How centuries of strife shaped modern Afghanistan
The South Asian country’s boundaries tell the story of war, diplomacy, geopolitical rivalries, and foreign incursions.
Twenty years after a U.S.-led coalition ousted the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, the resurgent militants have regained control of the country in a lightning offensive that has stunned the watching world. But the Taliban takeover is only the latest upheaval in a series of conflicts dating back nearly three centuries.
Landlocked and surrounded by mountains, deserts, and competing empires, Afghanistan has been shaped by war and diplomacy since the Afghan Empire was founded in 1747—the year Ahmad Shah Durrani, a Pashtun leader, consolidated rival Afghan tribes.
During the late 19th century, Russia and Great Britain competed for control over Afghanistan in a geopolitical struggle known as the Great Game. After fighting three wars to counter Russian expansion, the British withdrew in