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Afghanistan - Phones Calling code + 93 Internet Domain name TLD - .af Afghanistan ATRA Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority Afghanistan Islamic Republic of Afghanistan - جمهوری اسلامی افغانستان
(Persian: Jomhūrī-ye Eslāmī-ye Afġānistān - ) -
د افغانستان اسلامي جمهوریت
(Pashto: Da Afġānistān Islāmī Jomhoriyat - - - Flag - Emblem Anthem: Milli Surood - Capital : (and largest city) - Kabul
Map Latitude : 34°31′N - Longitude : 69°08′E -  /  - 34.517°N 69.133°E -  / 34.517; 69.133 - Official language(s) - Dari Persian and Pashto - 1 ] - - People : - Afghan alternatives - Government : - Islamic Republic President : - Hamid Karzai Vice President : - Mohammad Fahim Vice President : - Karim Khalili Chief Justice - Abdul Salam Azimi Establishment First Afghan state - 1 ] - - October 1747 Independence : - August 19, 1919 Area Total : 647,500 km (41st)
251,772 sq mi)
Water (%) - negligible Population estimate in 2009 : 28,150,000 - 2 ] - - (37th 1979 census - 13,051,358 - Density : 43.5/km (150th)
111.8/sq mi GDP - Purchasing power parity PPP : estimate in 2009 : Total : $27.014 billion - 3 ] - - Per capita : $935 - 3 ] - GDP (nominal) : estimate in 2009 : Total : $14.044 billion - 3 ] - - Per capita : $486 - 3 ] - HDI (2007) - 0.352 (low - ) (181st Currency : - Afghani (AFN) Time zone : - D† (UTC) +4:30 Drives on the - right The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is a landlocked country in South- Central Asia. - 4 ] - - It is variously described as being located within South Asia, - 1 ] - - - 5 ] - - Central Asia, - 6 ] - - - 7 ] - - and sometimes Western Asia (or the Middle East). It is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east, Iran in the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far northeast, and India claims a border with Afghanistan at Wakhan. - 10 ] - - The territories now comprising Afghanistan have been an ancient focal point of the Silk Road and human migration. The land is at an important geostrategic location, connecting East, South, West and Central Asia, and has been home to various peoples through the ages. The region has been a target of various invaders since antiquity, including by Alexander the Great, the Mauryan Empire, Muslim armies, and Genghis Khan, and has served as a source from which many kingdoms, such as the Greco-Bactrians, Kushans, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Timurids, and many others have risen to form empires of their own. The political history of Afghanistan begins in the 18th century with the rise of the Pashtun tribes (known as Afghans in Persian), when in 1709 the Hotaki dynasty established its rule in Kandahar and, more specifically, when Ahmad Shah Durrani created the Durrani Empire in 1747 which became the forerunner of modern Afghanistan. - 14 ] - - - 15 ] - - Its capital was shifted in 1776 from Kandahar to Kabul and most of its territories ceded to neighboring empires by 1893. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in "The Great Game" between the British and Russian empires. - 16 ] - - On August 19, 1919, following the third Anglo-Afghan war, the country regained independence from the United Kingdom over its foreign affairs. Since the late 1970s Afghanistan has experienced a continuous state of civil war punctuated by foreign occupations in the forms of the 1979 Soviet invasion and the October 2001 US-led invasion that overthrew the Taliban government. In December 2001, the United Nations Security Council authorized the creation of an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to help maintain security and assist the Karzai administration. The country is being rebuilt slowly with support from the international community and dealing with a strong Taliban insurgency. - 17 ] - - - Etymology Origins of the name Afghan and List of country name etymologies The name Afghānistān, Persian: افغانستان avɣɒnestɒn - , - 18 ] - - means "Land of Afghans", from the word Afghan . - Origin of the name The first part of the name, "Afghan", is, at least since the 16th century AD, the Persian alternative name for the Pashtuns who are the founders and the largest ethnic group of the country. According to W. K. Frazier Tyler, M. C. Gillet and several other scholars "the word Afghan first appears in history in the Ḥudūd al-ʿĀlam in 982 AD." Al-Biruni referred to Afghans as various tribes living on the western frontier mountains of the Indus River, which would be the Sulaiman Mountains. - 19 ] - - A Moroccan traveller, Ibn Battuta, visiting Kabul in 1333 writes: - 20 ] - -

We travelled on to Kabul, formerly a vast town, the site of which is now occupied by a village inhabited by a tribe of Persians called Afghans.

