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Afghanistan (;
Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages in ...

Pashto
/
Dari Dari (, , ), or Dari Persian (, ), is a political term used for the various dialects of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Gr ...
: , Pashto: , Dari: ), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a
landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individual's birth, residence or citizenship. A country may be an independent sovereign s ...
at the crossroads of
Central Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center (disambiguation), center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions and generalised locations * Central Africa, a region in the centre of Africa ...

Central
and
South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The region consists of the countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri La ...

South Asia
. Afghanistan is bordered by
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
to the east and south;
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
to the west;
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan ( or ; tk, Türkmenistan, ), also known as Turkmenia, is a Landlocked country, landlocked country in Central Asia, bordered by Kazakhstan to the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan border, northwest, Uzbekistan to the Turkmenistan–Uzbekista ...

Turkmenistan
,
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi), is a landlocked country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land ...

Uzbekistan
, and
Tajikistan ) , image_map = Tajikistan (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , capital = , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , official_languages = (state) (interethn ...

Tajikistan
to the north; and
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and 14 different countries, the in the world after . Covering an area of ap ...

China
to the northeast. Occupying , it is a mountainous country with plains in the north and southwest.
Kabul Kabul (; ps, , translit=Kābəl, ; prs, , translit=Kābol, ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capital ...

Kabul
is the capital and largest city. Its population is around 39 million, composed mostly of ethnic
Pashtuns Pashtuns (, or ; ps, پښتانه, ; Pakhtuns or Pathans), historically known as Afghans Afghan (Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a ...

Pashtuns
,
Tajiks Tajiks ( fa, تاجيک، تاجک, ''Tājīk, Tājek''; tg, Тоҷик) are a Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethni ...

Tajiks
,
Hazaras The Hazaras ( fa, هزاره, Hazāra; haz, آزره, Āzra) are a Persian-speaking ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes ...

Hazaras
, and
Uzbeks The Uzbeks ( uz, , , , ) are a Turkic peoples, Turkic ethnic group native to wider Central Asia, being the largest Turkic ethnic group in the area. They comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan but are also found as a minority group in: ...
. Humans lived in what is now Afghanistan at least 50,000 years ago. Settled life emerged in the region 9,000 years ago, evolving gradually into the
Indus civilization , c. 2500 BCE. Terracotta Terracotta, terra cotta, or terra-cotta (; Italian language, Italian: "baked earth", from the Latin ''terra cocta''), a type of earthenware, is a clay-based ceramic glaze, unglazed or glazed ceramic, where the ...
( Shortugai site), the Oxus civilization (Dashlyji site), and the
Helmand civilization Pottery vessel from Shahr-e Sukhteh The Helmand culture (also Helmand civilization) is a Bronze Age culture that flourished mainly in the Helmand valley in the eastern Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Is ...
(
Mundigak Mundigak ( ps, منډیګک) is an archaeological Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-cultural anthropology, but a ...
site) of the 3rd millennium BCE.;
Indo-Aryans Indo-Aryan peoples refers to both the pastoralist Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern I ...
migrated through
Bactria Bactria (BactrianBactrian may refer to *Bactria Bactria ( Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the ...
-
Margiana Margiana ( el, ''Margianḗ'', Old Persian: ''Marguš'', Middle Persian: ''Marv'') is a historical region centred on the oasis of Merv and was a minor satrapy within the Achaemenid Empire, Achaemenid satrapy of Bactria (satrapy), Bactria, and a ...
area to
Gandhara Gandhāra was an ancient region in the Kabul Kabul (; ps, , translit=Kābəl, ; prs, , translit=Kābol, ) is the Capital city, capital and largest city of Afghanistan, located in the eastern section of the country. It is also a municipa ...

Gandhara
, followed by the rise of the
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's pa ...
Yaz I culture (ca. 1500–1100 BCE), which has been closely associated with the culture depicted in the
Avesta The Avesta () is the primary collection of s of , composed in language. The Avesta texts fall into several different categories, arranged either by , or by usage. The principal text in the group is the ', which takes its name from the Yasn ...

Avesta
, the ancient religious texts of
Zoroastrianism Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is an and one of the world's oldest continuously-practiced organized faiths, based on the teachings of the prophet (also known as ''Zaraθuštra'' in or as ''Zartosht'' in ). It has a of and an which predict ...
. The region, then known as "
Ariana Ariana, the Latinized Latinisation or Latinization can refer to: * Latinisation of names, the practice of rendering a non-Latin name in a Latin style * Latinisation in the Soviet Union, the campaign in the USSR during the 1920s and 1930s to repla ...

Ariana
", fell to
Achaemenid The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian empire An empire is a sovereign state consisting of several territories and peoples subj ...
Persians in the 6th century BCE, who conquered the areas to their east as far as the Indus River.
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
invaded the region in the 4th century BCE, who married
Roxana Roxana (c. 340 BCE, – 310 BCE, grc, Ῥωξάνη; Old Iranian The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages in the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family that are spoken natively by the Irani ...

Roxana
in Bactria before his Kabul Valley campaign, where he faced resistance from Aspasioi and Assakan tribes. The
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom The Bactrian Kingdom, known to historians as the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, was a Hellenistic-era Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic ...
became the eastern end of the
Hellenistic world The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as signified by the Battle of Actium The Battle of Actium was a naval battle in t ...
. Following the conquest by
Mauryan The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age list of ancient great powers, historical power in South Asia based in Magadha, founded by Chandragupta Maurya in 322 BCE, and existing in loose-knit fashion until 185 BCE. Quote: "Ma ...
Indians,
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...
and
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent. These religions, which include Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, ...
flourished in the region for centuries. The
Kushan The Kushan Empire ( grc, Βασιλεία Κοσσανῶν; xbc, Κυϸανο, kus, khasano, ; Brahmi script, Late Brahmi Sanskrit: , ', '; Devanagari sa, कुषाण राजवंश, ; Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, BHS: ; xpr, 𐭊 ...
emperor
Kanishka Kanishka I (: कनिष्क; : ΚΑΝΗϷΚΕ ''Kanēške''; : 𐨐𐨞𐨁𐨮𐨿𐨐 ', '; : '), or Kanishka the Great, was an emperor of the , under whose reign(c. 127-150 CE) the empire reached it's zenith. He is famous for his mi ...

Kanishka
, who ruled from his twin capitals of
Kapisi Kapisi (, ) or Kapisa was the capital city of the former Kingdom of Kapisa The Kingdom of Kapisa was a state located in what is now Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto/Dari language, Dari: , Pashto: , Dari: ), officially the Islamic Republ ...
and Puruṣapura, played an important role in the spread of
Mahayana Mahāyāna (; "Great Vehicle") is a term for a broad group of Buddhism, Buddhist traditions, Buddhist texts#Mahāyāna texts, texts, Buddhist philosophy, philosophies, and practices. Mahāyāna Buddhism developed in India (c. 1st century BCE on ...
Buddhism to China and Central Asia. Various other Buddhist dynasties originated from this region as well, including the
Kidarites The Kidarites, or Kidara Huns, were a dynasty that ruled Bactria Bactria (BactrianBactrian may refer to *Bactria Bactria ( Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stre ...
,
Hephthalites The Hephthalites ( xbc, ηβοδαλο, translit= Ebodalo), sometimes called the White Huns (also known as the White Hunas, in as the ''Spet Xyon'' and in as the ''Sveta-huna''), were a people who lived in during the 5th to 8th centuries CE. ...

Hephthalites
, Alkhons,
Nezak The Nezak Huns (Middle Persian, Pahlavi: 𐭭𐭩𐭰𐭪𐭩 ''nycky''), also Nezak Shahs, were one of the four groups of Huna people in the area of the Hindu Kush, active from circa 484 to 665 CE. The Nezak kings, with their characteristic gold b ...
s,
Zunbils Zunbil, also written as Zhunbil, or Rutbils of Zabulistan, was a royal dynasty south of the Hindu Kush in present southern Afghanistan region. They ruled from circa 680 AD until the Saffarid conquest in 870 AD. The Zunbil dynasty was founded by Rut ...
and
Turk Shahi The Turk Shahis or Kabul Shahis were a dynasty of Western Turk, or mixed Western Turk-Hephthalite The Hephthalites ( xbc, ηβοδαλο, translit= Ebodalo), sometimes called the White Huns (also known as the White Hunas, in Iranian languages ...
s. Muslims brought Islam to
Sassanian The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians ( Middle Persian: 𐭠𐭩𐭥𐭠𐭭𐭱𐭲𐭥𐭩 '' Ērānshahr''), and called the Neo-Persian Empire by historians, was the last Persian imperial dynasty bef ...
-held
Herat Herāt (; Dari Dari (, , ), or Dari Persian (, ), is a political term used for the various dialects of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) i ...

Herat
and
Zaranj Zaranj or Zarang (Persian language, Persian/Pashto language, Pashto/ bal, زرنج) is a city in southwestern Afghanistan, near the Afghanistan–Iran border, border with Iran, which has a population of 160,902 people as of 2015. It is the capital ...
in the mid-7th century, while fuller Islamization was achieved between the 9th and 12th centuries under the
Saffarid The Saffarid dynasty ( fa, صفاریان) was a Persian dynasty from Sistan that ruled over parts of Greater Iran, with its capital at Zaranj (a city now in southwestern Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto/Dari language, Dari: , Pashto: ...
,
Samanid The Samanid Empire ( fa, سامانیان, Sāmāniyān) also known as the Samanian Empire, Samanid dynasty, Samanid amirate, or simply Samanids) was a Sunni Islam, Sunni Iranian peoples, Iranian empire, from 819 to 999. The empire was centred in G ...

Samanid
,
Ghaznavid The Ghaznavid dynasty ( fa, غزنویان ''Ġaznaviyān'') was a Persianate society, Persianate Muslim dynasty of Turkic peoples, Turkic ''mamluk'' origin, ruling, at its greatest extent, large parts of Iran, Afghanistan, much of Transoxiana ...
, and
Ghurid The Ghurid dynasty (also spelled Ghorids; fa, سلسله غوریان; self-designation: , ''Shansabānī''), was a Persianate A Persianate society is a society that is based on or strongly influenced by the Persian language Persian (), ...
dynasties. Parts of the region were later ruled by the Khwarazmian, Khalji,
TimuridTimurid refers to those descended from Timur (Tamerlane), a 14th-century conqueror: * Timurid dynasty, a dynasty of Turco-Mongol lineage descended from Timur who established empires in Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent ** Timurid Empire of Ce ...
, Lodi, Sur,
Mughal Mughal or Moghul may refer to: * The Mughal Empire of South Asia ** Mughal dynasty ** Mughal emperors ** Mughal people, a social group of South Asia ** Mughal Army, the Army of Mughal Empire * Cultural influences of the Mughal Empire ** Mughal arc ...
, and
Safavid Safavid Iran or Safavid Persia (), also referred to as the Safavid Empire, '. was one of the greatest Iranian peoples, Iranian empires after the 7th-century Muslim conquest of Persia, ruled from 1501 to 1736 by the Safavid dynasty. It is often ...

Safavid
empires. The political history of the modern state of Afghanistan began with the
Hotak dynasty The Hotak dynasty ( ps, ; fa, ) was an Afghan (ethnonym), Afghan monarchy of the Ghilji Pashtuns. It was established in April 1709 by Mirwais Hotak, who led a successful revolution against the declining Persian Safavid Iran, Safavid overlords in ...
, whose founder
Mirwais Hotak Mirwais Hotak ( ps, مير ويس خان هوتک), (1673–1715), was an influential Pashtun (Ghilji tribe) from Kandahar Kandahar (; ps, کندهار; prs, قندهار; known in older literature as Candahar) is a List of cities in Afghanist ...
declared southern Afghanistan independent in 1709. In 1747,
Ahmad Shah Durrani Ahmad Shāh Durrānī (c. 1722 – 4 June 1772) (Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian ...
established the
Durrani Empire The Durrani Empire ( ps, د درانيانو ټولواکمني), also called the Sadozai Kingdom and the Afghan Empire, was an Afghan Afghan ( Pashto/Persian language, Persian: ) refers to someone or something from Afghanistan, in particul ...
with its capital at
Kandahar Kandahar (; Kandahār, , Qandahār) is a List of cities in Afghanistan, city in Afghanistan, located in the south of the country on the Arghandab River, at an elevation of . It is Afghanistan's second largest city after Kabul, with a population ...

Kandahar
. In 1776, the Durrani capital was moved to Kabul while
Peshawar Peshawar (; ps, پېښور ; hnd, ; ; ur, ) is the capital of the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and its List of cities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by population, largest city. It is the List of most populous cities in Pakistan, six ...

