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Major Cities of Pakistan in the continent of Asia

KarachiLahoreFaisalabadRawalpindiMultanHyderabadGujranwalaPeshawarQuettaMuzaffarabadKotliIslamabadBahawalpurSargodhaSialkotSukkurLarkanaSheikhupuraBhimbarJhang SadrGujratMardanMalir CantonmentKasurMingoraDera Ghazi KhanSahiwalNawabshahOkaraMirpur KhasChiniotShahkotKamokeSadiqabadBurewalaJacobabadMuzaffargarhMuridkeJhelumShikarpurHafizabadKohatKhanpurDaduGojraMandi BahauddinTando AllahyarDaskaPakpattanBahawalnagarBahawalnagarTando AdamKhairpurChishtian MandiAbbottabadJaranwalaAhmadpur EastVihariKamaliaKot AdduKhushabWazirabadDera Ismail KhanChakwalSwabiLodhranNowshera CantonmentCharsaddaJalalpurMianwaliChamanKandhkotHasilpurArifwalaBhai PheruAttock CityChichawatniBhakkarKharianLeiahKambarMoroMian ChannunTurbatShahdadkotBhalwalDipalpurBadinPano AqilKotriTando Muhammad KhanHaru ZbadPattokiRabwahKohror PakkaGujar KhanKot MalikChuhar KanaToba Tek SinghNarowalShorkoShahdadpurShabqadarMansehraShujaabadHaveliLala MusaMailsiShakargarrGhotkiSibiJampurSambrialSangharHujraKabirwalaChunianSangla HillHaripurNankana SahibPasrurGwadarRajanpurRohriZhobMatliRawala KotHadaliMirpur MatheloBannuDullewalaHalaRatoderoJatoi ShimaliJauharabadBat KhelaKot Radha KishanKahnaMustafabadHasan AbdalTalagangTaunsaThattaSarai AlamgirUsta MuhammadKamraUmarkotBasirpurSehwanNaushahra VirkanFort AbbasHavelianKhairpurDingaLadhewala WaraichKhalabatNew BadahTankKot MuminTandlianwalaChak Azam SaffoLoralaiJalalpur PirwalaPabbiJhumraSahiwalRenala KhurdRisalpurLakki MarwatTopiHanguPir jo GothKundianPir MahalKhurrianwalaMehrabpurPindi BhattianMalakwal CityNarangMalakwalThulPindi GhebZahir PirDunyapurGambatKashmorAlipurNauderoPasniSukheke MandiSetharja OldKhewraMamu KanjanSharqpurDigriBheraSakrandTando JamRaiwindLalian

Pakistan Photo Gallery
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Location of Pakistan within the Continent of Asia
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Map of Pakistan
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Flag Description of Pakistan:The flag of Pakistan was officially adopted on August 14, 1947.

The symbolic flag of Pakistan uses white to represent non-Muslims within the country; green and white combined represent peace and economic success; the white crescent represents future progress, and the star is symbolic of knowledge.

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Official name Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Form of government federal republic with two legislative houses (Senate [104]; National Assembly [342])
Head of state President: Mamnoon Hussain
Head of government Prime Minister: Nawaz Sharif
Capital Islamabad
Official language See footnote 1.
Official religion Islam
Monetary unit Pakistani rupee (PKR)
Population (2013 est.) 193,239,000COLLAPSE
Total area (sq mi) 340,499
Total area (sq km) 881,889
Urban-rural population

Urban: (2012) 37.4%
Rural: (2012) 62.6%

Life expectancy at birth

Male: (2012) 64.5 years
Female: (2012) 68.3 years

Literacy: percentage of population age 15 and over literate

Male: (2009–2010) 73%
Female: (2009–2010) 46%

GNI per capita (U.S.$) (2013) 1,380

1English may be used for official purposes. Urdu is the national (not yet official) language as of mid-2013.

Background of Pakistan

Pakistan, populous and multiethnic country of South Asia. Pakistan has historically and culturally been associated with India. Since the two countries achieved independence in 1947, Pakistan has been distinguished from its larger southeastern neighbour by its overwhelmingly Muslim population (as opposed to the predominance of Hindus in India). Pakistan has struggled throughout its existence to attain political stability and sustained social development. Its capital is Islamabad, in the foothills of the Himalayas in the northern part of the country, and its largest city is Karachi, in the south on the coast of the Arabian Sea.

