Afghanistan was one of the British protectorates at the onset of the 20th century. The history of modern-day Afghanistan, however, goes way back to the mid-16th century when Ahmad Shah Durrani established it as a state. There are also written records that can be traced as far back as 500 BCE. During this time the area was under the influence of the First Persian Empire. Additional archaeological evidence also shows that the area occupied by Afghanistan today had urbanized settlements between 3000 BCE and 2000 BCE. The establishment of present-day Afghanistan is however attributed to the signing of the Anglo-Afghan Treaty of the year 1919 which released Afghanistan from British influence.
Geographic Location of Afghanistan
Afghanistan is a landlocked country found within South and Central Asia. It has a variety of physical relief features ranging from vast plains in the north and southwest to mountain ranges primarily in the central region. The highest point in the country is Noshaq rising to 24,580 feet above sea level. Afghanistan shares borders with six countries: Iran to the west, China to the far northeast, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan to the north, and Pakistan to the south and east.
Strategic Location of Afghanistan
The name Afghanistan means ‘land of the Afghans.’ The region occupied by the country has been strategically important throughout history. Afghanistan was a key point on the ancient Silk Road. This location was considered to be a gateway to India and the Mediterranean. This vibrant trade route was one of the elements that facilitated the thriving of Afghanistan. Other trade routes converged at Afghanistan originating from the Middle East, the Far East, and the Indus Valley with passes over the Hindu Kush. Afghanistan has therefore been referred to as the Central Asia Roundabout due to the multiple trade routes meeting in its territory.
The defeat of Britain in the First Anglo-Afghan War between 1839 and 1842 led to the taking of British prisoners of war by Afghan troupes. The Second Anglo-Afghan War began after British forces conducted a special mission to rescue these prisoners. During the second war, the British were first defeated but earned victory later at the Battle of Kandahar. Abdur Rahman Khan was installed as the new emir. It is during the second war that Afghanistan came under the British following negotiations made between the two forces.
Independence from Britain
With a new emir in power, the British-Afghan relations became friendly. The British were promised that they would be granted control of the country’s foreign affairs. In exchange, Britain would provide protection against Persian and Russian forces, total withdrawal of their forces from Afghanistan and large sums of money. Britain was not given control of the foreign affairs, and the rising tension sparked the Third Anglo-Afghan War of 1919 and the signing and adopting the treaty of Anglo-Afghan. This agreement allowed Afghanistan to regain its independence from Britain. It was however not until 1921 that Britain fully surrendered control of Afghan foreign affairs. On August 19, Afghanistan celebrates Independence Day in commemoration of the treaty and the relinquishing its state as a protectorate.
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