Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central Asia and South Asia. Referred to as the Heart of Asia, it is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south, Iran to the west, Turkmenistan to the northwest, Uzbekistan to the north, Tajikistan to the northeast, and China to the northeast and east. Occupying 652864 km2 of land, the country is predominantly mountainous with plains in the north and the southwest, which are separated by the Hindu Kush mountain range. Kabul is the country's largest city and serves as its capital. According to the World Population review,, Afghanistan's population is 40.2 million The National Statistics Information Authority of Afghanistan estimated the population to be 32.9 million.

Human habitation in Afghanistan dates to the Middle Paleolithic era. Popularly referred to as the graveyard of empires, the land has historically been home to various peoples and has witnessed numerous military campaigns, including those by the Persians, Alexander the Great, the Maurya Empire, Arab Muslims, the Mongols, the British, the Soviet Union, and a US-led coalition. Afghanistan also served as the source from which the Greco-Bactrians and the Mughals, amongst others, rose to form major empires. The various conquests and periods in both the Iranian and Indian cultural spheres made the area a center for Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and later Islam. The modern state of Afghanistan began with the Durrani Afghan Empire in the 18th century, although Dost Mohammad Khan is sometimes considered to be the founder of the first modern Afghan state. Dost Mohammad died in 1863, days after his last campaign to unite Afghanistan, and Afghanistan was consequently thrown back into civil war. During this time, Afghanistan became a buffer state in the Great Game between the British Empire and the Russian Empire. From India, the British attempted to subjugate Afghanistan but were repelled in the First Anglo-Afghan War. However, the Second Anglo-Afghan War saw a British victory and the successful establishment of British political influence. Following the Third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919, Afghanistan became free of foreign political hegemony, and emerged as the independent Kingdom of Afghanistan in June 1926 under Amanullah Khan. This monarchy lasted almost half a century, until Zahir Shah was overthrown in 1973, following which the Republic of Afghanistan was established.

Since the late 1970s, Afghanistan's history has been dominated by extensive warfare, including coups, invasions, insurgencies, and civil wars. The conflict began in 1978 when a communist revolution established a socialist state, and subsequent infighting prompted the Soviet Union to invade Afghanistan in 1979. Mujahideen fought against the Soviets in the Soviet–Afghan War and continued fighting amongst themselves following the Soviets' withdrawal in 1989. The Islamic fundamentalist Taliban controlled most of the country by 1996, but their Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan received little international recognition before its overthrow in the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan. The Taliban returned to power in 2021 after capturing Kabul and overthrowing the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, ending the 2001–2021 war. In September 2021 the Taliban re-established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The Taliban government remains internationally unrecognized.

Afghanistan is rich in natural resources, including lithium, iron, zinc, and copper. It is the second largest producer of cannabis resin, and third largest of both saffron and cashmere. The country is a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and a founding member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Due to the effects of war in recent decades, the country has dealt with high levels of terrorism, poverty, and child malnutrition. Afghanistan remains among the world's least developed countries, ranking 180th in the Human Development Index. Afghanistan's gross domestic product (GDP) is $81 billion by purchasing power parity and $20.1 billion by nominal values. Per capita, its GDP is amongst the lowest of any country.

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Top general locked away evidence of SAS executions

One of the UK's most senior generals was warned in writing in 2011 that SAS soldiers were claiming to have executed handcuffed detainees in Afghanistan.

New earthquake hits western Afghanistan

A new earthquake has hit western Afghanistan - several days after two large tremors in the region killed more than 1,000 people.The US Geological Survey (USGS) says the magnitude 6.3 quake was near the city of Herat. It was at a depth of 8.2km (five miles).

BBC show is a 'lifeline' for Afghan girls, UN says

Image source, Andy Bosley/BBCBBC World ServiceA BBC programme for children barred from schools in Afghanistan has been described as a "learning lifeline" by the United Nations.The show is being used in secret school lessons, the BBC has learned.

