisting of 28 districts. It is located in the north-east of the country, between the Hindu Kush and the Amu Darya. It is part of the Badakhshan region.-Geography:...


  2. Badghis
    Badghis Province
    Bādghīs is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is located in northwestern Afghanistan, between the Murghab and Hari rivers, extending as far northward as the edge of the desert of Sarakhs. It includes the Chul formations through which the Turkmen-Afghan boundary runs...


  3. Baghlan
  4. Balkh
    Balkh Province
    Balkh is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the north of the country and its name derives from the ancient city of Balkh, near the modern town...


  5. Bamyan
  6. Daykundi
  7. Farah
    Farah Province
    Farah is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the southwest of the country. Its capital is Farah. Farah is a spacious and sparsely populated province that lies on the Iranian border...


  8. Faryab
    Faryab Province
    Fāryāb is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the north of the country. Its capital is Maymana. The majority of the population is Uzbek.-History:...


  9. Ghazni
    Ghazni Province
    Ghazni is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. Babur records in his Babur-Nama that Ghazni is also known as Zabulistan It is in the east of the country. Its capital is Ghazni City...


  10. Ghor
  11. Helmand
    Helmand Province
    Helmand is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the southwest of the country. Its capital is Lashkar Gah. The Helmand River flows through the mainly desert region, providing water for irrigation....


  12. Herat
    Herat Province
    Herat is one the 34 provinces of Afghanistan; together with Badghis, Farah, and Ghor provinces, it makes up the South-western region of the country...


  13. Jowzjan
    Jowzjan Province
    Jowzjān or Jōzjān or Jawzjan is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the north of the country. Its capital is Sheberghan.- Demographics :...


  14. Kabul
    Kabul Province
    Kābul , situated in the east of the country, is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. The capital of the province is Kabul City, which is also Afghanistan's capital. The population of Kabul province is 3.5 million people as of 2009, of which almost 80 percent live in the urban areas...


  15. Kandahar
    Kandahar Province
    Kandahar or Qandahar is one of the largest of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is located in southern Afghanistan, between Helmand, Oruzgan and Zabul provinces. Its capital is the city of Kandahar, which is located on the Arghandab River. The province has a population of nearly...


  16. Kapisa
    Kapisa Province
    Kapisa is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the north-east of the country. Its capital is Mahmud-i-Raqi, and other districts include Kohistan, Nijrab and Tagab. The population of Kapisa is estimated to be 364,900, although there has never been an official estimate...


  17. Khost
    Khost Province
    Khost is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the east of the country. Khost province used to be part of Paktia province in the past...



  1. Konar
  2. Kunduz
  3. Laghman
  4. Logar
  5. Nangarhar
    Nangarhar Province
    Nangarhar is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan in the east of the country. Its capital is the city of Jalalabad. The population of the province is 1,334,000, which consists mainly of ethnic Pashtuns with a sizable community of Arabs and Pashais....


  6. Nimruz
    Nimruz Province
    Nimruz is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan, in the south-west of the country on the borders of Iran and Pakistan. The name Nimruz means "mid-day" or "half-day" in Persian. Nimruz covers 41,000 km² and has a population of 149,000...


  7. Nurestan
    Nurestan Province
    Nuristān , also spelled Nurestān or Nooristan, is a region in Afghanistan embedded in the south of the Hindu Kush valleys. Its administrative center is Parun...


  8. Oruzgan
    Oruzgan Province
    Orūzgān or Urōzgān , also spelled Uruzgan or Rōzgān , is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the center of the country, though the area is culturally and tribally linked to Kandahar in the south. Its capital is Tarin Kowt...


  9. Paktia
    Paktia Province
    Paktia , is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan, in the east of the country. Its capital is Gardez. The population is predominantly Pashtun.- History:...


  10. Paktika
    Paktika Province
    Paktika is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the south-east of the country. Most of the population is Pashtun. Its capital is Sharan.-Political and military situation:...


  11. Panjshir
    Panjshir Province
    Panjshir is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. Containing the Panjshir Valley, in April 2004 it was created from parts of Parwan Province, which now lies along its southwestern border. Panjshir's population is about 139,000 and covers an area of 3,610 square kilometers...


  12. Parvan
    Parvan Province
    Parwān , also spelled Parvān, once also the name of an ancient town in the Hindu Kush mountains, is today an administrative province in northern Afghanistan, directly north of Kabul Province...


  13. Samangan
    Samangan Province
    Samangan is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. The province covers and has a population of approximately 313,211, as of 2006.Its capital, Samangan, is known for its ancient ruins including, notably, the Takht e Rostam...


  14. Sare Pol
  15. Takhar
    Takhar Province
    Takhār is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It was established in 1964 when Qataghan Province was divided into three provinces: Baghlan, Kunduz and Takhar. It is in the north-east of the country. Its capital is Taloqan. Its salt mines are one of Afghanistan's major mineral resources...


  16. Wardak
  17. Zabol

Foreign relations and military


{{Main|Foreign relations of Afghanistan|Military of Afghanistan}}

The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Afghanistan)
The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs - MFA - is the Government of Afghanistan Cabinet officer responsible for managing the Foreign relations of Afghanistan.-Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan:-External links:*...

 is responsible for managing the foreign relations of Afghanistan
Foreign relations of Afghanistan
The foreign relations of Afghanistan, like those of any country, have changed along with the political, sociological, and economic state of the various parts of Afghanistan.-Overview:...

. The nation has been a member of the UN since 1946, and has maintained good relations with the United States and other NATO member states since the signing of the Treaty of Rawalpindi
Treaty of Rawalpindi
The Treaty of Rawalpindi was an armistice made between the United Kingdom and Afghanistan during the Third Anglo-Afghan War...

 in 1919.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) was established in 2002 under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1401
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1401
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1401, adopted unanimously on March 28, 2002, after recalling all previous resolutions on the situation in Afghanistan, including resolutions 1378 , 1383 and 1386 , the Council endorsed the establishment of the United Nations Assistance Mission in...

 to help the nation recover from decades of war and establish a normal functioning government. Today, more than 22 NATO nations deploy about 140,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force
International Security Assistance Force
The International Security Assistance Force is a NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan established by the United Nations Security Council on 20 December 2001 by Resolution 1386 as envisaged by the Bonn Agreement...

 (ISAF). Apart from close military links, Afghanistan also enjoys strong economic relations with NATO members and their allies.
Afghanistan also has diplomatic relations with neighboring Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

, Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

, Tajikistan
Tajikistan
Tajikistan , officially the Republic of Tajikistan , is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east....

, the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, including regional states such as India, Turky, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

, Russia
Afghanistan–Russia relations
Afghanistan–Russia relations is the relationships between the two countries, Afghanistan and Russia. Relations were contentious when the latter invaded the former in 1979, precipitating a negative reaction in much of the Muslim world...

, United Arab Emirate, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, Japan, South Korea, and others. Afghanistan's relationship with Pakistan has often fluctuated since 1947. They have security and economic links with each other but disputes between the two states remain. Afghanistan continues to contest the porous
Porosity
Porosity or void fraction is a measure of the void spaces in a material, and is a fraction of the volume of voids over the total volume, between 0–1, or as a percentage between 0–100%...

 and poorly-marked Durrand Line as its international border with Pakistan, and has repeatedly accused Pakistan of supporting the Taliban insurgents
Taliban insurgency
The Taliban insurgency took root shortly after the group's fall from power following the 2001 war in Afghanistan. The Taliban continue to attack Afghan, U.S., and other ISAF troops and many terrorist incidents attributable to them have been registered. The war has also spread over the southern and...

, Haqqani network
Haqqani network
The Haqqani Network is an insurgent group fighting against US-led NATO forces and the government of Afghanistan. Originating from Afghanistan during the mid-1970s, it was nurtured by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence during the 1980s Soviet war in...

, and other anti-Afghanistan terrorist groups.

Pakistan harbors concerns over the growing influence of its rival India in Afghanistan. Relations between the two states were strained further after recent border skirmishes and when Afghan officials alleged that Pakistani intelligence agencies
Inter-Services Intelligence
The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence , is Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, responsible for providing critical national security intelligence assessment to the Government of Pakistan...

 are involved in terrorist attacks inside Afghanistan. Despite these problems, Pakistan is a participant in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, pledging $250 million in various projects across the country, and often announces that a stable Afghanistan is in their interest.

India and Iran have actively participated in reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, with India being the largest regional donor to the country. Since 2002, India has pledged up to $2 billion in economic assistance to Afghanistan and has participated in multiple socio-economic reconstruction efforts, including power, roads, agricultural and educational projects. There are also military ties between Afghanistan and India, which is expected to increase after the October 2011 strategic pact that was signed by President Karzai and Prime Minister
Prime Minister of India
The Prime Minister of India , as addressed to in the Constitution of India — Prime Minister for the Union, is the chief of government, head of the Council of Ministers and the leader of the majority party in parliament...

 Manmohan Singh
Manmohan Singh
Manmohan Singh is the 13th and current Prime Minister of India. He is the only Prime Minister since Jawaharlal Nehru to return to power after completing a full five-year term. A Sikh, he is the first non-Hindu to occupy the office. Singh is also the 7th Prime Minister belonging to the Indian...

.

The military of Afghanistan
Military of Afghanistan
The military of Afghanistan is composed of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Army Air Force . Being a landlocked country, Afghanistan has no navy, and the private security forces who are sometimes seen wearing military uniforms are not part of Afghanistan's military...

 is under the Ministry of Defense, which includes the Afghan National Army
Afghan National Army
The Afghan National Army is a service branch of the military of Afghanistan, which is currently trained by the coalition forces to ultimately take the role in land-based military operations in Afghanistan. , the Afghan National Army is divided into seven regional Corps. The strength of the Afghan...

 and the Afghan National Army Air Force. It currently has about 160,000 active soldiers and is expected to reach 260,000 in the coming years. They are trained and equipped by NATO countries, mainly by the United States Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

. The ANA is divided into 7 major Corps
Corps
A corps is either a large formation, or an administrative grouping of troops within an armed force with a common function such as Artillery or Signals representing an arm of service...