Pakistan was brought into being at the time of the partition of British India, in response to the demands of Islamic nationalists: as articulated by the All India Muslim League under the leadership of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, India’s Muslims would receive just representation only in their own country. From independence until 1971, Pakistan (both de facto and in law) consisted of two regions—West Pakistan, in the Indus River basin in the northwestern portion of the Indian subcontinent, and East Pakistan, located more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) to the east in the vast delta of the Ganges-Brahmaputra river system. In response to grave internal political problems that erupted in civil war in 1971, East Pakistan was proclaimed the independent country of Bangladesh.

Pakistan encompasses a rich diversity of landscapes, starting in the northwest, from the soaring Pamirs and the Karakoram Range through a maze of mountain ranges, a complex of valleys, and inhospitable plateaus, down to the remarkably even surface of the fertile Indus River plain, which drains southward into the Arabian Sea. It contains a section of the ancient Silk Road and the Khyber Pass, the famous passageway that has brought outside influences into the otherwise isolated subcontinent. Lofty peaks such as K2 and Nanga Parbat, in the Pakistani-administered region of Kashmir, present a challenging lure to mountain climbers. Along the Indus River, the artery of the country, the ancient site of Mohenjo-daro marks one of the cradles of civilization.

Yet, politically and culturally, Pakistan has struggled to define itself. Established as a parliamentary democracy that espoused secular ideas, the country has experienced repeated military coups, and religion—that is to say, adherence to the values of Sunni Islam—has increasingly become a standard by which political leaders are measured. In addition, northern Pakistan—particularly the Federally Administered Tribal Areas—has become a haven for members of neighbouring Afghanistan’s ousted Taliban regime and for members of numerous other Islamic extremist groups. In various parts of the country, instances of ethnic, religious, and social conflict have flared up from time to time, often rendering those areas virtually ungovernable by the central authorities, and acts of violence against religious minorities have increased.

At the time of partition in 1947, as many as 10 million Muslim refugees fled their homes in India and sought refuge in Pakistan—about 8 million in West Pakistan. Virtually an equal number of Hindus and Sikhs were uprooted from their land and familiar surroundings in what became Pakistan, and they fled to India. Unlike the earlier migrations, which took centuries to unfold, these chaotic population transfers took hardly one year. The resulting impact on the life of the subcontinent has reverberated ever since in the rivalries between the two countries, and each has continued to seek a lasting modus vivendi with the other. Pakistan and India have fought four wars, three of which (1948–49, 1965, and 1999) were over Kashmir. Since 1998 both countries have also possessed nuclear weapons, further heightening tensions between them.

Geography of Pakistan

The Land

Pakistan is bounded by Iran to the west, Afghanistan to the northwest and north, China to the northeast, and India to the east and southeast. The coast of the Arabian Sea forms its southern border.

Since 1947 the Kashmir region, along the western Himalayas, has been disputed, with Pakistan, India, and China each controlling sections of the territory. Part of the Pakistani-administered territory comprises the so-called Azad Kashmir (“Free Kashmir”) region—which Pakistan nonetheless considers an independent state, with its capital at Muzaffarabad. The remainder of Pakistani-administered Kashmir consists of Gilgit and Baltistan, known collectively as the Northern Areas.

Pakistan is situated at the western end of the great Indo-Gangetic Plain. Of the total area of the country, about three-fifths consists of rough mountainous terrain and plateaus, and the remaining two-fifths constitutes a wide expanse of level plain. The land can be divided into five major regions: the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges and their subranges; the Hindu Kush and western mountains; the Balochistan plateau; the submontane plateau (Potwar Plateau, Salt Range, trans-Indus plain, and Sialkot area); and the Indus River plain. Within each major division there are further subdivisions, including a number of desert areas.--->>>>Read More.<<<

  • Soils

Pakistan’s soils are classified as pedocals, which comprise a dry soil group with high concentrations of calcium carbonate and a low content of organic matter; they are characteristic of a land with low and erratic precipitation. The major soil groupings are Indus basin soils, mountain soils, and sandy desert soils. However, the very mode of soil formation gives rise to their diversification even within small areas. These soils vary in texture, chemical composition, colour, and organic content from place to place.

