Brief Facts About Pakistan
Official Name:   Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Capital:   Islamabad.
Area:   796,096-sq. km. [Punjab 205,344; Sindh 140,914; Northwest Frontier Province 74,521; Balochistan 347,190; Federally Administered Tribal Areas 27,220 and Islamabad (Capital) 906 sq. km.]
Population:   130.60 million (1998 Census)
Ethnic Composition:   95% Muslims, 5% others
Per Capita Income:   US $ 460
Currency:   Pak. Rupee
Language:   Urdu (National language), English (Official)
Archaeological Sites:   Mohenjodaro, Harappa, Taxila, Kot Diji, Mehar Garh, and Takht Bahi
Major Cities:   Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Rawalpindi, Hyderabad, Faisalabad and Multan.

 About Pakistan »
 

A trip through Pakistan is a face to face encounter with a fascinating land that has withstood countless invasions and preserved the essence of its conquerors in the form of present day monuments and archaeological heritage.

See for yourself the excavated sites at Mohenjodaro and Taxila - seats of the ancient Indus Valley and Gandhara civilizations; the architectural monuments of the Moghuls; the Khyber Pass - the historic inlet to South Asia - or the ancient unchanging traditions of the Kafir Kalash of the Chitral Valley.

For those with an intrinsic love of mountains, Pakistan offers the unique pleasure of its northern mountain ranges, the Himalayas, the Hindukush and the Karakorams - a mountain wonderland unrivalled in the entire world with such formidable peaks as the K-2, the Nanga Parbat, the Rakaposhi, and the Trichmir. These ranges present an awesome challenge for those looking for trekking, mountaineering, angling, or jeep safaris. The resorts in these remote valleys make for an ideal summer get-away.

 
   Pakistan History »
 

Pakistan emerged on the world map as an independent sovereign state in August 1947, as a result of the division of the British Indian Empire. With a land area of 796,095 sq. km. [including FATA (Federal Administered Tribal Areas) and FANA (Federal Administered Northern Areas)], its population stands at nearly 130.60 million, according to the 1998 Census. Historically, this is one of the most ancient lands known to man. Its cities flourished before Babylon was built; its people practiced the art of good living and citizenship before the celebrated ancient Greeks.

The region traces its history back to at least 2,500 years before Christ, when a highly developed civilization flourished in the Indus Valley. Excavations at Harappa, Mohenjodaro and Kot Diji have brought to light evidence of an advanced civilization flourishing here even in most ancient times. Around 1,500 B.C. the Aryans conquered this region and slowly pushed the Hindu inhabitants further east, towards the Ganges Valley. Later, the Persians occupied the northern regions in 5th century B.C. The Greeks came in 327 B.C., under Alexander of Macedonia, and ran through the region like a meteor. In 712 A.D. the Arabs, led by Mohammed Bin Qasim, landed somewhere near what is now Karachi, and ruled the lower half of Pakistan for two hundred years. During this time Islam took root and influenced the life, culture and traditions of the inhabitants of the region.

From 10th century A.D. onwards, a systematic conquest of Indo-Pakistan by the Muslims from Central Asia began and lasted up to 18th century A.D., when the British colonized the Sub-continent and ruled for nearly 200 years (for 100 years over what is now Pakistan). The Muslim revival began towards the end of the last century when Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, a renowned leader and educationist, launched a movement for intellectual renaissance of the Indian Muslims. In 1930, the well-known poet/philosopher, Dr. Mohammed Iqbal conceived the idea of a separate state for the Muslims of the Sub-continent, and in 1940, the All-India Muslim League adopted the famous Pakistan Resolution.

After seven years of untiring struggle, under the brilliant leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Pakistan emerged on the world map as a sovereign state on August 14, 1947, when the British Indian Empire was partitioned into two independent states - India and Pakistan.

