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.

The country has a population of 35 million, making it the 42nd most populous country in the world.

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It is a member of the United Nations, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Group of 77, the Economic Cooperation Organization, and the Non-Aligned Movement.

Afghanistan's economy is the world's 108th largest, with a GDP of $64.08 billion; the country fares much worse in terms of per-capita GDP (PPP), ranking 167th out of 186 countries in a 2016 report from the International Monetary Fund.‎) is believed to be as old as the ethnonym Afghan, which is documented in the 10th-century geography book Hudud ul-'alam.

An inscription on the tombstone of Darius I of Persia mentions the Kabul Valley in a list of the 29 countries that he had conquered.

Alexander the Great and his Macedonian forces arrived to Afghanistan in 330 BCE after defeating Darius III of Persia a year earlier in the Battle of Gaugamela.

A series of coups in the late 1970s was followed by a series of wars that devastated much of Afghanistan which began when the country became a socialist state under the influence of the Soviet Union during the Soviet–Afghan War.

Following the departure of the Soviet forces, the country became an Islamic state under the Peshawar Accord but much of its territory was later captured by the Islamic fundamentalist group the Taliban, who ruled most of the country as a totalitarian regime for almost five years.

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

An Indus Valley site has been found on the Oxus River at Shortugai in northern Afghanistan.

Its border with British India, the Durand Line, was formed in 1893 but it is not recognized by the Afghan government and it has led to strained relations with Pakistan since the latter's independence in 1947.