The Indus basin soils are mostly thick alluvium deposited by rivers and are of recent origin. Soils in the vicinity of river courses are the most recent and vary in texture from sand to silt loam and silty clay loams. They have a low organic content and are collectively known as the khaddar soils. Away from the river, toward the middle of the doabs, older alluvial soils (called bangar) are widely distributed. These soils are medium to fine in texture, have low organic content, and are highly productive under conditions of irrigation and fertilization. In some waterlogged areas, however, these soils are salinized. Strongly alkaline soils are localized in some small patches. In the submontane areas under subhumid conditions these soils are noncalcareous and have slightly higher organic content. In the delta the estuarine soils are excessively saline and barren.

Mountain soils are both residual (i.e., formed in a stationary position) and transported. Shallow residual soils have developed along the slopes and in the broken hill country. Those soils generally are strongly calcareous and have low organic content, but under subhumid conditions their organic content increases.

Sandy desert soils cover the Cholistan part of Sind Sagar Doab and western Balochistan. They include both shifting sandy soils and clayey floodplain soils. These include moderately calcareous and eolian (wind-borne) soils.

  • Climate

Aridity is the most pervasive aspect of Pakistan’s climate, and its continental nature can be seen in the extremes of temperature. Pakistan is situated on the edge of a monsoonal (i.e., wet-dry) system. Precipitation throughout the country generally is erratic, and its volume is highly variable. The rainy monsoon winds, the exact margins of which vary from year to year, blow in intermittent bursts, and most moisture comes in the summer. Tropical storms from the Arabian Sea provide precipitation to the coastal areas but are also variable in character.

The efficiency of the monsoonal precipitation is poor, because of its concentration from early July to mid-September, when high temperatures maximize loss through evaporation. In the north the mean annual precipitation at Peshawar is 13 inches (330 mm), and at Rawalpindi it reaches 37 inches (950 mm). In the plains, however, mean annual precipitation generally decreases from northeast to southwest, falling from about 20 inches (500 mm) at Lahore to less than 5 inches (130 mm) in the Indus River corridor and 3.5 inches (90 mm) at Sukkur. Under maritime influence, precipitation increases slightly to about 6 inches (155 mm) at Hyderabad and 8 inches (200 mm) at Karachi.

The 20-inch (500-mm) precipitation line, which runs northwest from near Lahore, marks off the Potwar Plateau and a part of the Indus plain in the northeast; these areas receive enough rainfall for dry farming (farming without irrigation). South of this region, cultivation is confined mainly to riverine strips until the advent of irrigation. Most of the Balochistan plateau, especially in the west and south, is exceptionally dry.

Pakistan’s continental type of climate is characterized by extreme variations of temperature, both seasonally and daily. High elevations modify the climate in the cold, snow-covered northern mountains; temperatures on the Balochistan plateau are somewhat higher. Along the coastal strip, the climate is modified by sea breezes. In the rest of the country, temperatures reach great extremes in the summer; the mean temperature during June is 100 °F (38 °C) in the plains, where the highest temperatures can exceed 117 °F (47 °C). Jacobabad, in Sind, has recorded the highest temperature in Pakistan, 127 °F (53 °C). In the summer, hot winds called loos blow across the plains during the day. Trees shed their leaves to avoid excessive moisture loss. The dry, hot weather is broken occasionally by dust storms and thunderstorms that temporarily lower the temperature. Evenings are cool; the diurnal variation in temperature may be as much as 20 to 30 °F (11 to 17 °C). Winters are cold, with minimum mean temperatures of about 40 °F (4 °C) in January.

