Afghanistan, is a landlocked country that is located approximately in the center of Asia. It is bordered by Iran in the south and west, Pakistan in the south and east, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far northeast.
Afghanistan is a crossroads between the East and the West, and was an ancient focal point of the Silk Road and migration. It has an important geostrategic location, connecting South and Central Asia and Middle East. Because of this, the land has been a target of various invaders and conquerors, as well as a source from which local powers invaded surrounding regions to form their own empires. Through the ages, the region has been home to various people, among them the Aryan (Indo-Iranian) tribes, such as the Bactrians, Arians, Arachosians, etc. It also has been conquered by a host of people, including the Median and Persian Empires, Alexander the Great, the Seleucids, the Indo-Greeks, Turks, and Mongols. Ahmad Shah Durrani created the Durrani Empire in 1747, which is considered the beginning of modern Afghanistan. Subsequently, the capital was shifted to Kabul and most of its territories ceded to former neighboring countries. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in "The Great Game" played between the British Indian Empire and Russian Empire. On August 19, 1919, following the third Anglo-Afghan war, the country regained full independence from the United Kingdom over its foreign affairs.
Since the late 1970s Afghanistan has suffered continuous and brutal civil war in addition to foreign interventions in the form of the 1979 Soviet invasion and the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that toppled the Taliban government. In late 2001 the United Nations Security Council authorized the creation of an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) composed of NATO troops. In the 1970s, Afghanistan was known for its beautiful mountains and the hospitality of its people, but after years of war and terrorism Afghanistan’s future remained on a knife-edge. Follow in the footsteps of conquerors through the ruins of the ancient Silk Road city of Balkh. Get swept away by the hectic pace of change in Kabul, the country’s buzzing capital. Make a pilgrimage to the blue domes of Afghanistan’s holy city of Mazar-e Sharif.
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