Afghanistan (Persian: افغانستان; Pashto: Afġānistān), officially the Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked sovereign state forming part of South Asia, Central Asia, and to some extent Western Asia. It has a population of around 40 million inhabiting an area of approximately 647,500 km2 (250,001 sq mi). It is bordered by British India in the south and the east, Iran in the west, the Soviet Union in the north, and Shinjang in the far northeast.
Afghanistan has been an ancient focal point of the Silk Road and human migration. Archaeologists have found evidence of human habitation from as far back as the Middle Paleolithic. Urban civilization may have begun in the area as early as 3,000 to 2,000 BC. Sitting at an important geostrategic location that connects the Middle East culture with Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, the land has been home to various peoples through the ages and witnessed many military campaigns, notably by Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan. The land also served as a source from which the Greco-Bactrians, Kushans, Hephthalites, Saffarids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Mughals, Durranis, and others have risen to form major empires.
The political history of the modern state of Afghanistan begins in 1709 with the rise of the Pashtuns, when the Hotaki dynasty was established in Kandahar followed by the rise of the Durrani Empire in 1747. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in the "Great Game" between British India and the Russian Empire. Following the 1919 Anglo-Afghan War, King Amanullah began a European style modernization of the country. Since the beginning of the Cold War, Afghanistan has been a neutral nation, but its government has remained friendly to the Allied Pact. A democratic constitution was established in 1964. In 1983, after protests against corruption in the monarchy, Emir Mohammed Zahir Shah abdicated and the country was declared a republic.
Afghanistan is a middle-income country with relatively high ratings on political freedom and human development. It ranks near the top among Muslim countries for women's rights. Afghanistan is a member of the League of Nations, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the Non-Aligned Movement.