, with the 201st Selab ("Flood")
201st Corps (Afghanistan)
The 201st 'Selab' Corps of the Afghan National Army is a corps-sized formation created from 2004. The establishment of the corps started when the first commander and some of his staff were appointed on 1 September 2004. Its headquarters are at Pol-e-Charkhi, near Kabul...

 in Kabul being the main one. The ANA also has a commando brigade which was established in 2007. The National Military Academy of Afghanistan
National Military Academy of Afghanistan
The National Military Academy of Afghanistan is an academic institution of the Afghan military that is located in Kabul, Afghanistan. It is a four-year military development institution dedicated to graduating officers for the Afghan National Army and the Afghan Air Force...

 serves as the main educational institute for the militarymen of the country. A new $200 million Afghan Defense University
Afghan Defense University
The Afghan Defense University is a planned project to house various educational establishments for the military of Afghanistan. The university will be based in the Quarga/Quagheh area of Kabul, Afghanistan on a plot that began being cleared in mid-2008, and that previously served a variety of...

 (ADU) is under construction near the capital.

Crime and law enforcement


{{Main|Crime in Afghanistan|Law enforcement in Afghanistan}}

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) is the nation's domestic intelligence agency
Intelligence agency
An intelligence agency is a governmental agency that is devoted to information gathering for purposes of national security and defence. Means of information gathering may include espionage, communication interception, cryptanalysis, cooperation with other institutions, and evaluation of public...

, which operates similar to that of the United States Department of Homeland Security
United States Department of Homeland Security
The United States Department of Homeland Security is a cabinet department of the United States federal government, created in response to the September 11 attacks, and with the primary responsibilities of protecting the territory of the United States and protectorates from and responding to...

 (DHS) and has between 15,000 to 30,000 employees. The nation also has about 126,000 national police
Afghan National Police
The Afghan National Police - ANP - is the primary national police force in Afghanistan. It serves as a single law enforcement agency all across the country. The Afghan police force was first created with the establishment of the Afghan nation in the early 18th century...

 officers, with plans to recruit more so that the total number can reach 160,000. The Afghan National Police
Afghan National Police
The Afghan National Police - ANP - is the primary national police force in Afghanistan. It serves as a single law enforcement agency all across the country. The Afghan police force was first created with the establishment of the Afghan nation in the early 18th century...

 (ANP) is under the Ministry of the Interior, which is based in Kabul and headed by Bismillah Khan Mohammadi. The Afghan National Civil Order Police
Afghan National Civil Order Police
Afghan National Civil Order Police is a special police unit developed in July 2006 by Colonel Jack Stankiewicz, US Army, Police Reformation Directorate, CSTC-A of the law enforcement agency in Afghanistan.- Role :...

 is the main branch of the Afghan National Police, which is divided into five Brigades and each one commanded by a Brigadier General. These brigades are stationed in Kabul, Gardez, Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

, Herat
Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

, and Mazar-i-Sharif. Every province of the country has a provincial Chief of Police
Chief of police
A Chief of Police is the title typically given to the top official in the chain of command of a police department, particularly in North America. Alternate titles for this position include Commissioner, Superintendent, and Chief constable...

 who is appointed by the Ministry of Interior and is responsible for law enforcement
Law enforcement in Afghanistan
Law enforcement in Afghanistan is one of three major components of the nation's criminal justice system, along with courts and corrections. The National Directorate of Security is the domestic intelligence agency of the government of Afghanistan, which operates similar to that of the United States...

 in all the districts within the province.

The security forces are being trained by NATO countries through the Afghanistan Police Program
Afghanistan Police Program
Afghanistan Police Program is an US-funded program, designed to train and equip part of the Afghan National Police . -Overview:At a Geneva conference on Afghanistan security in April 2002, the United States and other donor countries agreed to support the rebuilding of the security forces in...

. According to a 2009 news report, large percent of the police officers are illiterate and are accused of demanding bribes. Jack Kem, deputy to the commander of NATO Training Mission Afghanistan and Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan, stated that the literacy rate in the ANP will rise to over 50 percent by January 2012. What began as a voluntary literacy program became mandatory for basic police training in early 2011. Approximately 17 percent of them test positive for illegal drug use. In 2009, President Karzai created two anti-corruption units within the Interior Ministry. Former Interior Minister Hanif Atmar said that security officials from the U.S. (FBI), Britain (Scotland Yard
Scotland Yard
Scotland Yard is a metonym for the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service of London, UK. It derives from the location of the original Metropolitan Police headquarters at 4 Whitehall Place, which had a rear entrance on a street called Great Scotland Yard. The Scotland Yard entrance became...

) and the European Union will train prosecutors in the unit.

The south and eastern parts of Afghanistan are the most dangerous due to their distances from Kabul and their flourishing drug trade. These areas in particular are often patrolled by Taliban insurgents
Taliban insurgency
The Taliban insurgency took root shortly after the group's fall from power following the 2001 war in Afghanistan. The Taliban continue to attack Afghan, U.S., and other ISAF troops and many terrorist incidents attributable to them have been registered. The war has also spread over the southern and...

, and in many cases they plan attacks by using suicide bombers and planting improvised explosive device
Improvised explosive device
An improvised explosive device , also known as a roadside bomb, is a homemade bomb constructed and deployed in ways other than in conventional military action...

s (IEDs) on roads. Every year many Afghan police officers are killed in the line of duty. The Afghan Border Police
Afghan Border Police
The Afghan Border Police secure Afghanistan's border and international airports. The ABP is also responsible to administer the country's immigration process and administer customs regulations. The ABP's anti-narcotic efforts are a prominent concern to the international community at present...

 are responsible for protecting the nation's airports and borders, especially the Durand Line
Durand Line
The Durand Line refers to the porous international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which has divided the ethnic Pashtuns . This poorly marked line is approximately long...

, which is a disputed border often used by criminal organizations and terrorists for their illegal activities. Reports in 2011 suggested that up to 3 million people are involved in the illegal drug business in Afghanistan, many of the attacks on government employees and institutions are carried out not only by the Taliban militants but also by powerful criminal gangs. Drugs from Afghanistan are exported to Iran, Pakistan, Russia, India, the United Arab Emirate, and the European Union. The Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics is dealing with this problem.

Economy


{{Main|Economy of Afghanistan}}

Afghanistan is an impoverished and least developed country, one of the world's poorest. The nation's GDP
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 stands at about $27 billion with an exchange rate of $15 billion, and the GDP per capita is about $900. Its unemployment rate is 35% and roughly the same percentage of its citizens live below the poverty line. About 42 percent of the population live on less than $1 a day, according to a 2009 report. On the positive side, the nation has a very low external debt
External debt
External debt is that part of the total debt in a country that is owed to creditors outside the country. The debtors can be the government, corporations or private households. The debt includes money owed to private commercial banks, other governments, or international financial institutions such...

 and is recovering by the assistance of the world community.

The Afghan economy has been growing at about 10% per year in the last decade, which is due to the infusion of over $50 billion dollars in international aid and remittances from Afghan expats. It is also due to improvements made to the transportation system
Transport in Afghanistan
Transportation in Afghanistan, which serves a population of about 29 million people, is limited and still in the developing stages. Landlocked Afghanistan has no seaports but the Amu Darya River, which forms part of the nation's border with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, does have barge...

 and agricultural production, which is the backbone of the nation's economy. The country is known for producing some of the finest pomegranate
Pomegranate production in Afghanistan
Pomegranate production in Afghanistan is a significant contributor to the Afghan agricultural economy. Pomegranates are a major fruit crop in many provinces such as Kandahar, Helmand, Wardak, Ghazni, Paktia, Farah, Kapisa and Balkh, and are the source of the livelihoods of thousands of...

s, grapes, apricots, melons, and several other fresh and dry fruits, including nuts.
While the nations's current account deficit is largely financed with the donor money, only a small portion is provided directly to the government budget. The rest is provided to non-budgetary expenditure and donor-designated projects through the United Nations system and non-governmental organizations. The Afghan Ministry of Finance is focusing on improved revenue collection and public sector expenditure discipline. For example, government revenues increased 31% to $1.7 billion from March 2010 to March 2011.

Da Afghanistan Bank
Da Afghanistan Bank
The Afghanistan Bank is the central bank of Afghanistan. It regulates all the banking and money handling operations in Afghanistan.Da Afghanistan Bank is one of the leading & government recognized bank of Afghanistan which was established on 1939....

 serves as the central bank of the nation and the "Afghani"
Afghan afghani
The Afghani is the currency of Afghanistan. It is notionally subdivided into 100 pul , although there are no pul coins in circulation.-Original Afghani :...

 (AFN) is the national currency, with an exchange rate of about 47 Afghanis to 1 US dollar
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

. Since 2003, over 16 new banks have opened in the country, including Afghanistan International Bank
Afghanistan International Bank
Afghanistan International Bank is a local commercial bank in Afghanistan, with its head office in Kabul. The bank has seven branch offices in the major cities of the country....

, Kabul Bank
Kabul Bank
Kabul Bank is a commercial bank in Afghanistan, with its main branch in the capital of Kabul. Established in 2004, it is the main bank used to pay the salaries of the army and security forces. The bank provides facilities to maintain accounts in Current, Savings Bank and Fixed Deposits; and offers...

, Azizi Bank
Azizi Bank
Azizi Bank is the name of a commercial bank in Afghanistan, which has its main branch in Kabul. It also has branches in many provinces of the country. The bank opened in June 2005 and is named after its chairman, Haji Ali Akbar Zhawandai...

, Pashtany Bank
Pashtany Bank
Pashtany Bank is the firm controlled by the Afghan government that controls the Central Bank of Afghanistan, the Afghan national insurance company and Ariana Afghan Airlines. It was established in 1954 to manage the Da Afghanistan Bank, the central bank of Afghanistan.Hayat Dayani is the President...

, Standard Chartered Bank
Standard Chartered Bank
Standard Chartered PLC is a multinational financial services company headquartered in London, United Kingdom with operations in more than seventy countries...

