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Afghanistan is a landlocked country in central Asia with an area of 251,772 square miles and a population of 29.9 million (2005 estimate). Important cities include Kabul, the capital, Kandahar, Herat, and Mazar-i Sharif. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and by China on the narrow Wakhan Corridor (a relic of the Great Game). High mountains and deserts dominate the landscape, with narrow river valleys providing most of the arable land. The largest agricultural region, irrigated by the Kunduz River, is in the north around the cities of Kunduz and Taloqan.

Socially, Afghanistan is comprised of many ethnic groups, the largest of which are the Pashtun, Tajiks, Hazara, and Uzbeks. The Pashtun and Tajiks speak distantly related Iranian-based languages. The Hazara, though believed ...

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