  • Plant and animal life

Differences of latitude, elevation, soil type, and climate have favoured a variety of plant growth. Drought-resistant vegetation in the desert consists of stunted thorny scrub, mostly acacia. The plains present a parkland view of scattered trees. Dry scrub forests, called rakhs, grow in parts of the arid plain. In the northern and northwestern foothills and plains, shrub forests, principally acacia, and wild olive are found. In the wetter parts of the northern and northwestern mountains, evergreen coniferous softwood forests, with some broad-leaved species, grow. Fir, deodar, blue pine (Pinus wallichiana), and spruce are the principal coniferous trees. At lower elevations, below 3,000 feet (900 metres), broad-leaved oaks, maples, birches, walnuts, and chestnuts predominate. Conifers are an important source of commercial timber. In the arid landscape of the Potwar Plateau, some hills are only thinly wooded. In the northern ranges of the Balochistan plateau are some groves of pine and olive. The babul tree (Acacia arabica) is common in the Indus River valley, as are many species of fruit trees. The country’s forest cover is naturally sparse, but it has been diminished further by excessive timber cutting and overgrazing.

Destruction of natural habitats and excessive hunting have led to a reduction in the range of animal life in large parts of the country, but wildlife can still be found in abundance in some areas. The variety of large mammals in the northern mountains includes brown bears, Asiatic black bears (Ursus thibetanus, also known as the Himalayan bear), leopards, rare snow leopards, Siberian ibex (Capra ibex sibirica), and wild sheep, including markhors, Marco Polo sheep (Ovis ammon polii, a type of argali), and Chiltan wild goats (Capra aegagrus chialtanensis).

Manchhar Lake in Sind has many aquatic birds, including mallards, teals, shovelers, spoonbills, geese, pochards, and wood ducks. Crocodiles, gavials (crocodile-like reptiles), pythons, and wild boars inhabit the Indus River delta area. The Indus River itself is home to the Indus river dolphin, a freshwater dolphin whose habitat has been severely stressed by hunting, pollution, and the creation of dams and barrages. At least two types of sea turtles, the green and olive ridley, nest on the Makran coast.

Desert gazelles are widely distributed, including nilgais, chinkaras (Gazella gazella bennetti), and muntjacs. Jackals, foxes, and various wild cats (including Eurasian lynxes, caracals, fishing cats, and jungle cats [Felis chaus]) are also found throughout the country. Despite occasional reported sightings of the Asiatic cheetah, that species is likely extinct in Pakistan. A series of national parks and game preserves was established beginning in the 1970s. However, a number of species have been declared endangered, including the Indus river dolphin, snow leopard, and gavial.

Demography of Pakistan

The People

  • Ethnic composition

The area currently occupied by Pakistan has long been a route of military conquest and an entrepôt for peoples and cultures. It is therefore a significant cultural and ethnic melting pot. Modern Pakistan’s population can be divided broadly into five major and several minor ethnic groups. The Punjabis, who constitute roughly half of the population, are the single largest group. The Pashtuns (Pathans) account for about one-eighth of the population, and Sindhis form a somewhat smaller group. Of the remaining population, the muhajirs—Muslims who fled to Pakistan after the partition in 1947—and Balochs constitute the largest groups.

There are subgroups within each of these five categories, as well as a number of smaller ethnic groups not included among them. The Arains, Rajputs, and Jats—all Punjabis—regard themselves as ethnically distinct. Some groups overlap the five categories; for instance, there are Punjabi Pashtuns as well as Hazarvi Pashtuns. Some smaller groups, such as the Brahuis in Sindh (Sind) and the Siraikis in Punjab, are also ethnically distinct. Tribal Pashtuns are another subgroup of the Pashtun constellation. Divided into numerous tribal orders, they inhabit the mountainous region along the Afghan frontier. Among these are the Yusufzai, Orakzai, Swati, Afridi, Wazir, Mohmand, and Mahsud. Other unique tribal peoples are found still farther north in the remoter mountain regions of Dir, Chitral, Hunza, and Gilgit.

  • Linguistic composition

Pakistan is, in general, linguistically heterogeneous, and no single language can be said to be common to the whole population. Each of its principal languages has a strong regional focus, although statistics show some languages to be distributed between various provinces because administrative boundaries cut across linguistic regions. The picture is also complicated by the fact that, especially in Sindh, there are substantial numbers of Urdu- and Punjabi-speaking muhajirs. In addition to Urdu and Punjabi, other languages claimed as mother tongues include Sindhi, Pashto, Siraiki, Balochi, and Brahui.

