The Islamic Republic of Pakistan stretches from the Himalayas to the Arabian Sea, covering an area of 300,000 square miles. It is bounded by Iran and Afghanistan in the west and India in the east. One third of Kashmir is under Pakistani control.
Physical: There are five main geographical areas — alluvial plains in the east, arid plateaux in the west (Baluchistan), hills and semi-arid valleys in the north-west, high mountain ranges in the north (Himalayas and Hindu Kush) and the Sindh desert in the south. The river Indus runs the whole length of the country and is supplied by four major rivers draining down from the Himalayas.
Population and languages: The total population is 141.6 million. The majority are Punjabi (66%) and Sindhi (13%). There are over 170 ethnic groups, with 6 major languages spoken, including Urdu (official language) and English. The average life expectancy is 59 years and literacy is 26%.
Towns and cities: Islamabad (capital) — 245,000; Lahore — 4.25 million; Rawalpindi — 1 million; Hyderabad — 1.3 million; Karachi (port) — 16 million. Punjab (‘five rivers’) remains the most densely populated and powerful province.
Economy: The five rivers feed the world’s largest irrigation system, with canals supplying huge areas, where wheat, maize, sugar cane, oil seeds, oranges, mangoes, cotton and rice are grown. This irrigated land often suffers from salinization and waterlogging. Cement, fertilizers and textiles are manufactured. Exports include raw cotton and cotton textiles, rice and leather. Unemployment is high. GNP is $370 per person (1.7% of USA).
Religions: Islam (96%) — comprising Sunni (67%), Shiite (26%), Ahmaddiya (an unorthodox and persecuted Islamic sect, with 3% or more). Also Hindu (1.5%); Roman Catholic (0.5%); Protestant (1%); others, including Seventh Day Adventists (1%). All groups are influenced by animism, including Muslims and nominal Christians.
Protestant denominations: Church of Pakistan; Presbyterian Church of Pakistan; Associated Reformed Presbyterian Church; Salvation Army; United Church in Pakistan; National Methodist Church; Christian Brethren; smaller church groupings, associated with Baptists, Pentecostals and different missions.