Peshawar
became the winter capital; the latter was lost to Sikhs in 1823. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a
buffer state A buffer state is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalis ...
in the "
Great Game "The Great Game" was a political and diplomatic confrontation that existed for most of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century between the British Empire and the Russian Empire, over Afghanistan and neighbouring territories in Central ...
" between British India and the Russian Empire. In the
First Anglo-Afghan War The First Anglo-Afghan War ( fa, جنگ اول افغان و انگلیس), also known by the British as the Disaster in Afghanistan, was fought between the British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, c ...
, the
British East India Company The East India Company (EIC), also known as the Honourable East India Company (HEIC), East India Trading Company (EITC), the English East India Company or (after 1707) the British East India Company, and informally known as John Company, Com ...
seized control of Afghanistan briefly, but following the
Third Anglo-Afghan War The Third Anglo-Afghan War ( fa, جنگ سوم افغان-انگلیس; ps, د افغان-انگرېز درېمه جگړه), also known as the Third Afghan War, the British-Afghan War of 1919 and in Afghanistan as the War of Independence, began ...
in 1919 the country was free of foreign influence, eventually becoming a monarchy under
Amanullah Khan Ghāzī Amānullāh Khān ( prs, غازی امان الله خان, ps, غازي امان الله خان) was the sovereign of the Kingdom of Afghanistan from 1919 to 1929, first as Emir and after 1926 as King. After the August 1919 end of t ...
, until almost 50 years later when
Zahir Shah Mohammed Zahir Shah (15 October 1914 – 23 July 2007) was the last King of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) File:Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg">Aztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco King is the title given ...
was overthrown and a republic was established. In 1978, after a second coup, Afghanistan first became a socialist state, evoking the
Soviet–Afghan War The Soviet–Afghan War was a conflict wherein insurgent groups known collectively as the Mujahideen ''Mujahideen'', or ''Mujahidin'' ( ar, مُجَاهِدِين, mujāhidīn), is the plural form of ''mujahid'' ( ar, مجاهد, mujā ...
in the 1980s against
mujahideen ''Mujahideen'', or ''Mujahidin'' ( ar, مُجَاهِدِين, mujāhidīn), is the plural form of ''mujahid'' ( ar, مجاهد, mujāhid, strugglers or strivers or justice, right conduct, Godly rule, etc. doers of jihād), an Arabic term th ...

mujahideen
rebels. By 1996, most of the country was captured by the Islamic fundamentalist
Taliban The Taliban (; ps, طالبان, ṭālibān, lit=students or 'seekers'), which refers to itself as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Taliban Islamic Movement and/or Islamic Movement of Taliban is a Deobandi Deobandi ( hi, देव ...

Taliban
, who ruled as a totalitarian regime for over five years; they were removed from power after the US invasion in 2001 but still control a significant portion of the country. The ongoing war between the government and the Taliban has contributed to the perpetuation of Afghanistan's problematic human rights record including complications of
women's rights Women's rights are the and s claimed for and s worldwide. They formed the basis for the women's rights movement in the 19th century and the s during the 20th and 21st centuries. In some countries, these rights are institutionalized or supp ...
, with numerous abuses committed by both sides, such as the killing of civilians. Afghanistan is a unitary presidential
Islamic republic An Islamic republic can be considered a sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institution ...
. The country has high levels of
terrorism Terrorism, in its broadest sense, is the use of intentional violence to achieve political aims. The term is used in this regard primarily to refer to violence during peacetime Peace is a concept of societal friendship and harmony in the ...
, poverty, child malnutrition, and corruption. It is a member of the United Nations, the
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC; ar, منظمة التعاون الإسلامي, Munaẓẓama at-Taʿāwun al-ʾIslāmiyy; french: Organisation de la coopération islamique), formerly the Organisation of the Islamic Conference ...
, the
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) or international organization is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (ref ...
, the
Group of 77 The Group of 77 (G77) at the is a coalition of 134 , designed to promote its members' collective interests and create an enhanced joint negotiating capacity in the United Nations. There were 77 founding members of the organization headquartered ...
, the
Economic Cooperation Organization The Economic Cooperation Organization or ECO is an Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It ...

Economic Cooperation Organization
, and the
Non-Aligned Movement The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is a forum of 120 developing world Image:Imf-advanced-un-least-developed-2008.svg, 450px, Example of Older Classifications by the International Monetary Fund, IMF and the United Nations, UN from 2008 A deve ...
. Afghanistan's economy is the world's 96th largest, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $72.9 billion by purchasing power parity; the country fares much worse in terms of per-capita GDP (PPP), ranking 169th out of 186 countries as of 2018.


Etymology

The
root In vascular plant Vascular plants (from Latin ''vasculum'': duct), also known as Tracheophyta (the tracheophytes , from Greek τραχεῖα ἀρτηρία ''trācheia artēria'' 'windpipe' + φυτά ''phutá'' 'plants'), form a large grou ...
name " ''Afghān''" is, according to some scholars, derived from the name of the ''
Aśvaka The ''Aśvaka'' (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European langua ...
n'' or ''Assakan'', ancient inhabitants of the
Hindu Kush The Hindu Kush (Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of ...
region. ''Aśvakan'' literally means "horsemen", "horse breeders", or "
cavalry Historically, cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldier A soldier is a person who is a member of a professional army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via O ...

cavalry
men" (from '' aśva'' or ''aspa'', the
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
and
Avestan Avestan , also known historically as Zend, comprises two languages: Old Avestan (spoken in the 2nd millennium BCE) and Younger Avestan (spoken in the 1st millennium BCE). The languages are known only from their use as the language of Zoroastrian ...
words for "
horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to ...

horse
"). Historically, the ethnonym ''Afghān'' was used to refer to ethnic
Pashtuns Pashtuns (, or ; ps, پښتانه, ; Pakhtuns or Pathans), historically known as Afghans Afghan (Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a ...

Pashtuns
. The Arabic and Persian form of the name, ''Afġān'' was first attested in the 10th-century geography book ''
Hudud al-'Alam The ''Ḥudūd al-ʿĀlam'' ( ar, حدود العالم "Boundaries of the World" or "Limits of the World") is a 10th-century geography book written in Persian by an unknown author from Guzgan.Clifford Edmund Bosworth, C. E. Bosworth in: Encyclop ...
''. The last part of the name, "''
-stan The suffix -stan ( fa, ـستان, translit=stân after a vowel; estân or istân after a consonant) has the meaning of ''"a place abounding in"'' or ''"a place where anything abounds"'' in Persian language. It appears in the names of many regio ...
''" is a Persian suffix for "place of." Therefore, "Afghanistan" translates to "land of the Afghans," or "land of the Pashtuns" in a historical sense. According to the third edition of the ''
Encyclopedia of Islam An encyclopedia or encyclopaedia (British English) is a reference work or compendium providing summaries of knowledge either from all branches or from a particular field or discipline. Encyclopedias are divided into article (publishing), art ...
'': The modern
Constitution of Afghanistan The 1964 Afghanistan Constitution was the constitution of Afghanistan Afghanistan (; /: , Pashto: , Dari: ), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a at the crossroads of and . Afghanistan is bordered by to the east and so ...
states that the word "Afghan" shall apply to every .


History

Many empires and kingdoms have also risen to power in Afghanistan, such as the
Greco-Bactrians The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom was, along with the Indo-Greek Kingdom, the easternmost part of the Hellenistic world, covering Bactria and Sogdia Sogdia () ( Sogdian: soɣd) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian civilization that at different ti ...
,
Indo-Scythians Indo-Scythians (also called Indo-Sakas) were a group of nomadic Iranian peoples The Iranian peoples or Iranic peoples are a diverse Indo-European languages, Indo-European ethnolinguistic group who are identified by their use of the Iranian ...
,
Kushan The Kushan Empire ( grc, Βασιλεία Κοσσανῶν; xbc, Κυϸανο, kus, khasano, ; Brahmi script, Late Brahmi Sanskrit: , ', '; Devanagari sa, कुषाण राजवंश, ; Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, BHS: ; xpr, 𐭊 ...
s,
Kidarites The Kidarites, or Kidara Huns, were a dynasty that ruled Bactria Bactria (BactrianBactrian may refer to *Bactria Bactria ( Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stre ...
,
Hephthalites The Hephthalites ( xbc, ηβοδαλο, translit= Ebodalo), sometimes called the White Huns (also known as the White Hunas, in as the ''Spet Xyon'' and in as the ''Sveta-huna''), were a people who lived in during the 5th to 8th centuries CE. ...

Hephthalites
, Alkhons, Nezaks,
Zunbils Zunbil, also written as Zhunbil, or Rutbils of Zabulistan, was a royal dynasty south of the Hindu Kush in present southern Afghanistan region. They ruled from circa 680 AD until the Saffarid conquest in 870 AD. The Zunbil dynasty was founded by Rut ...
,
Turk Shahi The Turk Shahis or Kabul Shahis were a dynasty of Western Turk, or mixed Western Turk-Hephthalite The Hephthalites ( xbc, ηβοδαλο, translit= Ebodalo), sometimes called the White Huns (also known as the White Hunas, in Iranian languages ...
s, Hindu Shahis, Lawiks, Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Khwarazmians, Khaljis, Kartids, Lodi dynasty, Lodis, Sur Empire, Surs, Mughals, and finally, the Hotak dynasty, Hotak and Durrani dynasty, Durrani dynasties, which marked the political origins of the modern state. Throughout millennia several cities within the modern day Afghanistan served as capitals of various empires, namely Bactra (Balkh), Alexandria on the Oxus (Ai-Khanoum),
Kapisi Kapisi (, ) or Kapisa was the capital city of the former Kingdom of Kapisa The Kingdom of Kapisa was a state located in what is now Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto/Dari language, Dari: , Pashto: , Dari: ), officially the Islamic Republ ...
, Sigal, Sakastan, Sigal,
Kabul Kabul (; ps, , translit=Kābəl, ; prs, , translit=Kābol, ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capital ...

Kabul
, Kunduz,
Zaranj Zaranj or Zarang (Persian language, Persian/Pashto language, Pashto/ bal, زرنج) is a city in southwestern Afghanistan, near the Afghanistan–Iran border, border with Iran, which has a population of 160,902 people as of 2015. It is the capital ...
, Firozkoh,
Herat Herāt (; Dari Dari (, , ), or Dari Persian (, ), is a political term used for the various dialects of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) i ...

Herat
, Ghazna (Ghazni), Binban (Bamyan), and
Kandahar Kandahar (; Kandahār, , Qandahār) is a List of cities in Afghanistan, city in Afghanistan, located in the south of the country on the Arghandab River, at an elevation of . It is Afghanistan's second largest city after Kabul, with a population ...

Kandahar
. The country sits 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 who established the dominant role of Indo-Iranian languages in the region. At multiple points, the land has been incorporated within vast regional empires, among them the Achaemenid Empire, the Macedonian Empire, the Maurya Empire, and the Islamic Empire. For its success in resisting foreign occupation during the 19th and 20th centuries, Afghanistan has been called the "graveyard of empires," though it is unknown who coined the phrase.


Prehistory and antiquity

Excavations of prehistoric sites 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 believe that Afghanistan compares to Egypt in terms of the historical value of its archaeological sites. Archaeological exploration done in the 20th century suggests that the geographical area of Afghanistan has been closely connected by culture and trade with its neighbors to the east, west, and north. Artifacts typical of the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age, Bronze, and
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's pa ...
s have been found in Afghanistan. Urban civilization is believed to have begun as early as 3000 BCE, and the early city of
Mundigak Mundigak ( ps, منډیګک) is an archaeological Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-cultural anthropology, but a ...
(near
Kandahar Kandahar (; Kandahār, , Qandahār) is a List of cities in Afghanistan, city in Afghanistan, located in the south of the country on the Arghandab River, at an elevation of . It is Afghanistan's second largest city after Kabul, with a population ...

Kandahar
in the south of the country) was a center of the Helmand culture. More recent findings established that the Indus Valley Civilization stretched up towards modern-day Afghanistan, making the ancient civilization today part of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India. In more detail, it extended from what today is northwest
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
to northwest India and northeast Afghanistan. An Indus Valley site has been found on the Oxus River at Shortugai in northern Afghanistan. There are several smaller IVC colonies to be found in Afghanistan as well. After 2000 BCE, successive waves of semi-nomadic people from Central Asia began moving south into Afghanistan; among them were many Indo-European languages, Indo-European-speaking Indo-Iranians. These tribes later migrated further into South Asia, Western Asia, and toward Europe via the area north of the Caspian Sea. The region at the time was referred to as
Ariana Ariana, the Latinized Latinisation or Latinization can refer to: * Latinisation of names, the practice of rendering a non-Latin name in a Latin style * Latinisation in the Soviet Union, the campaign in the USSR during the 1920s and 1930s to repla ...

Ariana
.