Afghanistan earthquake: More than 1,000 dead as villagers dig for survivors

Rescuers are digging for survivors of a powerful earthquake that flattened whole villages in Afghanistan, killing more than 1,000 people. The 6.3-magnitude quake struck Saturday morning in Herat province, a barren landscape dotted with mud brick homes.

Afghanistan earthquake: At least 14 killed and 78 injured in 6.3 quake

At least 14 people have been killed and 78 injured after an earthquake hit western Afghanistan, officials say. The US Geological Survey said the 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck about 40km from the western city of Herat, close to the border with Iran, at around 11:00 local time (06:30 GMT).

Judge blocks 9/11 victims' claim to Afghan assets

Victims of the 9/11 attacks are not entitled to seize $3.5bn (£2.9bn) in assets belonging to Afghanistan's central bank, a US judge has ruled. Lawyers pursuing the compensation argued these funds could satisfy court judgments they had obtained against Afghanistan's ruling Taliban.

Talking to the Taliban: Right or wrong?

Two years since the Taliban swept into power in Afghanistan, not a single country has formally recognised their rule. Even engaging with the Taliban government remains deeply controversial.

Afghanistan: Taliban ban women from visiting national park

The Taliban have banned women from visiting the Band-e-Amir national park in the central Bamiyan province. Afghanistan's acting minister of virtue and vice, Mohammad Khaled Hanafi, said women had not been observing hijab inside the park.

Five key moments in the crushing of Afghan women's rights

"We are going to allow women to study and work within our framework. Women are going to be very active in our society," the Taliban announced in their first press conference shortly after seizing power on 15 August 2021.

Afghanistan: Taliban burn ‘immoral’ musical instruments

The Taliban have burned musical instruments in Afghanistan, claiming music "causes moral corruption". Thousands of dollars worth of musical equipment went up in smoke on a bonfire on Saturday in western Herat province.

Special Forces at centre of Afghanistan war crimes inquiry, MoD confirms

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed for the first time that UK Special Forces are at the centre of a war crimes inquiry. The MoD on Wednesday abandoned an effort to restrict any mention of Special Forces' involvement in the alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

Ben Roberts-Smith: How war hero's defamation case has rocked Australia

For months on end, Australia's most-decorated living soldier sat stoically in a Sydney courtroom as dozens of witnesses accused him of war crimes, bullying peers, and assaulting his mistress. But Ben Roberts-Smith was not the one on trial.

Jennifer Lawrence's secret filming in Afghanistan

Image source, Getty ImagesGender and identity correspondent"You only oppress women," the young woman says to the Taliban fighter. "I told you not to talk," he shouts back, "I will kill you right here!""Okay, kill me!" she replies, raising her voice to match his.

Taliban kills IS leader behind Kabul airport bombing

The Islamic State leader believed to have been responsible for the 2021 bombing at Kabul's airport has been killed by the Taliban, US officials have said. The August 2021 bombing killed 170 civilians and 13 US troops as people were trying to flee Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

Guy Ritchie's The Covenant and why Hollywood is afraid of the war in Afghanistan

Guy Ritchie's The Covenant is an intense action movie, full of gunfire and explosions that make you feel caught in the midst of danger. And like so many war films it relies on a slender plot about heroic choices.

Biden administration blames chaotic Afghan pull-out on Trump

US President Joe Biden's administration has blamed its chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan on his predecessor, Donald Trump, in a new report. But the report also acknowledges that the government should have begun the evacuation of civilians earlier.

Afghanistan: Taliban bans women from working for NGOs

Women's freedoms have been further curtailed in Afghanistan, after the Taliban barred them from working for non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The Islamist rulers said female NGO employees had been breaking Sharia law by failing to wear the hijab.

Afghanistan: Taliban closes universities to women

The Taliban have announced the closure of universities for women in Afghanistan, according to a letter by the higher education minister. The minister says the move is until further notice. It is expected to take effect immediately.

Salang tunnel: 19 killed, dozens injured in fire

At least 19 people have been killed and dozens injured in a fire inside a road tunnel in Afghanistan, local officials say. An oil tanker overturned and caught fire in the Salang Tunnel - which links the capital Kabul to the northern provinces - on Saturday evening.

