Pakistan | Quick Facts

Pakistan is situated in the western part of the Indian subcontinent, with Afghanistan and Iran on the west, India on the east, and the Arabian Sea on the south. The name Pakistan is derived from the Urdu words Pak (meaning pure) and stan (meaning country).


The northern and western highlands of Pakistan contain the towering Karakoram and Pamir mountain ranges. The Baluchistan Plateau lies to the west, and the Thar Desert and an expanse of alluvial plains, the Punjab and Sind, lie to the east.


Military rule was instituted in Oct. 1999; a nominal democracy was declared in June 2001 by the ruling military leader, Pervez Musharraf.


Agriculture (including forestry and fishing) is the main stay of Pakistan’s economy, employing about 50% of the working population and providing about 26% of the country’s gross domestic product. The main crops are wheat, cotton, maize, sugar-cane and rice. Industry employs about 10% of the population. Main exports are cotton cloth, cotton yarns, rice, leather, carpets and tapestries.


Pakistan was one of the two original successor states to British India, which was partitioned along religious lines in 1947. For almost 25 years following independence, it consisted of two separate regions, East and West Pakistan, but now it is made up only of the western sector.
Pakistan became a republic on March 23, 1956, with Major General Iskander Mirza as the first president. Military rule prevailed for the next two decades. Tensions between East and West Pakistan existed from the outset. In 1971, a civil war led to the creation of the independent state of Bangladesh, or Bengali nation.

In the 1990s, Pakistan saw a shaky succession of governments—Benazir Bhutto was prime minister twice and deposed twice and Nawaz Sharif three times, until he was deposed in a coup on Oct. 12, 1999, by Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Quick Facts

Capital: Islamabad; Official name: Islamic Republic of Pakistan; Area: 796,095; Official Languages: Urdu; Official religion: Islam; Currency: Rupees; Date of Independence: August 14, 1947.

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