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The written record of ancient Afghanistan can be traced back to around 500 BCE, although there is evidence of an advanced civilisation existing there since around 2000 BCE.  

Colonial powers long sought to control Afghanistan due to its strategic location between Russia, Central Asia, the Middle East and South Asia. While they never succeeded, the country’s modern history is defined by colonial interests. 

In the last 500 years the country has been invaded by over 5 different empires or states. This includes the Turkish-Mongol-Indian Mughal Dynasty and the Persian Safavid Dynasty. The British Empire invaded many times, leading to three Anglo-Afghan Wars. The Soviet Union invaded in 1979 after the fall of the communist government. Most recently, the United States invaded following the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Australian troops deployed in support of this effort. 

There have also been many civil conflicts. Most resulted from coups, supported by countries who feel they have a stake in the territory, and from strict social doctrine.  

Talks are ongoing with the Taliban to bring about peace in the war-torn country. Explosive devices, militant factions and political struggles continue to endanger the lives of locals. Armed Forces from the United Nations, the US, and Australia are still present in the region, however the US and Australia have announced they will withdraw troops by September 2021. 

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Reviewed 22 April 2021

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