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Elections in March 1991 gave the Communists a decisive majority. But a general strike and street demonstrations soon forced the all-Communist cabinet to resign. In June 1991, the Communist Party of Labor renamed itself the Socialist Party and renounced its past ideology. The opposition Democratic Party won a landslide victory in the 1992 elections, and Sali Berisha, a former

Ilir Meta, elected prime minister in 1999, rapidly moved forward in his first years to modernize the economy, privatize business, fight crime, and reform the judiciary and tax systems. He resigned in Jan. 2002, frustrated by political infighting. In June 2002, former general Alfred Moisiu was elected president, endorsed by both the Socialists (headed by Fatos Nano) and the

GeographyAlbania is situated on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea, with Montenegro and Serbia to the north, Macedonia to the east, and Greece to the south. Slightly larger than Maryland, Albania is composed of two major regions: a mountainous highland region (north, east, and south) constituting 70% of the land area, and a western coastal lowland region that contains

Total area: 250,000 sq mi (647,500 sq km) Population (2009 est.): 33,609,937 (growth rate: 2.6%); birth rate: 45.4/1000; infant mortality rate: 151.9/1000; life expectancy: 44.6; density per sq mi: 128 Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Kabul, 2,206,300 Other large cities: Kandahar, 349,300; Mazar-i-Sharif, 246,900; Charikar, 202,600; Herat, 171,500

Provincial and presidential elections were held on August 20, 2009, despite calls by the Taliban to boycott the elections and the militia's attendant threats to harm those who cast votes. Violence spiked in the days leading up to the elections. More than 30 candidates challenged incumbent Karzai, with Abdullah Abdullah as the most formidable contender. Abdullah, who served under Karzai as

The U.S. had 34,000 troops in Afghanistan during the summer of 2008, the highest level since 2005, but that was not enough to stem growing violence in the country or the resurgence of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Indeed, June 2008 was the deadliest month for U.S. and coalition troops since the American-led invasion began in 2001. Forty-six soldiers were killed; there were 31 U.S

The Taliban continued to attack U.S. troops throughout 2005 and 2006—the latter becoming the deadliest year for U.S. troops since the war ended in 2001. In 2004 and 2005, American troop levels in Afghanistan gradually increased to nearly 18,000 from a low of 10,000. Throughout the spring of 2006, Taliban militants—by then a force of several thousand—infiltrated southern

On Oct. 7, after the Taliban repeatedly and defiantly refused to turn over Bin Laden, the U.S. and its allies began daily air strikes against Afghan military installations and terrorist training camps. Five weeks later, with the help of U.S. air support, the Northern Alliance managed with breathtaking speed to take the key cities of Mazar-i-Sharif and Kabul, the capital. On

By mid-April 1992 Najibullah was ousted as Islamic rebels advanced on the capital. Almost immediately, the various rebel groups began fighting one another for control. Amid the chaos of competing factions, a group calling itself the Taliban—consisting of Islamic students—seized control of Kabul in Sept. 1996. It imposed harsh fundamentalist laws, including stoning for

During the cold war, King Mohammed Zahir Shah developed close ties with the Soviet Union, accepting extensive economic assistance from Moscow. He was deposed in 1973 by his cousin Mohammed Daoud, who proclaimed a republic. Daoud was killed in a 1978 coup, and Noor Taraki took power, setting up a Marxist regime. He, in turn, was executed in Sept. 1979, and Hafizullah


GeographyAfghanistan, approximately the size of Texas, is bordered on the north by Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, on the extreme northeast by China, on the east and south by Pakistan, and by Iran on the west. The country is split east to west by the Hindu Kush mountain range, rising in the east to heights of 24,000 ft (7,315 m). With the exception of the southwest,
 

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