The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Many people are aware of the recent wars in Afghanistan, but some might not know about this country's wildlife, people, and history.

Wars, hunting practices, and years of drought have made Afghanistan a dangerous place for wildlife. For example, snow leopards of the frigid Hindu Kush Mountains in Pakistan and Afghanistan are hunted for their thick fur. Like the bear and wolf populations in Afghanistan, the snow leopard is now endangered.

In addition to wildlife, Afghanistan also has a diverse human population. Approximately 15 million people, nearly half of the country's total population, are Pashtuns.

This group came to the country about 3,200 years ago. Afghanistan is also populated by the Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazaras.

Located in Central Asia, Afghanistan was settled around 7000 B.C.E. Alexander the Great conquered the country and brought Greek language and culture to it in 330 B.C.E. Genghis Khan's Mongols invaded the region in the 13th century. Centuries later in 1747, Pashtun elders held a meeting called Loya Jirga and created the kingdom of the Afghans. Following three wars with the British in the 19th and 20th centuries, the Afghans triumphed and created an independent monarchy in 1921. The people of Afghanistan elected their first president, Hamid Karzai, in 2004.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the United States joined an international coalition and invaded Afghanistan in an attempt to find Osama bin Laden and remove the Taliban from power. While many know the country only in this light, it is clear that Afghanistan has a rich culture and history.

[Source: National Geographic Kids]

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