Kabul (Kābul) ( /ˈkɑːbəl/, /ˈkɑːbuːl/; Pashto: کابل Kābəl, ; Persian: کابل Kābol, ), also spelled Cabool, Caubul, Kabol, or Cabul, mostly in historical contexts, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. Kabul is the 5th fastest growing city in the world and the world's 64th largest city. It is also the capital of Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan. According to latest estimates, the population of the Kabul metropolitan area is over 4 million.
The city serves as the nation's cultural and learning centre, situated 1,791 metres (5,876 ft) above sea level in a narrow valley, wedged between the Hindu Kush mountains along the Kabul River. It is linked with Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-e Sharif via the circular Highway 1 that stretches across Afghanistan. It is also the start of the main road to Jalalabad and further to Peshawar. The Kabul International Airport is located about 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) from the center of the city, next to the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood. Bagram Airfield is about 40 kilometres (25 mi) northeast of Kabul.
Kabul's main products include fresh and dried fruit, nuts, Afghan rugs, leather and sheep skin products, furniture, antique replicas, and domestic clothes. The wars since 1978 have limited the city's economic productivity but after the establishment of the Karzai administration in late 2001 some progress has been made.
Kabul is over 3,500 years old; many empires have long fought over the valley for its strategic location along the trade routes of South and Central Asia. Between 1504 and 1526 AD, it served as the headquarters of Babur, builder of the Mughal Empire. It remained under the Delhi Sultanate until 1738, when Nader Shah and his Afsharid forces conquered the Mughal Empire. After the death of Nader Shah Afsharid in 1747, the city fell to Ahmad Shah Durrani, who added it to his new Afghan Empire. In 1776, Timur Shah Durrani made it the capital of the modern state of Afghanistan. It was invaded several times by the British-Indian forces during the Anglo-Afghan wars in the 19th century. After the outbreak of the Third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919, the city was air raided by the British Royal Air Force.
Since the Marxist revolution in 1978, the city has been a target of foreign-backed militant groups such as the Mujahideen, Taliban, Haqqani network, Hezbi Islami, and others. While the Afghan government tries to rebuild the war-torn city, insurgents have continued to stage attacks not only against the Afghan government and US-led NATO forces but also against foreign diplomats and Afghan civilians.