“The story of Pakistan, its struggle and its achievement, is the very story of human ideals, struggling to survive in the face of odds and difficulties.
– Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah (March 1948)
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has a population of approximately 180 million people making it the sixth most populous country. Located in South Asia, it covers 796,095 square km and is bordered by the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman, India, Afghanistan, Iran and China.
Pakistan has a rich and ancient history hosting many different cultures, kingdoms and empires including Hindus, Indo-Greeks, Muslims, Turco-Mongols, Afghans and Sikhs. Pakistan gained independence from the British Empire in 1947 as an independent nation in two parts – West Pakistan (modern day Pakistan) and East Pakistan (modern day Bangladesh). A civil war in 1971 resulted in East Pakistan becoming the independent country Bangladesh.
Pakistan is a federal parliamentary republic with four provinces (Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Paktunkhwa) and two federally administered territories (Islamabad Capital Territories and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas) and two regions (Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu Kashmir).
Pakistan straddles the Indian tectonic and Eurasian plates which make it subject to violent earthquakes. It is also subject to severe, annual flooding during the monsoon season (July to September) on the Indus River plain which flows through the country from Kashmir to the Arabian Sea. The geography of the country is incredibly diverse with some of the world’s highest mountain peaks in the north, to plains, deserts, forests, hills and plateaus.
Pakistan has ten cities with over a million people, one of the largest, standing, armed forces in the world, and is a nuclear power. The economy is semi-industrialised with a large and productive agricultural sector.
Education is free for primary and secondary students and provided by the state. There are approximately 136 universities and 3,193 technical and vocational institutes in addition to madrassas which provide free Islamic education and board to poorer students.
The official religion is Islam with approximately 97% of Pakistanis being Muslim. A majority of muslims in Pakistan belong to the Sunni sect, with the remainder being Shia or Ahmadi (which is considered a non-Muslim sect in the 1974 constitution).
Pakistan is known for its rich and vibrant culture. The shalwar kameez is the national dress and worn by both men and women. Different regions of the country have particular art forms in which they specialise – including music, dance, poetry, and literature.
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