Having originated during the Mughal period (early 16th to mid-18th century), Urdu is the youngest of the country’s languages and is not indigenous to Pakistan. It is similar to Hindi, the most widely spoken language of India. Although the two languages have a common base, in its literary form Urdu emphasizes words of Persian and Arabic origin, whereas Hindi emphasizes words of Sanskrit origin. Urdu is written in a modified version of the Persian script, whereas Hindi is written in Devanagari script. Because it is predominantly the language of the educated Muslims of northern India, including the Punjab, Urdu has strong associations with Muslim nationalism—hence the ideological significance of Urdu in Pakistani politics. Urdu is the mother tongue of only a small proportion of the population of Pakistan, but it is the country’s only official language; it is taught in the schools along with the regional languages.

The 1956 constitution prescribed the use of English (the administrative language during the colonial period) for official purposes for 20 years, and the 1962 constitution made that use indefinite. The 1973 constitution, however, designated a 15-year transition period to Urdu, after which English would no longer be used for official purposes. That provision of the constitution has not been fully implemented. English is still taught and used in schools at all levels, and it remains the lingua franca of the government, intelligentsia, and military. With the exception of this educated elite, English is spoken fluently by only a small percentage of the population. Many English words and phrases, however, have worked their way into local parlance, and most Pakistanis with even a modest education have some grasp of the language.

Urdu, rather than Punjabi, is the first language taught in virtually all schools in Punjab province, so every educated Punjabi reads and writes Urdu. In Pakistan, Punjabi is mainly spoken rather than written, and it is a predominantly rural rather than urban language. A movement to promote the Punjabi language began in the 1980s, and some Punjabi literature has been published using the Urdu script; among the works published are Punjabi classics that have hitherto been available in Gurmukhi script (in which Punjabi is written in India) or preserved in oral tradition.

Sindhi is derived from the Virachada dialect of the Prakrit languages. It has fewer dialects than Punjabi and is written in a special variant of the Arabic script. Prior to the partition of India in 1947, most of the educated middle class in Sindh were Hindu, and their departure to India at that time had a traumatic effect on Sindhi culture. Vigorous efforts were therefore directed toward recovering and preserving the rich Sindhi literary and cultural heritage. Large numbers of Urdu-speaking refugees settled in Sindh and came to constitute the majority of the population of its larger towns. As a consequence, the movement for the promotion of Sindhi language and culture was sometimes expressed as opposition toward Urdu. The Sindhi population feared that their language and culture would be overrun by the language and culture of the predominantly Urdu-speaking muhajir community, and that fear led to what became known as the language riots of 1972 and to the national government’s decision to grant special status to the Sindhi language. (The rise of militant ethnic politics in Sindh that began in the 1980s—notably the clashes between native Sindhis and organized members of the muhajir community—likely can be traced to that decision.)

Pashto, the language of the Pashtuns of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, has a scant literary tradition, although it has a rich oral tradition. There are three major dialect patterns within which the various individual dialects may be classified: Northern Pashto (Pakhto), which is the variety spoken along the Afghanistan border and in and around Peshawar; Central Pashto, also called Waziri and Bannochi, spoken in Waziristan, Bannu, and Karak; and Southern Pashto, spoken in Balochistan and Quetta. As in the Punjab, Urdu is the language taught in schools, and educated Pashtuns read and write Urdu. Again, as in the case of Punjabi, there was a movement for developing the written language in Persian script and increasing the usage of Pashto.

Siraiki, also spelled Saraiki or Seraiki, is spoken in Central Pakistan from Mianwali, Punjab, to Khairpur, Sindh, and extends into Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well. It is linguistically intermediate between Sindhi and Punjabi.

The two main spoken languages of Balochistan are Balochi and Brahui. An important dialect of Balochi, called Makrani or Southern Balochi, is spoken in Makran, the southern region of Balochistan, which borders Iran.

  • Religion

Almost all of the people of Pakistan are Muslims or at least follow Islamic traditions, and Islamic ideals and practices suffuse virtually all parts of Pakistani life. Most Pakistanis belong to the Sunni sect, the major branch of Islam. There are also significant numbers of Shīʿite Muslims. Among Sunnis, Sufism is extremely popular and influential. In addition to the two main groups there is a very small sect called the Aḥmadiyyah, which is also sometimes called the Qadiani (for Qadian, India, where the sect originated).

