Afghanistan & the United Nations
Afghanistan & the United Nations


Modern history
The Afghan nation began to emerge in the late eighteenth century. It was ruled, with brief interruptions, by a succession of monarchs whose consolidation of power was constantly undermined by civil wars and foreign invasions. The current borders of Afghanistan were delineated in the nineteenth century, as a result of the “great game” rivalry between Russia and Britain. Britain exerted some influence over Afghan foreign policy from the late nineteenth century until the Third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919. Afghanistan joined the UN in 1946.

In 1973, King Zahir Shah was overthrown in a coup by his cousin and former Prime Minister, Muhammad Daud. Daud declared Afghanistan a republic, with himself as president, and the King went into exile in Italy.

Afghanistan, a mountainous country of approximately 652,000 square kilometres, shares borders with China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and a sector of the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir that is controlled by Pakistan. About half of its territory is more than 2,000 metres above sea level.

In 2000, the United Nations Population Fund estimated the population of Afghanistan at some 22.7 million (the most recent census was in 1979, when the population was reported to be about 15.5 million). The major languages are Pashto and Dari/Farsi.


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