Afghanistan (; Pashto/Dari: , Pashto: Afnist?n [avnis't?n, ab-], Dari: Afnest?n [avnes't?n]), 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 in the far northeast, China. 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.