Three women among dozen publicly flogged in Afghanistan - Taliban official

Twelve people, including three women, have been flogged in front of thousands of onlookers at a football stadium in Afghanistan. The group were guilty of "moral crimes" including adultery, robbery and gay sex, a Taliban official told the BBC.

Afghanistan: 'I drug my hungry children to help them sleep'

Afghans are giving their hungry children medicines to sedate them - others have sold their daughters and organs to survive. In the second winter since the Taliban took over and foreign funds were frozen, millions are a step away from famine. "Our children keep crying, and they don't sleep.

Afghanistan: Taliban ban women from Kabul parks

The Taliban have banned women from visiting all parks in Kabul, excluding them still further from public life in Afghanistan. The group claims Islamic laws were not being followed at parks.

SAS unit repeatedly killed Afghan detainees, BBC finds

SAS operatives in Afghanistan repeatedly killed detainees and unarmed men in suspicious circumstances, according to a BBC investigation. Newly obtained military reports suggest that one unit may have unlawfully killed 54 people in one six-month tour.

Afghanistan: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

John Oliver discusses what’s happened since the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan, how their ongoing crisis has even more to do with our decisions than you might think, and how to properly modify the verb “feel”. Connect with Last Week Tonight online... Subscribe to the Last Week Tonight YouTu

Afghan contractors: 'I wish I'd never worked for the UK government'

In a nondescript white plastic bag, Ammar carried a clutch of papers that are among his most precious belongings right now.

Ayman al-Zawahiri: Al-Qaeda leader killed in US drone strike

The US has killed the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a drone strike in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden has confirmed. He was killed in a counter-terrorism operation carried out by the CIA in the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday.

Afghanistan: The quiet Afghan valley standing up to the Taliban

Travelling through the scenic Andarab valley north of Kabul there is no visible sign of conflict. But whilst the Taliban are more powerful and better armed than ever before, here and in neighbouring province of Panjshir they are facing a nascent armed resistance to their rule in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan earthquake: At least 250 killed and scores wounded in Paktika province

Pictures being shared on social media showed injured people on stretchers, rubble and destruction of homes in Paktika province. The quake struck about 44km (27 miles) from the south-eastern city of Khost.

Afghanistan: Policing faces, bodies and beards on Kabul streets

In their long white gowns, the inspectors of the Taliban's Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue look more like food safety inspectors than "moral police".

A love letter to Kabul

A love letter to KabulBy Lyse Doucet, with Mahfouz Zubaide and Esmatullah KohsarPhotography: Paula BronsteinBy Lyse Doucet, with Mahfouz Zubaide and Esmatullah KohsarPhotography: Paula BronsteinCreditsWriters: Lyse Doucet, with Mahfouz Zubaide and Esmatullah KohsarPhotography: Paula BronsteinEditor

Afghanistan: Girls' despair as Taliban confirms secondary school ban

Teenage schoolgirls in Afghanistan have told the BBC of their growing desperation as they continue to be excluded from school more than three months after the Taliban takeover. "Not being able to study feels like a death penalty," says 15-year-old Meena.

Afghanistan's ghost soldiers undermined fight against Taliban - ex-official

Afghanistan's ex-finance minister has blamed the government's fall on corrupt officials who invented "ghost soldiers" and took payments from the Taliban. He said phantom personnel were added to official lists so that generals could pocket their wages.

Afghanistan: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

John Oliver discusses the end of America’s war with Afghanistan, and the humanitarian crisis being left behind. Connect with Last Week Tonight online... Subscribe to the Last Week Tonight YouTube channel for more almost news as it almost happens: Find Last Week

Explosion strikes Afghan mosque during prayers

This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly. Please refresh the page for the fullest version. You can receive Breaking News on a smartphone or tablet via the BBC News App. You can also follow @BBCBreaking on Twitter to get the latest alerts.

