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A map of PakistanA map of Pakistan With over 200 million people, Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world. Northern Pakistan is mountainous; its Hindu Kush range joins with the Himalayas and includes some of the highest peaks on Earth. The River Indus flows southwards from these mountains across Pakistan’s large central plain. Together with its tributaries, the Indus brings much-needed water to this otherwise dry land. The land along Pakistan's western border with Afghanistan is also mountainous, while the lowlands in east merge into the Thar, or Great Indian, Desert. In the southwest, the region of Balochistan lies on a hot, dry plateau. Pakistan has an extremely hot and dry climate, with a cooler, rainy monsoon season between July and September.

A map of PakistanA map of Pakistan

A highly decorated local busA highly decorated local bus


Pakistan is home to many different ethnic groups, speaking more than 60 languages. The national language, Urdu, is a first language to just 8% of Pakistanis, although nearly everyone is able to speak and understand it. Around half of the population speaks Punjabi as a first language.

Evacuees from floods, 2010.Evacuees from floods, 2010.

Pakistan’s Punjabi and Sindhi people are descended from Aryan settlers who settled in the Indus Valley around 1500 BC. The Pashtuns originate from Afghanistan; their language, Pashto, is the second-most widely spoken in Pakistan. Balochs, (also called Baluchis), who make up just under 4% of the population, have their roots in Iran.

The name Pakistan means “Land of the Pure” in Urdu and Persian. It is also an acronym—a word made up from the initial letters of others: Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, Sindh, plus the "tan" from Balochistan (the five regions of British India from which it was formed in 1947). The "I" was added to make it easier to say.

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