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Afghanistan is a landlocked country in central Asia. It is bordered by Iran, Pakistan, the People's Republic of China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The capital city is Kabul and other major cities are Kandahar, Mazar e Sharif and Herat.
The population is a diverse mix. The largest group is the Pashtuns, but there are also large minorities of Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turkmen and Hazaras as well as many minor groups. The dominant religion is Islam, with most Afghans being Sunni Muslims. The Hazaras are an exception, being Shias. Other religious minorities are tiny. Afghan society is dominated by Islamic Sharia law as well as a tribal code known as Pashtunwali.
Since 2001 Afghanistan has been occupied by the multinational, NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). There is an ongoing insurgency involving the Taliban, the Haqqani network, Al Qaida and a number of other Islamist and nationalist groups, which is being combated by ISAF and the Afghan National Security Forces.
Afghanistan's economy is weak and not very advanced. Most people are subsistence farmers, who grow their own food and trade any surplus at local markets. Debt is a major problem in small villages and is usually passed from father to son.
Modern manufacturing is almost non-existent. There is a Coca-Cola franchise with a modern bottling plant in Kabul and some simple light industry, mostly making pressure cookers, but most manufacture is by hand. Afghanistan has few exports except for raw materials. Local products include lapis lazuli jewellery, wooden ornaments and very high quality hand-made carpets.