Pakistan, or Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a country in southern Asia. It was created in 1947 by the partition of British India into India and Pakistan and consisted originally of two parts—East Pakistan on the eastern side of India and West Pakistan on the west. Between them lay more than 900 miles (1,450 km) of Indian territory. In 1971, after a brief civil war and military intervention by India, East Pakistan seceded and established itself as the independent nation of Bangladesh.

Pakistan fronts the Arabian Sea and is bounded by Iran, Afghanistan, India, and Kashmir, a disputed territory occupied partly by Pakistan and partly by India.

Pakistan in brief
General information
Capital: Islamabad.
Official name: The Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Official language: Urdu.
Largest cities: (1998 census): Karachi (9,269,265); Lahore(5,063,499); Faisalabad (1,977,246); Rawalpindi (1,406,214); Multan (1,182,441); Hyderabad (1,151,274).
Land and climate
Land: Pakistan lies in southern Asia, north of the Arabian Sea. It borders Iran, Afghanistan, China, and India. Mountains cover most of northern and western Pakistan. The Thar Desert covers much of southeastern Pakistan, and most of southwestern Pakistan is an arid plateau. A major river system waters the fertile plains of central Pakistan.
Area: 307,374 mi2 (796,095 km2). Greatest distances—north-south, 934 mi (1,505 km); east-west, 800 mi (1,287 km). Coastline—506 mi (814 km).
Elevation: Highest—K2 (in Kashmir), 28,250 ft (8,611 m) above sea level. Lowest—sea level.
Climate: Most of Pakistan has a dry climate, with hot summers and cool winters. Pakistan averages only about 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain a year. Long dry spells may be broken by severe rainstorms that cause rivers to overflow and flood the countryside.
Form of government: Federal republic.
Head of state: President.
Head of government: Prime minister.
Legislature: Parliament of two houses—the National Assembly and the Senate.
Flag and coat of arms: Pakistan's flag has a star and crescent, the traditional symbols of Islam, on a green background. Green stands for the nation's Muslim majority. A vertical white stripe is on the left of the flag. A wreath of narcissus, the national flower, encircles a shield on the Pakistani coat of arms.
Executive: Prime minister and president each have some executive powers.
Judiciary: Highest court is the Supreme Court.
Political subdivisions: Four provinces and the Capital Territory of Islamabad.
Population: Current estimate—167,947,000; 1998 census—132,352,279.
Population density: 546 per mi2 (211 km2).
Distribution: 65 percent rural, 35 percent urban.
Major ethnic groups: Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtun (or Pakhtun), Baluchi, and Muhajir.
Major religions: 77 percent Sunni Muslim, 20 percent Shite Muslim, 3 percent other, including Christian and Hindu.
Chief products: Agriculture—wheat, cotton, rice, sugar cane, milk, chickpeas. Manufacturing—cotton textiles and clothing, food products, fertilizer, steel, cement. Mining—natural gas, petroleum.
Money: Basic unit—Pakistani rupee. One hundred paise equal one rupee.
Foreign trade: Major exports—textiles, including garments, cotton cloth, and yarn; agricultural products; leather goods; and carpets. Major imports—petroleum goods, machinery, transportation equipment, and chemicals. Major trading partners—United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates.