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Pakistan

Introduction

Pakistan (păkˈĭstănˌ, päkĭstänˈ) [key], officially Islamic Republic of Pakistan, republic (2005 est. pop. 162,420,000), 310,403 sq mi (803,944 sq km), S Asia. Pakistan is bordered by India on the east, the Arabian Sea on the south, Iran on the southwest, and Afghanistan on the west and north; in the northeast is the disputed territory (with India) of Kashmir, of which the part occupied by Pakistan borders also on China. Islamabad is the capital and Karachi is the largest city. Pakistan is composed of four provinces—Baluchistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North-West Frontier Province), Punjab, and Sind, all of which closely coincide with the historic regions—and two federal territories, one the site of the capital and the other a federally administered grouping known as the Tribal Areas along the central Afghanistan border. The Tribal Areas are essentially autonomous, with little government presence, and are governed largely by tribal traditions and councils. Pakistani-controlled Kashmir is divided into the Gilgit-Baltisan (formerly the Northern Areas) and Azad Kashmir. Pakistan formerly consisted of two regions—West Pakistan and East Pakistan—located in the northwestern and northeastern corners of the Indian subcontinent and separated from each other by more than 1,000 mi (1,610 km) of India; East Pakistan became the independent state of Bangladesh following the 1971 civil war.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Pakistan and Bangladesh Political Geography

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