Pakistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a country in South Asia. It has a 1,046 kilometres coastline along the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman in the south. It is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. Strategically it is located in a position between the important regions of South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. Pakistan is a federal parliamentary republic consisting of four provinces and four federal territories. Pakistan has the seventh largest standing armed force and is the only Muslim-majority nation to possess nuclear weapons. It is designated as a major non-NATO ally of the United States. It is a founding member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, Next Eleven economies and the G20.
Provinces: Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh
Localities: F.A.T.A., Gilgit-Baltistan, Jammu Kashmir
Regional languages: Balochi, Pashto, Punjabi, Saraiki, Sindhi
Area: 796,095 Square kilometers or Square miles 307,374
The geography of Pakistan is a blend of landscapes varying from plains to deserts, forests, hills, and plateaus ranging from the coastal areas of the Arabian Sea in the south to the mountains of the Karakoram range in the north. Pakistan is divided into three major geographic areas: the northern highlands, the Indus River plain and the Balochistan Plateau. The northern highlands of Pakistan contain the Karakoram, Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges, which incorporate some of the world's highest peaks, including K2 and Nanga Parbat. The Balochistan Plateau lies to the West, and the Thar Desert in the East. An expanse of alluvial plains lies in Punjab and Sindh along the Indus river. The 1,609 km Indus River and its tributaries flow through the country from the Kashmir region to the Arabian Sea.
Pakistan climate varies from tropical to temperate with arid conditions existing in the coastal south, characterized by a monsoon season with adequate rainfall and a dry season with lesser rainfall. There are four distinct seasons; a cool, dry winter from December through February; a hot, dry spring from March through May; the summer rainy season or southwest monsoon period, from June through September; and the retreating monsoon period of October and November. Rainfall can vary radically from year to year, and successive patterns of flooding and drought are common.
According to the constitution of Pakistan, it is the state’s responsibility to provide free primary education. Pakistan has more than 130 Universities of which 71 are public universities and 59 are private universities. Education in Pakistan is divided into five levels: primary (grades one through five); middle (grades six through eight); high (grades nine and ten, leading to the Secondary School Certificate); intermediate (grades eleven and twelve, leading to a Higher Secondary School Certificate); and university programmes leading to graduate and advanced degrees. Pakistan also has a parallel secondary school education system in private schools, which is based upon the curriculum set and administered by the Cambridge International Examinations, in place of government exams. There are currently 730 technical & vocational institutions in Pakistan. The minimum qualifications to enter male vocational institutions, is the completion of grade 8, and for female is grade 5.
Pakistani society is largely hierarchical, with high regard for traditional Islamic values, although urban families have grown into a nuclear family system because of the socio-economic constraints imposed by the traditional joint family system. Recent decades have seen the emergence of a middle class in cities like Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Hyderabad, Faisalabad, Multan and Peshawar that wish to move in a more centrist direction, as opposed to the northwestern regions bordering Afghanistan that remain highly conservative and dominated by centuries-old regional tribal customs. The variety of Pakistani music ranges from diverse provincial folk music and traditional styles such as Qawwali and Ghazal Gayaki to modern forms fusing traditional and western music, such as the synchronization of Qawwali and western music by the world renowned Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. In addition Pakistan is home to many famous folk singers such as the late Alam Lohar, who is also well known in Indian Punjab. The arrival of Afghan refugees in the western provinces has rekindled Pashto and Persian music and established Peshawar as a hub for Afghan musicians and a distribution center for Afghan music abroad.
K2 is the second-highest mountain on Earth after Mount Everest. With a peak elevation of 8,611 metres, K2 is part of the Karakoram ranger, Pakistan. Tourism is still a growing industry in Pakistan because of its diverse cultures, peoples and landscapes. The variety of attractions ranges from the ruins of ancient civilisations such as Mohenjo-daro, Harappa and Taxila, to the Himalayan hill-stations, that attract those interested in field and winter sports. Pakistan also has five out of fourteen mountain peaks of height over 8,000 metres, that attract adventurers and mountaineers from around the world, especially to K2. From April to September, domestic and international visitors to these areas bring tourist income to the local people.
The national sport of Pakistan is field hockey, although cricket is the most popular game across the country. The national cricket team has won the Cricket World Cup once (in 1992), were runners-up once (in 1999), and co-hosted the games twice (in 1987 and 1996). Pakistan were runners-up in the inaugural 2007 ICC World Twenty-20 held in South Africa and were the champions at the 2009 ICC World Twenty-20 held in England. Squash is another sport that Pakistanis have excelled in. Successful world-class squash players such as Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan have won the World Open several times during their careers.