 
   People of Pakistan »
 

Pakistan is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and predominantly a Muslim society. Ninety-seven per cent of the140 million people in Pakistan are Muslims. The population is made up of different ethnic groups, such as dominant Punjabis, Siraikis, Sindhis, Pakhtuns, Baloch, Brahvis, Kashmiris, Hazaras, Urdu-speaking immigrants from India or Mohajirs, Gojars, Kohistanis, Chitralis, and a dozen or so Dardic languages-speaking lingo-ethnic groups. 

The official language is English, and most of the urban people can understand and speak Urdu as well. However, Urdu is the mother tongue of only seven per cent of the population. The other main languages are Sindhi, Punjabi, Pushto, Balochi, Siraiki, and Brahvi.
More than half the working population is involved in agriculture and live in rural areas. Manufacturing, mining, and service industries are the other large employers in the urban sectors. Many people go abroad in search of work. 

Race as such plays little part in defining regional or group identity in Pakistan, and no ideal racial type is accepted by all Pakistanis. However, ethno-lingual processes over the centuries have helped developed nationalities and ethno-lingual groups who have a deep sense of identity, psychological make-up, commonality of language and area and belonging to certain regions of Pakistan. The population is a complex mixture of indigenous peoples, many racial types having been introduced by successive waves of migrations from the northwest, as well as by internal migrations across the subcontinent of India. Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Pathans (Pashtuns), and Mughals came from the northwest and spread across the Indo-Gangetic Plain, while the Arabs conquered Sindh. All left their mark on the population and culture of the land. During the long period of Muslim rule, immigrants from the Middle East were brought in and installed as members of the ruling oligarchy. It became prestigious to claim descent from them, and many members of the landed gentry and of upper-class families are either actually or putatively descended from such immigrants.

 
   Ancient Civilization »
 

Modern Pakistanis are a blend of their Harappan, Indo-Aryan, Indo-Iranian, Saka, Parthian, Kushan, White Hun, Afghan, Arab, Turkic, and Mughal heritage. Waves of invaders and migrants settled down in Pakistan through out the centuries, influencing the locals and being absorbed among them. Thus the region encompassed by modern-day Pakistan is home to the oldest Asian civlization (and one of the oldest in the world after Mesopotamia and Egypt), Indus Valley Civilization (2500 BC - 1500 BC).

The modern state of Pakistan was established on 14 August 1947, but the region it encompasses has an extensive history that overlaps with the histories of Ancient India, Iran and Afghanistan. The region was a crossroads of historic trade routes, including the Silk Road, and was settled over thousands of years by many groups, including Dravidians, Indo-Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Parthians Kushans, White Huns, Afghans, Arabs, Turks, and Mongols; the region is often referred to as "a museum of races."

Historian and geographer de Blij Muller characterized the historical embodiment of the land when he said, "If, as is so often said, Egypt is the gift of the Nile, then Pakistan is the gift of the Indus." The earliest evidence of humans are pebble tools from the Soan Culture in the province of Punjab, dated from 100,000 to 500,000 years ago. The Indus region was the site of several ancient cultures including Mehrgarh, one of the world's earliest known towns, and the Indus Valley Civilisation at Harrappa and Mohenjo-Daro.

The Indus Valley Civilisation collapsed in the middle of the second millennium BCE and was followed by the Vedic Civilisation, which extended over much of northern India and Pakistan. Successive empires and kingdoms ruled the region from the Achaemenid Persian empire around 543 BCE, to Alexander the Great in 326 BCE and the Mauryan empire. The Indo-Greek Kingdom founded by Demetrius of Bactria included Gandhara and Punjab from 184 BCE, and reached its greatest extent under Menander, establishing the Greco-Buddhist period with advances in trade and culture. The city of Taxila (Takshashila) became a major centre of learning in ancient times - the remains of the city, located to the west of Islamabad, are one of the country's major archaeological sites.

 
   Diverse Culture »
 

Modern Pakistanis are a blend of their Harappan, Indo-Aryan, Indo-Iranian, Saka, Parthian, Kushan, White Hun, Afghan, Arab, Turkic, and Mughal heritage. Waves of invaders and migrants settled down in Pakistan through out the centuries, influencing the locals and being absorbed among them. Thus the region encompassed by modern-day Pakistan is home to the oldest Asian civlization (and one of the oldest in the world after Mesopotamia and Egypt), Indus Valley Civilization (2500 BC - 1500 BC).

The modern state of Pakistan was established on 14 August 1947, but the region it encompasses has an extensive history that overlaps with the histories of Ancient India, Iran and Afghanistan. The region was a crossroads of historic trade routes, including the Silk Road, and was settled over thousands of years by many groups, including Dravidians, Indo-Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Parthians Kushans, White Huns, Afghans, Arabs, Turks, and Mongols; the region is often referred to as "a museum of races." Historian and geographer de Blij Muller characterized the historical embodiment of the land when he said, "If, as is so often said, Egypt is the gift of the Nile, then Pakistan is the gift of the Indus." The earliest evidence of humans are pebble tools from the Soan Culture in the province of Punjab, dated from 100,000 to 500,000 years ago.

The Indus region was the site of several ancient cultures including Mehrgarh, one of the world's earliest known towns, and the Indus Valley Civilisation at Harrappa and Mohenjo-Daro. 
The Indus Valley Civilisation collapsed in the middle of the second millennium BCE and was followed by the Vedic Civilisation, which extended over much of northern India and Pakistan. Successive empires and kingdoms ruled the region from the Achaemenid Persian empire around 543 BCE, to Alexander the Great in 326 BCE and the Mauryan empire. The Indo-Greek Kingdom founded by Demetrius of Bactria included Gandhara and Punjab from 184 BCE, and reached its greatest extent under Menander, establishing the Greco-Buddhist period with advances in trade and culture. The city of Taxila (Takshashila) became a major centre of learning in ancient times - the remains of the city, located to the west of Islamabad, are one of the country's major archaeological sites.

 
   Landscape »
 

The landscape of Pakistan ranges from lofty mountains in the north, the Karakoram and the Himalayas, through dissected plateaus to the rich alluvial plains of the Punjab. Then follows desolate barrenness of Balochistan and the hot dry deserts of Sindh blending into miles and miles of golden beaches of Mekran coast.

Pakistan is situated between latitude 24 and 37 degrees North and longitude 62 and 75 degrees East. The country borders Iran on the West, India on the East, Afghanistan in the North-West, China in the North and the Arabian Sea in the South. The great mountain ranges of the Himalayas, the Karakoram and the Hindukush form Pakistan's northern highlands of North West Frontier Province and the Northern Area; Punjab province is a flat, alluvial plain with five major rivers dominating the upper region eventually joining the Indus River flowing south to the Arabian Sea; Sindh is bounded on the east by the Thar Desert and the Rann of Kutch and on the west by the Kirthar range; the Balochistan Plateau is an arid tableland, encircled by dry mountains. Its total area is 803,940 Sq.Km and total land area is 778,720 Sq.Km. (including FATA and FANA).

 
   Society and Culture »
 

Pakistan has a rich and unique culture that has preserved established traditions throughout history[citation needed]. Many cultural practices, foods, monuments, and shrines were inherited from the rule of Muslim Mughal and Afghan emperors including the national dress of Shalwar Qameez. Women wear brightly coloured shalwar qameez, while men often wear solid-coloured ones, usually with a sherwani or achkan (long coat) that is worn over the garment.

The variety of Pakistani music ranges from diverse provincial folk music and traditional styles such as Qawwali and Ghazal Gayaki to modern forms fusing traditional and western music, such as the synchronisation of Qawwali and western music by the renowned Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Other major Ghazal singers include Mehdi Hassan, Ghulam Ali, Farida Khanum, Tahira Syed, Abida Parveen and Iqbal Bano. The arrival of Afghan refugees in the western provinces has rekindled Pashto and Persian music and established Peshawar as a hub for Afghan musicians and a distribution centre for Afghan music abroad. Until the 1990s, the state-owned Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) and Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation were the dominant media outlets, but there are now numerous private television channels such as Geo TV, Indus TV, Hum,ARY, KTN, Sindh TV and Kashish. Various American, European, and Asian television channels and movies are available to the majority of the Pakistani population via cable and satellite television. There are also small indigenous movie industries based in Lahore and Peshawar (often referred to as Lollywood and Pollywood). Although Bollywood movies are banned, Indian film stars are generally popular in Pakistan.

