|Afghanistan (æfˈɡænɪˌstɑːn, -ˌstæn)|
|a republic in central Asia: became independent in 1919; occupied by Soviet troops, 1979--89; controlled by mujaheddin forces from 1992 until 1996 when Taliban forces seized power; in the US-led `war on terror' (2001) the Taliban were overthrown and replaced by an interim administration, although the Taliban insurgency continues; generally arid and mountainous, with the Hindu Kush range rising over 7500 m (25 000 ft) and fertile valleys of the Amu Darya, Helmand, and Kabul Rivers. Official languages: Pashto and Dari (Persian), Tajik also widely spoken. Religion: Muslim. Currency: afghani. Capital: Kabul. Pop: 24 926 000 (2004 est). Area: 657 500 sq km (250 000 sq miles)|
Republic in south-central Asia, bordered by Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north, China to the northeast, Pakistan to the east and south, and Iran to the west. Kabul is its capital and largest city.
Note: The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 but met stiff resistance from Muslim rebels, called mujahideen, who received support from the United States. The Soviets agreed to withdraw in 1986 and completed their withdrawal in 1989.
Note: In 1992, various rebel groups entered Kabul and took over the government; however, they soon fell to warring. Between 1994 and 1995, Islamic students, called the Taliban, seized Kabul and imposed both order and strict and repressive Islamic law. By 1998, the Taliban controlled ninety percent of the country. The most serious resistance to the Taliban came from the Northern Alliance, a body dominated by ethnic Tajiks and Uzbeks. In October 2001, the United States launched attacks on the Taliban in response to the Taliban's refusal to expel Osama bin Laden and his terrorist Al Qaeda network.
Note: Afghanistan is a poor nation with a history of warfare among its rival ethnic groups and of fierce resistance to outsiders.