- Continent: Asia
- Area: 880,254 km²
- Population: 165,803,560
- Capital city: Islamabad
- ISO code: PK
- National language: Urdu, English
- International dialing code: +92
- Currency: Pakistani Rupee
- License plate number: PK
- Flight routes from Pakistan: 1873
- Flight routes to Pakistan: 2075
- Popular airports: Lahore (LHE), Islamabad (ISB), Sialkot (SKT), Karachi (KHI), Peshawar (PEW), Multan (MUX), Faisalabad (LYP), Rahim Yar Khan (RYK), Quetta (UET), Sukkur (SKZ)
- Large cities: Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Multan, Hyderabad, Gujranwala, Peshawar, Quetta, Islamabad, Bahāwalpur, Sargodha, Sialkot, Sukkur, Larkana
- Airlines based in Pakistan: Pakistan International Airlines, Shaheen Air International, Air Indus
Pakistan travel guide (Asia)
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a nation state in South Asia, has existed since 1947. It borders on the countries Iran, Afghanistan, China and India. In Urdu the name Pakistan means „land of the pure“.
Geography: Pakistan is a very dry country and can be divided up into three regions. The northern hinterland, the craggy and mountainous Hindu Kush and the flat fertile delta lowlands of the Indus valley that are intersected by five rivers and take up about a third of the total area of the country.
Mountains and rivers: the highest mountain in Pakistan and the second highest in the world is the K2 with a height of 8,611 m (28,251 ft). It is located in the mountain chain of the Karakorums, where, behind the polar area, the most glaciers in the world are to be found. This is also where Pakistan’s most famous mountain, the Nanga Parmat with an altitude of 8,126 m (26,660 ft) is to be found. The longest river is the Indus with an estimated length of 2,900 km.
Climate and best time to visit: the climate in Pakistan is dry, subtropical and continental with three noticeable seasonal differences. A warm season from December to March that, as in India, is also the most bearable and suitable for travelling. An extremely hot season from April to August and the monsoon season between September and November, when it rains or snows most in the northern mountainous regions as the climate here is that of a high mountain region all year round.
Language and communication: the official and national language is Urdu, a language that is similar to the Indian Hindu. In some regions the following languages are also spoken: Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtu and Baluchi. English is spoken and understood by most people in Pakistan.
Health and vaccinations: vaccination against hepatitis A, typhoid, diphtheria, polio and tetanus is recommended. Long clothing should be worn to provide protection against mosquitoes and other insects, and a locally purchased insect repellent should also be used. There is only a small malaria risk in Pakistan. Please seek advice from your GP on effective anti malaria medication. Medical care is sufficient in larger cities. Visitors are advised to take out comprehensive medical and travel insurance that covers repatriation costs. A first aid kit should be packed and fruit and vegetables peeled or boiled before being eaten
Entry requirements: British passport holders require a visa to enter Pakistan. Passports must be valid for at least six months from the date of arrival. Visa violations are treated as a criminal offence. Further advice and information on immigration requirements and for those travelling with children can be obtained from Pakistani representation in the UK. Some foreign nationals must register with the Police on arrival in Pakistan and refusal to do so may lead to arrest.
Arrival and onward journey: Etihad airways (EY) fly from London airports to Islamabad International Airport (ISB), Emirates (EK) serves Islamabad from London Gatwick (LGW). All flights involve at least one stopover. In Pakistan, flying is the most popular and fastest means of transport. Good domestic flights for example to Peshawar (PEW), Lahore (LHE), Karachi (KHI) or Faisalabad (LYP) are provided by several national airlines such as Aero Asia (E4) or Air Blue (ED).
Capital city: since 1959, the capital of Pakistan is Islamabad with about 800,000 inhabitants. It is a modern city, developed on the drawing board with numerous parks and gardens. The Faisal Masjid, the decorated golden and most modern mosque in the world is worth seeing: it is the landmark of Islamabad and was completed in 1984. The mosque was a present from the Saudi Arabian king Faisal and can accommodate about 9,000 worshipers. The mountainous highland north of the sister city, Rawalpindi, is also very beautiful and breathtaking. The swat valley, which is situated in the highlands, is well known for the numerous ruins of Buddhist monasteries, stupas and statues.
Places of interest and beaches: Karachi was the capital of Pakistan until 1959 and is now the third largest city in the world with 13 million inhabitants. The port is on the Arabian Sea near the mouth of the Indus. The most beautiful square in the city is worth a visit: Quaiz-e-Azam Mazar, with a mausoleum of the countries founder Ali Jinaah, it consists entirely of white marble and the best time to visit is during the exchange of the guards that takes place three times a day. The beach in Clifton is recommended for swimming. It is one of the longest beaches in the world and has a large selection of water sports on offer. Camel and horse riding is popular with the locals and the tourists. Further beaches in the vicinity of old Karachi are Sandspit Beach, French Beach, Russian Beach and Paradise Point, a sandstone rock with a natural arch.
The city of Thatta, near Karachi, is also well worth a visit. It is home to the grand Badshahi mosque of Shah Jahan that was built between 1647 and 1650. Sha Jahan is famous as the builder of the most famous building in India: the Taj Mahal in Agra. The mosque has 101 domes and is constructed so that the voice of the imam reaches every corner of the building without the need of a loudspeaker.
The oriental city of Peshawar on the north-western border to India is also very beautiful. It was founded 2000 years ago and since then is the most important trade centre between the Indian subcontinent and central Asia. The parks and city gardens that are protected by the 20 city gates are reminiscent of the British colonial era and invite the visitor to relax.
Highlight: Lahore on the border to India is the second largest city of Pakistan and the spiritual centre of Islam on the Indian subcontinent. It was once one of the grandest cities of the mogul empire and is home to the most impressive Islamic buildings of the country. This is the location of the Minar-e-Pakistan, a minaret 60 m in height with 2003 steps that was constructed at the place where the Muslim league concluded the Lahore resolution, resulting in the independence of Pakistan from India in 1940. Another of Lahore’s attractions is the Badshahi Masjid, the second largest mosque in Pakistan. It was built in 1673 and its inner yard provides enough space for up to 100,000 believers. The Shalimar gardens also enjoy world fame; they were erected in the 16th and 17th centuries and are now on the red list of endangered UNESCO world cultural heritage sites as the financial means needed for their restoration are unfortunately not available.
Religion: Islam is Pakistan’s state religion and 90 % of the population belong to Sunnite and Shiite Islam. There are also minorities of Christians, Parsees, Sikhs, Hindus and Jains.
Major cities and accommodation: the largest city of the country is Karachi, other million inhabitant cities are Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Multan, Rawalpindi and Hyderabad.