The written history of Afghanistan can be traced back to around 500 BC when the area was under the Achaemenid Empire,[1][2] although evidence indicates that an advanced degree of urbanized culture has existed in the land since between 3000 and 2000 BC.[3][4][5] Alexander the Great and his Macedonian army arrived in what is now Afghanistan in 330 BC after conquering Persia during the Battle of Gaugamela.[6] Many powerful kingdoms have established their capitals inside the modern state of Afghanistan, including the Greco-Bactrians, Mauryas, Kushans, Kabul Shahi, Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Timurids, Mughals, Hotakis, Durranis and others.[7]

Afghanistan (meaning “land of the Afghans”) has been a strategic important location throughout the history.[8] The land served as “a gateway to India, impinging on the ancient Silk Road, which carried trade from the Mediterranean to China”.[9] Sitting on many trade and migration routes, Afghanistan may be called the ‘Central Asian roundabout’[10] since routes converge from the Middle East, from the Indus Valley through the passes over the Hindu Kush, from the Far East via the Tarim Basin, and from the adjacent Eurasian Steppe.

Afghan people called the Aryans from Central Asia[5] arrived in Afghanistan after the 20th century BC,[3] who left their languages that survived in the form of Pashto and Dari.[2][11] The Arab invasions influenced the culture of Afghanistan, as its Zoroastrian, Macedonian and Buddhist past has long vanished. Local empire-builders such as the Ghaznavids, Ghurids and Timurids made Afghanistan a major medieval power as well as a learning center that produced the likes of Avicenna, Al-Biruni, and Rumi, among many other academic or iconic figures.[12]

Mirwais Hotak followed by Ahmad Shah Durrani unified Afghan tribes and founded the last Afghan Empire in the early 18th century.[13][14][15][16][17] Afghanistan’s sovereignty has been held during the Anglo-Afghan Wars, the 1980s Soviet war, and the 2001-present war by the country’s many and diverse people: the Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, Turkmen, Aimak, Baloch, and others. The Pashtuns form the largest group, claiming to be descendants of ancient Israelites or Qais Abdur Rashid but scholars believe that they are a confederation of various peoples from the past who united under Pashtunwali.

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