Afghanistan (Pashto/Dari: افغانستان, Pashto: Afġānistān, Dari: Afġānestān ), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in South-Central Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east; Iran in the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north; and in the far northeast, China. Its territory covers 652,000 km2 and much of it is covered by the Hindu Kush mountain range, which experiences very cold winters. The north consists of fertile plains, while the south-west consists of deserts where temperatures can get very hot in summers. Kabul serves as the capital and its largest city.
Human habitation in Afghanistan dates back to the Middle Paleolithic Era, and the country's strategic location along the Silk Road connected it to the cultures of the Middle East and other parts of Asia. The land has historically been home to various peoples and has witnessed numerous military campaigns, including those by Alexander the Great, Mauryas, Muslim Arabs, Mongols, British, Soviets, and since 2001 by the United States with NATO-allied countries. It has been called "unconquerable" and nicknamed the "graveyard of empires". The land also served as the source from which the Kushans, Hephthalites, Samanids, Saffarids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Khaljis, Mughals, Hotaks, Durranis, and others have risen to form major empires.
Kyrgyzstan (Кыргызстан Kırğızstan ; Киргизия or Кыргызстан ), officially the Kyrgyz Republic (Кыргыз Республикасы; ), and also known as Kirghizia, is a country in Central Asia. Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country with mountainous terrain. It is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west and southwest, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east. Its capital and largest city is Bishkek.
Kyrgyzstan's recorded history spans over 2,000 years, encompassing a variety of cultures and empires. Although geographically isolated by its highly mountainous terrain, which has helped preserve its ancient culture, Kyrgyzstan has been at the crossroads of several great civilizations as part of the Silk Road and other commercial and cultural routes. Though long inhabited by a succession of independent tribes and clans, Kyrgyzstan has periodically fallen under foreign domination and attained sovereignty as a nation-state only after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Turkmenistan ( or ; Türkmenistan, ), formerly known as Turkmenia, officially the Republic of Turkmenistan, is a country in Central Asia, bordered by Kazakhstan to the northwest, Uzbekistan to the north and east, Afghanistan to the southeast, Iran to the south and southwest, and the Caspian Sea to the west. Ashgabat is the capital and largest city. The population of the country is 5.6 million, the lowest of the Central Asian republics and one of the most sparsely populated in Asia.
Turkmenistan has been at the crossroads of civilizations for centuries. In medieval times, Merv was one of the great cities of the Islamic world and an important stop on the Silk Road, a caravan route used for trade with China until the mid-15th century. Annexed by the Russian Empire in 1881, Turkmenistan later figured prominently in the anti-Bolshevik movement in Central Asia. In 1925, Turkmenistan became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic (Turkmen SSR); it became independent upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Uzbekistan (,, Ўзбекистон/Oʻzbekistonofficially also the Republic of Uzbekistan (Oʻzbekiston Respublikasi), is a landlocked country—the only doubly landlocked one (i.e. surrounded solely by other landlocked countries)—in Central Asia and one of only two anywhere in the world (the other being Liechtenstein). The sovereign state is a secular, unitary constitutional republic, comprising 12 provinces, one autonomous republic, and a capital city. Uzbekistan is bordered by five landlocked countries: Kazakhstan to the north; Kyrgyzstan to the northeast; Tajikistan to the southeast; Afghanistan to the south; and Turkmenistan to the southwest.
What is now Uzbekistan was in ancient times part of the Iranian-speaking region of Transoxiana and Turan. The first recorded settlers were Eastern Iranian nomads, known as Scythians, who founded kingdoms in Khwarezm (8th–6th centuries BC), Bactria (8th–6th centuries BC), Sogdia (8th–6th centuries BC), Fergana (3rd century BC – 6th century AD), and Margiana (3rd century BC – 6th century AD). The area was incorporated into the Persian Empire and, after a period of Macedonian Greek rule, was ruled mostly by Persian dynasties. The Muslim conquest in the 7th century converted the majority of the population, including the local ruling classes, into adherents of Islam. During this period, cities such as Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara began to grow rich from the Silk Road. The local Khwarezmian dynasty, and Central Asia as a whole, were decimated by the Mongol invasion in the 13th century. After the Mongol Conquests, the area became increasingly dominated by Turkic peoples. The city of Shahrisabz was the birthplace of the Turco-Mongol warlord Timur, also known as one of Genghis Khan's grandchildren, who in the 14th century established the Timurid Empire and was proclaimed the Supreme Emir of Turan with his capital in Samarkand. The area was conquered by Uzbek Shaybanids in the 16th century, moving the centre of power from Samarkand to Bukhara. The region was split into three states: Khanate of Khiva, Khanate of Kokand, and Emirate of Bukhara. It was gradually incorporated into the Russian Empire during the 19th century, with Tashkent becoming the political center of Russian Turkestan. In 1924, after national delimitation, the constituent republic of the Soviet Union known as the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic was created. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, it declared independence as the Republic of Uzbekistan on 31 August 1991.