Pakistan <<PAK ih STAN>> is a country in Asia. It is bordered by India on the east, China on the northeast, Afghanistan on the northwest, and Iran on the southwest. Its south coast is on the Arabian Sea, which is part of the Indian Ocean. Pakistan has some of the highest mountains in the world.
The capital of Pakistan is Islamabad <<ihs LAHM uh BAHD>>. It was built in the 1960’s. Karachi, which was once the capital, is Pakistan’s largest city and its major seaport.
Mountains cover much of northern and western Pakistan. The flatlands of eastern Pakistan have some of the country’s best farmland.
Most of Pakistan has a dry climate, with hot summers and cold winters. There is very little rain. Long dry periods may be broken by heavy rainstorms that cause flooding.
The first people to settle in Pakistan belonged to the same group as the people who first settled in northern India. Over hundreds of years, many other people came into the area. They included Arabs, Afghans, Greeks, Persians, and Turks.
Today, there are many groups in Pakistan. Each group has a different language. Most of the people speak their own language every day. They speak the official language, Urdu, as a second language.
The largest group is the Punjabis, who live mainly in the Punjab area in eastern Pakistan. Other main groups are the Sindhis, Pushtuns, and Balochis. Most of the people live in small villages.
Almost all of Pakistan’s people are Muslims, people who follow the religion of Islam. There are a few Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists.
Resources and products
About half the people in Pakistan farm for a living. Most of the farms are small. Wheat is the main crop. Farmers also raise cattle and water buffaloes for work animals.
Many city people work in service industries, such as selling, teaching, government, and health care. Manufacturing provides some jobs in large factories. In small factories and homes, people work at crafts such as making rugs.
On Pakistan’s coast, fishing is important. Crews catch shrimp, sardines, sharks, and other fish. Pakistan sells fish to other countries.
Some of the world’s first great cities developed about 4,500 years ago in the Indus River Valley in what is now Pakistan.Ruins of two important cities, Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, have been found. These cities were large and well planned.
About 3,500 years ago, the Aryans, a people from Central Asia, took over what are now Pakistan and northern India. Then about 2,500 years ago, the Persians took over Pakistan.
For many centuries, a series of empires ruled both Pakistan and northern India. An empire is like a very large kingdom. About 1,000 years ago, Muslims from central Asia took over, and Muslim rulers established empires in Pakistan and India.
In the 1500’s, Europeans began to sail to India to trade. In the 1700’s and 1800’s, the British got control over most of what are now Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. The area they ruled was called British India.
In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the people of British India wanted more self-government. Most of the people belonged to the Hindu religion. Many Muslims wanted their own nation. In 1947, two nations were formed—India and Pakistan. Most people in India were Hindus, and most people in Pakistan were Muslims.
When it became independent, Pakistan included two regions, called West Pakistan and East Pakistan. West Pakistan lay west of northern India, and East Pakistan lay east of northern India. The people in both areas were mostly Muslims, but their languages and ways of life were different. In 1971, war broke out between the two areas, and East Pakistan declared its independence. It became the nation of Bangladesh. West Pakistan became Pakistan.
In 1988, elections were held. Benazir Bhutto became prime minister. She was the first woman ever elected to head a Muslim government. She served from 1988 to 1990 and from 1993 to 1996. In 1999, General Pervez Musharraf overthrew the government. He declared himself president in 2001. In October 2007, the Pakistani Parliament elected Musharraf to another term as president. In December, Bhutto was assassinated while campaigning for a third term as prime minister.
Pakistan has also struggled with India over control of an area called Kashmir since 1947. In 2005, an earthquake struck northern Pakistan and parts of Kashmir, killing more than 73,000 Pakistanis and more than 1,300 Indians.
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