Pakistani society is largely multilingual and predominantly Muslim, with high regard for traditional family values, although urban families have grown into a nuclear family system due to the socio-economic constraints imposed by the traditional joint family system. Recent decades have seen the emergence of a middle class in cities like Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Hyderabad, Faisalabad, Sukkur and Peshawar that wish to move in a more liberal direction, as opposed to the northwestern regions bordering Afghanistan that remain highly conservative and dominated by centuries-old regional tribal customs. Increasing globalization has increased the influence of "Western culture" with Pakistan ranking 46th on the Kearney/FP Globalization Index.[42] There are an approximated four million Pakistanis living abroad,[43] with close to a half-million expatriates living in the United States[44] and around a million living in Saudi Arabia.[45]As well as nearly one million people of Pakistani descent in the United Kingdom, there are burgeoning cultural connections.

Tourism is a growing industry in Pakistan, based on its diverse cultures, peoples and landscapes. Ancient civilization ruins such as Mohenjo-daro, Harappa and Taxila, to the Himalayan hill stations attract those interested in field and winter sports. Pakistan is home to several mountain peaks over 7000m, which attracts adventurers and mountaineers from around the world, especially K2. The northern parts of Pakistan have many old fortresses, towers and other architecture as well as the Hunza and Chitral valleys, the latter being home to the small pre-Islamic Animist Kalasha community who claim descent from the army of Alexander the Great. Punjab is the site of Alexander's battle on the Jhelum River and the historic city Lahore, Pakistan's cultural capital with many examples of Mughal architecture such as the Badshahi Masjid, Shalimar Gardens, Tomb of Jahangir and the Lahore Fort.

 
   Language »
 
Pakistan's official language is English and many people in big cities can speak it. Urdu is the national language and is spoken throughout Pakistan as lingua franca. In addition to Urdu most Pakistanis speak their regional languages or dialects such as Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, Balochi, Saraiki, Shina, Burushaski, Khowar, Wakhi, Hindko etc. 
English is the official language and is used in all government, educational and business entities, and is also understood and spoken at varying levels of competence by many people around Pakistan, especially by the upper classes and people who have gone through higher levels of education. 
Here are some basic Urdu phrases. If you can speak those, it will delight everyone you meet:
  • 'Assalaam Alaykum' - Hello (literally meaning 'may peace be on you')
  • 'Khuda Hafiz' or 'Allah Hafiz' - Goodbye (literally meaning 'may God take care of you')
  • 'Shukria' - Thank you
  • 'Maaf karo' - literally 'forgive me'; useful when dealing with beggars
  • 'Mera naam John Doe hai'- My name is John Doe
  • 'Mein Lithuania say hoon' - I am from Lithuania
  • 'Mujhay Lahore bohat pasand hai' - I really like Lahore
  • 'Aap ka naam kya hai' - what is your name?
  • 'Aap kahaan rehtey hain' - where do you live?
  • 'Khana bohot mazaydaar hai' - the meal is delicious
   Respect
 
Pakistanis pride themselves on their tradition of hospitality to guests (mehmanawazi in Urdu, milmastia in Pashtu). Just a greeting of Salam Alaykum will get you far in endearing yourself to people. If you are travelling outside the big cities like Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad it is advisable to learn some basic Urdu or a regional language. 

Do not make silly jokes about religion, women, sex, or alcohol. You will cause offence and it is something you're really ill advised to do. 
Just respect and observe. Pakistan is a conservative country and it is advisable for women to wear long skirts or pants in public (Pakistani women wear the traditional shalwar kameez). Dress codes for men are more lax although they should refrain from wearing shorts in public. As well, showing someone the sole of your feet or shoe is considered an insult, and can lead to you being considered disrespectful.