Afghanistan is located in the heart of Central Asia. The country is officially named the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Pashtu: D’Afghanistan Islami Emarat). It has an area of some 251,825 square miles (652,225 square kilometers) and is completely landlocked. The nearest coast lying along the Arabian Sea is 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 border in the west separates Afghanistan from Iran. Afghanistan also has about 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, 50 miles, is with the Uighur Autonomous Region of Sinkiang of the People’s Republic of China, at the end of Vakhan (Wakhan Corridor), in the extreme northeast. The capital of Afghanistan and its largest populated cityis Kabul, which is located in the east-central part of the country at an altitude of about 5,900 feet (l,800 meters). The city is connected by road to most Afghan provinces and neighboring countries to the north and east.
Darius I and Alexander the Great were the first to use Afghanistan as the gateway to India. Islamic conquerors arrived in the 7th century, and Genghis Khan and Tamerlane followed in the 13th and 14th centuries.
In the 19th century, Afghanistan became a battleground in the rivalry between imperial Britain and czarist Russia for control of Central Asia. Three Anglo-Afghan wars (1839–1842, 1878–1880, and 1919) ended inconclusively. In 1893 Britain established an unofficial border, the Durand Line, separating Afghanistan from British India, and London granted full independence in 1919. Emir Amanullah founded an Afghan monarchy in 1926.