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Afghanistan (/æfˈɡænɪstæn, æfˈɡɑːnɪstɑːn/ (About this soundlisten); Pashto/Dari: افغانستان, Pashto: Afġānistān [avɣɒnisˈtɒn, ab-], Dari: Afġānestān [avɣɒnesˈtɒn]), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country in Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south; Iran to the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north; and China to the northeast. Occupying 652,000 square kilometers (252,000 sq mi), it is a mountainous country with plains in the north and southwest. Kabul is the capital and largest city. The population is 32 million, mostly composed of ethnic Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks.

Human habitation in Afghanistan dates back to the Middle Paleolithic Era, and the country's strategic location along the Silk Road connected it to the cultures of the Middle East and other parts of Asia. The land has historically been home to various peoples and has witnessed numerous military campaigns, including those by Alexander the Great, Mauryas, Muslim Arabs, Mongols, British, Soviets, and by the United States with allied countries. The land also served as the source from which the Kushans, Hephthalites, Samanids, Saffarids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Khaljis, Mughals, Hotaks, Durranis, and others have risen to form major empires.

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The Muslim conquests of Afghanistan began during the Muslim conquest of Persia as the Arab Muslims migrated eastwards to Khorasan, Sistan and Transoxiana. 15 years after the Battle of Nahāvand, they controlled all Sasanian domains except parts of Afghanistan and Makran. Fuller Islamization wasn't achieved until the period between 10th and 12th centuries under Ghaznavid and Ghurid dynasty's rule who patronized Muslim religious institutions.

Khorasan and Sistan, where Zoroastrianism was well-established, were conquered, but Qandahar remained unconquered. The Arabs had begun to move towards the lands east of Persia and in 652 they captured the city of Herat, establishing an Arab governor there. The Muslim frontier in modern Afghanistan had become stabilized after the first century of Hijri calendar as the relative importance of the Afghan areas diminished. From historical evidence, it appears Tokharistan was the only area heavily colonized by Arabs where Buddhism flourished. Balkh's final conquest was undertaken by Qutayba ibn Muslim in 705. Hui'Chao, who visited around 726, mentions that the Arabs ruled it and all the inhabitants were Buddhists. Read more...

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Tulipa gesneriana, the national flower of Afghanistan

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