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Flag of Afghanistan
Emblem of Afghanistan
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Afghanistan (/æfˈɡænɪstæn, æfˈɡɑːnɪstɑːn/ (About this soundlisten); Pashto/Dari: افغانستان, Pashto: Afġānistān [avɣɒnisˈtɒn, ab-], Dari: Afġānestān [avɣɒnesˈtɒn]), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in South-Central Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east; Iran in the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north; and in the far northeast, China. Its territory covers 652,000 square kilometers (252,000 sq mi) and much of it is covered by the Hindu Kush mountain range. Kabul serves as the capital and its largest city.

Human habitation in Afghanistan dates back to the Middle Paleolithic Era, and the country's strategic location along the Silk Road connected it to the cultures of the Middle East and other parts of Asia. The land has historically been home to various peoples and has witnessed numerous military campaigns, including those by Alexander the Great, Mauryas, Muslim Arabs, Mongols, British, Soviets, and since 2001 by the United States with NATO-allied countries. It has been called "unconquerable" and nicknamed the "graveyard of empires". The land also served as the source from which the Kushans, Hephthalites, Samanids, Saffarids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Khaljis, Mughals, Hotaks, Durranis, and others have risen to form major empires.

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The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) (Persian: جمهوری افغانستان‎) was a self-declared socialist state (but often referred to in the West as a "communist state") in the Middle East established by the Afghan communist party, People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) by then leader Nur Muhammad Taraki in 1978 in the Saur Revolution. From the start the republic ran into conflict with the local mujahideens which started what is known as the Afghan civil war. In 1979 the Soviet Union entered the country to help the communist government, they left however in 1989 after staying in the country in nine years.

After the Soviet withdrawal, the Republic of Afghanistan continued to deal with attacks from the Mujahideen. They received funding and arms from the Soviet Union until 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. For several years the government army had actually increased their effectiveness past levels ever achieved during the Soviet military presence. But the government was dealt a major blow when Abdul Rashid Dostum, a leading general, switched allegiances to the Mujahideen in 1992 and together they captured the city of Kabul.

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Afghanistan's Grand Canyon.jpg
A view Band-e Amir National Park in the Bamyan Province of Afghanistan

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