Urban civilization is believed to have begun as early as 3000 BCE, and the early city of Mundigak (near Kandahar in the south of the country) may have been a colony of the nearby Indus Valley Civilization.
After 2000 BCE, successive waves of semi-nomadic people from Central Asia began moving south into Afghanistan; among them were many Indo-European-speaking Indo-Iranians.
The religion Zoroastrianism is believed by some to have originated in what is now Afghanistan between 1800 and 800 BCE, as its founder Zoroaster is thought to have lived and died in Balkh.
600 BC, 501 BC
By the middle of the 6th century BCE, the Achaemenids overthrew the Medes and incorporated Arachosia, Aria, and Bactria within its eastern boundaries.
Their history is traced back to at least the time of the Achaemenid Empire in 500 BCE.
Alexander the Great and his Macedonian forces arrived to Afghanistan in 330 BCE after defeating Darius III of Persia a year earlier in the Battle of Gaugamela.
Afghanistan in years
Following Alexander's brief occupation, the successor state of the Seleucid Empire controlled the region until 305 BCE, when they gave much of it to the Maurya Empire as part of an alliance treaty.
200 BC, 101 BC
They were defeated and expelled by the Indo-Scythians in the late 2nd century BCE.
The Mauryans controlled the area south of the Hindu Kush until they were overthrown in about 185 BCE.
Despite that, archaeologists are still finding Buddhist relics in different parts of the country, some of them dating back to the 2nd century.
Afghanistan has around 150 radio stations and over 50 television stations, which includes the state-owned RTA TV and various private channels such as TOLO and Shamshad TV.
Afghanistan in decades
The Kushans were overthrown by the Sassanids in the 3rd century CE, though the Indo-Sassanids continued to rule at least parts of the region.
The country has more than 3,000 midwives, with an additional 300 to 400 being trained each year.
By the 6th century CE, the successors to the Kushans and Hepthalites established a small dynasty called Kabul Shahi.
Arab Muslims brought Islam to Herat and Zaranj in 642 CE and began spreading eastward; some of the native inhabitants they encountered accepted it while others revolted.
The Zunbils and Kabul Shahi were first conquered in 870 CE by the Saffarid Muslims of Zaranj.
Afghanistan in centuries
The name Afghānistān (Pashto: افغانستان) is believed to be as old as the ethnonym Afghan, which is documented in the 10th-century geography book Hudud ul-'alam.
It is reported that Muslims and non-Muslims still lived side by side in Kabul before the Ghaznavids rose to power in the 10th century.
By the 11th century, Mahmud of Ghazni defeated the remaining Hindu rulers and effectively Islamized the wider region, with the exception of Kafiristan.
In 1219 AD, Genghis Khan and his Mongol army overran the region.
Mongol rule continued with the Ilkhanate in the northwest while the Khalji dynasty administered the Afghan tribal areas south of the Hindu Kush until the invasion of Timur, who established the Timurid Empire in 1370.
Mirwais died of a natural cause in 1715 and was succeeded by his brother Abdul Aziz, who was soon killed by Mirwais' son Mahmud for treason.
Mahmud led the Afghan army in 1722 to the Persian capital of Isfahan, captured the city after the Battle of Gulnabad and proclaimed himself King of Persia.
The Afghan dynasty was ousted from Persia by Nader Shah after the 1729 Battle of Damghan.
In 1738, Nader Shah and his forces captured Kandahar, the last Hotak stronghold, from Shah Hussain Hotak, at which point the incarcerated 16-year-old Ahmad Shah Durrani was freed and made the commander of an Afghan regiment.
By 1747, the Afghans chose Durrani as their head of state.
Before the 19th century, the northwestern area of Afghanistan was referred to by the regional name Khorasan.
The Afghan Empire was under threat in the early 19th century by the Persians in the west and the Sikh Empire in the east.
During this turbulent period, Afghanistan had many temporary rulers until Dost Mohammad Khan declared himself emir in 1826.
The Punjab region was lost to Ranjit Singh, who invaded Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and in 1834 captured the city of Peshawar.
In 1837, during the Battle of Jamrud near the Khyber Pass, Akbar Khan and the Afghan army failed to capture the Jamrud fort from the Sikh Khalsa Army, but killed Sikh Commander Hari Singh Nalwa, thus ending the Afghan-Sikh Wars.