Zoroastrianism and Hellenic era

The religion
Zoroastrianism Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is an and one of the world's oldest continuously-practiced organized faiths, based on the teachings of the prophet (also known as ''Zaraθuštra'' in or as ''Zartosht'' in ). It has a of and an which predict ...
is believed by some to have originated in what is now Afghanistan between 1800 and 800 BCE, as its founder Zoroaster is thought to have lived and died in Balkh. Ancient Eastern Iranian languages may have been spoken in the region around the time of the rise of Zoroastrianism. By the middle of the 6th century BCE, the Achaemenids overthrew the Medes and incorporated Arachosia, Aria (satrapy), Aria, and
Bactria Bactria (BactrianBactrian may refer to *Bactria Bactria ( Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the ...
within its eastern boundaries. An Epigraphy, inscription on the tombstone of Darius I of Persia mentions the Kabulistan, Kabul Valley in a list of the 29 countries that he had conquered.
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
and his Macedonian forces arrived in Afghanistan in 330 BCE after defeating Darius III of Persia a year earlier in the Battle of Gaugamela. Following Alexander's brief occupation, the successor state of the Seleucid Empire controlled the region until 305 BCE when they gave much of it to the Maurya Empire as part of an alliance treaty. The Mauryans controlled the area south of the
Hindu Kush The Hindu Kush (Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of ...
until they were overthrown in about 185 BCE. Their decline began 60 years after Ashoka's rule ended, leading to the Hellenistic reconquest by the
Greco-Bactrians The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom was, along with the Indo-Greek Kingdom, the easternmost part of the Hellenistic world, covering Bactria and Sogdia Sogdia () ( Sogdian: soɣd) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian civilization that at different ti ...
. Much of it soon broke away from them and became part of the Indo-Greek Kingdom. They were defeated and expelled by the
Indo-Scythians Indo-Scythians (also called Indo-Sakas) were a group of nomadic Iranian peoples The Iranian peoples or Iranic peoples are a diverse Indo-European languages, Indo-European ethnolinguistic group who are identified by their use of the Iranian ...
in the late 2nd century BCE.


Hindu and Buddhist era

The Silk Road appeared during the first century BCE, and Afghanistan flourished with trade, with routes to China, India, Persia and north to the cities of Bukhara, Samarkand and Khiva in present-day Uzbekistan. Goods and ideas were exchanged at this center point, such as Chinese silk, Persian silver and Roman gold, while the region of present Afghanistan was mining and trading lapis lazuli stones mainly from the Badakhshan region. During the first century BCE, the Parthian Empire subjugated the region but lost it to their Indo-Parthian vassals. In the mid-to-late first century CE the vast Kushan Empire, centered in Afghanistan, became great patrons of Buddhist culture, making Buddhism flourish throughout the region. The Kushans were overthrown by the Sassanids in the 3rd century CE, though the Indo-Sassanids continued to rule at least parts of the region. They were followed by the Kidarites who, in turn, were replaced by the
Hephthalites The Hephthalites ( xbc, ηβοδαλο, translit= Ebodalo), sometimes called the White Huns (also known as the White Hunas, in as the ''Spet Xyon'' and in as the ''Sveta-huna''), were a people who lived in during the 5th to 8th centuries CE. ...

Hephthalites
. They were replaced by the
Turk Shahi The Turk Shahis or Kabul Shahis were a dynasty of Western Turk, or mixed Western Turk-Hephthalite The Hephthalites ( xbc, ηβοδαλο, translit= Ebodalo), sometimes called the White Huns (also known as the White Hunas, in Iranian languages ...
in the 7th century. The Buddhist Turk Shahi of Kabul was replaced by a Hindu dynasty before the Saffarids conquered the area in 870, this Hindu dynasty was called Hindu Shahi. Much of the northeastern and southern areas of the country remained dominated by Buddhist culture.


Medieval history


Islamic conquest

Arab Muslims brought Islam to
Herat Herāt (; Dari Dari (, , ), or Dari Persian (, ), is a political term used for the various dialects of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) i ...

Herat
and
Zaranj Zaranj or Zarang (Persian language, Persian/Pashto language, Pashto/ bal, زرنج) is a city in southwestern Afghanistan, near the Afghanistan–Iran border, border with Iran, which has a population of 160,902 people as of 2015. It is the capital ...
in 642 CE and began spreading eastward; some of the native inhabitants they encountered accepted it while others revolted. Before Islam was introduced, people of the region were mostly Buddhists and Zoroastrians, but there were also Surya and Nana (Afghan goddess), Nana worshipers, History of the Jews in Afghanistan, Jews, and others. The
Zunbils Zunbil, also written as Zhunbil, or Rutbils of Zabulistan, was a royal dynasty south of the Hindu Kush in present southern Afghanistan region. They ruled from circa 680 AD until the Saffarid conquest in 870 AD. The Zunbil dynasty was founded by Rut ...
and Kabul Shahi were first conquered in 870 CE by the
Saffarid The Saffarid dynasty ( fa, صفاریان) was a Persian dynasty from Sistan that ruled over parts of Greater Iran, with its capital at Zaranj (a city now in southwestern Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto/Dari language, Dari: , Pashto: ...
Muslims of Zaranj. Later, the Samanids extended their Islamic influence south of the Hindu Kush. It is reported that Muslims and non-Muslims still lived side by side in Kabul before the Ghaznavids rose to power in the 10th century. By the 11th century, Mahmud of Ghazni defeated the remaining Hindu rulers and effectively Islamized the wider region, with the exception of Kafiristan. Mahmud made Ghazni into an important city and patronized intellectuals such as the historian Al-Biruni and the poet Ferdowsi. The Ghaznavid dynasty was overthrown by the Ghurids, whose architectural achievements included the remote Minaret of Jam. The Ghurids controlled Afghanistan for less than a century before being conquered by the Khwarazmian dynasty in 1215.


Mongols and Babur

In 1219 AD, Genghis Khan and his Mongol conquest of the Khwarazmian Empire, Mongol army overran the region. His troops are said to have annihilated the Khwarazmian cities of
Herat Herāt (; Dari Dari (, , ), or Dari Persian (, ), is a political term used for the various dialects of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) i ...

Herat
and Balkh as well as Bamyan, Afghanistan, Bamyan. The destruction caused by the Mongols forced many locals to return to an agrarian rural society. Mongol rule continued with the Ilkhanate in the northwest while the Khalji dynasty administered the Afghan tribal areas south of the Hindu Kush until the invasion of Timur (aka Tamerlane), who established the Timurid Empire in 1370. Under the rule of Shah Rukh the city served as the focal point of the Timurid Renaissance, whose glory matched Florence of the Italian Renaissance as the center of a cultural rebirth. In the early 16th century, Babur arrived from Ferghana and captured Kabul from the Arghun dynasty. Between the 16th and 18th century, the Uzbek Khanate of Bukhara, Iranian Safavids, and Indian Mughals ruled parts of the territory. During the Medieval Period, the northwestern area of Afghanistan was referred to by the regional name Greater Khorasan, Khorasan. Two of the four capitals of Khorasan (
Herat Herāt (; Dari Dari (, , ), or Dari Persian (, ), is a political term used for the various dialects of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) i ...

Herat
and Balkh) are now located in Afghanistan, while the regions of Kandahar Province, Kandahar, Zabulistan, Ghazni, Kabulistan, and name of Afghanistan, Afghanistan formed the frontier between Khorasan and Hindustan. However, up to the 19th century the term Khorasan was commonly used among natives to describe their country; Sir George Elphinstone wrote with amazement that the country known to outsiders as "Afghanistan" was referred to by its own inhabitants as "Khorasan" and that the first Afghan official whom he met at the border welcomed him to Khorasan.


Modern history


Hotak and Durrani dynasties

In 1709,
Mirwais Hotak Mirwais Hotak ( ps, مير ويس خان هوتک), (1673–1715), was an influential Pashtun (Ghilji tribe) from Kandahar Kandahar (; ps, کندهار; prs, قندهار; known in older literature as Candahar) is a List of cities in Afghanist ...
, a local Ghilzai tribal leader, successfully rebelled against the Safavids. He defeated Gurgin Khan and established his own kingdom. Mirwais died of natural causes in 1715 and was succeeded by his brother Abdul Aziz Hotak, Abdul Aziz, who was soon killed by Mirwais' son Mahmud Hotak, Mahmud for treason. Mahmud led the Afghan army in 1722 to the Persian capital of Isfahan, captured the city after the Battle of Gulnabad and proclaimed himself King of Persia. The Afghan dynasty was ousted from Persia by Nader Shah after the 1729 Battle of Damghan (1729), Battle of Damghan. In 1738, Nader Shah and his Afsharid dynasty, forces captured Kandahar, the last Hotak stronghold, from Shah Hussain Hotak, at which point the incarcerated 16-year-old
Ahmad Shah Durrani Ahmad Shāh Durrānī (c. 1722 – 4 June 1772) (Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian ...
was freed and made the commander of an Afghan regiment. Soon after, the Persian and Afghan forces Nader Shah's invasion of India, invaded India. By 1747, the Afghans chose Durrani as their head of state. Durrani and his Afghan army conquered much of present-day Afghanistan,
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
, the Khorasan Province, Khorasan and Quhistan, Kohistan provinces of Iran, and Delhi in India. He defeated the Indian Maratha Empire, and one of his biggest victories was the Battle of Panipat (1761), 1761 Battle of Panipat. In October 1772, Durrani died of natural causes and was buried at a site now adjacent to the Shrine of the Cloak in Kandahar. He was succeeded by his son, Timur Shah, who transferred the capital of his kingdom from Kandahar to Kabul in 1776, with
Peshawar Peshawar (; ps, پېښور ; hnd, ; ; ur, ) is the capital of the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and its List of cities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by population, largest city. It is the List of most populous cities in Pakistan, six ...

Peshawar
becoming the winter capital. After Timur's death in 1793, the Durrani throne passed down to his son Zaman Shah, followed by Mahmud Shah Durrani, Mahmud Shah, Shuja Shah and others.


Barakzai dynasty and British wars

By the early 19th century, the Afghan empire was under threat from the Qajar dynasty, Persians in the west and the Sikh Empire in the east. Fateh Khan, leader of the Barakzai dynasty, Barakzai tribe, had installed 21 of his brothers in positions of power throughout the 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 declared himself emir in 1823. Punjab and Kashmir were lost to Ranjit Singh, who invaded Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in March 1823 and captured the city of
Peshawar Peshawar (; ps, پېښور ; hnd, ; ; ur, ) is the capital of the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and its List of cities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by population, largest city. It is the List of most populous cities in Pakistan, six ...