The role of religion in Pakistani society and politics finds its most visible expression in the Islamic Assembly (Jamāʿat-i Islāmī) party. Founded in 1941 by Abū al-Aʿlā Mawdūdī (Maududi), one of the world’s foremost thinkers in Sunni revivalism, the party has long played a role in Pakistan’s political life and has continually advocated refashioning Pakistan as a chaste Islamic or theocratic state.

The majority of Pakistani Sunnis belong to the Ḥanafiyyah (Hanafite) school, which is one of four major schools (madhhabs) or subsects of Islamic jurisprudence; it is perhaps the most liberal of the four but nevertheless is still demanding in its instructions to the faithful. Two popular reform movements founded in northern India—the Deoband and Barelwi schools—are likewise widespread in Pakistan. Differences between the two movements over a variety of theological issues are significant to the point that violence often has erupted between them. Another group, Tablīghī Jamāʿat (founded 1926), headquartered in Raiwind, near Lahore, is a lay ministry group whose annual conference attracts hundreds of thousands of members from throughout the world. It is perhaps the largest grassroots Muslim organization in the world.

The Wahhābī movement, founded in Arabia, has made inroads in Pakistan, most notably among the tribal Pashtuns in the Afghan border areas. Moreover, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Saudi Arabia assisted Pakistan in caring for vast numbers of Afghan refugees in the border areas and in the construction and staffing of thousands of traditional Sunni madrasahs (religious schools). Those schools generally provided instruction along Wahhābī lines, and they subsequently became vehicles for the spreading influence of extremist groups (particularly al-Qaeda and the Taliban of Afghanistan) in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and elsewhere throughout the country. Although extremism in the name of Islam has become more pronounced in Pakistan since 2000, more-moderate Sunni Muslims are found in the country’s business community, especially among Gujarati Memons and Chiniotis from Punjab who follow less-conservative Islamic traditions.

Among the Shīʿites there are several subsects; notable are the Ismāʿīlīs (or Seveners)—including the Nizārīs (followers of the Aga Khans, among whom are the Khojas and the Bohrās), who are prominent in commerce and industry—and the Ithnā ʿAshariyyah (or Twelvers), who are more austere in their practices and more closely resemble the Shīʿite tradition found in Iran. Shīʿites have long been the target of Sunni radicals, and violent encounters between followers of the two sects are common.

With the exception of some sects, such as Dawoodi Bohrās, there is no concept of an ordained priesthood among Pakistan’s Muslims. Anyone who leads prayers in mosques may be appointed imam. Those who are formally trained in religion are accorded the honorific mullah or mawlānā. Collectively, the community of Muslim scholars is known as the ʿulamāʾ (“scholars”), but among the practitioners of a more popular sect of Islam (generally associated with Sufism) there are powerful hereditary networks of holy men called pīrs, who receive great reverence (as well as gifts in cash or kind) from a multitude of followers. An established pīr may pass on his spiritual powers and sanctified authority to one or more of his murīds (“disciples”), who may then operate as pīrs in their own right. There are also many self-appointed pīrs who practice locally without being properly inducted into one of the major Sufi orders. Pīrs who occupy high positions in the pīr hierarchy wield great power and play an influential role in public affairs.

Among the basic tenets of the Aḥmadiyyah is the belief that other prophets came after Muhammad and that their leader, the 19th century’s Mīrzā Ghulām Aḥmad, was called to accept a divine mission. The Aḥmadiyyah therefore appear to question Muhammad’s role as the last of God’s prophets. More conservative Muslims find this seeming revision of traditional belief blasphemous, and in 1974 a constitutional amendment declared the Aḥmadiyyah community to be non-Muslims. The community became the focal point of riots in the Punjab in 1953, instigated by the Islamic Assembly but also including a broad representation of religious groups. Since then the Aḥmadiyyah have experienced considerable persecution, particularly during the administration (1977–88) of Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq—when they were denied all semblance of Islamic character—and they have been denied positions in the civil service and the military and often have been forced to conceal their identity.

