Geography of Pakistan

Desert, High Mountains, and Earthquakes

Karakorum range
mantaphoto / Getty Images

Pakistan, officially called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is located in the  Middle East near the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman. It is bordered by AfghanistanIranIndia, and China. Pakistan is also very close to Tajikistan, but the two countries are separated by the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan. The country has the sixth largest population in the world and the second largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia. The country is divided into four provinces, one territory, and one capital territory for local administration.

Pakistan Basic Facts

First, here are the basics:

Population: 204,924,861 (July 2017 estimate)
Capital: Islamabad
Bordering Countries: Afghanistan, Iran, India, and China
Land Area: 307,374 square miles (796,095 sq km)
Coastline: 650 miles (1,046 km)
Highest Point: K2 at 28,251 feet (8,611 m)
Largest cities: Karachi (15.4 million), Lahore (11.7 million), Faisalabad (3.3 million), Rawalpindi (2.2 million), and Gujranwala (2.1 million)
Language: Urdu (official language) but English, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, Baloch, Hindko, Barhui, and Saraiki are also spoken
Life expectancy: 66 years for men and 70 years for women

Geography and Climate of Pakistan

Pakistan has a varied topography that consists of the flat, Indus plain in the east and the Balochistan plateau in the west. In addition, the Karakoram Range, one of the world's highest mountain ranges, is in the north and northwest part of the country. The world's second highest mountain, K2, is also within Pakistan's borders, as is the famous 38-mile (62 km) Baltoro Glacier. This glacier is considered one of the longest glaciers outside of the Earth's polar regions.

The climate of Pakistan varies with its topography, but most of it consists of hot, dry desert, while the northwest is temperate. In the mountainous north, though, the climate is harsh and considered Arctic.

Economics and Land Use in Pakistan

Pakistan is considered a developing nation and as such it has a highly underdeveloped economy. This is largely because of its decades of political instability and a lack of foreign investment. Textiles are Pakistan's main export, but it also has industries that include food processing, pharmaceuticals, construction materials, paper products, fertilizer, and shrimp. Agriculture in Pakistan includes cotton, wheat, rice, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables, milk, beef, mutton, and eggs. Resources include natural gas reserves and limited petroleum.

Urban vs. Rural

Just over one-third of the population lives in urban areas (36.7 percent), though that number is increasing slightly. Most of the population lives in the areas near the Indus River and its tributaries, with Punjab the most densely populated province. 


Pakistan is situated above two tectonic plates, the Eurasian and Indian plates, their motion making the country primarily a site of major strike-slip earthquakes. Earthquakes above 5.5 on the Richter scale are relatively common. Their location in relation to population centers determines whether there will be extensive loss of life. For example, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake January 18, 2010, in southwest Pakistan, didn't cause any fatalities, but another in the same province that came in at a 7.7 in September 2013 killed more than 800. Four days later another 400 were killed in the province in a 6.8 magnitude quake. The worst in recent memory was in Kashmir in the north in October 2005. It measured 7.6, killed 80,000, and left 4 million homeless. More than 900 aftershocks rolled on afterward for almost three weeks. 


Central Intelligence Agency. "CIA: The World Factbook: Pakistan." Retrieved from:

Dawn. "Timeline of major earthquakes in Pakistan: 1971-2018."