Peshawar
at the Battle of Nowshera. In 1837, during the Battle of Jamrud near the Khyber Pass, Wazir Akbar Khan, Akbar Khan and the Afghan army failed to capture the Jamrud Fort from the Sikh Khalsa Army, but killed Sikh Commander Hari Singh Nalwa, thus ending the Afghan-Sikh Wars. By this time the British were advancing from the east and the First Anglo-Afghan War, first major conflict during "The Great Game" was initiated. In 1838, the British marched into Afghanistan and arrested Dost Mohammad Khan (Emir of Afghanistan), Dost Mohammad, sent him into exile in India and replaced him with the previous ruler, Shah Shuja Durrani, Shah Shuja.In Defence of British India: Great Britain in the Middle East, 1775–1842
By Edward Ingram. Frank Cass & Co, London, 1984. . p7-19
Following an uprising, the 1842 retreat from Kabul of British-Indian forces and the annihilation of William George Keith Elphinstone, Elphinstone's army, and the Battle of Kabul (1842), Battle of Kabul that led to its recapture, the British placed Dost Mohammad Khan back into power and withdrew their military forces from Afghanistan. In 1878, the Second Anglo-Afghan War was fought over perceived Russian influence, Abdur Rahman Khan replaced Mohammad Ayub Khan (Emir of Afghanistan), Ayub Khan, and Britain gained control of Afghanistan's foreign relations as part of the Treaty of Gandamak of 1879. In 1893, Mortimer Durand made Amir Abdur Rahman Khan sign a controversial agreement in which the ethnic Pashtun and Baloch people, Baloch territories were divided by the Durand Line. This was a standard divide and rule policy of the British and would lead to strained relations, especially with the later new state of Pakistan. Shia Islam in Afghanistan, Shia-dominated Hazarajat and pagan Kafiristan remained politically independent until being Muslim conquests of Afghanistan, conquered by Abdur Rahman Khan in 1891–1896. He was known as the "Iron Amir" for his features and his ruthless methods against tribes. The ''Iron Amir'' viewed railway and telegraph lines coming from the Russian and British empires as "trojan horses" and therefore prevented railway development in Afghanistan. He died in 1901, replaced by his son Habibullah Khan. During World War I, when Afghanistan was neutral, Habibullah Khan was met by officials of the Central Powers in the Niedermayer–Hentig Expedition, to declare full independence from the United Kingdom, join them and attack British India, as part of the Hindu–German Conspiracy. Their efforts to bring Afghanistan into the Central Powers failed, but it caused discontent among the population for keeping neutrality against the British. Habibullah was assassinated during a hunting trip in 1919, and
Amanullah Khan Ghāzī Amānullāh Khān ( prs, غازی امان الله خان, ps, غازي امان الله خان) was the sovereign of the Kingdom of Afghanistan from 1919 to 1929, first as Emir and after 1926 as King. After the August 1919 end of t ...
eventually assumed power. A staunch supporter of the 1915–1916 expeditions, Amanullah Khan evoked the
Third Anglo-Afghan War The Third Anglo-Afghan War ( fa, جنگ سوم افغان-انگلیس; ps, د افغان-انگرېز درېمه جگړه), also known as the Third Afghan War, the British-Afghan War of 1919 and in Afghanistan as the War of Independence, began ...
, entering British India via the Khyber Pass. After the end Third Anglo-Afghan War and the signing of the Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1919, Treaty of Rawalpindi on 19 August 1919, King Amanullah Khan declared Afghanistan a sovereign state, sovereign and fully independent state. He moved to end his country's traditional isolation by establishing diplomatic relations with the international community, particularly with the Soviet Union and the Weimar Republic of Germany. Following a 1927–28 tour of Europe and Turkey, he introduced several reforms intended to modernize his nation. A key force behind these reforms was Mahmud Tarzi, an ardent supporter of the education of women. He fought for Article 68 of Afghanistan's 1923 constitution of Afghanistan, constitution, which made elementary education compulsory. The institution of slavery was abolished in 1923. Khan's wife Queen Soraya Tarzi was a figure during this period. Some of the reforms that were put in place, such as the abolition of the traditional burqa for women and the opening of several co-educational schools, quickly alienated many tribal and religious leaders, and this led to the Afghan Civil War (1928–1929). Faced with the overwhelming armed opposition, Amanullah Khan abdicated in January 1929, and soon after Kabul fell to Saqqawist forces led by Habibullah Kalakani. Prince Mohammed Nadir Shah, Amanullah's cousin, in turn defeated and killed Kalakani in October 1929, and was declared King Nadir Shah. He abandoned the reforms of Amanullah Khan in favor of a more gradual approach to modernization but was assassinated in 1933 by Abdul Khaliq Hazara (assassin), Abdul Khaliq, a fifteen-year-old Hazara people, Hazara student who was an Amanullah loyalist. Mohammed Zahir Shah, Nadir Shah's 19-year-old son, succeeded to the throne and reigned from 1933 to 1973. The Afghan tribal revolts of 1944–1947, tribal revolts of 1944–1947 saw Zahir Shah's reign being challenged by Zadran (Pashtun tribe), Zadran, Safi (Pashtun tribe), Safi, Mangal (Pashtun tribe), Mangal, and Wazir (Pashtun tribe), Wazir tribesmen led by Mazrak Zadran, Salemai, and Faqir Ipi, Mirzali Khan, among others, many of whom were Amanullah loyalists. Close relations with the Muslim states Turkey, the Kingdom of Iraq and Pahlavi dynasty, Iran/Persia were also pursued, while further international relations were sought by joining the League of Nations in 1934. The 1930s saw the development of roads, infrastructure, the founding of a Da Afghanistan Bank, national bank, and increased education. Road links in the north played a large part in a growing cotton and textile industry. The country built close relationships with the Axis powers, with Germany having the largest share in Afghan development at the time, along with Afghanistan-Italy relations, Italy and Afghanistan-Japan relations, Japan.


Contemporary history

Until 1946, Zahir Shah ruled with the assistance of his uncle, who held the post of Prime Minister of Afghanistan, Prime Minister 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, the king's cousin and brother-in-law, and a Pashtun nationalist who sought the creation of a Pashtunistan, leading to highly tense relations with Pakistan. During his ten years at the post until 1963, Daoud Khan pressed for social modernization reforms and sought a closer relationship with the Soviet Union. Afterward, the 1964 Constitution of Afghanistan, 1964 constitution was formed, and the first non-royal Prime Minister was sworn in. King Zahir Shah, like his father Nadir Shah, had a policy of maintaining national independence while pursuing gradual modernization, creating nationalist feeling, and improving relations with the United Kingdom. However, Afghanistan remained neutral and was neither a participant in World War II nor aligned with either power bloc in the Cold War thereafter. 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 in the post-period. On a per capita basis, Afghanistan received more Soviet development aid than any other country. Afghanistan had, therefore, good relations with both Cold War enemies. In 1973, while the King was in Italy, Daoud Khan launched a 1973 Afghan coup, bloodless coup and became the first President of Afghanistan, abolishing the monarchy.


Democratic Republic regime and Soviet war

In April 1978, the communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) seized power in a bloody coup d'état against then-President Mohammed Daoud Khan, in what is called the Saur Revolution. The PDPA declared the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, with its first leader named as People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, People's Democratic Party general secretary Nur Muhammad Taraki. This would trigger a series of events that would dramatically turn Afghanistan from a poor and secluded (albeit peaceful) country to a hotbed of international terrorism. The PDPA initiated various social, symbolic and land distribution reforms that provoked strong opposition, while also brutally oppressing political dissidents. This caused unrest and quickly expanded into a state of War in Afghanistan (1978–present), civil war by 1979, waged by guerrilla ''mujahideen'' (and smaller Maoist guerillas) against regime forces countrywide. It quickly turned into a proxy war as the Pakistani government provided these rebels with covert training centers, the United States Operation Cyclone, supported them through Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and the Soviet Union sent thousands of military advisers to support the PDPA regime. Meanwhile, there was increasingly hostile friction between the competing factions of the PDPA – the dominant Khalq and the more moderate Parcham. In September 1979, PDPA General Secretary Taraki was assassinated in an internal coup orchestrated by fellow Khalq member, then-Prime minister Hafizullah Amin, who assumed the new general secretary of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, People's Democratic Party. The situation in the country deteriorated under Amin and thousands of people went missing. Displeased with Amin's government, the Soviet Army invaded the country in December 1979, heading for Kabul and killing Amin just 3 days later. A Soviet-organized regime, led by Parcham's Babrak Karmal but inclusive of both factions (Parcham and Khalq), filled the vacuum. Soviet troops in more substantial numbers were deployed to stabilize Afghanistan under Karmal, marking the beginning of the
Soviet–Afghan War The Soviet–Afghan War was a conflict wherein insurgent groups known collectively as the Mujahideen ''Mujahideen'', or ''Mujahidin'' ( ar, مُجَاهِدِين, mujāhidīn), is the plural form of ''mujahid'' ( ar, مجاهد, mujā ...
. The United States and Pakistan, along with smaller actors like Saudi Arabia and
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and 14 different countries, the in the world after . Covering an area of ap ...

China
, continued supporting the rebels, delivering billions of dollars in cash and weapons including two thousand FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missiles. Lasting nine years, the war caused the deaths of between 562,000 and 2 million Afghans,UNICEF
Land-mines: A deadly inheritance
and displaced about 6 million people who subsequently fled Afghanistan, mainly to Afghans in Pakistan, Pakistan and Afghans in Iran, Iran. Heavy air bombardment destroyed many countryside villages, millions of landmines were planted, and some cities such as
Herat Herāt (; Dari Dari (, , ), or Dari Persian (, ), is a political term used for the various dialects of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) i ...

Herat
and
Kandahar Kandahar (; Kandahār, , Qandahār) is a List of cities in Afghanistan, city in Afghanistan, located in the south of the country on the Arghandab River, at an elevation of . It is Afghanistan's second largest city after Kabul, with a population ...

Kandahar
were also damaged from bombardment. Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, North-West Frontier Province functioned as an organisational and networking base for the anti-Soviet Afghan resistance, with the province's influential Deobandi ulama playing a major supporting role in promoting the 'jihad'. After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, Soviet withdrawal, the Afghan Civil War (1989-92), civil war ensued until the communist regime under People's Democratic Party leader Mohammad Najibullah collapsed in 1992.'Mujahidin vs. Communists: Revisiting the battles of Jalalabad and Khost
. By Anne Stenersen: a Paper presented at the conference ''COIN in Afghanistan: From Mughals to the Americans'', Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), 12–13 February 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2018.


Post-Cold War conflict and Taliban regime

Another civil war broke out after the Peshawar Accords, creation of a dysfunctional coalition Islamic State of Afghanistan, government between leaders of various ''mujahideen'' factions. Amid a state of anarchy and factional infighting,GUTMAN, Roy (2008): How We Missed the Story: Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban and the Hijacking of Afghanistan, Endowment of the United States Institute of Peace, 1st ed., Washington D.C. various ''mujahideen'' factions committed widespread rape, murder and extortion, while Kabul was heavily bombarded and partially destroyed by the fighting. Several failed reconciliations and alliances occurred between different leaders. The
Taliban The Taliban (; ps, طالبان, ṭālibān, lit=students or 'seekers'), which refers to itself as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Taliban Islamic Movement and/or Islamic Movement of Taliban is a Deobandi Deobandi ( hi, देव ...

Taliban
emerged in September 1994 as a movement and militia of students (''talib'') from Islamic Madrassas in Pakistan, madrassas (schools) in Pakistan,Matinuddin, Kamal, ''The Taliban Phenomenon, Afghanistan 1994–1997'', Oxford University Press, (1999), pp. 25–26 who soon had military support from Pakistan. Taking control of
Kandahar Kandahar (; Kandahār, , Qandahār) is a List of cities in Afghanistan, city in Afghanistan, located in the south of the country on the Arghandab River, at an elevation of . It is Afghanistan's second largest city after Kabul, with a population ...

Kandahar
city that year, they conquered more territories until finally driving out the government of Burhanuddin Rabbani, Rabbani from Kabul in 1996, where they established an Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, emirate that gained international recognition from only three countries.Country profile: Afghanistan (published August 2008)
(page 3). Library of Congress. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
The Taliban were condemned internationally for the harsh enforcement of their interpretation of Islamic sharia law, which resulted in the brutal treatment of many Afghans, especially Taliban treatment of women, women. During their rule, the Taliban and their allies committed massacres against Afghan civilians, denied UN food supplies to starving civilians and conducted a policy of scorched earth, burning vast areas of fertile land and destroying tens of thousands of homes. Battle of Kabul (1992–96), After the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, Ahmad Shah Massoud and Abdul Rashid Dostum formed the Northern Alliance, later joined by others, to resist the Taliban. Dostum's forces were defeated by the Taliban during the Battles of Mazar-i-Sharif (1997–98); Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff, Pervez Musharraf, began sending thousands of Pakistanis to help the Taliban defeat the Northern Alliance. By 2000 the Northern Alliance only controlled 10% of territory, cornered in the north-east. On 9 September 2001, Massoud was assassinated by two Arab suicide attackers in Panjshir Valley. Around 400,000 Afghans died in internal conflicts between 1990 and 2001. In October 2001, the United States invasion of Afghanistan, United States invaded Afghanistan to remove the Taliban from power after they refused to hand over Osama Bin Laden, the prime suspect of the September 11 attacks, who was a "guest" of the Taliban and was operating his al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan. The majority of Afghans supported the American invasion of their country. During the initial invasion, US and UK forces bombed al-Qaeda training camps, and later working with the Northern Alliance, the Taliban regime came to an end.