, First Micro Finance Bank
First Micro Finance Bank
:For other banks with a similar name, see First Bank.First Micro Finance Bank is a banking and loan institution of Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance. The institution operates in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is owned by the Aga Khan Development Network....

, and others.

One of the main drivers for the current economic recovery is the return of over 5 million expatriates
Afghan diaspora
Afghan diaspora or Afghan immigrants are citizens of Afghanistan who have emigrated to other countries, or people of Afghan origin who are born outside Afghanistan.-List of countries:...

, who brought with them fresh energy, entrepreneurship and wealth-creating skills as well as much needed funds to start up businesses. For the first time since the 1970s, Afghans have involved themselves in construction
Construction
In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...

, one of the largest industries in the country. Some of the major national construction projects include the {{nowrap|$35 bn}} New Kabul City next to the capital, the Ghazi Amanullah Khan City near Jalalabad, and the Aino Mena in Kandahar.

In addition, a number of companies and small factories began operating in different parts of the country, which not only provide revenues to the government but also create new jobs. Improvements to the business-enabling environment have resulted in more than $1.5 billion in telecom
Telecom
Telecom refers to:* An abbreviation of telecommunication.* Short for telecommunications company, in general.* A short name for any telecommunications company with "Telecom" specifically in the name, where context allows media or people to commonly exclude the rest of its name without confusion,...

 investment and created more than 100,000 jobs since 2003. The Afghan rug
Afghan rug
An Afghan rug is a type of handwoven floor-covering textile traditionally made in Afghanistan. Many of the Afghan rugs are also woven by Afghan refugees who reside in Pakistan and Iran. In any case, Afghan rugs are genuine, often charming — and usually phenomenally inexpensive...

s are becoming popular again and this gives many carpet
Carpet
A carpet is a textile floor covering consisting of an upper layer of "pile" attached to a backing. The pile is generally either made from wool or a manmade fibre such as polypropylene,nylon or polyester and usually consists of twisted tufts which are often heat-treated to maintain their...

 dealers around the country to expand their business by hiring more workers.

Afghanistan is a member of SAARC
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation is an organisation of South Asian nations, founded in December 1985 by Ziaur Rahman and dedicated to economic, technological, social, and cultural development emphasising collective self-reliance. Its seven founding members are Bangladesh,...

, ECO
Economic Cooperation Organization
The Economic Cooperation Organization is an intergovernmental organization involving seven Asian and three Eurasian nations, part of the South-central Asian Union. It provides a platform to discuss ways to improve development and promote trade, and investment opportunities. The ECO is an ad hoc...

 and OIC. It is hoping to join SCO soon to develop closer economic ties with neighboring and regional countries in the so-called New Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

trade project. Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul
Zalmai Rassoul
Dr. Zalmai Rassoul is a politician in Afghanistan, serving as the Foreign Minister since January 2010 after receiving the confidence vote of the Afghan National Assembly. He previously served as National Security Advisor of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, which he held since June 2002...

 told the media in 2011 that his nation's "goal is to achieve an Afghan economy whose growth is based on trade, private enterprise and investment". Experts believe that this will revolutionize the economy of the region. Opium production in Afghanistan
Opium production in Afghanistan
Afghanistan has been the greatest illicit opium producer in the entire world, ahead of Burma and the "Golden Triangle" since 1992, excluding the year 2001. Afghanistan is the main producer of opium in the "Golden Crescent". Opium production in Afghanistan has been on the rise since U.S....

 has soared to a record in 2007 with about 3 million people reported to be involved in the business but then declined significantly in the years following. The government started programs to help reduce cultivation of poppy, and by 2010 it was reported that 24 out of the 34 provinces were free from poppy grow.

Mining and energy


{{Main|Mining in Afghanistan}}
Michael O'Hanlon
Michael O'Hanlon
Michael Edward O'Hanlon is a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution, specializing in defense and foreign policy issues. He began his career as a budget analyst in the defense field.-Education and early career:...

 of the Brookings Institution
Brookings Institution
The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C., in the United States. One of Washington's oldest think tanks, Brookings conducts research and education in the social sciences, primarily in economics, metropolitan policy, governance, foreign policy, and...

 explains that if Afghanistan generates about $10 bn per year from its mineral deposits
Mining in Afghanistan
It is estimated that forty million years ago the tectonic plates of India-Europe, Asia and Africa collided in a massive upheaval. This upheaval created the region of towering mountains that now includes Afghanistan...

, its gross national product would double and provide long-term funding for Afghan security forces and other critical needs. The United States Geological Survey
United States Geological Survey
The United States Geological Survey is a scientific agency of the United States government. The scientists of the USGS study the landscape of the United States, its natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten it. The organization has four major science disciplines, concerning biology,...

 (USGS) estimated in 2006 that northern Afghanistan has an average {{nowrap|1.6 billion (bn) barrel
Barrel (unit)
A barrel is one of several units of volume, with dry barrels, fluid barrels , oil barrel, etc...

s}} (bbl) of crude oil, 15.7 trillion cubic feet (15700 ft3 bn m3) of natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

, and {{nowrap|562 million bbl}} of natural gas liquids. Other reports show that the country has huge amounts of lithium
Lithium
Lithium is a soft, silver-white metal that belongs to the alkali metal group of chemical elements. It is represented by the symbol Li, and it has the atomic number 3. Under standard conditions it is the lightest metal and the least dense solid element. Like all alkali metals, lithium is highly...

, copper, gold, coal, iron ore and other minerals.

Government officials estimate that the country's untapped mineral deposits are worth between {{nowrap|$900 bn}} and {{nowrap|$3 trillion}}. One official asserted that "this will become the backbone of the Afghan economy" and a Pentagon memo
Memorandum
A memorandum is from the Latin verbal phrase memorandum est, the gerundive form of the verb memoro, "to mention, call to mind, recount, relate", which means "It must be remembered ..."...

 stated that Afghanistan could become the "Saudi Arabia of lithium".
Another 2009–2011 USGS study estimated that the Khanashin
Khanashin
Khanashin, or Khan Neshin, is a village located in the Rig District of Helmand Province, Afghanistan at at 642 altitude...

 carbonatite
Carbonatite
Carbonatites are intrusive or extrusive igneous rocks defined by mineralogic composition consisting of greater than 50 percent carbonate minerals. Carbonatites may be confused with marble, and may require geochemical verification....

 in Helmand Province
Helmand Province
Helmand is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the southwest of the country. Its capital is Lashkar Gah. The Helmand River flows through the mainly desert region, providing water for irrigation....

 contained 1000000 metric tons (1,102,311.3 ST) of rare earth element
Rare earth element
As defined by IUPAC, rare earth elements or rare earth metals are a set of seventeen chemical elements in the periodic table, specifically the fifteen lanthanides plus scandium and yttrium...

s.

Transport and communications


{{Main|Transport in Afghanistan|Communications in Afghanistan}}

Afghanistan has about 53 airports, with the biggest ones being the Kabul International Airport
Kabul International Airport
-Facilities:The airport has two terminal buildings, the modern for international flights and the Soviet built one for domestic flights. Several hangars along the runway are for military aircraft...

, Bagram Air Base
Bagram Air Base
Bagram Airfield, also referred to as Bagram Air Base, is a militarized airport and housing complex that is located next to the ancient city of Bagram, southeast of Charikar in Parwan province of Afghanistan. The base is run by a US Army division headed by a major general. A large part of the base,...

, followed by Kandahar International Airport in the south, Herat Airport in the west and Mazar-i-Sharif Airport in the north. Ariana Afghan Airlines
Ariana Afghan Airlines
Ariana Afghan Airlines Co. Ltd. is the oldest and the national airline of Afghanistan, and is currently the largest Afghan airline, headquartered in Kabul...

 is the national carrier, with domestic flights between Kabul, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif. International flights include to Dubai
Dubai
Dubai is a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates . The emirate is located south of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula and has the largest population with the second-largest land territory by area of all the emirates, after Abu Dhabi...

, Frankfurt
Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...

, Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

, Delhi
Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

, Islamabad
Islamabad
Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan and the tenth largest city in the country. Located within the Islamabad Capital Territory , the population of the city has grown from 100,000 in 1951 to 1.7 million in 2011...

 and a number of other Asian destinations.

There are limited domestic and international flight services available from the locally owned Kam Air
Kam Air
Kam Air is an airline headquartered in the Kabul Business Centre in Shah-e-Naw, Kabul, Afghanistan. It operates scheduled domestic passenger services and international services to the Middle East and several Asian republics...

, Pamir Airways and Safi Airways
Safi Airways
Safi Airways Co. is an Afghan airline. The airline Safi Airways - IATA-Code 4Q - was founded in 2006 by Abdul Qudos Safi, an Afghan Businessman...

. Airlines from a number of regional nations such as Turkish Airlines
Turkish Airlines
Turkish Airlines is the national flag carrier airline of Turkey, headquartered in the Turkish Airlines General Management Building on the grounds of Atatürk Airport in Yeşilköy, Bakirköy district, Istanbul...

, Gulf Air
Gulf Air
Gulf Air is the principal flag carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain. Headquartered in Muharraq, adjacent to Bahrain International Airport, the airline operates scheduled services to 45 destinations in 28 countries across Africa, Asia and Europe. Its main base is Bahrain International Airport...

, Air Arabia
Air Arabia
Air Arabia is a low-cost airline with its head office in the Sharjah Freight Center, Sharjah International Airport, in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates....

, Air India
Air India
Air India is the flag carrier airline of India. It is part of the government of India owned Air India Limited . The airline operates a fleet of Airbus and Boeing aircraft serving Asia, Australia, Europe and North America. Its corporate office is located at the Air India Building at Nariman...

, PIA
Pakistan International Airlines
Pakistan International Airlines Corporation commonly known as PIA, is the flag carrier airline of Pakistan. The airline has its head office on the grounds of Jinnah International Airport in Karachi. and operates scheduled services to 24 domestic destinations and 38 international destinations in 27...

 and others also provide services to Afghanistan. Flights between Dubai and Kabul take roughly 2 hours to reach.

