Afghanistan is a landlocked country located in south-central Asia. The country is 249,935 square miles in area (647,500 square kilometers), which is slightly smaller than the state of Texas. Afghanistan is bordered by Iran in the west, Pakistan in the south and east, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far northeast. The country is mountainous, with plains in the north and southwest. The highest point is Mount Nowshak, at 24,557 feet (7,485 meters) above sea level.
Afghanistan forms a crossroads between the East and West and has been an ancient focal point of migration and trade. Because of Afghanistan’s central location connecting South and Central Asia and the Middle East, the country has long held strategic importance and has been the target of various invaders and conquerors, as well as a path through which local powers invaded surrounding regions to form their own empires.
The climate varies considerably by region and tends to change rapidly. Large parts of the country are dry, and fresh water supplies are limited. The Sistan Basin is one of the driest regions in the world. Winters are severe in the central highlands, the glacierized northeast (around Nuristan), and the Wakhan Corridor, where the average January temperature is below 5°F (-15°C). Summers are especially hot in the low-lying areas of Sistan Basin in the southwest, the Jalalabad basin in the east, and the Turkistan plains along the Amu River in the north, where temperatures average over 95°F (35°C) in July. For current weather conditions in Afghanistan, click here.
The country frequently experiences minor earthquakes, mainly in the mountainous areas northeast of the Hindu Kush mountain range. Approximately 125 villages were damaged and 4,000 people killed by an earthquake on May 30, 1998.
The capital of Afghanistan is Kabul, with a population of approximately of 3.1 million. The capital city is more than 3,000 years old.
The country's natural resources include gold, silver, copper, zinc, and iron ore in the southeast; precious and semi-precious stones (such as lapis, emerald, and azure) in the northeast; and potentially significant petroleum and natural gas reserves in the north. The country also has uranium, coal, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, and salt. However, many of these mineral and energy resources have not yet been tapped.
Sources: US Department of State; CIA World Factbook; United Nations; Embassy of Afghanistan, Washington DC; Wikipedia.