What Is Pakistan? A History and Overview

What Is Pakistan?

Pakistan is a country located in South Asia. With over 180 million people, it is the sixth most populous country in the world. This population is spread out over 340,509 square miles, or roughly the area of France and the UK combined. The bulk of this population lives in rural areas throughout the country. The largest city is Karachi, which has a population of 11 million people. Ironically, the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad, only has 1.1 million people, and is the ninth largest city in the country.

The most common languages spoken in Pakistan are Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, and Balochi. Between 95-98% of all Pakistanis are Muslim, which is also the state religion. The reason for this is deeply tied to the country’s history, which we will get to shortly. Pakistan’s government is a parliamentary republic, where the parliament holds most of the power, but the president can make key decisions, especially in times of crisis.

Where Is Pakistan? Finding Pakistan on a Map

Pakistan borders Afghanistan, China, Iran, and India. The country also has coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south.

Pakistan is a rather diverse country, both ethnically and geographically. In the north of the country, you can see arid desert climates at high elevation, when further south, along the coast, climates can approach sub-tropical levels. In the extreme north, Pakistan is home to several mountains and mountain ranges, including the 2nd highest peak on Earth, K2. This also gives Pakistan a great biodiversity. However, Pakistan is also a prime area for devastating natural disasters, ranging from earthquakes to landslides to floods to droughts to cyclones.

Pakistan on a Map
Pakistan on a Map

The Creation of Pakistan

Historically, the lands that compose modern-day Pakistan were home to some of the most ancient cultures in South Asia, and much of the history of Pakistan is closely tied with the rest of the Indian subcontinent. In fact, what we know as Pakistan was a part of India until 1947. In the years up until this point, a significant Muslim national identity was beginning to grow within India, one that was difficult to reconcile with Hindu and Sikh interests. As a result, in the 1920s and 1930s, when India’s movement towards independence was growing, there was also a movement growing for a separate Muslim state as well. This would come to pass in 1947, when Great Britain created West Pakistan and East Pakistan out of the former Indian Empire, as a country for the region’s Muslims.

Unfortunately, the nature of the partition led to violence through much of Pakistan’s early history. Part of this included violence with India over the disputed Kashmir region. Check out this article to learn more about the Kashmir Conflict in detail, and its lingering effects today.

However, there were other sources of violence as well. For example, many people were subjected to violence when trying to move between the new borders. In addition, in the 1970s, there would be an increasing amount of discord regarding East Pakistan and its demands for more autonomy. After intervention from the Indian Army, this area would become independent. We now know it today as Bangladesh.

Pakistan Today

Today, Pakistan is one of the world’s top agricultural producers, providing high amounts of wheat, cotton, sugar cane, mangoes, and other crops. In addition, the large economic growth in the last few decades has consisted in a significant drop in poverty. However, there are still a great deal of people struggling in the country. This is especially true for women and people living in rural areas. Political instability and corruption are also major concerns in the country.

However, despite the issues going on with Pakistan, there is still much that’s captivating about the country. The combination of the geographic diversity and deep history of the region means that there are many beautiful natural and historical sites for tourists to visit.

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