However, it is unknown whether these historical Afghans were identical with the Pashtuns. - 21 ] - - Summarizing the available information, the Encyclopedia Iranica states: - 22 ] - -

From a more limited, ethnological point of view, "Afghān" is the term by which the Persian-speakers of Afghanistan (and the non-Paštō-speaking ethnic groups generally) designate the Paštūn. The equation [of] Afghan [and] Paštūn has been propagated all the more, both - beyond Afghanistan, because the Paštūn tribal confederation is by far the most important in the country, numerically and politically.

It further explains:

The term "Afghān" has probably designated the Paštūn since ancient times. Under the form Avagānā , this ethnic group is first mentioned by the Indian astronomer Varāha Mihira in the beginning of the 6th century CE in his Brihat-samhita .

By the 17th century AD, it seems that the Pashtuns themselves began using the term as an ethnonym - a fact that is supported by traditional Pashto literature, for example, in the writings of the 17th-century Pashto poet Khushal Khan Khattak: - 23 ] - -

Pull out your sword and slay any one, that says Pashtun and Afghan are not one! Arabs know this and so do Romans: Afghans are Pashtuns, Pashtuns are Afghans!

The last part of the name, -stān is an ancient Iranian languages suffix for "place", prominent in many languages of the region. The term "Afghanistan ", meaning the "Land of Afghans ", was mentioned by the 16th century Mughal Emperor Babur in his memoirs, referring to the territories south of Kabul that were inhabited by Pashtuns (called "Afghans" by Babur). - 24 ] - - Until the 19th century the name was only used for the traditional lands of the Pashtuns, while the kingdom as a whole was known as the Kingdom of Kabul , as mentioned by the British statesman and historian Mountstuart Elphinstone. - 25 ] - - Other parts of the country were at certain periods recognized as independent kingdoms, such as the Kingdom of Balkh in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. - 26 ] - - With the expansion and centralization of the country, Afghan authorities adopted and extended the name "Afghanistan" to the entire kingdom, after its English translation had already appeared in various treaties between the British Raj and Qajarid Persia, referring to the lands subject to the PashtunBarakzai Dynasty of Kabul. - 27 ] - - "Afghanistan" as the name for the entire kingdom was mentioned in 1857 by Friedrich Engels. - 28 ] - - It became the official name when the country was recognized by the world community in 1919, after regaining full independence over its foreign affairs from the British, - 29 ] - - and was confirmed as such in the nation's 1923 constitution. - 30 ] - - - Geography Geography of Afghanistan - Topography Afghanistan is landlocked and mountainous, with plains in the north and southwest. The highest point is Nowshak, at 7,485 m (24,557 ft) above sea level. The climate varies by region and tends to change quite rapidly. Large parts of the country are dry, and fresh water supplies are limited. The endorheicSistan Basin is one of the driest regions in the world. Afghanistan has a continental climate with very harsh winters in the central highlands, the glacierized northeast (around Nuristan) and the Wakhan Corridor, where the average temperature in January is below −15 °C (5.0 °F), and hot summers in the low-lying areas of Sistan Basin of the southwest, the Jalalabad basin of the east, and the Turkistan plains along the Amu River of the north, where temperature averages over 35 °C (95 °F) in July. The country is frequently subject to minor earthquakes, mainly in the northeast of Hindu Kush mountain areas. Some 125 villages were damaged and 4,000 people killed by the May 31, 1998 earthquake. At 249,984 sq mi (647,456 km), Afghanistan is the world's 41st-largest country (after Burma). The nation shares borders with Pakistan in the southeast, Iran in the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far east. The country does not face any water shortage because it receives huge amount of snow during winter and once that melts the water runs into rivers, lakes, and streams, but most of its national water flows to neighboring states. The country needs around $2 billion to rehabilitate its irrigation systems so that the water is properly used. The country's natural resources include gold, silver, copper, zinc, and iron ore in the Southeast; precious and semi-precious stones (such as lapis, emerald, and azure) in the Northeast; and potentially significant petroleum and natural gas reserves in the North. The country also has uranium, coal, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, and salt. - 33 ] - - - 34 ] - - - 35 ] - - - 36 ] - - However, these significant mineral and energy resources remain largely untapped due to the wars. In 2010, U.S. Pentagon and American geologists have revealed the discovery of about $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits across Afghanistan - 37 ] - - although the Afghan government insists that they are worth at least $3 trillion. - 38 ] - - - 39 ] - - - History History of Afghanistan History of Afghanistan Flag of Afghanistan See also Ariana  - Khorasan Timeline Pre-Islamic Period Bactria-Margiana (2200#1700 BC Kambojas (?