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The Taliban was forcibly removed by the NATO-led coalition, and a new pro-Western, democratically-elected government political structure was formed.Afghanistan is a unitary presidential Islamic republic with a population of 35 million, mostly composed of ethnic Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks.Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east; Iran in the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north; and in the far northeast, China and the Pakistani-administered Gilgit-Baltistan which is claimed by India.

However, the modern Constitution of Afghanistan states that "[t]he word Afghan shall apply to every citizen of Afghanistan." Excavations of prehistoric sites by Louis Dupree and others suggest that humans were living in what is now Afghanistan at least 50,000 years ago, and that farming communities in the area were among the earliest in the world.

An important site of early historical activities, many believe that Afghanistan compares to Egypt in terms of the historical value of its archaeological sites.

After 2000 BCE, successive waves of semi-nomadic people from Central Asia began moving south into Afghanistan; among them were many Indo-European-speaking Indo-Iranians.

These tribes later migrated further into South Asia, Western Asia, and toward Europe via the area north of the Caspian Sea. The religion Zoroastrianism is believed by some to have originated in what is now Afghanistan between 1800 and 800 BCE, as its founder Zoroaster is thought to have lived and died in Balkh.

The country sits at a unique nexus point where numerous civilizations have interacted and often fought.

It has been home to various peoples through the ages, among them the ancient Iranian peoples who established the dominant role of Indo-Iranian languages in the region.

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.

At multiple points, the land has been incorporated within large regional empires, among them the Achaemenid Empire, the Macedonian Empire, the Indian Maurya Empire, and the Islamic Empire.

Many empires and kingdoms have also risen to power in Afghanistan, such as the Greco-Bactrians, Kushans, Hephthalites, Kabul Shahis, Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Khaljis, Kartids, Timurids, Mughals, and finally the Hotak and Durrani dynasties that marked the political origins of the modern state.

In more detail, it extended from what today is northwest Pakistan to northwest India and northeast Afghanistan.

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