AFGHANISTAN

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AFGHANISTAN, or AFGHAUNISTAUN, the country of the Afghans, or Cabulists, also called the kingdom of the Abdallians, contains 350,000 square miles, is bounded on the north, towards Budukshan, by mount HindooKoh and Paropamisus ; on the east, towards Hindostan, by the Indus and mount Solomon; on the south, by the vale of Bolahn and the mountains near Sistan; on the west, towards Iran, by the great desert. The HindooKoh is a continuation of the Himalaya; many ranges run in all directions from the Paropamisus and mount Solomon. The Indus is the principal river. The atmosphere is dry and healthy, and some of the valleys are very fertile. The untilled portions serve as pastures for cattle. It abounds in silver, lead, iron, sulphur, lapis lazuli, cotton, horses, asses, dromedaries, camels, oxen, sheep with fat tails, goats, &c, and contains, also, several species of carnivorous animals. Of the 14,000,000 of inhabitants, 4,300,000 are Afghans, and 5,700,000 are Hindoos; the remaining part consists of Tadshicks (descendants of the ancient Persians), with Tartars and Belooches. Their religion is that of Mahomet. Besides the capital, Cabul, which contains 80,000 inhabitants, there are other important cities; as Candahar, a fortress and commercial place, of 100,000 inhabitants ; Peshawur, or Peshour, of 100,000 inhabitants, &c.; Bulkh, or Balk (the ancient Bactria, now inhabited by Usbecks), and Cashmere. These are almost independent cities on the frontiers. The king is of the house of Saddosei; the throne is hereditary, but limited by the power of the chiefs of the tribes. The British couriers and travellers, who are going to Bagdad, generally prefer the way by Cabul. In consequence of the influence of the English over the people of A., the Persian court at Tehraun is subjected to an unwilling dependence on the East India company, which acts as protector of Persia and of A., and has contributed much to the preservation of peace between the two nations, as far as the aristocratic character of the government of A. admits. Private quarrels, however, frequently happen between the Persian governors and the chiefs of A. The great influence of the English in the East, over the nations of the Lower Indus (seiks), is continually exerted to prevent these pow erful nations from weakening one another by wars, with a view of advancing the commercial interests of the English company, and of providing a bulwark against the progress of the Russian conquests beyond the Caucasus, in Lower Persia, in Armenia, and on the Caspian sea. But, in spite of these precautions, the rajah of Lahore, Rungeet Singh, has usurped the throne of Cabul, in A., and, to brave the British, has taken many Russians into his service. The Russians trade with the Afghans by way of Bucharia.