The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is a landlocked country in South-Central Asia. It is variously described as being located within Central Asia, South Asia, or the Middle East. It is bordered by Iran in the west, Pakistan in the south and east, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far northeast.
Afghanistan has a long history, and has been an ancient focal point of the Silk Road and migration. It is an important geostrategic location, connecting East and West Asia or the Middle East. The land has been a target of various invaders, as well as a source from which local powers invaded neighboring regions to form their own empires. Ahmad Shah Durrani created the Durrani Empire in 1747, which is considered the beginning of modern Afghanistan. Its capital was shifted in 1776 from Kandahar to Kabul and most of its territories ceded to neighboring empires. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in "The Great Game" played between the British Empire and Russian Empire. On August 19, 1919, following the third Anglo-Afghan war, the country regained independence from the United Kingdom over its foreign affairs.
Since the late 1970s Afghanistan has experienced a continuous state of civil war punctuated by foreign occupations in the forms of the 1979 Soviet invasion and the October 2001 US-led invasion that overthrew the Taliban government. In December, 2001 the United Nations Security Council authorized the creation of an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to help maintain security and assist the Karzai administration. The country is being rebuilt slowly with support from the international community and dealing with a strong Taliban insurgency.