In 1838, the British marched into Afghanistan and arrested Dost Mohammad, sent him into exile in India and replaced him with the previous ruler, Shah Shuja.
Following an uprising, the 1842 retreat from Kabul of British-Indian forces and the annihilation of Elphinstone's army, and the Battle of Kabul that led to its recapture, the British placed Dost Mohammad Khan back into power and withdrew their military forces from Afghanistan.
In 1878, the Second Anglo-Afghan War was fought over perceived Russian influence, Abdur Rahman Khan replaced Ayub Khan, and Britain gained control of Afghanistan's foreign relations as part of the Treaty of Gandamak of 1879.
Shia-dominated Hazarajat and pagan Kafiristan remained politically independent until being conquered by Abdur Rahman Khan in 1891-1896.
Its Border with British India, the Durand Line, was formed in 1893 but it is not recognized by the Afghan government and it has led to strained relations with Pakistan since the latter's independence in 1947.
He moved to end his country's traditional isolation by establishing diplomatic relations with the international community and, following a 1927–28 tour of Europe and Turkey, introduced several reforms intended to modernize his nation.
Faced with overwhelming armed opposition, Amanullah Khan was forced to abdicate in January 1929 after Kabul fell to rebel forces led by Habibullah Kalakani.
Prince Mohammed Nadir Shah, Amanullah's cousin, in turn defeated and killed Kalakani in November 1929, and was declared King Nadir Shah.
The King built close relationships with the Axis powers in the 1930s - but Afghanistan remained neutral and was neither a participant in World War II nor aligned with either power bloc in the Cold War thereafter.
He abandoned the reforms of Amanullah Khan in favor of a more gradual approach to modernisation but was assassinated in 1933 by Abdul Khaliq, a fifteen-year-old Hazara student.
Mohammed Zahir Shah, Nadir Shah's 19-year-old son, succeeded to the throne and reigned from 1933 to 1973.
The Afghanistan national football team has been competing in international football since 1941.
Until 1946, Zahir Shah ruled with the assistance of his uncle, who held the post of Prime Minister and continued the policies of Nadir Shah.
Another of Zahir Shah's uncles, Shah Mahmud Khan, became Prime Minister in 1946 and began an experiment allowing greater political freedom, but reversed the policy when it went further than he expected.
Some experts suggest that Bhutto paved the way for the April 1978 Saur Revolution.
In April 1978, the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) seized power in the Saur Revolution, a coup d'état against then-President Mohammed Daoud Khan.
Opposition to PDPA reforms, such as its land redistribution policy and modernization of (traditional Islamic) civil and marriage laws, led to unrest which aggravated to rebellion and revolt around October 1978, first in eastern Afghanistan (see Initiation of the insurgency in Afghanistan 1978).
Mujahideen (Islamic resistance) forces in October 1978 (see above) had started a guerrilla or civil war against the PDPA's government of Afghanistan.
During this war from 1979 until 1989, Soviet forces, their Afghan proxies and rebels killed between 562,000 and 2 million Afghans, and displaced about 6 million people who subsequently fled Afghanistan, mainly to Pakistan and Iran.
Jamiat e-Islami in Shultan Valley 1987 with Dashaka
Meanwhile, increasing friction between the competing factions of the PDPA — the dominant Khalq and the more moderate Parcham — resulted (in July–August 1979) in the dismissal of Parchami cabinet members and the arrest of Parchami military officers under the pretext of a Parchami coup.
In September 1979, President Taraki was assassinated in a coup within the PDPA orchestrated by fellow Khalq member Hafizullah Amin, who assumed the presidency.
27 December 1979
The Soviet Union was displeased with Amin's government, and decided to intervene and invade the country on 27 December 1979, killing Amin that same day.
December 1979, 1989
Soviet troops in more substantial numbers were deployed to stabilize Afghanistan under Karmal, and as a result the Soviets were now directly involved in what had been a domestic war in Afghanistan (of mujahideen against PDPA government), which war from December 1979 until 1989 is therefore also known as the Soviet–Afghan War.
After the Soviet invasion, December 1979, replacing one PDPA President for another PDPA President, the mujahideen proclaimed to be battling the hostile PDPA "puppet regime".
