The Afghanistan Portal

Location of Afghanistan

Afghanistan (/æfˈɡænɪstæn, æfˈɡɑːnɪstɑːn/ (About this soundlisten)), officially the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and South Asia. It is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south (including a short border with Pakistani-controlled Gilgit–Baltistan, a territory claimed by India), Iran to the west, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to the north, and Tajikistan and China to the northeast. Occupying 652,864 square kilometres (252,072 sq mi) of land, the country is predominately mountainous with plains in the north and the southwest that are separated by the Hindu Kush mountain range. , its population is 31.4 million, composed mostly of ethnic Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks. Kabul is the country's largest city and serves as its capital.

Human habitation in Afghanistan dates back to the Middle Paleolithic era, and the country's strategic location along the historic Silk Road connected it to the cultures of other parts of Asia as well as Europe, leaving behind a mosaic of ethnolinguistic and religious groups that has influenced the modern Afghan nation. The land has historically been home to various peoples and has witnessed numerous military campaigns, including those by Alexander the Great, the Maurya Empire, Muslim Arabs, the Mongols, the British, the Soviet Union, and most recently by an American-led coalition. Afghanistan also served as the source from which the Greco-Bactrians and the Mughals, among others, rose to form major empires. The various conquests and periods in both the Indian and Persian cultural spheres made the area a center for Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and later Islam throughout history.

The country has high levels of terrorism, poverty, and child malnutrition. 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 . (Full article...)

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Pashtun men in southern Afghanistan

Pashtuns (/ˈpʌʃˌtʊn/, /ˈpɑːʃˌtʊn/ or /ˈpæʃˌtn/; Pashto: پښتانه‎, Pəx̌tānə́; Pakhtuns or Pathans), historically known as Afghans are an Iranian ethnic group native to Central and South Asia. The ethnic group's native language is Pashto, an Eastern Iranian language. Additionally, ethnic Pashtuns in Afghanistan also speak Dari dialect of Persian as a second language, while those in the Indian subcontinent use Hindi-Urdu as a second language. However, a significant minority speaks Persian or Hindi-Urdu as their first language. The total number of Pashtuns is estimated to be around 49 million; however, this figure is disputed, because of the lack of an official census in Afghanistan since 1979.

Pashtuns are native to the land comprising southern Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan (which is occasionally referred to as the Pashtunistan region), which is where the majority of the population resides. Significant and historical communities of the Pashtun diaspora exist in the Sindh and Punjab provinces of Pakistan (particularly in the cities of Karachi and Lahore) and in the Rohilkhand region of the Uttar Pradesh state in India (as well as in major cities such as Delhi and Mumbai). A recent diaspora has formed in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf (primarily in the United Arab Emirates) as part of the larger South Asian diaspora. (Full article...)
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