Post-2001

In December 2001, after the Taliban government was overthrown, the Afghan Interim Administration under Hamid Karzai was formed. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was established by the UN Security Council to help assist the Karzai administration and provide basic security. By this time, after two decades of war as well as an acute famine at the time, Afghanistan had one of the highest infant mortality, infant and child mortality rates in the world, the lowest life expectancy, much of the population were hungry, and infrastructure was in ruins. Many foreign donors started providing aid and assistance to rebuild the war-torn country. Taliban forces meanwhile began regrouping inside Pakistan, while more coalition troops entered Afghanistan to help the rebuilding process. The Taliban insurgency, Taliban began an insurgency to regain control of Afghanistan. Over the next decade, ISAF and Afghan National Army, Afghan troops led many offensives against the Taliban, but failed to fully defeat them. Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world because of a lack of foreign investment, Corruption in Afghanistan, government corruption, and the Taliban insurgency. Meanwhile, Karzai attempted to unite the peoples of the country, and the Afghan government was able to build some democratic structures, adopting a constitution in 2004 with the name Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Attempts were made, often with the support of foreign donor countries, to improve the country's economy, healthcare, education, transport, and agriculture. ISAF forces also began to train the Afghan National Security Forces. Following 2002, nearly five million Afghan diaspora, Afghans were repatriated. The number of NATO troops present in Afghanistan peaked at 140,000 in 2011, dropping to about 16,000 in 2018. In September 2014 Ashraf Ghani became president after the Afghan presidential election, 2014, 2014 presidential election where for the first time in Afghanistan's history power was democratically transferred. On 28 December 2014, NATO formally ended ISAF combat operations in Afghanistan and transferred full security responsibility to the Afghan government. The NATO-led Operation Resolute Support was formed the same day as a successor to ISAF. Thousands of NATO troops remained in the country to train and advise Afghan government forces and continue their fight against the Taliban. It was estimated in 2015 that "about 147,000 people have been killed in the Afghanistan war since 2001. More than 38,000 of those killed have been civilians". A report titled ''Body Count'' concluded that 106,000–170,000 civilians have been killed as a result of the fighting in Afghanistan at the hands of all parties to the conflict.
"Body Count – Casualty Figures after 10 Years of the 'War on Terror' – Iraq Afghanistan Pakistan"
(PDF), by IPPNW, Physicians for Global Survival, PGS and Physicians for Social Responsibility, PSR, First international edition (March 2015) * *


Geography

Afghanistan is located in South Asia* * * * * * and Central Asia - indeed the region particularly centered at Afghanistan is considered the "crossroads of Asia", and the country has had the nickname Heart of Asia. The renowned Urdu poet Allama Iqbal once wrote about the country:
At over , Afghanistan is the world's List of countries and dependencies by area, 41st largest country, slightly bigger than France and smaller than Myanmar, and about the size of Texas in the United States. There is no coastline, as Afghanistan is landlocked. It shares borders with Pakistan in the south and east (including Indian-claimed Gilgit-Baltistan); Iran in the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north; and China in the far east. The geography in Afghanistan is varied, but is mostly mountainous and rugged, with some unusual mountain ridges accompanied by plateaus and river basins. It is dominated by the
Hindu Kush The Hindu Kush (Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of ...
range, the western extension of the Himalayas that stretches to eastern Tibet via the Pamir Mountains and Karakoram Mountains in Afghanistan's far north-east. Most of the highest points are in the east consisting of fertile mountain valleys. The Hindu Kush ends at the west-central highlands, creating plains in the north and southwest, namely the Turkestan Plains and the Sistan Basin; these two regions consist of rolling grasslands and semi-deserts, and hot windy deserts, respectively. Forests exist in the corridor between Nuristan and Paktika provinces, and tundra in the north-east. The country's highest point is Noshaq, at above sea level. The lowest point lies in Jowzjan Province along the Amu River bank, at above sea level. Despite having numerous rivers and list of dams and reservoirs in Afghanistan, reservoirs, large parts of the country are dry. The endorheic Sistan Basin is one of the driest regions in the world. The Amu Darya rises at the north of the Hindu Kush, while the nearby Hari Rud flows west towards
Herat Herāt (; Dari Dari (, , ), or Dari Persian (, ), is a political term used for the various dialects of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) i ...

Herat
, and the Arghandab River from the central region southwards. To the south and west of the Hindu Kush flow a number of streams that are tributaries of the Indus River, such as the Helmand River. One exception is the Kabul River which flows in an easternly direction to the Indus ending at the Indian Ocean. Afghanistan receives heavy snow during the winter in the
Hindu Kush The Hindu Kush (Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of ...
and Pamir Mountains, and the melting snow in the spring season enters the list of rivers of Afghanistan, rivers, lakes, and streams. However, two-thirds of the country's water flows into the neighboring countries of
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
,
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
, and
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan ( or ; tk, Türkmenistan, ), also known as Turkmenia, is a Landlocked country, landlocked country in Central Asia, bordered by Kazakhstan to the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan border, northwest, Uzbekistan to the Turkmenistan–Uzbekista ...

Turkmenistan
. As reported in 2010, the state needs more than to rehabilitate its irrigation systems so that the water is properly managed. The northeastern Hindu Kush mountain range, in and around the Badakhshan Province of Afghanistan, is in a natural environment#Geological activity, geologically active area where earthquakes may occur almost every year. They can be deadly and destructive, causing landslides in some parts or 2009 Afghan avalanches, avalanches during the winter. The last strong earthquakes were in February 1998 Afghanistan earthquake, 1998, which killed about 6,000 people in Badakhshan near Tajikistan. This was followed by the 2002 Hindu Kush earthquakes in which over 150 people were killed and over 1,000 injured. A 2010 Afghanistan earthquake, 2010 earthquake left 11 Afghans dead, over 70 injured, and more than 2,000 houses destroyed.


Climate

Afghanistan has a continental climate with harsh winters in the Hazarajat, central highlands, the glaciated northeast (around Nuristan), and the Wakhan Corridor, where the average temperature in January is below and can reach , and hot summers in the low-lying areas of the Sistan Basin of the southwest, the Jalalabad basin in the east, and the Afghan Turkestan, Turkestan plains along the Amu River in the north, where temperatures average over in July and can go over . The country is generally arid in the summers, with most rainfall falling between December and April. The lower areas of northern and western Afghanistan are the driest, with precipitation more common in the east. Although proximate to India, Afghanistan is mostly outside the monsoon zone, except the Nuristan Province which occasionally receives summer monsoon rain.


Biodiversity

Several types of mammals exist throughout Afghanistan. Snow leopards, Siberian tigers and brown bears live in the high elevation alpine tundra regions. The Marco Polo sheep exclusively live in the Wakhan Corridor region of north-east Afghanistan. Foxes, wolves, otters, deer, wild sheep, lynx and other big cats populate the mountain forest region of the east. In the semi-desert northern plains, wildlife include a variety of birds, hedgehogs, gophers, and large carnivores such as jackals and hyenas. Gazelles, wild boar, wild pigs and jackals populate the steppe plains of the south and west, while mongoose and cheetahs exist in the semi-desert south. Marmots and ibex also live in the high mountains of Afghanistan, and pheasants exist in some parts of the country. The Afghan hound is a native breed of dog known for its fast speed and its long hair; it is relatively known in the west. Endemic fauna of Afghanistan includes the Afghan flying squirrel, Afghan snowfinch, Afghanodon (or the "Paghman mountain salamander"), ''Stigmella kasyi'', ''Vulcaniella kabulensis'', Afghan leopard gecko, ''Wheeleria parviflorellus'', amongst others. Endemic flora include ''Iris afghanica''. Afghanistan has a wide variety of birds despite its relatively arid climate – an estimated 460 species of which 235 breed within. The forest region of Afghanistan has vegetation such as pine trees, spruce trees, fir trees and larches, whereas the steppe grassland regions consist of broadleaf trees, short grass, perennial plants and shrublands. The colder high elevation regions are composed of hardy grasses and small flowering plants. Several regions are designated List of protected areas of Afghanistan, protected areas; there are three National Parks: Band-e Amir, Wakhan National Park, Wakhan and Nuristan National Park, Nuristan. Afghanistan had a 2018 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 8.85/10, ranking it 15th globally out of 172 countries.


Demographics

The population of Afghanistan was estimated at 32.9 million as of 2019 by the Afghanistan Statistics and Information Authority, whereas the UN estimates over 38.0 million. About 23.9% of them are urban area, urbanite, 71.4% live in rural areas, and the remaining 4.7% are nomadic. An additional 3 million or so Afghans are temporarily housed in neighboring Afghans in Pakistan, Pakistan and Afghans in Iran, Iran, most of whom were born and raised in those two countries. As of 2013, Afghanistan was the largest refugee-producing country in the world, a title held for 32 years. The current population growth rate is 2.37%, one of the highest in the world outside of Africa. This population is expected to reach 82 million by 2050 if current population trends continue. The population of Afghanistan increased steadily until the 1980s, when civil war caused millions to flee to other countries such as Pakistan. Millions have since returned and the war conditions has meant a high fertility rate compared to global and regional trends. Afghanistan's healthcare has recovered since the turn of the century, causing falls in infant mortality and increases in life expectancy. This (along with other factors such as returning refugees) caused rapid population growth in the 2000s that has only recently started to slow down.


Ethnic groups

Afghanistan's population is divided into several ethnolinguistic groups. The ethnicities are represented on the table on the right. The percentages given are estimates only, as accurate and current statistical data on ethnicity are not available. Generally the four major ethnic groups are the
Pashtuns Pashtuns (, or ; ps, پښتانه, ; Pakhtuns or Pathans), historically known as Afghans Afghan (Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a ...

Pashtuns
,
Tajiks Tajiks ( fa, تاجيک، تاجک, ''Tājīk, Tājek''; tg, Тоҷик) are a Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethni ...

Tajiks
,
Hazaras The Hazaras ( fa, هزاره, Hazāra; haz, آزره, Āzra) are a Persian-speaking ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes ...

Hazaras
and
Uzbeks The Uzbeks ( uz, , , , ) are a Turkic peoples, Turkic ethnic group native to wider Central Asia, being the largest Turkic ethnic group in the area. They comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan but are also found as a minority group in: ...
. A further 10 other ethnic groups are recognized and each are represented in the Afghan National Anthem.


Languages

Dari and
Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages in ...

Pashto
are the official languages of Afghanistan; bilingualism is very common. Dari, which is a variety of and mutually intelligible with Persian language, Persian (and very often called 'Farsi' by some Afghans like in
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
) functions as the lingua franca in Kabul as well as in much of the northern and northwestern parts of the country. Pashto is the native tongue of the Pashtuns, although many of them are also fluent in Dari while some non-Pashtuns are fluent in Pashto. Despite the Pashtuns having been dominant in Afghan politics for centuries, Dari remained the preferred language for government and bureaucracy. There are a number of smaller regional languages, including Uzbek language, Uzbek, Turkmen language, Turkmen, Balochi language, Balochi, Pashayi language, Pashayi, and Nuristani languages, Nuristani. When it comes to foreign languages among the populace, many are able to speak or understand Hindustani language, Hindustani (Urdu-Hindi), partly due to returning Afghan refugees from Pakistan and the popularity of Bollywood films respectively. English is also understood by some of the population,The Asia Foundation
''Afghanistan in 2018: A Survey of the Afghan People''.
and has been gaining popularity as of the 2000s. Some Afghans retain some ability of Russian, which was taught to public schools during the 1980s.


Religion

An estimated 99.7% of the Afghan population is Muslim and most are thought to adhere to the Sunni Hanafi school. According to Pew Research Center, as much as 90% are of the Sunni denomination, 7% Shia and 3% non-denominational Muslim, non-denominational. The CIA Factbook variously estimates up to 89.7% Sunni or up to 15% Shia. Dr Michael Izady estimated 70% of the population to be followers of Sunni Islam, 25% Imamiyyah, Imami Shia Islam, 4.5% Isma'ilism, Ismaili Shia Islam, and 0.5% Religion in Afghanistan#Minority religious groups, other religions. Thousands of Afghan Sikhism in Afghanistan, Sikhs and Hinduism in Afghanistan, Hindus are also found in certain major cities (namely Kabul, Jalalabad, Ghazni, Kandahar) accompanied by gurdwaras and mandirs. There was a small History of the Jews in Afghanistan, Jewish community in Afghanistan who had emigrated to Israel and the United States by the end of the twentieth century; at least one Jew, Zablon Simintov, remains, who is the caretaker of the only remaining synagogue. Afghan Christians, who number 500–8,000, practice their faith secretly due to intense societal opposition, and there are no public churches.


Urbanisation

As estimated by the CIA World Factbook, 26% of the population was urbanized as of 2020. This is one of the lowest figures in the world; in Asia it is only higher than Cambodia, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Urbanization has increased rapidly, particularly in the capital
Kabul Kabul (; ps, , translit=Kābəl, ; prs, , translit=Kābol, ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capital ...

Kabul
, due to returning refugees from Pakistan and Iran after 2001, internally displaced people, and rural migrants. Urbanization in Afghanistan has been noted to be different than traditional urbanization, in that it's centered on a few cities rather than evenly spread out nationwide. The only city with over a million residents is its capital, Kabul, located in the east of the country. The other large cities are located generally in the "ring" around the Central Highlands, namely
Kandahar Kandahar (; Kandahār, , Qandahār) is a List of cities in Afghanistan, city in Afghanistan, located in the south of the country on the Arghandab River, at an elevation of . It is Afghanistan's second largest city after Kabul, with a population ...

Kandahar
in the south,
Herat Herāt (; Dari Dari (, , ), or Dari Persian (, ), is a political term used for the various dialects of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) i ...

Herat
in the west, Mazar-i-Sharif and Kunduz in the north, and Jalalabad in the east.


Governance

Afghanistan is an
Islamic republic An Islamic republic can be considered a sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institution ...
consisting of three branches, the executive, legislative, and judicial. The nation is led by President Ashraf Ghani with Amrullah Saleh and Sarwar Danish as vice presidents. The National Assembly of Afghanistan, National Assembly is the legislature, a bicameral body having two chambers, the House of the People (Afghanistan), House of the People and the House of Elders. The Afghan Supreme Court, Supreme Court is led by Chief Justice of Afghanistan, Chief Justice Said Yusuf Halem, the former Deputy Minister of Justice for Legal Affairs. According to Transparency International, Afghanistan remains in the top most corrupt countries list. A January 2010 report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime revealed that bribery consumed an amount equal to 23% of the GDP of the nation. On 17 May 2020, President Ashraf Ghani reached a power-sharing deal with his rival from presidential elections, Abdullah Abdullah, deciding on who would manage the respected key ministries. The agreement ended months-long political deadlock in the country. It was agreed that while Ghani will lead Afghanistan as the president, Abdullah will oversee the Afghan peace process, peace process with the
Taliban The Taliban (; ps, طالبان, ṭālibān, lit=students or 'seekers'), which refers to itself as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Taliban Islamic Movement and/or Islamic Movement of Taliban is a Deobandi Deobandi ( hi, देव ...