In March 1989, two mujahideen groups launched an attack on Jalalabad, instigated by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) who wanted to see a mujahideen Islamic government established in Afghanistan, but the attack failed after three months.
President Najibullah therefore tried to build support for his government by moving away from socialism to pan-Afghan nationalism, abolishing the one-party state, portraying his government as Islamic, and in 1990 removing all signs of communism.
From 1990 to September 2001, around 400,000 Afghans died in the internal mini-wars.
In March 1991, mujahideen forces attacked and conquered the city of Khost.
With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991 and the ending of Russian support, President Najibullah was left without foreign aid.
In 1992–95, Kabul was heavily bombarded and considerably destroyed, by Hezbi Islami, Jamiat, Junbish, Hizb-i-Wahdat, and Ittihad; in that period, half a million Kabuli fled to Pakistan.
In March 1992, President Najibullah agreed to step aside and make way for a mujahideen coalition government.
16 April 1992
On 16 April 1992, four Afghani government Generals ousted President Najibullah.
25 April 1992
This ignited war in Kabul on 25 April with rivalling groups Jamiat and Junbish in which soon two more mujahideen groups mingled; all groups except Jamiat were supported by an Islamic foreign government (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Uzbekistan) or intelligence agency (Pakistan's ISI).
In 1993–95, (sub-)commanders of Jamiat, Junbish, Hezbi Islami and Hizb-i-Wahdat descended to rape, murder and extortion.
Taliban, having grown stronger, in September 1996 attacked and occupied Kabul after Massoud and Hekmatyar had withdrawn their troops from Kabul.
In late September 1996, the Taliban, in control of Kabul and most of Afghanistan, proclaimed their Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
The Taliban defeated Dostum's forces during the Battles of Mazar-i-Sharif (1997–98).
According to Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) in 1998, "no other regime in the world has methodically and violently forced half of its Population into virtual house arrest, prohibiting them on pain of physical punishment from showing their faces, seeking medical care without a male escort, or attending school" The brutality of the Taliban's totalitarian regime was comparable to those of Stalin's Russia or the Khmer Rouge rule of Cambodia.
The last strong earthquakes were in 1998, which killed about 6,000 people in Badakhshan near Tajikistan.
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 since 2001 by the United States with NATO-allied countries.
By 2001 following years of civil war, telecommunications was virtually a non-existent sector, but by 2016 it had grown to a $2 billion industry, with 22 million mobile phone subscribers and 5 million internet users.
9 September 2001
On 9 September 2001, Massoud was assassinated by two Arab suicide attackers in Panjshir province of Afghanistan.
11 September 2001
Two days later, the September 11 attacks were carried out in the United States.
Instead, the US launched the October 2001 Operation Enduring Freedom.
In December 2001, after the Taliban government was overthrown in the Battle of Tora Bora, the Afghan Interim Administration under Hamid Karzai was formed, in which process the Taliban were typecast as 'the bad guys' and left out.
=== Recent history (2002–present) ===
In the decade following 2002, over five million Afghans were repatriated, including some who were deported from Western countries.
This was followed by the 2002 Hindu Kush earthquakes in which over 150 people were killed and over 1,000 injured.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) was established in 2002 in order to help the country recover from the decades of war and neglect.
Since 2002, press restrictions have been gradually relaxed and private media diversified.
Improvements to the business environment have resulted in more than $1.5 billion in telecom investment and created more than 100,000 jobs since 2003.
The 2004 Afghan presidential election was relatively peaceful, in which Hamid Karzai won in the first round with 55.4% of the votes.
Freedom of expression and the press is promoted in the 2004 constitution and censorship is banned, although defaming individuals or producing material contrary to the principles of Islam is prohibited.
In the 2005 parliamentary election, among the elected officials were former mujahideen, Islamic fundamentalists, warlords, communists, reformists, and several Taliban associates.
In 2010, US and Afghan government officials estimated that untapped mineral deposits located in 2007 by the US Geological Survey are worth at least $1 trillion.
In 2007, a 30-year lease was granted for the Aynak copper mine to the China Metallurgical Group for $3 billion, making it the biggest foreign investment and private business venture in Afghanistan's history.
