A landlocked country of southwest-central Asia. Frequently dominated since ancient times by foreign empires, Afghanistan gained full independence only in 1919. The USSR invaded in 1979 but met fierce resistance from Afghan insurgents and withdrew its troops in 1989. The resulting power vacuum led to the rise of the Taliban, which established strict Islamic rule over most of the country. The Taliban was overthrown by a US-led invasion in 2001 that set up a pro-Western government, although armed resistance continued in many parts of the country. Kabul is the capital and the largest city.