The country has limited rail service
Rail transport in Afghanistan
Railways were planned in Afghanistan since the 19th century but never completed due to the Great Game between the Russian and British empires followed by the Soviets and the Americans. At least one rail track was built in the capital of Kabul during the 1920s but was dismantled as Afghan leaders...

 with Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in the north. The government expects to have the rail line extended to the capital and then to the eastern border town of Torkham
Torkham
Torkham is a border crossing town in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan and the Khyber Agency of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas, right on the Durand Line border....

 by 2014, connecting with Pakistan Railways
Pakistan Railways
This article is about the rail company in Pakistan. For technical details and operations see: Transport in Pakistan.Pakistan Railways is a national state-owned rail transport service of Pakistan, head-quartered in Lahore. It is administered by the federal government under the Ministry of Railways....

. Long distant road journeys are made by private Mercedes-Benz coach buses
Mercedes-Benz buses
Mercedes-Benz has been making buses since 1895 in Mannheim in Germany. Since 1995, the brand of Mercedes-Benz buses and coaches is under the umbrella of EvoBus GmbH, belonging 100 % to the Daimler AG.-Heritage:...

 or various types of vans, trucks and cars. Newer automobiles have recently become more widely available after the rebuilding of roads and highways. They are imported from the United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, abbreviated as the UAE, or shortened to "the Emirates", is a state situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman, and Saudi Arabia, and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iran.The UAE is a...

 through Pakistan and Iran. Afghanistan's postal
Postage stamps and postal history of Afghanistan
thumb|right|15-poul imperf stamp of 1927, first use of Roman letters.thumb|right|Parliament House on the 15p of 1939.This is a survey of the Postage stamps and postal history of Afghanistan.-First postal service:...

 and package services such as FedEx
FedEx
FedEx Corporation , originally known as FDX Corporation, is a logistics services company, based in the United States with headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee...

, DHL
DHL
DHL Express is a division of the German logistics company Deutsche Post providing international express mail services. DHL is a world market leader in sea and air mail....

 and others make deliveries to major cities and towns.

Telecommunication services in the country are provided by Afghan Wireless
Afghan Wireless
Afghan Wireless is a cellular network provider in Afghanistan which was launched on 13 November 2002 by Ehsan Bayat. It is a joint venture business between Telephone Systems International in the United States and the Afghan Ministry of Communications. Afghan Wireless signed a 15 year-contract with...

, Etisalat
Etisalat
Emirates Telecommunications Corporation, branded trade name Etisalat is a UAE based telecommunications services provider, currently operating in 18 countries across Asia, the Middle East and Africa...

, Roshan
Roshan (telco)
Roshan is Afghanistan's leading telecommunications provider, serving approximately 3.5 million active subscribers.In January 2003, Roshan was awarded the second GSM license in Afghanistan at a time when there was virtually no telecommunications infrastructure in place; national calls were...

, MTN Group and Afghan Telecom
Afghan Telecom
Afghan Telecom is a telecom company offering fixed line, wireless voice and data services under a 25 year license in Afghanistan. The company was previously government owned and operated until 2005 when the Afghan Ministry of Communications spun it off into a private entity. In 2008, investors are...

. In 2006, the Afghan Ministry of Communications signed a $64.5 million agreement with ZTE
ZTE
ZTE Corporation formerly Zhongxing Telecommunication Equipment Corporation is a Chinese multinational telecommunications equipment and systems company headquartered in Shenzhen, China...

 for the establishment of a countrywide optical fiber cable
Optical fiber cable
An optical fiber cable is a cable containing one or more optical fibers. The optical fiber elements are typically individually coated with plastic layers and contained in a protective tube suitable for the environment where the cable will be deployed....

 network. As of 2009, the country has 129,300 fixed telephone lines, about 12 million mobile phone subscribers and 1 million internet users.

Health and education


{{Main|Health in Afghanistan|Education in Afghanistan}}

Before the Saur Revolution
Saur Revolution
The Saur Revolution is the name given to the Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan takeover of political power from the government of Afghanistan on 28 April 1978. The word 'Saur', i.e...

 in 1978, the nation had an improving health care system
Health care system
A health care system is the organization of people, institutions, and resources to deliver health care services to meet the health needs of target populations....

. Ibn Sina Hospital and Ali Abad Hospital in Kabul were two of the leading health care institutions at the time. Health care was limited to urban areas only and was eventually destroyed during the civil war of the 1990s. It is once again improving, which is due to the vaccination of children, training of medical staff and establishment of new hospitals. Many hospitals and clinics have been built over the last decade, with the most advanced treatments being available in Kabul. The French Medical Institute for Children
French Medical Institute for Children
The French Medical Institute for Children is a children's hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, established in 2005. It is a joint project of the governments of France and Afghanistan and the French NGO La Chaîne de L’Espoir/Enfants Afghans....

 and Indira Gandhi Childrens Hospital
Indira Gandhi Childrens Hospital
Indira Gandhi Children's hospital located in Kabul is the leading Children's hospital of Afghanistan. It has 150 beds and in 2004 started the first cerebral palsy center in Afghanistan...

 in Kabul are the leading children's hospital
Children's hospital
A children's hospital is a hospital which offers its services exclusively to children . The number of children's hospitals proliferated in the 20th century, as pediatric medical and surgical specialties separated from internal medicine and adult surgical specialties...

s in the country. Some of the other main hospitals in Kabul include the 350-bed Jamhuriat Hospital
Jamhuriat Hospital
The Jamhuriat Hospital is state-owned hospital located in Kabul, Afghanistan. A new 10-story building with the capacity of housing 350 patients was constructed in 2004 by engineers from China. It is expected that the Agha Khan Network may be taking over the management of the hospital....

 and the Jinnah Hospital, which is still under construction. There are also a number of well-equipped military
Military of Afghanistan
The military of Afghanistan is composed of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Army Air Force . Being a landlocked country, Afghanistan has no navy, and the private security forces who are sometimes seen wearing military uniforms are not part of Afghanistan's military...

 controlled hospitals in different regions of the country.

According to the Human Development Index
Human Development Index
The Human Development Index is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of "human development" and separate "very high human development", "high human development", "medium human development", and "low human development" countries...

, Afghanistan is the 15th least developed country in the world. The average life expectancy is 43.8 years. It is the most dangerous place for a child to be born, with the highest infant mortality rates in the world. About 1 in 5 children dies before the age of five, and 1 out of every 8 women dies from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. While these statistics are tragic, progress is being made. It was reported in 2006 that nearly 60% of the population lives within two hours walking distance of the nearest health facility, up from nine percent in 2002. Infant mortality has decreased by 22% and child mortality has dropped by 26% since 2003. The Afghan Ministry of Public Health plans to further cut the infant mortality rate from the current 1,600 to 400 for every 100,000 live births by the year 2020. Demographic and Health Surveys
Demographic and Health Surveys
The MEASURE Demographic and Health Surveys Project is responsible for collecting and disseminating accurate, nationally representative data on health and population in developing countries. The project is implemented by Macro International, Inc...

 is working with the Indian Institute of Health Management Research
Indian Institute of Health Management Research
The Indian Institute of Health Management Research is an institute in Health & Hospital Management. Established in 1984, in Jaipur, IIHMR is the first of its kind in India, with attention focused on health systems improvement and management...

 to conduct a survey in Afghanistan focusing on Maternal death
Maternal death
Maternal death, or maternal mortality, also "obstetrical death" is the death of a woman during or shortly after a pregnancy. In 2010, researchers from the University of Washington and the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, estimated global maternal mortality in 2008 at 342,900 , of...

, among other things. The nation also has one of the highest incidences of people with disabilities
Disability
A disability may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental or some combination of these.Many people would rather be referred to as a person with a disability instead of handicapped...

, with an estimated one million handicapped people. About 80,000 citizens have lost limbs, mainly as a result of landmines. Non-governmental charities such as Mahboba's Promise
Mahboba's promise
Mahboba's Promise is an Australian non-profit organisation dedicated to helping the women and the large number of orphaned children of Afghanistan. It is one of the few non-governmental organisations operational in that war-torn nation entirely funded by private donations and currently looks after...

 assist orphans in association with governmental structures.
Education in the country includes K-12 and Higher Education
Higher education
Higher, post-secondary, tertiary, or third level education refers to the stage of learning that occurs at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology...

, which is supervised by the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Higher Education. The nation's education system was destroyed due to the decades of war, but it began reviving after the Karzai administration came to power in late 2001. About 4,000 schools were built since 2002, with more than 100,000 teachers being trained and recruited. It was reported in 2011 that more than seven million male and female students were enrolled in schools.

As of 2011, about 62,000 students are enrolled in different universities around the country. Kabul University
Kabul University
Kabul University is located in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. It was founded in 1931 but officially opened for classes in 1932. Kabul University is currently attended by approximately 7,000 students, of which 1,700 are women. As of 2008, Hamidullah Amin is the chancellor of the university...

 reopened in 2002 to both male and female students. In 2006, the American University of Afghanistan
American University of Afghanistan
The American University of Afghanistan is Afghanistan’s first private, not-for-profit institution of higher education. Chartered in 2004, AUAF offers undergraduate degree programs as well as intensive English-language college preparatory courses and continuing education and professional...

 was established in Kabul, with the aim of providing a world-class, English-language, co-educational learning environment in Afghanistan. The capital of Kabul serves as the learning center of Afghanistan, with many of the best educational institutions being based there. Major universities outside of Kabul include Kandahar University
Kandahar University
Kandahar University is a government funded higher learning institution in Kandahar, Afghanistan. It is one of two universities in southern Afghanistan. Kandahar University was established in 1990, at a time when the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan was in power under President Mohammad...

 in the south, Herat University
Herat University
Herāt University is located in Herat, the capital of Herat Province, in western Afghanistan.Herat University was founded in 1988. It is attended by approximately 3,000 students, 900 of whom are women. The university is still recovering from the long period of war and chaos in the country...

 in the northwest, Balkh University
Balkh University
Balkh University is located in Mazari Sharif, capital of Balkh province, in northern Afghanistan. Established in 1986, the university in 2008 had about 5500 students and is the third largest in Afghanistan after Kabul University and Nangarhar University...

 in the north, Nangarhar University
Nangarhar University
Nangarhar University is a government-funded higher learning institution in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. It is the second largest university in Afghanistan. It has approximately 250 faculty and 3,500 students....

 and Khost University
Khost University
Khost University is located in the border town of Khost in eastern Afghanistan. It was established in the year 2000. It was shifted from its previous temporary location in Peshawar, Pakistan, where it was named "Afghan University Peshawar" by special order of President Hamid Karzai.Khost...

 in the eastern zones, as well as a number of others. The National Military Academy of Afghanistan
National Military Academy of Afghanistan
The National Military Academy of Afghanistan is an academic institution of the Afghan military that is located in Kabul, Afghanistan. It is a four-year military development institution dedicated to graduating officers for the Afghan National Army and the Afghan Air Force...