Taliban
.


Elections and parties

One instrument of Afghan governance is the ''loya jirga'' (grand assembly), a Pashtun consultative meeting that is mainly organized for choosing a new head of state, adopting a new constitution, or to settle national or regional issue such as war. Loya jirgas have been held since at least 1747, with the most recent one occurring in 2013. Under the Constitution of Afghanistan, 2004 constitution, both presidential and parliamentary elections are to be held every five years. However, due to the disputed 2014 Afghan presidential election, 2014 presidential election, the scheduled 2015 parliamentary elections were delayed until 2018 Afghan parliamentary election, 2018. Presidential elections use the two-round system; if no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the first round, a second round will be held featuring the top two candidates. Parliamentary elections have only one round and are based on the single non-transferable vote system, which allows some candidates to be elected with as little as one percent of the vote. The Afghan presidential election, 2004, 2004 Afghan presidential election was relatively peaceful, in which Hamid Karzai won in the first round with 55.4% of the votes. However, the Afghan presidential election, 2009, 2009 presidential election was characterized by lack of security, low voter turnout, and widespread electoral fraud, ending in Karzai's reelection. The Afghan presidential election, 2014, 2014 presidential election ended with Ashraf Ghani winning by 56.44% of the votes. Political parties played a marginal role in post-2001 Afghan politics, in part due to Karzai's opposition to them. In the Afghan parliamentary election, 2005, 2005 parliamentary election, the ballots did not show candidates' party affiliation, so the results were dictated by the personal prestige of the candidates. Among the elected officials were a large mix of former mujahideen, Islamic fundamentalists, warlords, tribal nationalists, former communists, reformists, urban professionals, royalism, royalists and several former Taliban associates. In the same period, Afghanistan became the 30th highest nation in terms of female representation in the National Assembly. Parties became more influential after 2009, when a new law established more stringent requirements for party registration. Nearly a hundred new parties were registered after the law came into effect, and party activity increased in the 2014 elections, but party influence remained limited.


Administrative divisions

Afghanistan is administratively divided into 34 provinces (''wilayat''). Each province is the size of a U.S. county, having a governor and a capital. The country is further divided into nearly 400 provincial Districts of Afghanistan, districts, each of which normally covers a city or several villages. Each district is represented by a district governor. The list of current governors of Afghanistan, provincial governors are appointed by the President of Afghanistan, 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 that are elected through direct and general elections for four years. The functions of provincial councils are to take part in provincial development planning and to participate in the monitoring and appraisal of other provincial governance institutions. According to article 140 of the constitution and the presidential decree on electoral law, mayors of cities should be elected through free and direct elections for a four-year term. In practice however, mayors are appointed by the government. The following is a list of all the 34 provinces in alphabetical order: # Badakhshan Province, Badakhshan # Badghis Province, Badghis # Baghlan Province, Baghlan # Balkh Province, Balkh # Bamyan Province, Bamyan # Daykundi Province, Daykundi # Farah Province, Farah # Faryab Province, Faryab # Ghazni Province, Ghazni # Ghor Province, Ghor # Helmand Province, Helmand # Herat Province, Herat # Jowzjan Province, Jowzjan # Kabul Province, Kabul # Kandahar Province, Kandahar # Kapisa Province, Kapisa # Khost Province, Khost # Kunar Province, Kunar # Kunduz Province, Kunduz # Laghman Province, Laghman # Logar Province, Logar # Nangarhar Province, Nangarhar # Nimruz Province, Nimruz # Nuristan Province, Nuristan # Oruzgan Province, Oruzgan # Paktia Province, Paktia # Paktika Province, Paktika # Panjshir Province, Panjshir # Parwan Province, Parwan # Samangan Province, Samangan # Sar-e Pol Province, Sar-e Pol # Takhar Province, Takhar # Wardak Province, Wardak # Zabul Province, Zabul


Foreign relations

Afghanistan became a member of the United Nations in 1946. It enjoys cordial relations with a number of NATO and allied nations, particularly the Afghanistan–United States relations, United States, Afghanistan–Canada relations, Canada, Afghanistan–United Kingdom relations, United Kingdom, Afghanistan–Germany relations, Germany, Australia, and Afghanistan–Turkey relations, Turkey. In 2012, the United States and Afghanistan signed their U.S.–Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement, Strategic Partnership Agreement in which Afghanistan became a major non-NATO ally. Afghanistan has historically had strong relations with Germany, one of the first countries to recognize Afghanistan's independence in 1919; the Soviet Union, which provided much aid and military training for Afghanistan's forces and includes the signing of a Treaty of Friendship in 1921 and 1978; and Afghanistan–India relations, India, with which a friendship treaty was signed in 1950. Relations with Afghanistan–Pakistan relations, Pakistan have often been tense for various reasons such as the Durand Line border issue and alleged Pakistani involvement in Afghan insurgent groups. Afghanistan also has diplomatic relations with neighboring Afghanistan–China relations, China, Afghanistan–Iran relations, Iran, Afghanistan–Tajikistan relations, Tajikistan, Foreign relations of Turkmenistan#Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and Foreign relations of Uzbekistan, Uzbekistan, including with regional states such as Afghanistan–Bangladesh relations, Bangladesh, Afghanistan–Japan relations, Japan, Foreign relations of Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan, Foreign relations of Nepal, Nepal, Afghanistan–Russia relations, Russia, Afghanistan–South Korea relations, South Korea, and the Afghanistan–United Arab Emirates relations, UAE. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Afghanistan), Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues to develop Foreign relations of Afghanistan, diplomatic relations with other countries around the world. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) was established in 2002 to help the country recover from decades of war. Today, several NATO member states deploy about 17,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of the Resolute Support Mission. Its main purpose is to NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, train the Afghan National Security Forces.


Military

The Afghan Armed Forces are under the Ministry of Defense (Afghanistan), Ministry of Defense, which includes the Afghan Air Force (AAF) and the Afghan National Army (ANA). The Afghan Defense University houses various educational establishments for the Afghan Armed Forces, including the National Military Academy of Afghanistan.


Law enforcement

Law enforcement in Afghanistan is the responsibility of the Afghan National Police (ANP), which is part of the Ministry of Interior Affairs (Afghanistan), Ministry of Interior Affairs. The ANP consists of two primary branches, the Afghan Uniformed Police and the Afghan Border Police. The mission of the Uniformed Police is to ensure security within Afghanistan, prevent crime, and protect property. The Border Police is responsible for securing and maintaining the nation's borders with neighboring states as well as all international airports within the country. Afghanistan's intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), assists the ANP with security matters. All parts of Afghanistan are considered dangerous due to militant activities and terrorism-related incidents. Kidnapping for ransom and robberies are common in major cities. Every year hundreds of list of Afghan security forces fatality reports in Afghanistan, Afghan police are killed in the line of duty. Afghanistan is also the world's leading opium production in Afghanistan, producer of opium. Afghanistan's opium poppy harvest produces more than 90% of illicit heroin globally, and more than 95% of the European supply. The Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics is responsible for the monitoring and eradication of the illegal drug business.


Human rights

Freedom of expression and the press is permitted and promoted in the current 2004 constitution, so long as it does not threaten national or religious integrity or does not defame individuals. In 2019, Reporters Without Borders listed the media environment of Afghanistan as 121st out of 179 on its Press Freedom Index, with 1st being most free. However many issues regarding human rights exist contrary to the law, often committed by local tribes, lawmakers and hardline clerics. Journalists in Afghanistan face threat from both the security forces and insurgents. The Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC) claimed in 2017 that the Afghan government accounted for 46% of the attacks on Afghans journalists, while insurgents were responsible for rest of the attacks. According to Global Rights, almost 90% of women in Afghanistan have experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse or forced marriage. The perpetrators of these crimes are the families of the victim. A 2009 proposal for a law against the violence of women could only be passed through a presidential decree. In 2012, Afghanistan recorded 240 cases of honor killing, but the total number is believed to be much higher. Of the reported honor killings, 21% were committed by the victims' husbands, 7% by their brothers, 4% by their fathers, and the rest by other relatives. Homosexuality is taboo in Afghan society; according to the Penal Code, homosexual intimacy is punished by up to a year in prison. With implementing Sharia law offenders can be Death penalty for homosexuality, punished by death. However an ancient tradition involving male homosexual acts between youngsters and older men (typically wealthy or elite people) called ''bacha bazi'' persists. This act is also illegal under the Penal Code and offenders can be imprisoned. On August 14, 2020, UN Human Rights Council experts issued a joint statement urging Afghanistan officials to prevent the killings of human rights defenders as there have been nine deaths of human rights defenders since January 2020.


Economy

Afghanistan's nominal GDP was $21.7 billion in 2018, or $72.9 billion by purchasing power parity (PPP). Its List of countries by GDP (PPP) per capita, GDP per capita is $2,024 (PPP). Despite having $1 trillion or more in mineral deposits, it remains one of the world's least developed countries. Afghanistan's rough physical geography and its landlocked status has been cited as reasons why the country has always been among the least developed in the modern era – a factor where progress is also slowed by contemporary conflict and political instability. The country imports over $7 billion worth of goods but exports only $784 million, mainly fruits and Nut (fruit), nuts. It has $2.8 billion in external debt. The service sector contributed the most to the GDP (55.9%) followed by agriculture (23%) and industry (21.1%). While the nation's current account deficit is largely financed with 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. Da Afghanistan Bank serves as the central bank of the nation and the Afghan afghani, Afghani (AFN) is the national currency, with an exchange rate of about 75 Afghanis to 1 US dollar. A number of local and foreign banks operate in the country, including the Afghanistan International Bank, New Kabul Bank, Azizi Bank, Pashtany Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, and the First MicroFinance Bank-Afghanistan, First Micro Finance Bank. One of the main drivers for the current economic recovery is the return of over 5 million Afghan diaspora, expatriates, who brought with them entrepreneurship and wealth-creating skills as well as much needed funds to start up businesses. Many Afghans are now involved in construction, which is one of the largest industries in the country. Some of the major national construction projects include the New Kabul City next to the capital, the Aino Mena project in Kandahar, and the Ghazi Amanullah Khan Town near Jalalabad. Similar development projects have also begun in
Herat Herāt (; Dari Dari (, , ), or Dari Persian (, ), is a political term used for the various dialects of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) i ...

Herat
, Mazar-e-Sharif, and other cities. An estimated 400,000 people enter the labor market each year. Several small companies and 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 environment have resulted in more than $1.5 billion in Telecommunication, telecom investment and created more than 100,000 jobs since 2003. Afghan rugs are becoming popular again, allowing many carpet dealers around the country to hire more workers; in 2016–17 it was the fourth most exported group of items. Afghanistan is a member of WTO, SAARC, Economic Cooperation Organization, ECO, and OIC. It holds an observer status in Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, SCO. In 2018, a majority of imports come from either Iran, China, Pakistan and Kazakhstan, while 84% of exports are to Pakistan and India.


Agriculture

Agricultural production is the backbone of Afghanistan's economy and has traditionally dominated the economy, employing about 40% of the workforce as of 2018. The country is known for producing pomegranate production in Afghanistan, pomegranates, grapes, apricots, melons, and several other fresh and dry fruits. It is also known as the world's largest producer of Opium production in Afghanistan, opium – as much as 16% or more of the nation's economy is derived from the cultivation and sale of opium. It is also one of the world's top producers of cannabis. Saffron, the most expensive spice, grows in Afghanistan, particularly Herat Province. In recent years, there has been an uptick in saffron production, which authorities and farmers are trying to replace poppy cultivation. Between 2012 and 2019, the saffron cultivated and produced in Afghanistan was consecutively ranked the world's best by the International Taste and Quality Institute. Production hit record high in 2019 (19,469 kg of saffron), and one kilogram is sold domestically between $634 and $1147.


