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Afghanistan Information - Page 2
History
Afghanistan has been inhabited since the Stone Age and is one of the centres of early human settlement. It is thought that the city of Kabul was founded between 2000 and 1500 BC.

Over the centuries "Afghanistan" has been under the control of many different empires. They have included those of Persia, Alexander of Macedon, the Arabs, the Turks, Genghis Khan and the Timurids.

Afghanistan became an independent kingdom in the mid-eighteenth century. However, in the nineteenth century the British sought to extend influence to Afghanistan; two Anglo-Afghan wars were fought. Although Afghanistan remained at the helm of its internal government the country's foreign policy came under the control of the British. After the First World War, a third war against the British finally achieved independence for Afghanistan.

Over the decades there were periods of instability and power struggles. In 1973, Afghanistan became a republic following a coup led by Mohammed Daud. Another coup in 1978 put a communist government in power but opposition led to invasion by the USSR. Soviet occupation provoked continued resistance from freedom fighters known as the Mujahidin and in 1989 Soviet troops left Afghanistan.

In 1992 the Mujahidin declared Afghanistan an Islamic state and remained in control of the country until 1996 when the Taliban, a militant Islamic organisation, seized power.

Attacks on the US on 11 September 2001 led to the downfall of the Taliban. Taliban leaders refused to extradite Osama Bin Laden, wanted in connection with the terrorist attacks, and the US, Britain and their Allies invaded Afghanistan. Following the war, Afghanistan became the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan.

Economy
For over two decades Afghanistan's economy has suffered from wars. Severe drought (1998-2002) and the 1998 earthquake added to the country's difficulties. Investment is needed in the country's infrastructure.

The agricultural sector provides employment for a large percentage of the population. Agricultural products include wheat, almonds, walnuts, fruit and opium. Karakul sheep are reared and wool is an important export.

Industry is based on agricultural products and resources such as natural gas, coal and copper. Industries also includes cement, fertilizer, soap, furniture, shoes, textiles and handwoven carpets. (2009)

Arts
Afghanistan is well known for its decorative arts, especially the tile work that adorns many religious and public buildings. The Minaret of Jam, a World Heritage site, is famous for its lace-like brickwork. The Minaret dates back to the twelfth century and is an excellent example of Islamic architecture and decorative design.

Afghanistan shares its love of poetry with neighbouring Iran (Persia). Both countries revere the work of Ferdowsi, the author of Shahnameh - Book of Kings - written in 1010. Kaushal Khan Khattak, who lived in the seventeenth century, was an important Pashtu poet who also wrote on subjects such as medicine and philosophy.

Sport
The traditional game of Buzkachi is played on horseback. Many players take part and the aim is to score points using the carcass of a goat rather than a ball. Buzkachi is also popular in surrounding countries such as Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Holidays
Islamic holy days are celebrated. Other days commemorated include Independence Day (19 August 1919).

News
News from Afghanistan is available from Newslink.

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