Dari: افغانستان, Pashto: Afġānistān
[avɣɒnisˈtɒn, ab-], Dari: Afġānestān
[avɣɒnesˈtɒn]), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a mountainous
landlocked country at the crossroads of
South Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by
Pakistan to the east and south;
Iran to the west;
Tajikistan to the north; and
China to the northeast. Occupying 652,000 square kilometers (252,000 sq mi), it is a mountainous country with plains in the north and southwest.
Kabul is the capital and largest city. Its population is around 32 million, composed mostly of ethnic
Humans lived in what is now Afghanistan at least 50,000 years ago.
Settled life emerged in the region 9,000 years ago, evolving gradually into the
Indus civilization (
Shortugai site), the
Oxus civilization (Dashlyji site), and the
Helmand civilization (
Mundigak site) of the 3rd millennium BCE.
Indo-Aryans migrated through
Margiana area to
Gandhara, followed by the rise of the
Yaz I culture (ca. 1500–1100 BCE), which has been closely associated with the culture depicted in the
Avesta, the ancient religious texts of
Zoroastrianism. The region, then known as "
Ariana", fell to
Achaemenid Persians in the 6th century BCE, who conquered the areas to their east
as far as the Indus River.
Alexander the Great invaded the region in the 4th century BCE, who married
Roxana in Bactria before his
Kabul Valley campaign, where he faced resistance from
Aspasioi and Assakan tribes. The
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom became the eastern end of the
Hellenistic world. Following the conquest by
Hinduism flourished in the region for centuries. The
Kanishka, who ruled from his twin capitals of
Puruṣapura, played an important role in the spread of
Mahayana Buddhism to China and Central Asia. Various other Buddhist dynasties originated from this region as well, including the
Turk Shahis. (