Afghanistan /æfˈɡænɨstæn/, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in Central Asia and South Asia. It has a population of around 30 million inhabiting an area of approximately 652,000 km2, making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world. It is bordered by Pakistan in the south and the east, Iran in the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far northeast.Afghanistan has been an ancient focal point of the Silk Road and human migration. Archaeologists have found evidence of human habitation from as far back as the Middle Paleolithic. Urban civilization may have begun in the area as early as 3,000 to 2,000 BC. Sitting at an important geostrategic location that connects the Middle East culture with Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, the land has been home to various peoples through the ages and witnessed many military campaigns, notably by Alexander the Great, Arab Muslims, Genghis Khan, and in modern-era Western forces. The land also served as a source from which the Kushans, Hephthalites, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Mughals, Durranis and others have risen to form major empires.The political history of the modern state of Afghanistan begins in 1709 with the rise of the Pashtuns - historically known as "Afghans" - when the Hotaki dynasty was established in Kandahar followed by the rise of the Durrani Empire in 1747. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in the "Great Game" between British India and the Russian Empire. Following the 1919 Anglo-Afghan War, King Amanullah began a European style modernization of the country but was stopped by ultra-conservatives. During the Cold War, after the withdrawal of the British from neighboring India in 1947, the United States and the Soviet Union began spreading influences in Afghanistan, which led in 1979 to a bloody war between the US-backed mujahideen forces and the Soviet-backed Afghan government in which over a million Afghans lost their lives. This was followed by a 1990s civil war, the rise and fall of the extremist Taliban government, and the 2001–present war. In December 2001, the United Nations Security Council authorized the creation of the International Security Assistance Force to help maintain security in Afghanistan and assist the Karzai administration.Three decades of war made Afghanistan one of the world's most dangerous countries. While the international community is rebuilding war-torn Afghanistan, terrorist groups such as the Haqqani Network and Hezbi Islami are actively involved in a nationwide Taliban-led insurgency, which includes hundreds of assassinations and suicide attacks. According to the United Nations, the insurgents were responsible for 80% of civilian casualties in 2011 and 2012. It suffers from several challenges, including being world's most corrupt country and is the World's largest source of refugees.