It won the ACC Twenty20 Cup in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013.
By 2009, a Taliban-led shadow government began to form in parts of the country.
A number of government ministries are believed to be rife with corruption, and while then-President Karzai vowed to tackle the problem in 2009 by stating that "individuals who are involved in corruption will have no place in the government", top government officials were stealing and misusing hundreds of millions of dollars through the Kabul Bank.
However, the 2009 presidential election was characterized by lack of security, low voter turnout, and widespread electoral fraud.
Later that year, the country's cricket team followed as it won the 2009–10 ICC Intercontinental Cup.
The Afghan national cricket team, which was formed in the last decade, participated in the 2009 ICC World Cup Qualifier, 2010 ICC World Cricket League Division One and the 2010 ICC World Twenty20.
The vote, along with elections for 420 provincial council seats, took place in August 2009, but remained unresolved during a lengthy period of vote counting and fraud investigation.
7 November 2009
Two months later, under international pressure, a second round run-off vote between Karzai and remaining challenger Abdullah was announced, but a few days later Abdullah announced that he would not participate in 7 November run-off because his demands for changes in the electoral commission had not been met.
In 2010, President Karzai attempted to hold peace negotiations with the Taliban leaders, but the rebel group refused to attend until mid-2015 when the Taliban supreme leader finally decided to back the peace talks.
A 2010 earthquake left 11 Afghans dead, over 70 injured, and more than 2,000 houses destroyed.
In 2010, the United States began establishing a number of Lincoln learning centers in Afghanistan.
Its basketball team won the first team sports title at the 2010 South Asian Games.
A January 2010 report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime revealed that bribery consumed an amount equal to 23% of the GDP of the nation.
US Army ethnolinguistic map of Afghanistan -- circa 2001-09
For example, government revenues increased 31% to $1.7 billion from March 2010 to March 2011.
September 2010, January 2011
The last parliamentary election was held in September 2010, but due to disputes and investigation of fraud, the swearing-in ceremony took place in late January 2011.
In 2011, Afghanistan signed an oil exploration contract with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) for the development of three oil fields along the Amu Darya river in the north.
In a 2011 news story, the CSM reported, "The United States and other Western nations that have borne the brunt of the cost of the Afghan war have been conspicuously absent from the bidding process on Afghanistan's mineral deposits, leaving it mostly to regional powers."
After the May 2011 death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, many prominent Afghan figures were assassinated.
The national team has never competed or qualified for the FIFA World Cup, but has recently won an international football trophy in 2013.
The 2014 presidential election ended with Ashraf Ghani winning by 56.44% votes.
Telecommunications company Roshan is the largest private employer in the country as of 2014. Michael E.
15 January 2014
It has a continental climate with harsh winters in the central highlands, the glaciated northeast (around Nuristan), and the Wakhan Corridor, where the average temperature in January is below −15 °C (5 °F), and hot summers in the low-lying areas of the Sistan Basin of the southwest, the Jalalabad basin in the east, and the Turkestan plains along the Amu River in the north, where temperatures average over 35 °C (95 °F) in July.
28 December 2014
In September 2014 Ashraf Ghani became President after the 2014 presidential election where for the first time in Afghanistan's history power was democratically transferred. On 28 December 2014, NATO formally ended ISAF combat operations in Afghanistan and officially transferred full security responsibility to the Afghan government and the NATO-led Operation Resolute Support was formed the same day as a successor to ISAF.
According to Freedom of the Press as of 2015, Afghanistan is "partly free", whereas most countries in Asia are "not free".
The team eventually made it to play in the 2015 Cricket World Cup.
Afghanistan's economy is the world's 108th largest, with a GDP of $64.08 billion; the country fares much worse in terms of per-capita GDP (PPP), ranking 167th out of 186 countries in a 2016 report from the International Monetary Fund.
The population of Afghanistan was estimated at 29.2 million in 2017.
As of 2017, the country has three rail links, one a 75 kilometres (47 mi) line from Mazar-i-Sharif to the Uzbekistan border; a 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) long line from Toraghundi to the Turkmenistan border (where it continues as part of Turkmen Railways); and a short link from Aqina across the Turkmen border to Kerki, which is planned to be extended further across Afghanistan.
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