Facts about Pakistan



The Indus Valley civilization, one of the oldest in the world and dating back at least 5,000 years, spread over much of what is presently Pakistan. During the second millennium B.C., remnants of this culture fused with the migrating Indo-Aryan peoples. The area underwent successive invasions in subsequent centuries from the Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Arabs (who brought Islam), Afghans, and Turks. The Mughal Empire flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries; the British came to dominate the region in the 18th century. The separation in 1947 of British India into the Muslim state of Pakistan (with West and East sections) and largely Hindu India was never satisfactorily resolved, and India and Pakistan fought two wars – in 1947-48 and 1965 – over the disputed Kashmir territory. A third war between these countries in 1971 – in which India capitalized on Islamabad’s marginalization of Bengalis in Pakistani politics – resulted in East Pakistan becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh. In response to Indian nuclear weapons testing, Pakistan conducted its own tests in 1998. India-Pakistan relations have been rocky since the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, but both countries are taking small steps to put relations back on track. In February 2008, Pakistan held parliamentary elections and in September 2008, after the resignation of former President MUSHARRAF, elected Asif Ali ZARDARI to the presidency. Pakistani government and military leaders are struggling to control domestic insurgents, many of whom are located in the tribal areas adjacent to the border with Afghanistan.


Southern Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea, between India on the east and Iran and Afghanistan on the west and China in the north


Total Area: 796,095 sq km, Comparison to the world: 36, Land: 770,875 sq km, Water: 25,220 sq km


Total Length: 6,774 km

Bordering Countries:

Afghanistan 2,430 km, China 523 km, India 2,912 km, Iran 909 km


1,046 km

Maritime Claim

Territorial sea: 12 nm, Contiguous zone: 24 nm, Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin


Hot, dry desert; temperate in northwest; arctic in north


Flat Indus plain in east; mountains in north and northwest; Balochistan plateau in west


Lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m, Highest point: K2 (Mt. Godwin-Austen) 8,611 m

Natural Resources

Agricultural Land, extensive natural gas reserves, limited petroleum, poor quality coal, iron ore, copper, salt, limestone, gold, copper, uranium

Land Use

Arable land: 24.44%, Permanent crops: 0.84%, other: 74.72% (2005), Irrigated Land: 198,700 sq km (2008)

Renewable Water Resources

233.8 cu km (2003)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):

Total: 169.39 cu km/yr (2%/2%/96%), Per capita: 1,072 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards:

Frequent earthquakes, occasionally severe especially in north and west; flooding along the Indus after heavy rains (July and August)

Environment – current issues:

Water pollution from raw sewage, industrial wastes, and agricultural runoff; limited natural freshwater resources; most of the population does not have access to potable water; deforestation; soil erosion; desertification

Environment – international agreements:

Party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation

Geography – note:

Controls Khyber Pass and Bolan Pass, traditional invasion routes between Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent


Ethnic groups:

Punjabi 44.68%, Pashtun (Pathan) 15.42%, Sindhi 14.1%, Sariaki 8.38%, Muhajirs 7.57%, Balochi 3.57%, other 6.28%


Punjabi 48%, Sindhi 12%, Saraiki (a Punjabi variant) 10%, Pashtu 8%, Urdu (official) 8%, Balochi 3%, Hindko 2%, Brahui 1%, English (elite and most government ministries), Burushaski, and other 8%


Muslim 95% (Sunni 75%, Shia 20%), other (includes Christian and Hindu) 5%


187,342,721 (July 2011 est.), Country comparison to the world: 6

Age structure:

0-14 years: 35.4% (male 34,093,853/female 32,278,462)

15-64 years: 60.4% (male 58,401,016/female 54,671,873)

65 years and over: 4.2% (male 3,739,647/female 4,157,870) (2011 est.)

Median age:

Total: 21.6 years, Male: 21.5 years, Female: 21.6 years (2011 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.573% (2011 est.), Country comparison to the world: 75

Birth rate:

24.81 births/1,000 population (2011 est.), Country comparison to the world: 62

Death rate:

6.92 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.), Country comparison to the world: 137

Net migration rate:

-2.17 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.), Country comparison to the world: 167


Urban population: 36% of total population (2010), Rate of urbanization: 3.1% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major cities – population:

Karachi 13.125 million; Lahore 7.132 million; Faisalabad 2.849 million; Rawalpindi 2.026 million; ISLAMABAD (capital) 832,000 (2009)

Sex ratio:

At birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

Under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.09 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female

Total population: 1.07 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Maternal mortality rate:

260 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)

Country comparison to the world: 51

Infant Mortality Rate

Total: 63.26 deaths/1,000 live births, Country comparison to the world: 26

Male: 66.52 deaths/1,000 live births, Female: 59.85 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

Total population: 65.99 years, Country comparison to the world: 165

Male: 64.18 years, Female: 67.9 years (2011 est.)

