| A good place to start for a basic rundown of the France-sized country is the CIA World Factbook.
Go to Afghanpedia for a deeper treatment, including the history of the Muslim country from the sixth century B.C. to the present. Afghanistan Online and Afghana are also good resources.
Sites compiling news stories about the country include Afghan News, the Afghan News Network and Afgha, which features over 100 video and radio reports.
Additionally, Azadi Afghan Radio features an audio library of interviews with prominent Afghan scholars, a few of which are in English. For underground radio of opposition groups broadcasting from Afghanistan, click on ClandestineRadio.com.
For more political discussion, surf over to the Institute for Afghan Studies, a nonprofit think tank featuring analysis by Afghan scholars.
The human rights abuses of the Taliban are well documented by Amnesty International and the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan.
The Taliban have also targeted the country's ethnic minorities, especially the Hazara. These images by photojournalist Ilkka Uimonen document the plight of the Hazara, who live in Afghanistan's central highlands. More information on the demographics of the country's ethnic groups can be found on the Afghan Network.
There are almost 50 languages spoken in Afghanistan, where the life expectancy is a mere 46 years.
It seems hard to believe now, but the county was once famous for its hospitality to backpackers and quality hashish, according to Lonely Planet.
Here's another interesting tidbit: The national sport of Afghanistan, Buzkashi, is a Polo-like game where horsemen vie for control of a dead goat. The game is said to date back to the time of Genghis Kahn, when Mongolian fighters swept through villages on horseback, pillaging livestock at full gallop.
The University of Texas has gathered a comprehensive list of maps, including the layout of major cities and satellite images of a military camp where Taliban soldiers are allegedly trained in biochemical warfare.
Or you could stay comfortably seated in front of your computer and take a virtual trip instead. This travelogue by professional photographer Luke Powell as well as dozens of pictures by photojournalist A. Raffaele Ciriello give some insight into the daily realities of the Afghan people.
And this series of photos from the mid-70s show what the country was like before the 20-year civil war began and the Taliban came to power.
Curious about Afghan popular culture? For traditional and contemporary music, check out AfghanSongs.com or Radio Afghanistan, which features topical songs such as wedding marches and includes an introduction into Afghan music history.
For the literary scene, check out Afghan Magazine or Afghanan for poetry.
Looking for a recipe to make the perfect Gosh Feel pastries? You might want to consult this virtual cookbook.
Or you could just peruse a Web ring devoted to the Afghan Diaspora.
Lastly, here is a list of 100 Afghan proverbs, one of which seems eerily relevant in wake of the Sept. 11 attack: Blood cannot be washed out with blood. (Two wrongs don't make a right.)
Afghan Archivist of Culture http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,47842,00.html