Mining

The country's natural resources include: coal, copper, iron ore, lithium, uranium, rare earth elements, chromite, gold, zinc, talc, barite, sulfur, lead, marble, precious and semi-precious stones, natural gas, and petroleum, among other things. In 2010, US and Afghan government officials estimated that untapped mineral deposits located in 2007 by the US Geological Survey are worth at least . Michael E. O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution estimated that if Afghanistan generates about $10 billion per year from its mining in Afghanistan, mineral deposits, its gross national product would double and provide long-term funding for Afghan security forces and other critical needs. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimated in 2006 that northern Afghanistan has an average of crude oil, of natural gas, and of natural gas liquids. In 2011, Afghanistan signed an oil exploration contract with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) for the development of three oil fields along the Amu Darya river in the north. The country has significant amounts of lithium, copper, gold, coal, iron ore, and other minerals. The Khanashin carbonatite in Helmand Province contains of rare earth elements. In 2007, a 30-year lease was granted for the Mes Aynak#Copper Mine, Aynak copper mine to the China Metallurgical Group for $3 billion, making it the biggest foreign investment and private business venture in Afghanistan's history. The state-run Steel Authority of India won the mining rights to develop the huge Hajigak Pass, Hajigak iron ore deposit in central Afghanistan. Government officials estimate that 30% of the country's untapped mineral deposits are worth at least . One official asserted that "this will become the backbone of the Afghan economy" and a Pentagon memo stated that Afghanistan could become the "Saudi Arabia of lithium". In a 2011 news story, the ''The Christian Science Monitor, CSM'' reported, "The United States and other Western nations that have borne the brunt of the cost of the Afghan war have been conspicuously absent from the bidding process on Afghanistan's mineral deposits, leaving it mostly to regional powers." Access to biocapacity in Afghanistan is lower than world average. In 2016, Afghanistan had 0.43 global hectares of biocapacity per person within its territory, much less than the world average of 1.6 global hectares per person. In 2016 Afghanistan used 0.73 global hectares of biocapacity per person - their ecological footprint of consumption. This means they use just under double as much biocapacity as Afghanistan contains. As a result, Afghanistan is running a biocapacity deficit.


Infrastructure


Energy

According to the World Bank, 98% of the rural population have access to electricity in 2018, up from 28% in 2008. Overall the figure stands at 98.7%. As of 2016, Afghanistan produces 1,400 megawatts of power, but still imports the majority of electricity via transmission lines from Iran and the Central Asian states. The majority of electricity production is via hydropower, helped by the amount of rivers and streams that flow from the mountains. However electricity is not always reliable and blackouts happen, including in Kabul. In recent years an increasing number of Solar power, solar, biomass and wind power plants have been constructed. Currently under development are the CASA-1000 project which will transmit electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline, Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. Power is managed by the Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS, Afghanistan Electricity Company). Important dams include the Kajaki Dam, Dahla Dam, and the Sardeh Band Dam.


Tourism

Tourism is a small industry in Afghanistan due to security issues. Nevertheless, some 20,000 foreign tourists visit the country annually as of 2016. In particular an important region for domestic and international tourism is the picturesque Bamyan Valley, which includes lakes, canyons and historical sites, helped by the fact it is in a safe area away from insurgent activity. Smaller numbers visit and trek in regions such as the Wakhan Valley, which is also one of the world's most remote communities. From the late 1960s onwards, Afghanistan was a popular stop on the famous hippie trail, attracting many Europeans and Americans. Coming from Iran, the trail traveled through various Afghan provinces and cities including
Herat Herāt (; Dari Dari (, , ), or Dari Persian (, ), is a political term used for the various dialects of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) i ...

Herat
,
Kandahar Kandahar (; Kandahār, , Qandahār) is a List of cities in Afghanistan, city in Afghanistan, located in the south of the country on the Arghandab River, at an elevation of . It is Afghanistan's second largest city after Kabul, with a population ...

Kandahar
and
Kabul Kabul (; ps, , translit=Kābəl, ; prs, , translit=Kābol, ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capital ...

Kabul
before crossing to northern Pakistan, northern India, and Nepal. Tourism peaked in 1977, the year before the start of political instability and armed conflict. The city of Ghazni has significant history and historical sites, and together with Bamyan city have in recent years been voted Islamic Cultural Capital and South Asia Cultural Capital respectively. The cities of
Herat Herāt (; Dari Dari (, , ), or Dari Persian (, ), is a political term used for the various dialects of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) i ...

Herat
,
Kandahar Kandahar (; Kandahār, , Qandahār) is a List of cities in Afghanistan, city in Afghanistan, located in the south of the country on the Arghandab River, at an elevation of . It is Afghanistan's second largest city after Kabul, with a population ...

Kandahar
, Balkh, and
Zaranj Zaranj or Zarang (Persian language, Persian/Pashto language, Pashto/ bal, زرنج) is a city in southwestern Afghanistan, near the Afghanistan–Iran border, border with Iran, which has a population of 160,902 people as of 2015. It is the capital ...
are also very historic. The Minaret of Jam in the Hari River, Afghanistan, Hari River valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site. A cloak reputedly worn by Islam's prophet Muhammad is kept inside the Shrine of the Cloak in Kandahar, a city founded by
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
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. In the north of the country is the Shrine of Ali, believed by many to be the location where Ali was buried. The National Museum of Afghanistan is located in Kabul and hosts a large number of Buddhist,
Bactria Bactria (BactrianBactrian may refer to *Bactria Bactria ( Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the ...
n Greek and early Islamic antiquities; the museum suffered greatly by civil war but has been slowly restoring since the early 2000s.


Communication

Telecommunication services in Afghanistan are provided by Afghan Telecom, Afghan Wireless, Etisalat, MTN Group, and Roshan (telco), Roshan. The country uses its own space satellite called Afghansat 1, which provides services to millions of phone, internet, and television subscribers. By 2001 following years of civil war, telecommunications was virtually a non-existent sector, but by 2016 it had grown to a $2 billion industry, with 22 million mobile phone subscribers and 5 million internet users. The sector employs at least 120,000 people nationwide.


Transportation

Due to Afghanistan's geography, transport between various parts of the country have historically been difficult. The backbone of Afghanistan's road network is Highway 1 (Afghanistan), Highway 1, often called the "Ring Road", which extends for and connects five major cities: Kabul, Ghazni, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif, with spurs to Kunduz and Jalalabad and various border crossings, while skirting around the mountains of the Hindu Kush. The Ring Road is crucially important for domestic and international trade and the economy. A key portion of the Ring Road is the Salang Tunnel, completed in 1964, which facilitates travel through the Hindu Kush mountain range and connects northern and southern Afghanistan. It is the only land route that connects Central Asia to the Indian subcontinent. Several mountain passes allow travel between the Hindu Kush in other areas. Serious traffic accidents are common on Afghan roads and highways, particularly on the Kabul–Kandahar Highway, Kabul–Kandahar and the Kabul–Jalalabad Road. Traveling by bus in Afghanistan remains dangerous due to militant activities. Air transport in Afghanistan is provided by the national carrier, Ariana Afghan Airlines, and by the private company Kam Air. Airlines from a number of countries also provide flights in and out of the country. These include Air India, Emirates (airline), Emirates, Gulf Air, Iran Aseman Airlines, Pakistan International Airlines, and Turkish Airlines. The country has four international airports: Hamid Karzai International Airport (formerly Kabul International Airport), Kandahar International Airport, Herat International Airport, and Mazar-e Sharif International Airport. Including domestic airports, there are 43. Bagram Air Base is a major military airfield. The country has three rail links: one, a line from Mazar-i-Sharif to the Afghanistan–Uzbekistan Friendship Bridge, Uzbekistan border; a long line from Toraghundi to the
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan ( or ; tk, Türkmenistan, ), also known as Turkmenia, is a Landlocked country, landlocked country in Central Asia, bordered by Kazakhstan to the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan border, northwest, Uzbekistan to the Turkmenistan–Uzbekista ...

Turkmenistan
border (where it continues as part of Turkmen Railways); and a short link from Aqina across the Turkmen border to Kerki, which is planned to be extended further across Afghanistan. These lines are used for freight only and there is no passenger service. A rail line between Khaf, Iran, Khaf, Iran and
Herat Herāt (; Dari Dari (, , ), or Dari Persian (, ), is a political term used for the various dialects of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) i ...

Herat
, western Afghanistan, intended for both freight and passengers, is under construction as of 2019. About of the line will lie on the Afghan side. There are various proposals for the construction of additional rail lines in the country. Private vehicle ownership has increased substantially since the early 2000s. Taxis are yellow in color and consist of both cars and auto rickshaws. In rural Afghanistan, villagers often use donkeys, mules or
horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to ...

horse
s to transport or carry goods. Camels are primarily used by the Kochi nomads. Bicycles are popular throughout Afghanistan.


Education

Education in Afghanistan includes K–12 and higher education, which is overseen by the Ministry of Education (Afghanistan), Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education (Afghanistan), Ministry of Higher Education. There are over 16,000 schools in the country and roughly 9 million students. Of this, about 60% are males and 40% females. Over 174,000 students are enrolled in different List of universities in Afghanistan, universities around the country. About 21% of these are females. Former Education Minister Ghulam Farooq Wardak had stated that construction of 8,000 schools is required for the remaining children who are deprived of formal learning. The top universities in Afghanistan are the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) followed by Kabul University (KU), both of which are located in Kabul. The National Military Academy of Afghanistan, modeled after the United States Military Academy at West Point, is a four-year military development institution dedicated to graduating officers for the Afghan Armed Forces. The Afghan Defense University was constructed near Qargha in Kabul. Major universities outside of Kabul include Kandahar University in the south, Herat University in the northwest, Balkh University and Kunduz University in the north, Nangarhar University and Khost University in the east. 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. Kabul University was founded in 1932 and is a respected institute that played a significant part in the country's education; from the 1960s the Kabul University was also a hotbed of radical political ideologies such as Marxism and Islamism, which played major parts in society, politics and the war that began in 1978. As of 2018 the literacy rate of the population age 15 and older is 43.02% (males 55.48% and females 29.81%). The Afghan National Security Forces are provided with mandatory literacy courses.


Health

According to the Human Development Index, Afghanistan is the List of countries by Human Development Index, 15th least developed country in the world. The average List of countries by life expectancy, life expectancy is estimated to be around 60 years.UNESCO, Country profile, https://uis.unesco.org/en/country/af The country's maternal mortality rate is 396 deaths/100,000 live births and its infant mortality rate is 66 to 112.8 deaths in every 1,000 live births. The Ministry of Public Health (Afghanistan), Ministry of Public Health plans to cut the infant mortality rate to 400 for every 100,000 live births before 2020. The country has more than 3,000 midwifery, midwives, with an additional 300 to 400 being trained each year. There are over 100 hospitals in Afghanistan, with the most advanced treatments being available in Kabul. The French Medical Institute for Children and Indira Gandhi Children's Hospital in Kabul are the leading children's hospitals in the country. Some of the other leading hospitals in Kabul include the Jamhuriat Hospital and Jinnah Hospital (Kabul), Jinnah Hospital. In spite of all this, many Afghans travel to Pakistan and India for advanced treatment. It was reported in 2006 that nearly 60% of the Afghan population lives within a two-hour walk of the nearest health facility. Disability rate is also high in Afghanistan due to the decades of war. It was reported recently that about 80,000 people are missing limbs. Non-governmental charities such as Save the Children and Mahboba's Promise assist orphans in association with governmental structures. Demographic and Health Surveys is working with the Indian Institute of Health Management Research and others to conduct a survey in Afghanistan focusing on maternal death, among other things.


Culture

Since antiquity, Afghanistan has been part of what is now referred to as Central Asia – politically, economically, and culturally. Afghanistan is a predominantly tribal society, with different regions of the country having their own cultures as a result of differing ethnicities and geographic obstacles that makes much of the country remote. Family is the mainstay of Afghan society and families are often headed by a patriarch. In the southern and eastern region, the people live according to the Pashtun culture by following Pashtunwali (the Pashtun way). Key tenets of Pashtunwali include melmastia, hospitality, the provision of nanawatai, sanctuary to those seeking refuge, and revenge for the shedding of blood. Some non-Pashtuns who live in proximity with Pashtuns have adopted Pashtunwali in a process called Pashtunization, while some Pashtuns have been Persianization, Persianized. Those who have lived in Pakistan and Iran over the last 30 years have been further influenced by the cultures of those neighboring nations. The Afghan people are known to be strongly religious. Afghans, particularly Pashtuns, are noted for their tribal solidarity and high regard for personal honor. One writer 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.Heathcote, Tony (1980, 2003) "The Afghan Wars 1839–1919", Sellmount Staplehurst. There are various ethnic groups in Afghanistan, Afghan tribes, and an estimated 2–3 million Kochi people, nomads. Afghan culture is deeply Islamic culture, Islamic, but pre-Islamic practices persist. One example is ''bacha bazi'', a term for activities involving sexual relations between older men and younger adolescent men, or boys. Child marriage in Afghanistan, Child marriage is prevalent in Afghanistan; the legal age for marriage is 16. The most preferred marriage in Afghan society is to one's parallel cousin, and the groom is often expected to pay a bride price. In the villages, families typically occupy mudbrick houses, or compounds with mudbrick or stone walled houses. Villages typically have a headman (''malik''), a master for water disribution (''mirab'') and a religious teacher (''mullah''). Men would typically work on the fields, joined by women during harvest. About 15% of the population are nomadic, locally called ''kochis''. When nomads pass villages they often buy supplies such as tea, wheat and kerosene from the villagers; villagers buy wool and milk from the nomads. Afghan clothing for both men and women typically consists of various forms of shalwar kameez, especially ''perahan tunban'' and ''khet partug''. Women would normally wear a ''chador'' for head covering; some women, typically from highly conservative communities, wear the ''burqa'', a full body covering. These were worn by some women of the Pashtun community well before Islam came to the region, but the
Taliban The Taliban (; ps, طالبان, ṭālibān, lit=students or 'seekers'), which refers to itself as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Taliban Islamic Movement and/or Islamic Movement of Taliban is a Deobandi Deobandi ( hi, देव ...