, modeled after the United States Military Academy
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 at West Point, is a four-year military development institution dedicated to graduating officers for the Afghan armed forces
Military of Afghanistan
The military of Afghanistan is composed of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Army Air Force . Being a landlocked country, Afghanistan has no navy, and the private security forces who are sometimes seen wearing military uniforms are not part of Afghanistan's military...

. The $200 million Afghan Defense University
Afghan Defense University
The Afghan Defense University is a planned project to house various educational establishments for the military of Afghanistan. The university will be based in the Quarga/Quagheh area of Kabul, Afghanistan on a plot that began being cleared in mid-2008, and that previously served a variety of...

 is under construction near Qargha in Kabul. The United States is building six faculties of education and five provincial teacher training colleges around the country, two large secondary schools in Kabul and one school in Jalalabad.

Literacy rate of the entire population is very low, possibly at 34% but is improving rapidly. Female literacy may be as low as only 10%. In 2010, the United States began establishing a number of Lincoln learning centers in Afghanistan. They are set up to serve as programming platforms offering English language classes, library facilities, programming venues, Internet connectivity, educational and other counseling services. A goal of the program is to reach at least 4,000 Afghan citizens per month per location. What Afghanistan needs is NATO supported scholarship programs to take massive number of students abroad so that when they return after finishing studies they can move their nation forward and quickly catch up with the rest of the world.

Demographics


{{Main|Demography of Afghanistan|Afghan diaspora}}
As of 2011, the population of Afghanistan is around 29,835,392 but not known if this includes the Afghan refugees
Afghan diaspora
Afghan diaspora or Afghan immigrants are citizens of Afghanistan who have emigrated to other countries, or people of Afghan origin who are born outside Afghanistan.-List of countries:...

 still living in Pakistan
Afghans in Pakistan
Afghans in Pakistan are mostly refugees who fled Afghanistan during the 1980s Soviet war as well as diplomats, traders, businesspersons, workers, exchange students, tourists and other visitors. As of March 2009, some 1.7 million registered Afghan nationals were reported to be living in Pakistan,...

 and Iran
Afghans in Iran
Afghans in Iran are mostly refugees who fled Afghanistan during the 1980s Soviet war as well as diplomats, traders, businesspersons, workers, exchange students, tourists and other visitors. As of March 2009, nearly 1 million Afghan nationals were reported to be living in Iran...

. In 1979, the population was reported to be about 15.5 million. The only city with over a million residents is its capital, Kabul. The other major cities in the country are, in order of population size, Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

, Herat
Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kunduz
Kunduz
Kunduz also known as Kundûz, Qonduz, Qondûz, Konduz, Kondûz, Kondoz, or Qhunduz is a city in northern Afghanistan, the capital of Kunduz Province. It is linked by highways with Mazari Sharif to the west, Kabul to the south and Tajikistan's border to the north...

, Jalalabad
Jalalabad
Jalalabad , formerly called Adinapour, as documented by the 7th century Hsüan-tsang, is a city in eastern Afghanistan. Located at the junction of the Kabul River and Kunar River near the Laghman valley, Jalalabad is the capital of Nangarhar province. It is linked by approximately of highway with...

, Lashkar Gah, Taloqan
Taloqan
Tāloqān is the capital of Takhar Province, in northern Afghanistan. It is located in the Taluqan District. The population was estimated as 196,400 in 2006.-History:The old city to the west on the riverside was described by Marco Polo in 1275 CE as:...

, Puli Khumri, Khost
Khost
Khost or Khowst is a city in eastern Afghanistan. It is the capital of Khost province, which is a mountainous region near Afghanistan's border with Pakistan...

, Ghazni
Ghazni
For the Province of Ghazni see Ghazni ProvinceGhazni is a city in central-east Afghanistan with a population of about 141,000 people...

, Sheberghan
Sheberghan
Sheberghān or Shaburghān , also spelled Shebirghan and Shibarghan, is the capital city of the Jowzjan Province in northern Afghanistan.-Location:...

, Sar-e Pol, and Farah
Farah, Afghanistan
Farah is a city in western Afghanistan, situated at 650 m altitude, and located on the Farah River. It is the capital of Farah Province, and has a population of approximately 109,409....

. Urban areas are experiencing rapid population growth following the return of over 5 million expat
Expat
Expat may refer to:* A shortened version of the term expatriate* Expat : A stream-oriented XML parser* Expat License: Free software license used for XML parser Expat, sometimes known as MIT License...

s from Pakistan and Iran. According to the Population Reference Bureau
Population Reference Bureau
The Population Reference Bureau is a private, nonprofit organization which informs people around the world about population, health and the environment for research or academic purposes...

, the Afghan population is estimated to increase to 82 million by 2050.

Ethnic groups


{{Main|Ethnic groups in Afghanistan}}

Afghanistan is a multiethnic society
Multiethnic society
A multiethnic society is one with members belonging to more than one ethnic group, in contrast to societies which are ethnically homogenous. In practice, virtually all contemporary national societies are multiethnic...

. The population of the country is divided into a wide variety of ethnolinguistic
Ethnolinguistics
Ethnolinguistics is a field of linguistics which studies the relationship between language and culture, and the way different ethnic groups perceive the world. It is the combination between ethnology and linguistics. The former refers to the way of life of an entire community i.e...

 groups. Because a systematic census has not been held in the nation in decades, exact figures about the size and composition of the various ethnic groups are unvailable. An approximate distribution of the ethnic groups is shown in the chart below:
Ethnic groups in Afghanistan
Ethnic group Image {{small|World Factbook
The World Factbook
The World Factbook is a reference resource produced by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States with almanac-style information about the countries of the world. The official paper copy version is available from the National Technical Information Service and the Government Printing Office...

 / Library of Congress Country Studies
Library of Congress Country Studies
The Country Studies are works published by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress , freely available for use by researchers. No copyright is claimed on them; therefore, they have been dedicated to the public domain and can be copied freely. Note that not all the pictures used...

 estimate (2004–present)}}
{{small|World Factbook / Library of Congress Country Studies estimate (pre-2004)}}
Pashtun
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

42% 38–50 percent
Tajik 27% 25–26.3% (of this 1% are Qizilbash)
Hazara 9% 10–19 percent
Uzbek
Uzbeks
The Uzbeks are a Turkic ethnic group in Central Asia. They comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan, and large populations can also be found in Afghanistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Pakistan, Mongolia and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China...

9% 6–8% percent
Aimak 4% 500,000 to 800,000
Turkmen
Turkmen people
The Turkmen are a Turkic people located primarily in the Central Asian states of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and northeastern Iran. They speak the Turkmen language, which is classified as a part of the Western Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages family together with Turkish, Azerbaijani, Qashqai,...

3% 2.5 percent
Baloch
Baloch people
The Baloch or Baluch are an ethnic group that belong to the larger Iranian peoples. Baluch people mainly inhabit the Balochistan region and Sistan and Baluchestan Province in the southeast corner of the Iranian plateau in Western Asia....

2% 100,000
Others (Pashai, Nuristani, Arab
History of Arabs in Afghanistan
The history of Arabs in Afghanistan spans over one millennium, from the 7th century Islamic conquest when Arab ghazis arrived with their Islamic mission until recently when others from the Arab world arrived to defend fellow Muslims from the Soviet followed by their liberation by NATO forces...

, Brahui
Brahui people
The Brahui or Brohi are ethnic Baloch group of about 2.2 million people with the majority found in Kalat, Baluchistan, Pakistan, but they are also found in smaller numbers in neighboring Afghanistan and Iran. The Brahuis are almost entirely Sunni Muslims.-Origins:The ethnonym "Brahui" is a very...

, Pamiri
Pamiri people
Pamiri is the name of an Iranian ethnic group in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province in Tajikistan.-Ethnic Identity:The Pamiris are composed of people who speak the Pamiri languages, the indigenous language in the Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous province, and adhere to the Ismaili sect of Shia...

, Gujjar
Gujjar
The Gurjar are an ethnic group in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Alternative spellings include Gurjara, Gujar, Gurjjara and Gūrjara. The spelling Gurjara or Gurjar is preferable to the rest....

, etc.)
4% 6.9 percent

{{-}}

The 2004–present suggested estimations in the above chart are supported by recent national opinion poll
Opinion poll
An opinion poll, sometimes simply referred to as a poll is a survey of public opinion from a particular sample. Opinion polls are usually designed to represent the opinions of a population by conducting a series of questions and then extrapolating generalities in ratio or within confidence...

s, which were aimed at knowing how a group of 7,760 Afghan citizens felt about the current war, political situation, as well as the economic and social issues affecting their daily lives. Two of the survey
Survey
-Quantitative research:* Statistical survey, a method for collecting quantitative information about items in a population* Paid survey, a method that companies use to collect consumer opinions about a product by paying consumers for participating in the survey...

s were conducted between 2006 to 2010 by the Asia Foundation (with technical assistance by the Indian Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
The Centre for the Study of Developing Societies is an Indian social sciences and humanities research institute. It was founded in 1963 by Rajni Kothari and is largely founded by the Indian Council of Social Science Research...

and the Afghan Center for Socio-economic and Opinion Research) and one between 2004 to 2009 by a combined effort of the broadcasting companies NBC News
NBC News
NBC News is the news division of American television network NBC. It first started broadcasting in February 21, 1940. NBC Nightly News has aired from Studio 3B, located on floors 3 of the NBC Studios is the headquarters of the GE Building forms the centerpiece of 30th Rockefeller Center it is...

, BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

, and ARD
ARD (broadcaster)
ARD is a joint organization of Germany's regional public-service broadcasters...

.

Languages


{{Main|Languages of Afghanistan}}
Pashto
Pashto language
Pashto , known as Afghani in Persian and Pathani in Punjabi , is the native language of the indigenous Pashtun people or Afghan people who are found primarily between an area south of the Amu Darya in Afghanistan and...

 and Dari (Persian)
Dari (Persian)
Dari or Fārsī-ye Darī in historical terms refers to the Persian court language of the Sassanids. In contemporary usage, the term refers to the dialects of modern Persian language spoken in Afghanistan, and hence known as Afghan Persian in some Western sources. It is the term officially recognized...

 are the official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

s of Afghanistan, making bilingualism very common. Both are Indo-European languages
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 from the Iranian languages
Iranian languages
The Iranian languages form a subfamily of the Indo-Iranian languages which in turn is a subgroup of Indo-European language family. They have been and are spoken by Iranian peoples....

 sub-family. Persian has always been the prestige language and as the main means of inter-ethnic communication, maintaining its status of lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

. Persian is the native tongue of various Afghan ethnic groups including the Tajiks, Hazaras, Aimaks and Kizilbash. Pashto is the native tongue of the Pashtuns, although some Pashtuns often use Persian and many non-Pashtuns are fluent in Pashto.

Other languages, such as Uzbek
Uzbek language
Uzbek is a Turkic language and the official language of Uzbekistan. It has about 25.5 million native speakers, and it is spoken by the Uzbeks in Uzbekistan and elsewhere in Central Asia...

, Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, Turkmen
Turkmen language
Turkmen is the national language of Turkmenistan...

, Balochi
Balochi language
Balochi is a Northwestern Iranian language. It is the principal language of the Baloch of Balochistan, Pakistan, eastern Iran and southern Afghanistan. It is also spoken as a second language by some Brahui. It is designated as one of nine official languages of Pakistan.-Vowels:The Balochi vowel...

, Pashayi
Pashayi language
Pashayi - also known as Pashai - is a language spoken by the Pashai people in parts of Kapisa, Laghman, Nuristan, Kunar, and Nangarhar Provinces in Northeastern Afghanistan....

 and Nuristani languages
Nuristani languages
The Nuristani languages are one of the three groups within the Indo-Iranian language family, alongside the much larger Indo-Aryan and Iranian groups. They are spoken primarily in eastern Afghanistan...

 (Ashkunu
Askunu language
Askunu is a language of Afghanistan spoken by the Askunu, Sanu, and Gramsana people in the region of Pech Valley around Wama, northwest of Asadabad in Kunar province...

, Kamkata-viri
Kamkata-viri language
Kamkata-viri, the largest Nuristani language, contains the main dialects Kata-vari, Kamviri and Mumviri. Kata-vari and Kamviri are often defined as two separate languages, but according to linguist they form one language....

, Vasi-vari
Vasi-vari language
Vasi-vari is a language spoken by the Vasi in a few villages in the Prasun Valley in Afghanistan. The most used alternative names are Prasuni or Prasun, which derive from Pashto....

, Tregami
Tregami language
Tregami, Trigami or Gambiri is a language spoken by the Tregami people in the villages of Gambir and Katar in the Watapur District of Kunar Province in Afghanistan....

 and Kalasha-ala
Kalasha-ala language
Waigali or Waigeli is a language spoken by the Kalasha of the Nuristan Province in a few villages in the central part of the Kunar Province of Afghanistan. The native name is Kalasa-Alâ or simply Kalasa...

), are used as native tongue by minority groups across the country and have official status in the regions where they are widely spoken. Minor languages also include Pamiri
Pamir languages
The Pamir languages are a group of the Eastern Iranian languages, spoken by numerous people in the Pamir Mountains, primarily along the Panj River and its tributaries. This includes the Badakhshan Province of northeastern Afghanistan and the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province of eastern Tajikistan...

 (Shughni
Shughni language
Shughni is one of the Pamir languages of the Southeastern Iranian language group. Its distribution is in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province in Tajikistan and Badakhshan Province in Afghanistan....

, Munji, Ishkashimi
Ishkashimi language
The Ishkashimi language is one of the Pamir languages of the Southeastern Iranian language group. Its distribution is in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province in Tajikistan, Badakhshan Province in Afghanistan and Chitral region of Pakistan....

 and Wakhi
Wakhi language
Wakhi is an Indo-European language in the branch of Eastern Iranian language family and is intimately related to other Southeastern Iranian languages in the Pamir languages group.-Classification and Distribution:...

), Brahui, Hindko
Hindko language
Hindko , also Hindku, or Hinko, is the sixth main regional language of Pakistan. It forms a subgroup of Indo-Aryan languages spoken by Hindkowans in Pakistan and northern India, some Pashtun tribes in Pakistan, as well as by the Hindki people of Afghanistan...

, Kyrgyz
Kyrgyz language
Kyrgyz or Kirgiz, also Kirghiz, Kyrghiz, Qyrghiz is a Turkic language and, together with Russian, an official language of Kyrgyzstan...

, etc. Many Afghans are also fluent in Urdu
Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

, Punjabi
Punjabi language
Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by inhabitants of the historical Punjab region . For Sikhs, the Punjabi language stands as the official language in which all ceremonies take place. In Pakistan, Punjabi is the most widely spoken language...

, Hindi
Hindi
Standard Hindi, or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi, also known as Manak Hindi , High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, and Literary Hindi, is a standardized and sanskritized register of the Hindustani language derived from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi...

, English, and other languages.
Language {{small|World Factbook / Library of Congress Country Studies estimate}}
Dari (Persian)
Dari (Persian)
Dari or Fārsī-ye Darī in historical terms refers to the Persian court language of the Sassanids. In contemporary usage, the term refers to the dialects of modern Persian language spoken in Afghanistan, and hence known as Afghan Persian in some Western sources. It is the term officially recognized...

50%
Pashto
Pashto language
Pashto , known as Afghani in Persian and Pathani in Punjabi , is the native language of the indigenous Pashtun people or Afghan people who are found primarily between an area south of the Amu Darya in Afghanistan and...

35%
Uzbek
Uzbek language
Uzbek is a Turkic language and the official language of Uzbekistan. It has about 25.5 million native speakers, and it is spoken by the Uzbeks in Uzbekistan and elsewhere in Central Asia...

 and Turkmen
Turkmen language
Turkmen is the national language of Turkmenistan...

11%
30 minor languages 4%

Religions


{{Main|Religion in Afghanistan}}
Over 99% of the Afghan population is Muslim: approximately 80–85% follow the Sunni
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 sect, 15–19% are Shi'a
Shi'a Islam in Afghanistan
Shi'a Islam in Afghanistan makes up 10-19% of the total population of the state, while the remaining 80-89% practice Sunni Islam.Many of the Pamir language speakers of the northeastern portion of the country are followers of the Nizari Ismaili sect, while majority of the Hazara people, the third...

, and 1% other. Until the 1890s, the region around Nuristan was known as Kafiristan
Kafiristan
Kāfiristān or Kāfirstān was a historic name of Nurestan , a province in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan and Pakistan, prior to 1896. This historic region lies on, and mainly comprises, basins of the rivers Alingar, Pech , Landai Sin, and Kunar, and the intervening mountain ranges...

 (land of the kafir
Kafir
Kafir is an Arabic term used in a Islamic doctrinal sense, usually translated as "unbeliever" or "disbeliever"...

s) because of its inhabitants: the Nuristanis, an ethnically distinctive people who practiced animism
Animism
Animism refers to the belief that non-human entities are spiritual beings, or at least embody some kind of life-principle....

, polytheism
Polytheism
Polytheism is the belief of multiple deities also usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own mythologies and rituals....

 and shamanism
Shamanism
Shamanism is an anthropological term referencing a range of beliefs and practices regarding communication with the spiritual world. To quote Eliade: "A first definition of this complex phenomenon, and perhaps the least hazardous, will be: shamanism = technique of ecstasy." Shamanism encompasses the...

. Other than Muslims, there are thousands of Sikhs
Sikhism in Afghanistan
Sikhism in Afghanistan is limited to small populations, primarily in major cities, with the largest numbers of Afghan Sikhs living in Jalalabad, Kabul, and Kandahar...

 and Hindus
Hinduism in Afghanistan
Hinduism in Afghanistan has existed for almost as long as Hinduism itself. The religion was widespread in the region until the Islamic conquest of Afghanistan...

 found living in different major cities of the country. There was also a small Jewish community in Afghanistan who emigrated to Israel and the United States by the end of the last century, and only one individual by the name of Zablon Simintov
Zablon Simintov
Zablon Simintov is a Turkmen-Afghan carpet trader and the caretaker of the only synagogue in Kabul. , he is believed to be the sole remaining Afghan Jew still residing in Afghanistan...

 remains today.

Culture


{{Main|Culture of Afghanistan}}

The Afghan culture
Culture of Afghanistan
The culture of Afghanistan has been around for over two millenniums, tracing record to at least the time of the Achaemenid Empire in 500 BCE. Afghanistan translates to the "place of Afghans" or "land of the Afghans" in the nation's official languages, Pashto and Dari...

 has been around for over two millennia, tracing record to at least the time of the Achaemenid Empire in 500 BCE. It is mostly a nomad
Nomad
Nomadic people , commonly known as itinerants in modern-day contexts, are communities of people who move from one place to another, rather than settling permanently in one location. There are an estimated 30-40 million nomads in the world. Many cultures have traditionally been nomadic, but...

ic and tribal society, with different regions of the country having their own tradition, reflecting the multi-cultural and multi-lingual character of the nation. In the southern and eastern region, as well as western Pakistan which was historically part of Afghanistan, the people live according to the Pashtun culture
Pashtun culture
Pashtun culture is based on Pashtunwali, which is an ancient way of life, as well as speaking of the Pashto language and wearing Pashtun dress. The culture of the Pashtun people is highlighted since at least the time of Herodotus or Alexander the Great, when he explored the Afghanistan and...

 by following Pashtunwali
Pashtunwali
Pashtunwali or Pakhtunwali is a non-written ethical code and traditional lifestyle which the indigenous Pashtun people from Afghanistan and Pakistan follow. Some in the Indian subcontinent refer to it as "Pathanwali". Its meaning may also be interpreted as "the way of the Pashtuns" or "the code of...