In rural Afghanistan, a family welcomes Taliban rule

The interior of the house made of mud bricks was cool, clean and calm. A man called Shamsullah, who had a small son clinging to his leg, ushered his visitors into the room where they received guests. A rug covered the floor and cushions ran along the walls that were at least two-feet thick.

Afghanistan: US admits Kabul drone strike killed civilians

The US has admitted that a drone strike in Kabul days before its military pullout killed 10 innocent people. The youngest child, Sumaya, was just two years old.

Afghanistan: Girls excluded as Afghan secondary schools reopen

The Taliban have excluded girls from Afghan secondary schools, after they ordered only boys and male teachers to return to the classroom. One Afghan schoolgirl told the BBC she was devastated. "Everything looks very dark," she said.

John Simpson: Afghanistan, its future, and why China matters

The Khyber Pass is one of the world's great invasion routes - forbidding, steep and treacherous, stretching from the Afghan border to the Valley of Peshawar, 20 miles (32 km) below, in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan: US media cast doubt on Kabul drone strike

One of the final deadly strikes by the US in its 20-year war in Afghanistan has been challenged by investigations in leading US media. The New York Times and Washington Post say the strike the US said targeted an Islamic State operative actually killed an aid worker on daily duties in Kabul.

Panjshir - the valley trying to hold off the Taliban

The Taliban have swept through Afghanistan with remarkable speed. But as they sit in Kabul planning their new government, there remains a large thorn in their side: a small valley of anti-Taliban resistance just north-east of the capital, refusing to give up despite being entirely surrounded.

Chaos and confusion: The frenzied final hours of the Afghan government

The Taliban have announced a new government from Kabul, 20 years after they were driven from power. For a generation that grew up with education, international investment and hope in a democratic future, reading that line must feel scarcely believable.

Afghanistan crisis: Five lessons learned (or not) since 9/11

What lessons, if any, have been learned from the 20 years of fighting terrorism across the world? What has worked and what hasn't? And today, as Afghanistan is once more ruled by the movement that sheltered al-Qaeda, are we any wiser than we were on the morning of 11 September 2001?

Bilal Sarwary: 'The plane hit the tower and all our lives changed'

Afghan journalist Bilal Sarwary saw the Taliban toppled in 2001 and his country transformed. But in his view, as he explains here, the US missed an opportunity to try to bring lasting peace.

Newsmax tells viewers Afghanistan war wasted $2T

For 11 full minutes (complete transcript below, and back story here), Tom Basile of NewsmaxTV allowed Andy Bichlbaum (posing as Basile's "friend" Paul Wolfowitz) to tell hundreds of thousands of Newsmax viewers that the $2.1T war in Afghanistan, begun in 2001, was a complete waste of money.

Afghanistan: How can the West stop terror bases?

"The UK will fight Islamic State by all means available," says Dominic Raab. The foreign secretary added that the UK would "draw on all elements of national power" to pursue the group's leaders.

Afghanistan: What was left behind by US forces?

Pictures have emerged of Taliban fighters with military equipment left behind by US forces at Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport. But US Central Command head Gen Kenneth McKenzie said it had all been rendered impossible to use.

Afghanistan: The 'undefeated' Panjshir Valley - an hour from Kabul

Several thousand anti-Taliban fighters are reported to be holding out against the Taliban in a remote valley with a narrow entrance - little more than 30 miles or so from the capital Kabul.

John Simpson on Afghanistan: A country abandoned

Right across the globe, countries which have traditionally relied on American backing are suddenly starting to wonder if they should get themselves some re-insurance. Taiwan, which is almost daily subject to threats of invasion from China, is particularly worried.

Afghanistan: What has the conflict cost the US and its allies?

The Taliban are making rapid advances in Afghanistan as US and other foreign forces withdraw after 20 years of military operations. President Biden has said he wants all US troops out by 11 September.

Will the Taliban take Afghanistan back to the past?

"Thanks to God you are come," shouted an old man as my colleagues and I marched into Kabul on 14 November 2001, battling our way through the joyful crowds.