At the time of partition, most Hindus left newly formed West Pakistan for India. In the east, wealthier Hindus also fled newly formed East Pakistan, but a sizeable minority of Hindus (nearly 10 million) stayed behind. The vast majority remained there until the civil war of 1971 (which led to the creation of Bangladesh) compelled them to seek refuge in India. Pakistan’s Hindu community now constitutes only a tiny fraction of Bangladesh’s population.

There is also a small but fairly significant population of Christians in the country. There are adherents to a variety of denominations, Roman Catholicism being the largest. Violent attacks against Christians became increasingly common during the Zia ul-Haq regime, a trend that continued afterward with the increase of religious strife.

  • Settlement patterns

The traditional regions of Pakistan, shaped by ecological factors and historical evolution, are reflected in the administrative division of the country into the four provinces of Sindh, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (including the Federally Administered Tribal Areas), and Balochistan, each of which is ethnically and linguistically distinct.

In the Punjab, until the advent of irrigation, most of the population was restricted to those areas receiving more than 20 inches (500 mm) of precipitation annually, namely the Potwar Plateau and the upper Indus plain. Such areas where dry farming is practiced are referred to as barani. Later, large areas of uncultivated land in the Indus River plain of the southern Punjab were irrigated by canals and populated by colonists drawn from other parts of the province. Referred to as the Canal Colony, that area now forms the richest agricultural region of the country.

Agricultural wealth is concentrated in those barani areas around Lahore that have benefited from irrigation, together with the Canal Colony areas and Sindh province. Those regions contain most of the rural population of Pakistan and produce more than half of the country’s wheat and virtually all of its cotton and rice. Landholdings are larger in the Canal Colony areas of the Punjab and in Sindh.

Elsewhere, in the overpopulated and poor districts of the barani region that do not benefit from irrigation, holdings are exceedingly small and fragmented. In those districts, there is great pressure to migrate from the villages in order to find employment in towns, to enlist in the armed forces, or to seek work abroad, particularly in the Persian Gulf states of the Middle East.


About two-thirds of the rural population of Pakistan lives in nucleated villages or hamlets (i.e., in compact groups of dwellings). Sometimes, as is generally the case in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the houses are placed in a ring with windowless outer walls, so that each complex resembles a protected fortress with a few guarded entrances. Dispersed habitation patterns in the form of isolated single homesteads are rare, occurring only in a few mountainous areas. But it is not uncommon to find numerous satellite hamlets of varying sizes near larger villages; such hamlets are occupied either by a landlord (along with his family, servants, and sharecroppers) or else by members of an extended family group living together in adjoining houses. The spread of tube wells (driven wells) in the Punjab has increased the tendency for such dispersal, for people often prefer to live near their tube wells in order to guard the valuable machinery. The concept of village, therefore, often tends to be equivalent to that of the mawzaʿ (an area of land that, together with a village and its satellite hamlets, forms a unit in land-revenue records). It is difficult to speak of an average size of village, for patterns of habitation are complex. Most groups of dwellings have a minimum of a dozen or a score of houses, and there are usually a few hundred dwellings in each “village.” Large villages rarely have populations exceeding 2,500 persons.

Three basic types of village layout are to be found. Most of the older settlements are of the “spiderweb” form, having at least one focal point, such as the village mosque, some shops, or a well from which lanes radiate. A few villages follow the contours of hill slopes and other natural features. In the Canal Colony areas, villages are of a regular rectangular pattern, with a well, a mosque, and a school, as well as the house of the village headman, at the centre and with the houses being arranged in a series of concentric rectangles. Houses are built from available local materials; the vast majority are of adobe, a material that is not only cheap and reasonably durable in the dry climate but also provides better insulation from extremes of heat and cold than brick or stone. Houses usually have walled courtyards where animals are tethered and where people sleep in the open in the hot summer.


The urban population of Pakistan represents about two-fifths of the total. Two cities have a dominating position—Karachi, the capital of Sindh province (and of the country until 1959), and Lahore, the capital of Punjab. Since the 1960s, government policy has been directed toward the dispersal of industry, which had become heavily concentrated in Karachi. As a consequence, urban growth has been more evenly distributed among several cities. Karachi remains the principal port and centre of commerce and industry.

