Afghanistan is located in the heart of Central Asia. The country is officially named the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (Pashtu: D'Afghanistan Islami Jamhuriat; Dari: Jamhuriat-i Islami-i Afghanistan). 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 Sin Kiang of the People's Republic of China, at the end of Wakhan Corridor, in the extreme northeast. The capital of Afghanistan and its largest populated city is Kabul, which is located in the east-central part of the country at an altitude of about 5,900 feet (l800 meters). The city is connected by road to most Afghan provinces and neighboring countries to the north, south, east and west.
The current boundaries of Afghanistan were established in the late 19th century in the context of rivalry with Britain and Russia. Modern Afghanistan became a pawn in struggles over political ideology and commercial influence. In the late 20th century Afghanistan suffered ruinous effects of prolonged civil war (the 90's), invasion by the Soviet Union (1979), and Soviet military occupation (1979-89).

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