, which is an ancient way of life that is still preserved. The remaining of the country is culturally Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 and Turkic
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

. Some non-Pashtuns who live in close proximity with Pashtuns have adopted Pashtunwali in a process called Pashtunization
Pashtunization
Pashtunization is a process of cultural or linguistic change in which something non-Pashtun becomes Pashtun Pashtunization (also called Afghanization) is a process of cultural or linguistic change in which something non-Pashtun becomes Pashtun Pashtunization (also called Afghanization) is a...

 (or Afghanization) while some Pashtuns have been Persianized
Persianization
Persianization or Persianisation is a sociological process of cultural change in which something non-Persian becomes Persianate. It is a specific form of cultural assimilation that often includes linguistic assimilation...

. Millions of Afghans who have been living in Pakistan and Iran over the last 30 years have been influenced by the cultures of those neighboring nations.
Afghans display pride in their culture, nation, ancestry, and above all, their religion and independence. Like other highlanders, they are regarded with mingled apprehension and condescension, for their high regard for personal honor, for their tribe loyalty and for their readiness to use force to settle disputes. As tribal warfare and internecine feuding has been one of their chief occupations since time immemorial, this individualistic trait has made it difficult for foreigners to conquer them. Tony Heathcote considers the tribal system to be the best way of organizing large groups of people in a country that is geographically difficult, and in a society that, from a materialistic point of view, has an uncomplicated lifestyle. There are an estimated 60 major Pashtun tribes
Pashtun tribes
The Pashtun people are the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan and the second largest in Pakistan. Pashtun, tribes are divided into four supertribal confederacies: the Arbanee , Betanee , Gharghasht, and Karlanee .Traditionally, according to folklore, all Pashtuns are said to have descended, at...

, and the Afghan nomads are estimated at about 2–3 million.

The nation has a complex history that has survived either in its current cultures or in the form of various languages and monuments. However, many of its historic monuments have been damaged in recent wars. The two famous Buddhas of Bamiyan
Buddhas of Bamiyan
The Buddhas of Bamiyan were two 6th century monumental statues of standing buddhas carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan, situated northwest of Kabul at an altitude of 2,500 meters...

 were destroyed by the Taliban, who regarded them as idolatrous
Idolatry
Idolatry is a pejorative term for the worship of an idol, a physical object such as a cult image, as a god, or practices believed to verge on worship, such as giving undue honour and regard to created forms other than God. In all the Abrahamic religions idolatry is strongly forbidden, although...

. Despite that archaeologists are still finding Buddhist relics in different parts of the country, some of them date back to the 2nd century. This indicates that Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 was widespread in Afghanistan. Other historical places include the cities of Herat
Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

, Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

, Ghazni
Ghazni
For the Province of Ghazni see Ghazni ProvinceGhazni is a city in central-east Afghanistan with a population of about 141,000 people...

, Mazar-i-Sharif, and Zarang. The Minaret of Jam
Minaret of Jam
The Minaret of Jam is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in western Afghanistan. It is located in the Shahrak District, Ghor Province, by the Hari River. The 65-metre high minaret, surrounded by mountains that reach up to 2400m, was built in the 1190s, entirely of baked-bricks...

 in the Hari River valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

. A cloak reputedly worn by Islam's Prophet Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 is kept inside the Shrine of the Cloak in Kandahar, a city founded by Alexander and the first capital of Afghanistan. The citadel of Alexander in the western city of Herat has been renovated in recent years and is a popular attraction for tourists. In the north of the country is the Shrine of Hazrat Ali
Shrine of Hazrat Ali
The Shrine of Hazrat Ali, also known as the Blue Mosque, is a mosque in Mazari Sharif, Afghanistan. It is one of the reputed burial places of Ali...

, believed by many to be the location where Ali
Ali
' |Ramaḍān]], 40 AH; approximately October 23, 598 or 600 or March 17, 599 – January 27, 661).His father's name was Abu Talib. Ali was also the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and ruled over the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661, and was the first male convert to Islam...

 was buried. The Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture is renovating 42 historic sites in Ghazni until 2013, when the province will be declared as the capital of Islamic civilization
Islamic Golden Age
During the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations...

. The National Museum of Afghanistan is located in Kabul.

Although literacy level is low, classic Persian
Persian literature
Persian literature spans two-and-a-half millennia, though much of the pre-Islamic material has been lost. Its sources have been within historical Persia including present-day Iran as well as regions of Central Asia where the Persian language has historically been the national language...

 and Pashto poetry
Pashto literature and poetry
-Notable figures:* Amir Kror Suri, son of Amir Polad Suri, is an 8th century folk hero and king from the Ghor region of Afghanistan.* Khushal Khan Khattak, 17th century Pashto poet-warrior from Akora Khattak in today's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan....

 play an important role in the Afghan culture. Poetry has always been one of the major educational pillars in the region, to the level that it has integrated itself into culture. Some notable poets include Rumi, Rabi'a Balkhi, Sanai
Sanai
Hakim Abul-Majd Majdūd ibn Ādam Sanā'ī Ghaznavi was a Afghan Sufi poet who lived in Ghazna, in what is now Afghanistan between the 11th century and the 12th century. Some people spell his name as Sanayee. He died around 1131.-Life:...

, Jami
Jami
Nur ad-Dīn Abd ar-Rahmān Jāmī also known as DJāmī, Mawlanā Nūr al-Dīn 'Abd al-Rahmān or Abd-Al-Rahmān Nur-Al-Din Muhammad Dashti who is commonly known as Jami , is known for his achievements as a scholar, mystic, writer, composer of numerous lyrics and idylls, historian, and one of the greatest...

, Khushal Khan Khattak
Khushal Khan Khattak
Khushal Khan Khattak was a prominent Pashtun malik, poet, warrior,A charismatic personality and tribal chief of the Khattak tribe. He wrote a huge collection of Pashto poems during the Mughal Empire in the 17th century, and admonished Pashtuns to forsake their divisive tendencies and unite...

, Rahman Baba
Rahman Baba
Abdul Rahman Baba is popularly known as Rahman Baba , was a Pashtun Muslim poet from Peshawar in modern-day Pakistan who remains the most popular poet among the Pashtuns...

, Khalilullah Khalili, and Parwin Pazhwak.

Media and entertainment


{{Main|Media of Afghanistan}}

The Afghan mass media
Media of Afghanistan
The media of Afghanistan is in the development stage, which includes printing, broadcasting and digital. It is mainly in Pashto and Dari languages. Although it was tightly controlled under the Taliban government from 1996 to late 2001, the state media gradually relaxed press restriction and...

 began in the early 20th century, with the first newspaper published in 1906. By the 1920s, Radio Kabul
Radio Kabul
Radio Kabul is the official radio station of Afghanistan. The name Radio Kabul has been given to many different incarnations of the state-run radio station since the first radio transmitters were installed in Kabul in the 1920s....

 was broadcasting local radio services. Afghanistan National Television
Afghanistan National Television
Afghanistan National Television was a television channel, broadcasting in Afghanistan, and was launched in 1974, closed in 1996, re-launched in 2002, and then closed again in 2010.-History:...

 was launched in 1974 but was closed in 1996 when the media was tightly controlled by the Taliban. Since 2002, press restrictions were gradually relaxed and private media diversified. Freedom of expression and the press is promoted in the 2004 constitution and censorship is banned, though defaming individuals or producing material contrary to the principles of Islam is prohibited. In 2008, Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders is a France-based international non-governmental organization that advocates freedom of the press. It was founded in 1985, by Robert Ménard, Rony Brauman and the journalist Jean-Claude Guillebaud. Jean-François Julliard has served as Secretary General since 2008...

 listed the media environment as 156 out of 173, with the 1st being most free. 400 publications were registered, at least 15 local Afghan television channels and 60 radio stations. Foreign radio stations, such as Voice of America
Voice of America
Voice of America is the official external broadcast institution of the United States federal government. It is one of five civilian U.S. international broadcasters working under the umbrella of the Broadcasting Board of Governors . VOA provides a wide range of programming for broadcast on radio...

, BBC World Service
BBC World Service
The BBC World Service is the world's largest international broadcaster, broadcasting in 27 languages to many parts of the world via analogue and digital shortwave, internet streaming and podcasting, satellite, FM and MW relays...

, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) broadcast into the country.

The city of Kabul has been home to many musicians in the past, who were masters of both traditional and modern Afghan music
Music of Afghanistan
The music of Afghanistan has existed for a long time, but since the late 1970s the country has been involved in constant wars and people were less concerned about music...

, especially during the Nowruz
Nowruz
Nowrūz is the name of the Iranian New Year in Iranian calendars and the corresponding traditional celebrations. Nowruz is also widely referred to as the Persian New Year....

 (New Year) and National Independence Day
Afghan Independence Day
Afghan Independence Day is celebrated in Afghanistan on 19 August to commemorate the Treaty of Rawalpindi in 1919. The treaty granted complete independence from Britain; although Afghanistan was never officially a part of the British Empire...

 celebrations. Ahmad Zahir
Ahmad Zahir
Ahmad Zahir was a singer, songwriter, and composer from Afghanistan. He is considered an icon of Afghan music and is sometimes called the "King of Afghan music"...

, Nashenas, Ustad Sarahang
Mohammad Hussain Sarahang
Ustād Mohammad Hussain Sarāhang was an Afghan musician and best known exponent of hindustani classical music from Kabul Afghanistan. He was the second oldest son of the renowned musician, Ustad Gholam Hussain...

, Sarban
Sarban
Abdul-Rahim Sārbān , known simply as Sarban, was a singer from Kabul, Afghanistan. He was born in Kabul an old area called to rice verdure father and stay home mother. He is known for his unique voice and music style that no other singer from Afghanistan has been able to imitate...

, Ubaidullah Jan
Ubaidullah Jan
Ubaidullah Jan Kandaharai, or simply known as Obaidullah Jan, was a prominent Pashto singer from Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was popular among the Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan and in Quetta, Pakistan. He brought some new style to traditional Pashto music and was considered a classical singer...

, Farhad Darya
Farhad Darya
Farhad 'Darya' Nasher is an Afghan singer and composer, as well as a highly acclaimed music producer, and Good Will and Peace Ambassador for Afghanistan to the United Nations. Widely popular, he has earned affection for not only his music but also patriotism...

, and Naghma
Naghma
Naghma is a prominent Afghan singer who started in the early 1970s. She and her ex-husband, Mangal, were a popular musical duo who dominated Afghan music scene during the 1970s and early 1990s. Naghma sings in Pashto and Dari...

 are some of the notable Afghan musicians but there are many others. Most Afghans are accustomed to watching Bollywood
Bollywood
Bollywood is the informal term popularly used for the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai , Maharashtra, India. The term is often incorrectly used to refer to the whole of Indian cinema; it is only a part of the total Indian film industry, which includes other production centers producing...

 films from India and listening to its filmi
Filmi
Filmi is Indian popular music as written and performed for Indian cinema. Music directors make up the main body of composers; the songs are performed by playback singers and it makes up 72% of the music sales in India....

 hit songs. Many of the Bollywood film stars have roots in Afghanistan, including Madhubala
Madhubala
Mumtaz Jahan Begum Dehlavi, known by her stage name Madhubala was a Hindi movie actress. She starred in several successful movies in the 1950s and early 1960s, many of which have attained a classic status...

, Feroz Khan
Feroz Khan
Feroz Khan was an Indian actor, film editor, producer and director in the Hindi film industry...

, Shahrukh Khan
Shahrukh Khan
Shahrukh Khan , often credited as Shah Rukh Khan, is an Indian film actor, as well as a film producer and television host. Often referred to as "the King of Bollywood", Khan has acted in over 70 Hindi films....

, Aamir Khan
Aamir Khan
Aamir Hussain Khan is an Indian film actor, director and producer who has established himself as one of the leading actors of Hindi cinema....

, Salman Khan
Salman Khan
Salman Khan is an Indian film actor. He has starred in more than 80 Hindi films.Khan, who made his acting debut with a minor role in the drama Biwi Ho To Aisi with Rekha in a lead role, had his first commercial success with the blockbuster Maine Pyar Kiya , for which he won a Filmfare Award for...

, Naseeruddin Shah
Naseeruddin Shah
Naseeruddin Shah is an Indian / Bollywood film actor and director. He is considered to be one of the finest actors of Indian cinema. In 2003, the Government of India honored him with the Padma Bhushan for his contributions towards Indian cinema.-Early life:...

, Fardeen Khan
Fardeen Khan
Fardeen Khan is an Indian Bollywood actor.-Early life:Fardeen Khan was born to actor turned director Feroz Khan and mother Sundari. Grandson of Sadiq Ali Khan and Fatima Khan. He is the nephew of actors Sanjay Khan and Akbar Khan. He is the cousin of Suzanne Khan and actor Zayed Khan. He lived in...

, Sohail Khan
Sohail Khan
Sohail Khan is an Indian director, writer, producer and actor working in the Hindi cinema. He is the younger brother of actors Salman Khan and Arbaaz Khan...

, Celina Jaitley
Celina Jaitley
Celina Jiya Jaitley is an Indian actress born in Kabul, Afghanistan. She appears in mainly Bollywood films. As a former beauty queen and model, she was crowned Femina Miss India Universe in 2001.-Early life:...

 and many others. In addition, several Bollywood films such as Dharmatma
Dharmatma
Dharmatama is a 1975 Hindi movie and the first ever Bollywood film to be shot in Afghanistan. It was produced and directed by Feroz Khan. The movie is the first attempt in India to localise The Godfather. This film's protagonist Premnath was based on the character of Matka king Ratan Khatri...

, Khuda Gawah
Khuda Gawah
Khuda Gawah is a 1992 Bollywood film directed by Mukul S. Anand and starring Amitabh Bachchan, Akkineni Nagarjuna, Sridevi , Shilpa Shirodkar and Danny Denzongpa.Amitabh plays the role of an Afghan , who travels between Afghanistan and India.Khuda Gawah had lavish...

, Escape from Taliban
Escape from Taliban
Escape From Taliban is a 2003 Indian film that is directed by Ujjal Chattopadhyaya. The film is based on the story of Sushmita Bandhopadhya, who fled Afghanistan in 1995 after six years of living there with her Afghan husband. During that time, the Taliban issued a death sentence for her because...

 and Kabul Express
Kabul Express
Kabul Express is a Bollywood film that was released on 15 December 2006. The film stars John Abraham, Arshad Warsi, Pakistani actor Salman Shahid, Afghan actor Hanif Hum Ghum and American actress Linda Arsenio...

 have been shot inside Afghanistan.

Sports


{{Main|Sport in Afghanistan}}

The Afghanistan national football team
Afghanistan national football team
The Afghanistan national football team is the national team of Afghanistan and is controlled by the Afghanistan Football Federation. The national team was founded in 1922 that joined FIFA in 1948 and the AFC in 1954...

 has been competing in international football since 1941 and currently has a world ranking of 179. The national team plays its home games at the Ghazi Stadium in Kabul, while football in Afghanistan
Football in Afghanistan
Football is the most popular sport in Afghanistan. Formed in 1922 and affiliated to FIFA since 1948, the Afghanistan Football Federation and the Afghanistan national football team lay dormant for many years. The side did not play a competitive international match from 1984 until 2002, when they...

 is governed by the Afghanistan Football Federation
Afghanistan Football Federation
The Afghanistan Football Federation is the governing body of football in Afghanistan, controlling the Afghanistan national football team. It was founded in 1922, and has been a member of FIFA since 1948 and the Asian Football Confederation since 1954....

. The national team has never competed or qualified for the World Cup. The country also has a national team in the sport of futsal, a game very similar to football. Some of the other popular sports in Afghanistan include cricket, volleyball, basketball, taekwondo, boxing, wrestling, weightlifting, and bodybuilding.

Cricket
Cricket
Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players on an oval-shaped field, at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard long pitch. One team bats, trying to score as many runs as possible while the other team bowls and fields, trying to dismiss the batsmen and thus limit the...

, which is a newly introduced sport in Afghanistan
Sport in Afghanistan
The Sports in Afghanistan are run by the Afghan Sports Federation, which promotes cricket, football, basketball, volleyball, golf, handball, boxing, taekwondo, weightlifting, bodybuilding, track and field, skating, bowling, snooker, chess, and other sports...

 fuelled by the success of the Afghan national cricket team is growing in popularity. It has risen from the lower levels of international cricket to qualifying for the 2010 Twenty20 World Cup
2010 ICC World Twenty20
-------------------------------------------------Group A:---------Group B:---------Group C:---------Group D:---------Super 8s:...

. More recently the under-19 team has qualified for the 2012 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup. The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) is the official governing body of the sport and is headquartered in Kabul. The Ghazi Amanullah Khan International Cricket Stadium
Ghazi Amanullah Khan International Cricket Stadium
The Ghazi Amanullah Khan International Cricket Stadium is the first international standard cricket stadium in Afghanistan. It is located in the Ghazi Amanullah Khan Township, about 15 kilometres outside the city of Jalalabad in Nangarhar Province....

 serves as the nation's main cricket stadium, followed by the Kabul National Cricket Stadium
Kabul National Cricket Stadium
Kabul National Cricket Stadium is a description of a stadium in Kabul, Afghanistan that is currently under construction. It is planned to be opened in July 2011 and have a seating capacity of 6,000 spectators....

. Several other stadiums are under construction. Cricket is played between teams from different provinces, mostly by the Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand Line
Durand Line
The Durand Line refers to the porous international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which has divided the ethnic Pashtuns . This poorly marked line is approximately long...

.

Buzkashi
Buzkashi
Buzkashi or Kok-boru or Oglak Tartis or Ulak Tartysh is a traditional Central Asian...

 is a traditional sport, mainly among the northern Afghans. It is similar to polo
Polo
Polo is a team sport played on horseback in which the objective is to score goals against an opposing team. Sometimes called, "The Sport of Kings", it was highly popularized by the British. Players score by driving a small white plastic or wooden ball into the opposing team's goal using a...

, played by horsemen in two teams, each trying to grab and hold a goat carcass. Afghan hound
Afghan Hound
The Afghan Hound is one of the oldest sighthound dog breeds. Distinguished by its thick, fine, silky coat and its tail with a ring curl at the end, the breed acquired its unique features in the cold mountains of Afghanistan, where it was originally used to hunt hares and gazelles by coursing them....

s (a type of running dog) originated in Afghanistan and was originally used in the sport of hunting.

See also


{{satop|Geography|Eurasia|Asia|Central Asia|South Asia|SAARC|Afghanistan}}
  • Afghanistanism
    Afghanistanism
    Afghanistanism is the practice of concentrating on problems in distant parts of the world while ignoring controversial local issues. In other contexts, the term has referred to "hopelessly arcane and irrelevant scholarship,"...

  • International rankings of Afghanistan
    International rankings of Afghanistan
    The following are international rankings of Afghanistan.-Cities:*Kabul-Demographics:*Population ranked 43 out of 228 countries and territories*CIA World Factbook 2008 estimates Life expectancy ranked 208 out of 211 countries and territories...


{{clear}}

External links


{{Sister project links|Afghanistan|s=Wikisource:Afghanistan}}
  • Office of the President official government website
  • Images of Afghanistan on Panoramio
    Panoramio
    Panoramio is a geolocation-oriented photo sharing website. Accepted photos uploaded to the site can be accessed as a layer in Google Earth and Google Maps, with new photos being added at the end of every month. The site's goal is to allow Google Earth users to learn more about a given area by...



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{{Cold War}}
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