-550 BC Median Empire (728#550 BC Achaemenids (550#330 BC Seleucids (330#150 BC Mauryans (305#180 BC Greco-Bactrians (256#125 BC Indo-Greeks (180#130 BC Indo-Scythians (Sakas) (155#80? BC Indo-Parthians (20 BC-50? AD Kushans (135 BC-248 AD Sassanids (230#565) - 40 ] - - Indo-Sassanids (248#410 Kidarites (320#465 Hephthalites (410#557 Kabul Shahi (565#879) - 41 ] - - Islamic Period Rashidun Caliphate (642#641 Umayyads (661#750 Abbasids (750#821 Tahirids (821#873 Saffarids (863#900)) - 42 ] - - Samanids (875#999 Ghaznavids (963#1187 Seljukids (1037#1194 Khwarezmids (1077#1231 Ghorids (1149#1212 Ilkhanate (1258#1353 Kartids (1245#1381 Timurids (1370#1506 Mughals (1501#1738 Safavids (1510#1709 Hotaki dynasty (1709#1738 Afsharids (1738#1747 Post 18th-century Durrani Empire (1747#1826 Barakzai dynasty (1826#1973 Republic of Afghanistan (1973#1978 Democratic Republic (1978#1992 Islamic State (1992#1996 Islamic Emirate (1996#2001 Islamic Republic (2001# Afghan Civil War 1979#1989 1989#1992 1992#1996 1996#2001 2001#present Though the modern state of Afghanistan was established in 1747, the land has an ancient history and various timelines of different civilizations. Excavation of prehistoric sites by Louis Dupree, the University of Pennsylvania, the Smithsonian Institution and others suggest that humans were living in what is now Afghanistan at least 50,000 years ago, and that farming communities of the area were among the earliest in the world. - 43 ] - - - 44 ] - - Afghanistan is a country at a unique nexus point where numerous civilizations have interacted and often fought, and was an important site of early historical activity. The region has been home to various peoples through the ages, among them were ancient Aryan tribes who established the dominant role of Indo-Iranian languages in the region. In certain stages of the history the land was conquered and incorporated within large empires, among them the Achaemenid Empire, the Macedonian Empire, the Indian Maurya Empire, the Muslim Arab Empire, the Sasanid Empire, and a number of others. Many dynasties and kingdoms have also risen to power in what is now Afghanistan, such as the Greco-Bactrians, Kushans, Indo-Sassanids, Kabul Shahis, Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Kartids, Timurids, Mughals, and finally the Hotaki and Durrani dynasties that marked the political beginning of modern Afghanistan. - Pre-Islamic period Pre-Islamic period of Afghanistan - Arachosia, Aria and Bactria were the ancient satraps of the Persian Achaemenid Empire that made up most of what is now Afghanistan during 500 B.C. Some of the inhabitants of Arachosia were known as Pactyans , whose name possibly survives in today's Pakhtuns / Pashtuns. Archaeological exploration, which was done in the 20th century, suggests that the area of Afghanistan have been closely connected by culture and trade with the neighboring regions to the east, west, and north. Artifacts typical of the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze, and Iron ages have been found in Afghanistan. - 45 ] - - Urban civilization may have begun as early as 3000 BC, and the early city of Mundigak (near Kandahar in the south of the country) may have been a colony of the nearby Indus Valley Civilization. - 44 ] - - After 2000 BCE, successive waves of (semi-nomadic people from Central Asia moved south into the area of modern Afghanistan, among them were Indo-European-speakingAryans (Indo-Iranians). - 43 ] - - These tribes later migrated further south to India, west to what is now Iran, and towards Europe via north of the Caspian. - 46 ] - - Since many of these settlers were Aryans (speakers of Indo-Iranian languages), the area was called Aryana, or Land of the Aryans . - 43 ] - - - 47 ] - - - 48 ] - - The ancient Zoroastrianism religion is believed by some to have originated in what is now Afghanistan between 1800 to 800 BCE, as its founder Zoroaster is thought to have lived and died in Balkh. - 49 ] - - - 50 ] - - - 51 ] - - Ancient Eastern Iranian languages may have been spoken in the region around the time of the rise of Zoroastrianism. By the middle of the sixth century BCE, the Achaemenid Persian Empire overthrew the Medes and incorporated the region (known as Arachosia, Aria, and Bactria in Ancient Greek) within its boundaries. An inscription on the tombstone of King Darius I of Persia mentions the Kabul Valley in a list of the 29 countries he had conquered. - 52 ] - - Alexander the Great and his Macedonian (Greek) army arrived to the area of Afghanistan in 330 BCE after defeating Darius III of Persia a year earlier at the Battle of Gaugamela. - 49 ] - - In a letter to his mother, Alexander described the inhabitants of what is now Afghanistan as lion-like brave people: - 53 ] - -

