Afghanistan: Worldwide Travel Information World Countries > Asia > Afghanistan
AfghanistanAfghanistan (Persian/Pashto: افغانستان, Afġānistān), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a country located in the centre of Asia, forming part of Central Asia, South Asia, and Greater Middle East, it is also considered to be part of a broader West Asia.
It is bordered by Pakistan in the south and the east, Iran in the west, Turkmenistan Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far northeast.
Afghanistan has been an ancient focal point of the Silk Road and human migration. Urban civilization may have started in the area as early as 3,000 to 2,000 BC. Sitting at an important geostrategic location that connects the Middle East with Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, the land has been home to various peoples through the ages and witnessed many military campaigns, notably by Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, and in modern era Western forces.
The political history of the modern state of Afghanistan begins in 1709 with the rise of the Pashtu s, when the Hotaki dynasty was established in Kandahar followed by Ahmad Shah Durrani's rise to power in 1747. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in the "Great Game" between the British and Russian empires. Following the Third Anglo-Afghan War of 1919 and the signing of the Treaty of Rawalpindi, King Amanullah started modernization of the country.
During the Cold War, after the withdrawal of the British from neighboring India in 1947, the United States and the Soviet Union began spreading their influence in Afghanistan. Between 1979 and 1989, the country experienced a major war between the US-backed mujahideen forces and the Soviet backed Afghan government in which over a million Afghans lost their lives mainly due to land-mines.
This was followed by the 1990s Afghan civil war, the rise and fall of the extremist Taliban government and the 2001–present war. In December 2001, the United Nations Security Council authorized the creation of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to help maintain security in Afghanistan and assist the Karzai administration.
The long time of war made Afghanistan the world's most dangerous country, including the largest producer of refugee and asylum seekers. While the international community is rebuilding war-torn Afghanistan, terrorist groups such as the Haqqani Network and Hezbi Islami are actively involved in a nationwide Taliban led insurgency, which includes hundreds of assassinations and suicide attacks.
Afghanistan is a multicultural society and its historical status as a crossroads has contributed significantly to its diverse ethnic makeup. The population of the country is divided into a wide variety of ethnolinguistic groups. Because a systematic census has not been held in the nation in decades, exact figures about the size and composition of the various ethnic groups are unvailable.
The Afghan culture has been around for over two millennia, tracing record to at least the time of the Achaemenid Empire in 500 BCE. It is mostly a nomadic and tribal society with different regions of the country having their own tradition, reflecting the multi-cultural and multi-lingual character of the nation. In the southern and eastern region, as well as western Pakistan which was former part of Afghanistan, the people live according to the Pashtu culture by following Pashtu wali, which is an ancient way of life that is still preserved. The remaining of the country is culturally Persian and Turkic. Some non-Pashtu s who live in close proximity with Pashtu s have adopted Pashtu wali in a process called Pashtu ization (or Afghanization) while some Pashtu s have been Persianized. Millions of Afghans who have been living in Pakistan and Iran over the last 30 years have been influenced by the culture of those neighboring nations.