The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is a landlocked country in South-Central Asia. It is variously described as being located within South Asia, Central Asia, and Western Asia (or the Middle East). It is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east, Iran in the west Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far northeast.
Afghanistan means "land of the Afghans" and has a very long history, which has been an ancient focal point of the Silk Road and human migration. It is an important geostrategic location, connecting East, South, West and Central Asia. The land has been a target of various invaders from at least the time of Alexander the Great in 330 BC and a source from which local powers rose to form powerful empires such as the Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Timurids, Mughals, Hotakis and others. Ahmad Shah Durrani created the Durrani Empire in 1747, which is considered the beginning of modern Afghanistan. Its capital was shifted in 1776 from Kandahar to Kabul and most of its territories ceded to neighboring empires. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in "The Great Game" played between the British and Russian empires. On August 19, 1919, following the third Anglo-Afghan war, the country regained independence from the United Kingdom over its foreign affairs.
Since the late 1970s Afghanistan has experienced a continuous state of civil war punctuated by foreign occupations in the forms of the 1979 Soviet invasion and the October 2001 US-led invasion that overthrew the Taliban government. In December 2001, the United Nations Security Council authorized the creation of an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to help maintain security and assist the Karzai administration. The country is being rebuilt slowly with support from the international community and dealing with a strong Taliban insurgency.