Its territory covers 652,000 km (252,000 sq mi), making it the 41st largest country in the world.
Human habitation in Afghanistan dates back to the Middle Paleolithic Era, and the country's strategic location along the Silk Road connected it to the cultures of the Middle East and other parts of Asia.
Through the ages the land has been home to various peoples and witnessed numerous military campaigns; notably by Alexander the Great, Mauryas, Muslim Arabs, Mongols, British, Soviet, and in the modern-era by Western powers.
The land also served as the source from which the Kushans, Hephthalites, Samanids, Saffarids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Khiljis, Mughals, Hotaks, Durranis, and others have risen to form major empires.
Therefore, Afghanistan translates to land of the Afghans or, more specifically in a historical sense, to land of the Pashtuns.However, the modern Constitution of Afghanistan states that "[t]he word Afghan shall apply to every citizen of Afghanistan." Excavations of prehistoric sites by Louis Dupree and others suggest that humans were living in what is now Afghanistan at least 50,000 years ago, and that farming communities in the area were among the earliest in the world.