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Afghanistan

country soviet overthrown mohammed

Afghanistan, land-locked country in central Asia.

Land and climate

The high rugged mountains of the Hindu Kush cover three quarters of the country. The winters are extremely cold (as low as 15°F/−9°C) and the summers extremely hot (up to 120°F/49°C). There is very little rainfall, but the Hindu Kush is a major watershed containing fertile river valleys.

People

The majority of the people live in the fertile mountain valleys. About 2.5 million are nomadic. Islam is the most important factor in the everyday life of the country. The two principal languages are Pashtu and Dari.

Economy

Less than 15% of the country is good for cultivation. Main crops are wheat, corn, barley, rice, and fruits. Sheep are also raised. Fruits, wool, skins, and various handicrafts are important sources of foreign exchange. Coal and salt have been mined for some years, and the country has long been famous for its lapis lazuli. Iron ore is plentiful, and vast deposits of natural gas have been exploited. The lack of an infrastructure is a major obstacle to economic development; there are few paved roads, and there is no railroad.

History

Afghanistan was conquered by Alexander the Great in 330 B.C. and thrived as the Kingdom of Bactria (250–150 B.C.). The Arabs conquered Afghanistan in the 7th century, and Islam took root. Genghis Khan and Tamerlane invaded, and Babur (1143–1530) used Kabul as his base for establishing the Mogul Empire in India. Afghanistan became a united state under Ahmed Shah in 1747. Amanullah (1919–29) seized control of foreign policy from the British, began modernizing, and proclaimed a monarchy in 1926. The last king, Mohammed Zahir Shah, was overthrown in 1973 by Lt. Gen. Sardar Mohammed Daud Khan, who became president and prime minister of the new republic. Daud was overthrown in 1978 and replaced by the pro-Soviet government of Noor Mohammed Taraki. Taraki was overthrown by Hafi-zullah Amon, who was in turn overthrown by Babrak Karmal. In December 1979, 100,000 Soviet troops invaded. In 1979 Soviet troops invadede Afghanistan in order to contain the rebellion. Despite the withdrawal of the Soviet troops in 1989 and various steps towards a transition to a new government the fighting continued into the 1990s. At the end of the 1990s the Taliban (radical-islamic militia) was almost entirely in control of the country. Taliban laws and regulations made it difficult for the European Union to provide aid, and as a result this aid was discontinued in July 1998.

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