Total fertility rate:

3.17 children born/woman (2011 est.), Country comparison to the world: 54

Health expenditures:

2.6% of GDP (2009), Country comparison to the world: 182

Physician’s density:

0.813 physicians/1,000 population (2009), Country comparison to the world: 111

Hospital Bed Density

0.6 beds/1,000 population (2009), Country comparison to the world: 166

Drinking water source:


Urban: 95% of population, Rural: 87% of population, Total: 90% of population


Urban: 5% of population, Rural: 13% of population, Total: 10% of population (2008)

Sanitation facility access:


Urban: 72% of population, Rural: 29% of population, Total: 45% of population


Urban: 28% of population, Rural: 71% of population, Total: 55% of population (2008)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate:

0.1% (2009 est.), Country comparison to the world: 147

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS:

98,000 (2009 est.), Country comparison to the world: 42

HIV/AIDS – deaths:

5,800 (2009 est.), Country comparison to the world: 34

Major infectious diseases:

Degree of risk: high

Food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever

Vector borne diseases: dengue fever and malaria

Animal contact disease: rabies

Children under the age of 5 years underweight:

31.3% (2001), Country comparison to the world: 17

Education expenditures:

2.7% of GDP (2009), Country comparison to the world: 142


Definition: age 15 and over can read and write

Total population: 49.9%, Male: 63%, Female: 36% (2005 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

Total: 7 years, Male: 8 years, Female: 6 years (2009)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:

Total: 7.7%, Country comparison to the world: 114

Male: 7%, Female: 10.5% (2008)

Government type:

Federal Republic


Islamabad, Geographic coordinates: 33 42 N, 73 10 E, Time difference: UTC+5

Administrative divisions:

4 provinces, 1 territory*, and 1 capital territory**; Balochistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas*, Islamabad Capital Territory**, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North-West Frontier Province), Punjab, Sindh

Note: the Pakistani-administered portion of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region consists of two administrative entities: Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan


14 August 1947 (from British India)


12 April 1973; suspended 5 July 1977, restored 30 December 1985; suspended 15 October 1999, restored in stages in 2002; amended 31 December 2003; suspended 3 November 2007; restored 15 December 2007; amended 19 April 2010

Legal system:

Common law system with Islamic law influence

Electoral Process

18 years of age; universal; joint electorates and reserved parliamentary seats for women and non-Muslims

Executive branch:

Head of State: President Asif Ali ZARDARI (since 9 September 2008)

Head of government: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza GILANI (since 25 March 2008)

Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president upon the advice of the prime minister

Elections: the president elected by secret ballot through an Electoral College comprising the members of the Senate, National Assembly, and the provincial assemblies for a five-year term; election last held on 6 September 2008 (next to be held not later than 2013); note – any person who is a Muslim and not less than 45 years of age and is qualified to be elected as a member of the National Assembly can contest the presidential election; the prime minister selected by the National Assembly

Election Results: Asif Ali ZARDARI elected president; ZARDARI 481 votes, SIDDIQUE 153 votes, SYED 44 votes; Syed Yousuf Raza GILANI elected prime minister; GILANI 264 votes, Pervaiz ELAHI 42 votes; several abstentions

Legislative branch:

bicameral parliament or Majlis-e-Shoora consists of the Senate (100 seats; members indirectly elected by provincial assemblies and the territories’ representatives in the National Assembly to serve six-year terms; one half are elected every three years) and the National Assembly (342 seats; 272 members elected by popular vote; 60 seats reserved for women; 10 seats reserved for non-Muslims; members serve five-year terms)

Elections: Senate – last held on 3 March 2009 (next to be held in March 2012); National Assembly – last held on 18 February 2008 with by-elections on 26 June 2008 (next to be held in 2013)

Election Results: Senate – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – PPPP 27, PML 21, MMA 9, PML-N 7, ANP 6, MQM 6, JUI-F 4, BNP-A 2, JWP 1, NPP 1, PKMAP 1, PML-F 1, PPP 1, independents 13; National Assembly – percent of votes by party – NA; seats by party as of October 2010 – PPPP 127, PML-N 90, PML 51, MQM 25, ANP 13, JUI-F 8, PML-F 5, BNP-A 1, NPP 1, PPP-S 1, independents 18, unfilled seats – 2

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court (justices appointed by the president); Federal Islamic or Sharia Court

Political parties and leaders:

Awami National Party or ANP [Asfandyar Wali KHAN]; Balochistan National Party-Awami or BNP-A [Moheem Khan BALOCH]; Balochistan National Party-Hayee Group or BNP-H [Dr. Hayee BALOCH]; Balochistan National Party-Mengal or BNP-M [Sardar Ataullah MENGAL]; Jamaat-i Islami or JI [Syed Munawar HASAN]; Jamhoori Watan Party or JWP; Jamiat Ahle Hadith or JAH [Sajid MIR]; Jamiat Ulema-i Islam Fazl-ur Rehman or JUI-F [Fazl-ur REHMAN]; Jamiat Ulema-i Islam Sami-ul HAQ or JUI-S [Sami ul-HAQ]; Jamiat Ulema-i Pakistan or JUP [Shah Faridul HAQ]; Muttahida Majlis-e Amal or MMA [Qazi Hussain AHMED]; Muttahida Qaumi Movement or MQM [Altaf HUSSAIN]; National Alliance or NA [Ghulam Mustapha JATOI] (merged with PML); National Peoples Party or NPP; Pakhtun Khwa Milli Awami Party or PKMAP [Mahmood Khan ACHAKZAI]; Pakistan Awami Tehrik or PAT [Tahir ul QADRI]; Pakistan Muslim League or PML [Chaudhry Shujaat HUSSAIN]; Pakistan Muslim League-Functional or PML-F [Pir PAGARO]; Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz or PML-N [Nawaz SHARIF]; Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians or PPPP [Bilawal Bhutto ZARDARI, chairman; Asif Ali ZARDARI, co-chairman]; Pakistan Peoples Party-SHERPAO or PPP-S [Aftab Ahmed Khan SHERPAO]; Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaaf or PTI [Imran KHAN]; Tehrik-i Islami [Allama Sajid NAQVI]

Flag description:

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

National symbol(s):

star and crescent

National anthem:

Name: “Qaumi Tarana” (National Anthem)

Lyrics/music: Abu-Al-Asar Hafeez JULLANDHURI/Ahmed Ghulamali CHAGLA

Note: adopted 1954; the anthem is also known as “Pak sarzamin shad bad” (Blessed Be the Sacred Land)


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