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Geography of Pakistan

Learn about the Middle Eastern Country of Pakistan

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Pakistan Flag

The Pakistan flag is green with a vertical white band (symbolizing the role of religious minorities) on the hoist side; a large white crescent and star are centered in the green field; the crescent, star, and color green are traditional symbols of Islam.

Source: CIA World Factbook, 2007
Updated July 29, 2010

Population: 177,276,594 (July 2010 estimate)
Capital: Islamabad
Bordering Countries: Afghanistan, Iran, India and China
Land Area: 307,374 square miles (796,095 sq km)
Coastline: 650 miles (1,046 km)
Highest Point: K2 at 28,251 feet (8,611 m)

Pakistan, officially called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is located in the Middle East near the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman. It is bordered by Afghanistan, Iran, India and China. Pakistan is also very close to Tajikistan but the two countries are separated by the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan. The country is known as having the sixth largest population in the world and the second largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia.

History of Pakistan

Pakistan has a long history with archaeological remains dating back to over 4,000 years ago. In 362 B.C.E., part of Alexander the Great's empire occupied what is present-day Pakistan. In the 8th century, Muslim traders arrived in Pakistan and began to introduce the Muslim religion to the area.

In the 18th century the Mughal Empire, which occupied much of southern Asia from the 1500s, collapsed and the English East India Company began to exert influence over the area, including Pakistan. Shortly thereafter, Ranjit Singh, a Sikh explorer, took control of a large portion of what would become northern Pakistan. However, in the 19th century, the British took over the area. In 1906 though, anti-colonial leaders established the All-India Muslim League to fight British control.

In the 1930s, the Muslim League gained power and on March 23, 1940, its leader, Muhammad Ali Jinnah called for the formation of an independent Muslim country with the Lahore Resolution. In 1947, the United Kingdom granted full dominion status to both India and Pakistan. On August 14th of the same year, Pakistan became an independent nation known as West Pakistan. East Pakistan, was another nation and in 1971, it became Bangladesh.

In 1948, Pakistan's Ali Jinnah died and in 1951 its first prime minister, Liaqat Ali Khan, was assassinated. This set off a period of political instability in the country and in 1956, Pakistan's constitution was suspended. Throughout the rest of the 1950s and into the 1960s, Pakistan was run under a dictatorship and was engaged in war with India.

In the December 1970, Pakistan again held elections but they did not reduce instability within the country. Instead they caused the polarization of Pakistan's eastern and western areas. As a result throughout the 1970s, Pakistan was highly unstable both politically and socially.

Throughout the rest of the 1970s and into the 1980s and 1990s, Pakistan held a number of different political elections but most of its citizens were anti-government and the country was unstable. In 1999, a coup and General Pervez Mushrraf became Chief Executive of Pakistan. Throughout the early 2000's, Pakistan worked with the United States to find Taliban and other terrorist training camps along the country's borders after the events of September 11, 2001.

Government of Pakistan

Today, Pakistan is still an unstable country with various political issues. However, it is considered a federal republic with a bicameral parliament consisting of the Senate and the National Assembly. Pakistan also has an executive branch of government with chief of state filled by the president and a head of government filled by the prime minister. Pakistan's judicial branch is composed of the Supreme Court and the Federal Islamic or Sharia Court. Pakistan is divided into four provinces, one territory and one capital territory for local administration.

Economics and Land Use in Pakistan

Pakistan is considered a developing nation and as such it has a highly underdeveloped economy. This is largely because of its decades of political instability and a lack of foreign investment. Textiles are Pakistan's main export but it also has industries that include food processing, pharmaceuticals, construction materials, paper products, fertilizer and shrimp. Agriculture in Pakistan includes cotton, wheat, rice, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables, milk, beef, mutton and eggs.

Geography and Climate of Pakistan

Pakistan has a varied topography that consists of the flat, Indus plain in the east and the Balochistan plateau in the west. In addition, the Karakoram Range, one of the world's highest mountain ranges, is in the north and northwest part of the country. The world's second highest mountain, K2, is also within Pakistan's borders, as is the famous 38 mile (62 km) Baltoro Glacier. This glacier is considered one of the longest glaciers outside of the Earth's polar regions.

The climate of Pakistan varies with its topography, but most of it consists of hot, dry desert, while the northwest is temperate. In the mountainous north though the climate is harsh and considered Arctic.

More Facts about Pakistan

• Pakistan's largest cities are Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi and Gujranwala
• Urdu is the official language of Pakistan but English, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, Baloch, Hindko, Barhui and Saraiki are also spoken
• The life expectancy in Pakistan is 63.07 years for men and 65.24 years for women

References

Central Intelligence Agency. (24 June 2010). CIA - The World Factbook - Pakistan. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/pk.html

Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Pakistan: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107861.html

United States Department of State. (21 July 2010). Pakistan. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3453.htm

Wikipedia.com. (28 July 2010). Pakistan - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pakistan

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