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The country has a population of 35 million, making it the 42nd most populous country in the world.Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east; Iran in the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north; and China in the far northeast - it also borders Gilgit-Baltistan in this region which is claimed by India.A series of coups in the late 1970s was followed by a series of wars that devastated much of Afghanistan which began when the country became a socialist state under the influence of the Soviet Union during the Soviet–Afghan War.Following the departure of the Soviet forces, the country became an Islamic state under the Peshawar Accord but much of its territory was later captured by the Islamic supremacist group the Taliban, who ruled the country as a totalitarian regime for almost five years.The root name "Afghan" was used historically in reference to a member of the ethnic Pashtuns, and the suffix "-stan" means "place of" in Persian and Hindi.Therefore, Afghanistan translates to land of the Afghans or, more specifically in a historical sense, to land of the Pashtuns.
Following the Third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919 the country was free of foreign influence, eventually becoming a monarchy under King Amanullah, and later for 40 years under Zahir Shah.
Following Alexander's brief occupation, the successor state of the Seleucid Empire controlled the region until 305 BCE, when they gave much of it to the Maurya Empire as part of an alliance treaty.
The Mauryans controlled the area south of the Hindu Kush until they were overthrown in about 185 BCE.
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, Soviet, and in the modern era by Western powers. The political history of the modern state of Afghanistan began with the Hotak and Durrani dynasties in the 18th century.
In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in the "Great Game" between British India and the Russian Empire.