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In the nineteenth century Afghanistan emerged as a buffer state between the contending British Indian and tsarist Russian colonial empires. This overwhelmingly Muslim (more than 99 percent), landlocked nation covers an area of 647,500 square kilometers consisting primarily of rugged mountains, deep valleys, deserts, and arid plateaus. Situated in the heart ofAsia, it has been an important crossroads for diverse peoples and'their cultural and religious traditions. Neither the actual size nor the ...more

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