A mountainous landlocked republic in central Asia; population 32,500,000 (2015 estimate); capital, Kabul; official languages, Pashto and Dari (the local form of Persian).
Part of the Indian Mogul empire, Afghanistan became independent in the mid 18th century, and in the 19th and early 20th centuries was a focal point for conflicting Russian and British interests on the North-West Frontier. Afghanistan was invaded by the Soviet Union in 1979; after Soviet forces withdrew in 1988–9 the country was thrown into turmoil with various Islamic groups struggling for power. In 1996 the Taliban gained control of Kabul and set up an Islamic state: this was overthrown in 2001 by US-led forces in conjunction with Afghan groups following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 11 September 2001. A new government was formed, but instability continued in many areas of the country