Afghanistan conflict: Kabul falls to Taliban as president flees

The Taliban has claimed victory in Afghanistan after taking over the capital Kabul, bringing to a swift end almost 20 years of a US-led coalition's presence in the country. Fighters have seized the presidential palace. The government has collapsed, with President Ashraf Ghani fleeing.

Afghan conflict: Taliban enter outskirts of the capital Kabul

Taliban militants have reached the outskirts of the Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, after taking control of most of the rest of the country. The interior minister says negotiations have taken place to ensure a peaceful transition of power.

Afghanistan pullout: Biden's biggest call yet - will it be his most calamitous?

If you like neat lines, tidiness and admire symmetry, what's not to like about the decision of Joe Biden to pull American combat troops out of Afghanistan by 11 September 2021 - exactly 20 years on from 9/11?

Afghanistan: How the Taliban gained ground so quickly

The speed of the Taliban advance in Afghanistan appears to have taken many by surprise - regional capitals seem to be falling like dominoes. The momentum is clearly with the insurgents, while the Afghan government struggles to keep its grip on power.

China interest in Afghanistan could be 'positive', says US Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said China's possible involvement in Afghanistan could be "a positive thing". He said this was if China was looking towards a "peaceful resolution of the conflict" and a "truly representative and inclusive" government.

Mapping the advance of the Taliban in Afghanistan

The Taliban have taken control of Afghanistan, almost 20 years after being ousted by a US-led military coalition. Emboldened by the withdrawal of US troops, they now control all key cities in the country, including Kabul.

US left Bagram Airbase at night with no notice, Afghan commander says

The US military left Bagram Airfield - its key base in Afghanistan - in the dead of night without notifying the Afghans, the base's new commander said. General Asadullah Kohistani told the BBC that the US left Bagram at 03:00 local time on Friday, and that the Afghan military found out hours later.

Afghanistan: All foreign troops must leave by deadline - Taliban

Any foreign troops left in Afghanistan after Nato's September withdrawal deadline will be at risk as occupiers, the Taliban has told the BBC. It comes amid reports that 1,000 mainly US troops could remain on the ground to protect diplomatic missions and Kabul's international airport.

Bagram: Last US and Nato forces leave key Afghanistan base

The last US and Nato forces have left Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, the epicentre of the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda for some 20 years. The pull-out could signal that the complete withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan is imminent.

Afghanistan War: How can the West fight terrorism after leaving?

US, British and Nato combat forces are leaving Afghanistan this summer. The Taliban are growing stronger by the day while al-Qaeda and Islamic State groups are conducting ever more brazen attacks.

20 years in Afghanistan: Was it worth it?

After 20 years in the country, US and British forces are leaving Afghanistan. This month President Biden announced that the remaining 2,500-3,500 US servicemen and women would be gone by September 11th. The UK is doing the same, withdrawing its remaining 750 troops. The date is significant.

In pictures: 3D return for Bamiyan Buddha destroyed by Taliban

The ancient sandstone carvings in Afghanistan's Bamiyan valley were once the world's tallest Buddhas - but they were lost forever when the Taliban blew them up 20 years ago.

Afghanistan conflict: The families caught in crossfire on Helmand front line

"It was dreadful - the worst ever. Life changed into chaos at once," says Gul Mohammad. The 25-year-old teacher is struggling to recall how he managed to dodge shellfire and save the 25 members of his family from fighting raging once more in Helmand in southern Afghanistan.

A tourist, in Afghanistan?

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What the heroin industry can teach us about solar power

If you have ever doubted whether solar power can be a transformative technology, read on. This is a story about how it has proved its worth in the toughest environment possible.

Afghanistan: The detention centre for teenage Taliban members

In a dusty courtyard, behind a tall mesh fence, a group of teenagers are playing a frenetic game of football, while others stand around watching from the sidelines. These are some of Afghanistan's most vulnerable and most troubled children. Inmates of Kabul's Juvenile Rehabilitation Centre.

Afghan poets tackle scars of war

The violence in Afghanistan and the Pashtun-inhabited parts of Pakistan is making itself felt on the cultural and social life of the Pashtuns.