The part of the world where Pakistan is today was part of an ancient civilisation that flourished until it was invaded many times over by other civilisations, including the Persians, ancient Greeks, and Arabs. Then, from 1757 until 1947, the British ruled India, an area that included  what is now Pakistan.  The Indians fought for a long time to be an independent country, which was finally agreed to, and in 1947 the British divided the region into three parts - India (where most people followed the Hindu religion), Pakistan and East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh (regions where most people followed the religion of Islam).

Pakistan is in southern Asia. It has borders with Iran, Afghanistan, China and India. It also borders the Arabian Sea. The Indus River runs through Pakistan, and most of the population live along the river.

In the north, the Indus River winds between high mountains, and the steep gorges form one of the few ways to get through on foot to the mountains and the land beyond. This has kept the people of the northern areas in some isolation, and at least six or seven different language groups live in the region.

Today we most commonly use the name Pakistan, but the official name is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Men and women over the age of18 vote, and the head of the government is called a Prime Minister. Elected Members of Parliament vote for a President, who is the Head of State. Pakistan has two official languages, Urdu and English, but a number of other languages are spoken in different areas.

The capital city is Islamabad. Other important cities are Rawalpindi, which dates back 3,000 years, Lahore, and Karachi, which is on the coast.

The Shah Faisal Mosque dominates the city of Islamabad

Nearly all Pakistanis are Muslim, or followers of Islam.  The name of the religion is Islam, people who practice that religion are Muslim.

There are two branches of the religion of Islam, just as there are different branches of the Christian religion. Most Pakistanis are Sunni (say soo-nee) Muslims, and a much smaller group are Shi’ite (say shee-eye-t) Muslims. About 3% of the population have Hindu, Christian or other religious beliefs. 

The Shah Faisal Mosque (a mosque is a Muslim place of worship) in Islamabad. Its prayer hall can fit 10,000 people inside, plus another 24,000 on verandas and 40,000 in a courtyard. 

Climate and Geography
The climate of Pakistan is mostly hot and dry in the desert areas, but the northeast is temperate. The mountainous north has an arctic climate.

In northern Pakistan three great mountain ranges meet: the Himalayas, the Karakorams, which includes second highest mountain in the world, K-2, and the Hindu Kush, which has peaks more than 6,000 metres (20,000 feet) high. Three of the world’s longest glaciers are also in northern Pakistan.

K2, Pakistan

Muslims must not eat pork, so beef, chicken, lamb, and fish are basic foods, generally cooked as a curry, eaten with plain rice.

The spices most commonly used include chili powder, turmeric, garlic, paprika, black and red pepper, cumin seed, bay leaf, coriander, cardamom, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, saffron, nutmeg, and poppy seeds.  Yoghurt is often used to coat meat before cooking.

Food in the south of the country tends to be more spicy, and in the north the main dish is more often meat barbecued over hot coals. Lentils are another common specialty.

Ghee, which is clarified butter, is another common ingredient and is often used for frying.

Wheat products are part of the daily diet, and pickles, chutneys, preserves, and sauces are served the curries.

Traditional Clothing
While western style clothing like jeans and shirts or business suits is worn in Pakistan, the traditional clothing is still a preference, and men and women wear a similar style, with a difference in the colors of the cloth and the decorations used. Traditional clothing consists of loose pants called salwar. Sometimes narrow tighter fitting pants called churidar are worn. Worn over the pants is a long tunic called kameez. Men can wear a vest over the tunic. Sherwani , a long coat of a heavy fabric, can be worn over that. Traditional head gear for men is a kandahari cap (left) or turban. Women often wear long shawls, and generally a headscarf called a hijab. When some women go out of the house, they wear over the top of their clothing a garment called a burqa that covers them almost completely.

There are some pictures of traditional clothing here

Roaming the high mountain peaks there are snow leopards, grey wolves and brown bears. They prey on wild mountain sheep and goats such as the markhor, Himalayan ibex, urial, and marcopolo sheep.  Northern Pakistan is also home to the woolly flying squirrel, which for over 70 years was thought to be extinct but was rediscovered in 1994. These squirrels are the largest in the world, over 1 metre long from nose to tail. They shelter in caves during the day and feed at night, gliding between the pine trees.

Other animals found in Pakistan include foxes and jackals, Asiatic black bears, wild cats that include the Indian desert cat, the fishing cat, the jungle cat, caracal, lynx and common leopard. Deer, gazelles and antelopes are also found, and the extremely endangered Indus River dolphin, an almost blind freshwater dolphin found only in Pakistan.

There are a large number of deadly snakes found in Pakistan, including cobras, vipers and kraits. There are also pythons, which are not venomous.

A deadly black Pakistan cobra

Major Industries of Pakistan: making textiles and clothing, food processing, pharmaceuticals, construction materials, paper products, fertilisers.

Main Agriculture: cotton, wheat, rice, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables; milk, beef, mutton, eggs

Natural Resources:  There are large reserves of natural gas, a limited amount of petroleum. There is also coal, but of a  poor quality, iron ore, copper, salt, limestone.

Major Exports: textiles such as linen and cotton cloth, clothing, bed linen, and yarn. Also rice, leather goods, sporting goods, chemicals, carpets and rugs.

Major Imports: petroleum and petroleum products, machinery, plastics, transportation equipment, edible oils, paper and paperboard, iron and steel, tea

Popular sports in Pakistan are field hockey, polo, cricket, squash and soccer.

Go here to read more about Pakistan:

Words of the national anthem, meanings of the national flag

You can watch a You Tube video and listen to the national anthem here

Read about breakfast, lunch and dinner here

If you use any part of this in your own work, acknowledge in your bibliography like this:
Sydenham, S. & Thomas, R. Pakistan. [online] (2013)


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