I am involved in the land of a 'Leonine' (lion-like) and brave people, where every foot of the ground is like a well of steel, confronting my soldier. You have brought only one son into the world, but Everyone in this land can be called an Alexander. - 53 ] - -

Following Alexander's brief occupation, the successor state of the Seleucid Empire controlled the area until 305 BCE when they gave much of it to the Indian Maurya Empire as part of an alliance treaty. The Mauryans brought Buddhism from India and controlled southern Afghanistan until about 185 BCE when they were overthrown. - 54 ] - - Their decline began 60 years after Ashoka's rule ended, leading to the Hellenistic reconquest of the region by the Greco-Bactrians. Much of it soon broke away from the Greco-Bactrians and became part of the Indo-Greek Kingdom. The Indo-Greeks were defeated and expelled by the Indo-Scythians by the end of the 2nd century BCE. During the first century, the Parthian Empire subjugated the region, but lost it to their Indo-Parthian vassals. In the mid to late 1st century CE the vast Kushan Empire, centered in modern Afghanistan, became great patrons of Buddhist culture. The Kushans were defeated by the Sassanids in the third century. Although various rulers calling themselves Kushanshas (generally known as Indo-Sassanids) continued to rule at least parts of the region, they were probably more or less subject to the Sassanids. The late Kushans were followed by the Kidarite Huns - 56 ] - - who, in turn, were replaced by the short-lived but powerful Hephthalites, as rulers of the region in the first half of the fifth century. - 57 ] - - The Hephthalites were defeated by the Sasanian king Khosrau I in CE 557, who re-established Sassanid power in Persia. However, in the 6th century CE, the successors of Kushans and Hepthalites established a small dynasty in Kabulistan called Kabul Shahi. - Islamic conquests and Mongol invasion Islamic conquest of Afghanistan and Mongol invasion of Central Asia - The Arabs brought Islam to Afghanistan in the 7th century from Khorasan in the northwest. In the Middle Ages and up to the 19th century, part of the region was referred to as Khorasan. - 58 ] - - - 59 ] - - Several important centers of Khorasan are thus located in modern Afghanistan, such as Herat and Balkh. In some cases even the cities of Kandahar, Ghazni and Kabul were considered part of Khorasan. During the 7th century, Arabs brought the religion of Islam to the western area of Afghanistan and began spreading eastward. Although some accepted the new religion along the way, others refused to abandon their old faiths. Prior to the introduction of Islam, the area of Afghanistan was inhabited by people of various religious background, which included Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists, Shamanists, Jews, and others. The Kabul Shahis began losing control of their territories to the Muslim Arabs, and their Kabul capital was conquered by the Saffarids in 879. The Samanids extended their influence to Khorasan and south into parts of the Afghan tribal areas in the 9th century, and by the late-10th century the Ghaznavids had made all of the remaining non-Muslim territories convert to Islam, with the exception of the Kafiristan region. Afghanistan at that point became the center of many important empires such as the Saffarids of Zaranj, Samanids of Balkh, - 60 ] - - - 61 ] - - Ghaznavids of Ghazni, Ghurids of Ghor, and Timurids of Herat. The region was overrun in 1219 by Genghis Khan and his Mongol army, who devastated much of the land. For example, his troops are said to have annihilated the ancient Khorasan cities of Herat and Balkh. - 62 ] - - The destruction caused by the Mongols depopulated major cities and caused much of the locals to revert to an agrarian rural society. - 63 ] - - Their rule continued with the Ilkhanate, and was extended further following the invasion of Timur (Timur Lang) who established the Timurid dynasty. - 64 ] - - The periods of the Ghaznavids, - 65 ] - - Ghurids, and Timurids are considered some of the most brilliant eras of Afghanistan's history because they produced fine Islamic architectural monuments - 43 ] - - as well as numerous scientific and literature works. In 1504, Babur, a descendant of both Timur and Genghis Khan, established the Mughal Empire with its initial capital in Kabul. By the early 1700s, the region was controlled by several ruling groups: Uzbeks to the north, Safavids to the west and the remaining larger area by the Mughals or self-ruled by local Afghan tribes. - Hotaki dynasty and the Durrani Empire Hotaki dynasty and Durrani Empire In 1709, Mir Wais Hotak, a local Pashtun (historically "Afghan" ) from the Ghilzai clan, overthrew and killed Gurgin Khan, the Safavid governor of Kandahar. Mir Wais successfully defeated a Safavid army sent for retaliation and held the region of Kandahar until his death in 1715. He was succeeded by his son Mir Mahmud Hotaki. In 1722, Mir Mahmud led an Afghan army to Isfahan (Iran), sacked the city and proclaimed himself King of Persia. However, the great majority still rejected the Afghan regime as usurping, and after the massacre of thousands of civilians in Isfahan by the Afghans # including more than three thousand religious scholars, nobles, and members of the Safavid family # the Hotaki dynasty was eventually removed from power by a new ruler, Nadir Shah of Persia. - 66 ] - - - 67 ] - -

