Afghanistan officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked and mountainous country in south-central Asia. It is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east, Iran in the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far northeast. The territories now comprising Afghanistan have been an ancient focal point of the Silk Road and human migration. Archaeologists have found evidence of human habitation from as far back as 50,000 BCE. Urban civilization may have begun in the area as early as 3000 to 2000 BC.
The political history of modern Afghanistan begins in the 18th century with the rise of the Pashtun tribes (known as Afghans in Persian language), when in 1709 the Hotaki dynasty rose to power in Kandahar and Ahmad Shah Durrani established the Durrani Empire in 1747. The capital of Afghanistan was shifted in 1776 from Kandahar to Kabul and part of its territory was ceded to neighboring empires by 1893. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in the "Great Game" between the British and Russian empires. On August 19, 1919, following the third Anglo-Afghan war and the signing of the Treaty of Rawalpindi, the nation regained control over its foreign policy from the British.
Since the late 1970s, Afghanistan has experienced a continuous state of war, including major occupations in the forms of the 1979 Soviet invasion, a Pakistani military intervention in support of the Taliban in the late 1990s and the October 2001 US-led invasion that overthrew the Taliban government. In December 2001, the United Nations Security Council authorized the creation of an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to help maintain security and assist the Karzai administration. The country is currently being rebuilt slowly with support from the international community while dealing with the Taliban insurgency and widespread political corruption.
The name Afghanistan means the "Land of Afghans", originating from the word Afghan. The first part of the name "Afghan" designates the Pashtun people since ancient times, the founders and the largest ethnic group of the country. This name is mentioned in the form of "Abgan" in the 3rd century CE and as "Avagana" in the 6th century CE. From a more limited, ethnological point of view, "Afghan" is the term by which the Persian-speakers of Afghanistan designate the Pastun. The Pastun tribal confederation is by far the most important in the country, numerically and politically. The term "Afghan" has probably designated the Pastun since ancient times. Under the form Avagana, this ethnic group is first mentioned by the Indian astronomer Varaha Mihira in the beginning of the 6th century CE in his Brihat-samhita. A people called "Afghans" are mentioned several times in a 10th century geography book, Hudud al-'alam. Al-Biruni referred to them in the 11th century as various tribes living on the western frontier mountains of the Indus River, which would be the Sulaiman Mountains. Ibn Battuta, a famous Moroccan travelling scholar visiting the region in 1333, writes “We travelled on to Kabul, formerly a vast town, the site of which is now occupied by a village inhabited by a tribe of Persians called Afghans.”
Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah (Ferishta) explains extensively about Afghans in the 16th century. For example, he writes “The men of Kabul and Khilj also went home; and whenever they were questioned about the Musulmans of the Kohistan (the mountains), and how matters stood there, they said, "Don't call it Kohistan, but Afghanistan; for there is nothing there but Afghans and disturbances." Thus it is clear that for this reason the people of the country call their home in their own language Afghanistan, and themselves Afghans.”
In the writings of the 17th-century Pashto poet Khushal Khan Khattak:“Pull out your sword and slay any one, that says Pashtun and Afghan are not one! Arabs know this and so do Romans: Afghans are Pashtuns, Pashtuns are Afghans!”