Rapid and unplanned urban expansion has been paralleled by a deterioration in living conditions, particularly in the housing conditions of lower-income groups. Many urban households are unable to pay rent for the cheapest form of available housing and live in shacks in makeshift communities known collectively as katchi abadis. Water supply and sewerage systems are inadequate, and in many areas residents have to share communal water taps. Inadequate urban transport is also a major problem.

Karachi experienced serious ethnic conflict between the muhajir immigrants and Sindhis and (since the late 1980s) between the Sindhis and Punjabis. Discouraged by civil strife, businesses—both industrial and commercial—began to relocate to Punjab, particularly in and around Lahore. After Karachi and Lahore, the principal cities are Faisalabad and Rawalpindi in Punjab and Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Quetta is the capital and largest city of Balochistan. The national capital, Islamabad, adjoins Rawalpindi.

  • Demographic trends

Pakistan is one of the most populous countries in the world, though the population is distributed rather unevenly. More than half of the population is in Punjab; on the other hand, Balochistan, the largest province in terms of area, has significant areas with virtually no settled population. Likewise, within each province, the population further pools in various areas. Much of the population of Balochistan, for instance, is concentrated in the area of Quetta. The region around Karachi and the inhabited strip along the Indus River are the most densely settled areas in Sindh province. Within Punjab the population density generally decreases from northeast to southwest. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa the plain around Peshawar and Mardan is a high-density area. Broadly speaking, population density is greatest in fertile agricultural areas. Nomadism and transhumance, once common lifestyles in Pakistan, are practiced by relatively few people in the 21st century.

The overwhelming demographic fact of Pakistani history is the enormous shift of population during the country’s partition from India. Millions of Hindus and Sikhs left Pakistan, and about eight million immigrants (muhajirs)—then roughly

Economy of Pakistan

Pakistan, a developing country, has faced a number of challenges on the political and economic fronts. Although a very poor country when it became independent in 1947, in the 1960s, Harvard economists proclaimed it to be a model of economic development. In each of its first four decades, Pakistan's economic growth rate was better than the global average, but imprudent policies led to a slowdown in the late 1990s.

Since then, the Pakistani government has instituted wide-ranging reforms, and economic growth has accelerated in the current century. Pakistan's economic outlook has brightened and its manufacturing and financial services sectors have experienced rapid expansion. The growth of the non-agricultural sectors has changed the structure of the economy, and agriculture now only accounts for roughly a fifth of the GDP. There has been a great improvement in its foreign exchange position and a rapid growth in hard currency reserves in recent years.

In the 2005 fiscal year, Pakistan's GDP growth rate was 8.4 percent which is the second highest, following China, among the 10 most populous countries in the world.

Pakistan's service sector accounts for 53 percent of the nation's GDP. Wholesale and retail trade is 30 percent of this sector. Shopping is a popular pastime for many Pakistanis, especially among the well-to-do and the 30-million-strong middle class. Karachi is especially known for the great contrast in shopping experiences, from burgeoning bazaars to modern multi-story shopping malls.

Tourism The diversity of the nation's culture, people, and landscape helps make tourism a growth industry in Pakistan. The country also contains several ancient ruins. Pakistanis pride themselves on their tradition of hospitality (mehman-nawazi) to guests.

In the north, some of the highest mountains in the world attract mountaineers and adventurers from around the world. There are many scenic places with old army fortresses, towers, and other architecture. The Kalasha valley in Chitral is famous for its small community that follows pre-Islamic animist religions. The Kalasha claim descent from the army of Alexander the Great.

In the east, the Punjab offers a view into the many different civilizations that settled there. Lahore is Pakistan's cultural capital and a historic city. There are many examples of Islamic Mughal architecture, such as the Badshahi Masjid and the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore. Pakistan's film industry, nicknamed Lollywood, is also based there.

Pakistan in 2006

Pakistan Area: 796,096 sq km (307,374 sq mi), excluding the 84,159-sq-km Pakistani-administered portion of Jammu and Kashmir Population (2006 est.): 156,770,000 (excluding nearly 4,620,000 residents ...>>>Read On<<<