Country Profile

A southwestern country, Afghanistan bridges south and central Asia, and connects the Middle East with the Far East. It has an area of some 251,825 square miles (647,500 square kilometers) and is completely landlocked, with the nearest coast lying along the Arabian Sea, about 300 miles to the south. Its longest border, of 1,125 miles (1,810 kilometers), is with Pakistan, to the east and south. The 510-mile (821km) border in the west separates Afghanistan from Iran and there is a 200-mile border with the part of Jammu and Kashmir claimed by Pakistan. The combined length of Afghanistan's northern borders with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan is 1,050 miles. The shortest border, of 50 miles, is with the Uighur-inhabited Sinkiang region of the People's Republic of China, at the end of the long, narrow Wakhan Corridor in the extreme northeast.

The capital of Afghanistan is its largest city, Kabul, which is located in the east-central part of the country at an altitude of about 5,900 feet (1,800 meters). The city is connected by road to most Afhgan provinces and neighboring countries. The boundaries of Afghanistan were established in the late 19th century in the context of rivalry between the British Empire and the Czarist Russia. Modern Afghanistan became a pawn in the struggles over political ideology and commercial influence. In the late 20th century Afghanistan suffered ruinous effects of prolonged foreign interference and attempts at occupation.

The Soviet invasion (December 27, 1979) lasted ten years and the Red Army pulled out of Afghanistan on February 15, 1989 marking the first military defeat of the Red Army since its founding and then the fall of the Red Army since its founding and subsequently the demise of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately the free world abandoned Afghanistan at the end of the Cold War. Thrust into the regional games of hegemony, the Taliban rose to power (1994-2001). On September 9th, legendary Commander Ahmad Shah Massoud was assassinated by two al-Qaeda terrorists posing as journalists and on September the 11th, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the US were targeted by Osama bin Laden's men. The campaign against terror brought the end of the Taliban as the coalition forces aided by anti-Taliban resistance forces captured Kabul on November 11, 2001.