Afghanistan is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and South Asia, it is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south, Iran to the west, Turkmenistan to the northwest, Uzbekistan to the north, Tajikistan to the northeast, and China to the northeast and east. Occupying 652,864 square kilometers of land, the country is predominately mountainous with plains in the north and the southwest, which are separated by the Hindu Kush mountain range. As of 2021, its population is 40.2 million.
Several types of mammals exist throughout Afghanistan. Snow leopards, Siberian tigers and brown bears live in the high elevation alpine tundra regions. The Marco Polo sheep exclusively live in the Wakhan Corridor region of north-east Afghanistan. Foxes, wolves, otters, deer, wild sheep, lynx and other big cats populate the mountain forest region of the east. In the semi-desert northern plains, wildlife include a variety of birds, hedgehogs, gophers, and large carnivores such as jackals and hyenas.
Gazelles, wild pigs and jackals populate the steppe plains of the south and west, while mongoose and cheetahs exist in the semi-desert south. Marmots and ibex also live in the high mountains of Afghanistan, and pheasants exist in some parts of the country. The Afghan hound is a native breed of dog known for its fast speed and its long hair; it is relatively known in the west.
Endemic fauna of Afghanistan includes the Afghan flying squirrel, Afghan snowfinch, Afghanodon, Stigmella kasyi, Vulcaniella kabulensis, Afghan leopard gecko, Wheeleria parviflorellus, amongst others. Endemic flora include Iris afghanica. Afghanistan has a wide variety of birds despite its relatively arid climate – an estimated 460 species of which 235 breed within.
The forest region of Afghanistan has vegetation such as pine trees, spruce trees, fir trees and larches, whereas the steppe grassland regions consist of broadleaf trees, short grass, perennial plants and shrublands. The colder high elevation regions are composed of hardy grasses and small flowering plants. Several regions are designated protected areas; there are three national parks: Band-e Amir, Wakhan and Nuristan. Afghanistan had a 2018 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 8.85/10, ranking it 15th globally out of 172 countries.