The material on Afghanistan in this document represents preliminary drafts of three chapters of the unpublished volume on Afghanistan in the Federal Research Division's Area Handbook/Country Studies Series. This volume was one of several books in the process of research and writing when funding for the Series was eliminated in 1998. Had it been published, the book would have superceded Afghanistan: A Country Study, fifth edition (1986). Chapter 1, Historical Setting, completed in 1995 by Craig Baxter, provides an historical overview of Afghanistan from the Pre-Islamic period through the period of Soviet intervention in the country, which ended in February 1989. Chapter 2, The Society and Its Environment, completed in 1997 by Nancy Hatch Dupree and Thomas E. Gouttierre, describes the Afghan natural and social environment, and includes, among other subjects, discussion of ethnic groups, religion, education, health, and the country's refugee problem. Chapter 4: Government and Politics, written by Richard S. Newell in 1997, provides additional historical background and analyzes the development of the Taliban regime and opposition to it.
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