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Some middle-class persons and intellectuals have settled in the West. Many inhabitants are bilingual or trilingual, and all the major languages are spoken in the neighboring countries.

The official languages are Persian (officially called Dari) and Pashto; both belong to the Iranian group of the Indo-European linguistic family.

Pastoral nomadism, subsistence mountain agriculture, and irrigation are practiced.

At the end of the eighteenth century, Kabul became the capital.

An attempt to set up a parliamentary government after 1963 resulted in serious social troubles—leading to the seizure of power by the Communists in 1978, many of whom were young, recently urbanized, detribalized people seeking social advancement.

Within a few months the country was rebelling, and in 1979 the Soviet Union intervened militarily.

The demographic importance of the Pashtuns has decreased since 1978, because they have formed the majority of the refugee population in Pakistan.The experience of exile shared by millions of refugees may have given rise to a new national feeling. Afghanistan is a land-locked Asian country of 251,825 square miles (652,225 square kilometers) bordered by Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China.The topography is a mix of central highlands and peripheral foothills and plains. Summers are dry and hot, while winters are cold with heavy snowfall in the highlands.It is estimated that Pashtuns represent 38 percent of the population, principally in the southeast, south, and west, with some pockets in the north; they are divided between the Durrani and Ghilzay confederacies and among many tribes along the Pakistani border.The Tajiks (25 percent) live primarily in the northeast, the northwest, and the urban centers.

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