Taliban
enforced this dress on women when they were in power. Another popular dress is the ''chapan'' which acts as a coat. The ''Karakul (hat), karakul'' is a hat made from the fur of a specific regional breed of sheep. It was favored by former kings of Afghanistan and became known to much of the world in the 21st century when it was constantly worn by President Hamid Karzai. The ''pakol'' is another traditional hat originating from the far east of the country; it was popularly worn by the guerilla leader Ahmad Shah Massoud. The ''Mazari hat'' originates from northern Afghanistan.


Architecture

The nation has a complex history that has survived either in its current cultures or in the form of various languages and monuments. Afghanistan contains many remnants from all ages, including Ancient Greece, Greek and Buddhist stupas, monasteries, monuments, temples and Islamic minarets. Among the most well known are the Great Mosque of Herat, the Blue Mosque (Mazar-i-Sharif), Blue Mosque, the Minaret of Jam, the Chil Zena, the Qala-i Bost in Lashkargah, the ancient Greek city of Ai-Khanoum. However, many of its historic monuments have been damaged in modern times due to the civil wars. The two famous Buddhas of Bamiyan were destroyed by the Taliban, who regarded them as idolatrous. Despite that, archaeologists are still finding Buddhist relics in different parts of the country, some of them dating back to the 2nd century. As there was no colonialism in the modern era in Afghanistan, European-style architecture is rare; most notably the Victory Arch at Paghman, and the Darul Aman Palace in Kabul, were built in this style in the 1920s by the Afghans themselves.


Art and ceramics

Carpet weaving is an ancient practice in Afghanistan, and many of these are still Handicraft, handmade by tribal and nomadic people today. Carpets have been produced in the region for thousands of years and traditionally done by women. Some crafters express their feelings through the designs of rugs; for example after the outbreak of the Soviet-Afghan War, "war rugs" were created with designs representing pain and misery caused by the conflict. Every province has its own specific characteristics in making rugs. In some of the Turkic-populated areas in the north-west, bride and wedding ceremony prices are driven by the bride's weaving skills. Pottery has been crafted in Afghanistan for millennia. The village of Istalif, north of Kabul, is in particular a major center, known for its unique turquoise and green pottery, and their methods of crafting have remained the same for centuries. Much of ''lapis lazuli'' stones were earthed in modern-day Afghanistan which were used in Chinese porcelain as cobalt blue, later used in ancient Mesopotamia and Turkey. The lands of Afghanistan have a long history of art, with the world's earliest known usage of oil painting found in cave murals in the country. A notable art style that developed in Afghanistan and eastern Pakistan is Gandhara Art, produced by a fusion of Greco-Roman art and Buddhist art between the 1st and 7th centuries CE. Later eras saw increased use of the Persian miniature style, with Kamaleddin Behzad of
Herat Herāt (; Dari Dari (, , ), or Dari Persian (, ), is a political term used for the various dialects of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) i ...

Herat
being one of the most notable miniature artists of the Timurid dynasty, Timurid and early
Safavid Safavid Iran or Safavid Persia (), also referred to as the Safavid Empire, '. was one of the greatest Iranian peoples, Iranian empires after the 7th-century Muslim conquest of Persia, ruled from 1501 to 1736 by the Safavid dynasty. It is often ...

Safavid
periods. Since the 1900s, the nation began to use Western techniques in art. Abdul Ghafoor Breshna was a prominent Afghan painter and sketch artist from Kabul during the 20th century.


Media and entertainment

Afghanistan has around 350 List of radio stations in Afghanistan, radio stations and over 200 television stations. Radio Television Afghanistan, originating from 1925, is the state public broadcaster. Television programs began airing in the 1970s and today there are many private television channels such as TOLO (TV channel), TOLO and Shamshad TV. The first Afghan newspaper was published in 1873, and there are hundreds of print outlets today. By the 1920s, Radio Kabul was broadcasting local radio services. Voice of America, BBC World Service, BBC, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) broadcast in both of Afghanistan's official languages on radio. Press restrictions have been gradually relaxed and private media diversified since 2002, after more than two decades of tight controls. Afghans have long been accustomed to watching Indian Bollywood films and listening to its filmi songs. It has been claimed that Afghanistan is among the biggest markets for the Hindi film industry. The stereotypes of Afghans in India (''Kabuliwala'' or ''Pathani'') has also been represented in some Bollywood films by actors. Many Bollywood film stars have roots in Afghanistan, including Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Feroz Khan (Indian actor), Feroz Khan, Kader Khan, Naseeruddin Shah, Zarine Khan, Celina Jaitly, and a number of others. Several Bollywood films have been shot inside Afghanistan, including ''Dharmatma'', ''Khuda Gawah'', ''Escape from Taliban'', and ''Kabul Express''.


Music

Afghan classical music has close historical links with Indian classical music and use the same Hindustani terminology and theories like raga. Genres of this style of music include ghazal (poetic music) and instruments such as the Indian tabla, sitar and harmonium, and local instruments like zerbaghali, as well as dayereh and tanbur which are also known in Central Asia, the Caucusus and the Middle East. The Rubab (instrument), rubab is the country's national instrument and precurses the Indian sarod instrument. Some of the famous artists of classical music include Ustad Sarahang and Abdul Rahim Sarban, Sarban. Pop music developed in the 1950s through Radio Kabul and was influential in social change. During this time female artists also started appearing, at first Mermon Parwin. Perhaps the most famous artist of this genre was Ahmad Zahir, who synthesized many genres and continues to be renowned for his voice and rich lyrics long after his death in 1979. Other notable masters of traditional or popular Afghan music include Nashenas, Ubaidullah Jan, Mahwash, Ahmad Wali, Farhad Darya, and Naghma. Attan is the national dance of Afghanistan, a group dance popularly performed by Afghans of all backgrounds. The dance is considered part of Afghan identity.


Cuisine

Afghan cuisine is largely based upon the nation's chief crops, such as wheat, maize, barley and rice. Accompanying these staples are native fruits and vegetables as well as dairy products such as milk, yogurt and whey. Kabuli palaw is the national dish of Afghanistan. The nation's culinary specialties reflect its ethnic and geographic diversity. Afghanistan is known for its high quality Pomegranate production in Afghanistan, pomegranates, grapes, and sweet melons. Tea is a favorite drink among Afghans, and they typically eat naan breads, yoghurts, rice and meat in a typical diet.


Literature

Classic Persian literature, Persian and Pashto poetry are a cherished part of 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. One of the poetic styles is called Landay (poetry), landay. A popular theme in Afghan folklore and mythology are Dev (mythology), devs, monstrous creatures. Thursdays are traditionally "poetry night" in the city of
Herat Herāt (; Dari Dari (, , ), or Dari Persian (, ), is a political term used for the various dialects of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) i ...

Herat
when men, women and children gather and recite both ancient and modern poems. The Afghan region has produced countless Persian-speaking poets and writers from the Middle Ages to the present day, among which three mystical authors are considered true national glories (although claimed with equal ardor by Iran), namely: Khwaja Abdullah Ansari of Herat, a great mystic and Sufi saint in the 11th century, Sanai of Ghazni, author of mystical poems in the 12th century, and, finally, Rumi of Balkh, in the 13th century, considered the persophonist throughout the world as the greatest mystical poet of the entire Muslim world. The Afghan Pashto literature, although quantitatively remarkable and in great growth in the last century, has always had an essentially local meaning and importance, feeling the influence of both Persian literature and the contiguous literatures of India. Both main literatures, from the second half of the nineteenth century, have shown themselves to be sensitive to genres (novel, theater), movements and stylistic features imported from Europe. Khushal Khan Khattak of the 17th century is considered the national poet. Other notable poets include Rabi'a Balkhi, Jami, Rahman Baba, Khalilullah Khalili, and Parween Pazhwak.


Holidays and festivals

Afghanistan's official New Year starts with Nowruz, an ancient tradition that started as a Zoroastrian celebration in present-day Iran, and with which it shares the annual celebration along with several other countries. It occurs every year at the March equinox, vernal equinox. Nauruz in Afghanistan, In Afghanistan, Nowruz is typically celebrated with music and dance, as well as holding buzkashi tournaments. Yaldā, another nationally celebrated ancient tradition, commemorates the ancient goddess Mithra and marks the longest night of the year on the eve of the winter solstice (; usually falling on 20 or 21 December), during which families gather together to recite poetry and eat fruits—particularly the red fruits watermelon and pomegranate, as well as mixed nuts. Religious festivals are also celebrated; as a predominantly Muslim country, Islamic events and festivals such as Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr and Ashura are widely celebrated annually in Afghanistan. The Sikh festival of Vaisakhi is celebrated by the Sikh community and the Hindu festival Diwali by the Hindu community. Afghan Independence Day, National Independence Day is celebrated on 19 August to mark the Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1919 under King
Amanullah Khan Ghāzī Amānullāh Khān ( prs, غازی امان الله خان, ps, غازي امان الله خان) was the sovereign of the Kingdom of Afghanistan from 1919 to 1929, first as Emir and after 1926 as King. After the August 1919 end of t ...
and the country's full independence. Several international celebrations are also officially held in Afghanistan, such as International Workers' Day and International Women's Day. Some regional festivals include the Pamir Festival, which celebrates the culture of the Wakhi people, Wakhi and Kyrgyz people, Kyrgyz peoples, the Red Flower Festival (during Nowruz) in Mazar-i-Sharif and the Damboora Festival in Bamyan Province.


Sports

Sport in Afghanistan is managed by the Afghan Sports Federation. Cricket and association football are the two most popular sports in the country. The Afghan Sports Federation promotes cricket, association football, basketball, volleyball, golf, team handball, handball, boxing, taekwondo, Olympic weightlifting, weightlifting, bodybuilding, track and field, ice skating, skating, bowling, snooker, chess, and other sports. Afghanistan's sports teams are increasingly celebrating titles at international events. Its Afghanistan national basketball team, basketball team won the first team sports title at the 2010 South Asian Games. Later that year, the country's Afghanistan national cricket team, cricket team followed as it won the 2009–10 ICC Intercontinental Cup. In 2012, the country's Afghanistan national 3x3 team, 3x3 basketball team won the gold medal at the 3-on-3 basketball at the 2012 Asian Beach Games, 2012 Asian Beach Games. In 2013, Afghanistan's Afghanistan national football team, football team followed as it won the SAFF Championship. The Afghan national cricket team, which was formed in 2001, participated in the 2009 ICC World Cup Qualifier, 2010 ICC World Cricket League Division One and the 2010 ICC World Twenty20. It won the ACC Twenty20 Cup in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013. The team eventually made it and played in the 2015 Cricket World Cup. The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) is the official governing body of the sport and is headquartered in Kabul. The Alokozay Kabul International Cricket Ground serves as the nation's main cricket stadium. There are several other stadiums throughout the country, including the Ghazi Amanullah Khan International Cricket Stadium near Jalalabad. Domestically, cricket is played between teams from different provinces. The Afghanistan national football team has been competing in international Association football, football since 1941. The national team plays its home games at the Ghazi Stadium in Kabul, while football in Afghanistan is governed by the Afghanistan Football Federation. The national team has never competed or qualified for the FIFA World Cup but has recently won an international football trophy in 2013. The country also has a national team in the sport of futsal, a 5-a-side variation of football. The traditional and the national sport of Afghanistan is buzkashi, mainly popular in the north, but also having a following in other parts of the country. It is similar to polo, played by horsemen in two teams, each trying to grab and hold a goat carcass. The Afghan Hound (a type of running dog) originated in Afghanistan and was formerly used in wolf hunting with dogs, wolf hunting. In 2002, traveler Rory Stewart reported that dogs were still used for wolf hunting in remote areas.


See also

* Index of Afghanistan-related articles * Outline of Afghanistan


Notes


References


Bibliography


External links


Office of the President

Afghanistan
''The World Factbook''. Central Intelligence Agency. * * *
Research Guide to Afghanistan
{{Authority control Afghanistan, Iranian Plateau Islamic republics Landlocked countries Least developed countries Member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Member states of the United Nations Pashto-speaking countries and territories Persian-speaking countries and territories Iranian countries and territories Central Asian countries South Asian countries States and territories established in 1709 States and territories established in 1747 Territories under military occupation 1709 establishments in Asia Countries in Asia