Historical Background of South & South East Asian Countries – 4

The history of Afghanistan, began in 1747 with its establishment by Ahmad Shah Durrani. The written recorded history of the land presently constituting Afghanistan can be traced back to around 500 BCE when the area was under the Achaemenid Empire, although evidence indicates that an advanced degree of urbanized culture has existed in the land since between 3000 and 2000 BCE. The Indus Valley Civilisation stretched up to large parts of Afghanistan in the north. Alexander the Great and his Macedonian army arrived at what is nowAfghanistan in 330 BCE after conquering Persia during the Battle of Gaugamela. Since then, many empires have established capitals inside Afghanistan, including the Greco-Bactrians, Mauryas, Kushans, Hindu Shahi, Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids,Ghurids, Timurids, Mughals, Hotakis and Durranis.
Afghanistan (meaning “land of the Afghans”) has been a strategically important location throughout history. The land served as “a gateway to India, impinging on the ancient Silk Road, which carried trade from the Mediterranean to China”. Sitting on many trade and migration routes, Afghanistan may be called the ‘Central Asian round about since routes converge from the Middle East, from the Indus Valley through the passes over the Hindu Kush, from the Far East via the Tarim Basin, and from the adjacent Eurasian Steppe.
The Iranian languages were developed by one branch of these people; the Pashto language spoken today in Afghanistan is one of the Eastern Iranian languages. Elena E. Kuzmina argues that the tents of Iranian-speaking nomads of Afghanistan developed from the light surface houses of the Eurasian steppe belt in the Bronze Age.
The Arab invasions influenced the culture of Afghanistan, and its pre-Islamic period of Zoroastrian, Macedonian, Buddhist and Hindu past has long vanished. Afghanistan is inhabited by many and diverse peoples such as the Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, Turkmen, Aimak, Baloch and others. The Pashtuns, believed to be descendants of Eastern Iranians, with 55% form the largest group, second are the Tajiks with 25%.