- Afghan soldiers of the Durrani Empire In 1738, Nadir Shah and his army, which included Ahmad Khan and four thousand of his Pashtun soldiers of the Abdali tribe, - 68 ] - - conquered the region of Kandahar from the HotakGhilzais; in the same year he occupied Ghazni, Kabul and Lahore. On June 19, 1747, Nadir Shah was assassinated by one of his officers - 69 ] - - - 70 ] - - and Ahmad Shah Abdali called for a loya jirga ("grand assembly") to select a leader among his people. The Pashtuns gathered near Kandahar in October 1747 and chose him as their new head of state. Ahmad Shah Durrani is often regarded as the founder of modern Afghanistan. - 1 ] - - - 71 ] - - - 72 ] - - After the inauguration, Ahmad Shah adopted the title padshah durr-i dawran ('King, "pearl of the age") - 73 ] - - and the Abdali tribe became known as the Durrani tribe there after. By 1751, Ahmad Shah Durrani and his Afghan army conquered the entire present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, Khorasan and Kohistan provinces of Iran, along with Delhi in India. - 28 ] - - He defeated the Sikhs of the Maratha Empire in the Punjab region nine times, one of the biggest battles was the 1761 Battle of Panipat. In October 1772, Ahmad Shah retired to his home in Kandahar where he died peacefully and was buried there at a site that is now adjacent to the Mosque of the Cloak of the Prophet Mohammed. He was succeeded by his son, Timur Shah Durrani, who transferred the capital of their Afghan Empire from Kandahar to Kabul. Timur died in 1793 and was finally succeeded by his son Zaman Shah Durrani. Zaman Shah and his brothers had a weak hold on the legacy left to them by their famous ancestor. They sorted out their differences through a "round robin of expulsions, blindings and executions", which resulted in the deterioration of the Afghan hold over far-flung territories, such as Attock and Kashmir. - 74 ] - - Durrani's other grandson, Shuja Shah Durrani, fled the wrath of his brother and sought refuge with the Sikhs. After he was defeated at the Battle of Attock, DurraniVizierFateh Khan fought off an attempt by Ali Shah, the ruler of Persia, to capture the Durrani province of Herat. He was joined by his brother, Dost Mohammad Khan, and rogue Sikh Sardar Jai Singh Attarwalia. Once they had captured the city, Fateh Khan attempted to remove the ruler, a relation of his superior, Mahmud Shah, and rule in his stead. In the attempt to take the city from its Durrani ruler, Dost Mohammad Khan's men forcibly took jewels off of a princess and Kamran Durrani, Mahmud Shah's son, used this as a pretext to remove Fateh Khan from power, and had him tortured and executed. While in power, however, Fateh Khan had installed 21 of his brothers in positions of power throughout the Durrani Empire. After his death, they rebelled and divided up the provinces of the empire between themselves. During this turbulent period Kabul had many temporary rulers until Fateh Khan's brother, Dost Mohammad Khan, captured Kabul in 1826. The Sikhs, under Ranjit Singh, rebelled in 1809 and eventually wrested a large part of the Kingdom of Kabul (present day Pakistan, but not including Sindh) from the Afghans. - 75 ] - - Hari Singh Nalwa, the Commander-in-Chief of the Sikh Empire along its Afghan frontier, invaded the Afghan territory as far as the city of Jalalabad. - 76 ] - - In 1837, the Afghan Army descended through the Khyber Pass on Sikh forces at Jamrud. Hari Singh Nalwa's forces held off the Afghan offensive for over a week # the time it took reinforcements to reach Jamrud from Lahore. - 77 ] - - - Barakzai dynasty and European influence