Pakistan is a long narrow country, about the size of British Columbia, with diverse
landscapes and climates.
It is bounded by India to the east and southeast, the Arabian Sea to the south, Iran to the west, Afghanistan
to the west and northwest and China to the north. Through a system of canals, the river Indus runs through
Pakistan, irrigating most of the country. The five rivers of the Punjab flow into the Indus River. The word
Punjab comes from panj which means five and ab meaning water, the land
of the five rivers.
Pakistan is divided into four provinces: Punjab, Sind, the North-West Frontier and Baluchistan. Each province is home to different cultural groups who have their own distinctive languages and customs. Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, lies at the base of the Margalla Hill in the Punjab province. A majority of Pakistanis live in this province. Lahore is a major industrial and tourist centre known for its forts, gardens and mosques.
Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, is located in Sind province. It is a principal port and is important for commerce. The mountains of the North-West Frontier are picturesque. The famous Khyber Pass lies in these mountains. Some resorts are located in this area as well. Baluchistan is a province of contrasts. Parts of it are uninhabitable desert and other parts are forested and have many resorts. Baluchistan is rich in important minerals and produces the world's finest onyx, a semi-precious stone.
In the north are some of the highest mountains in the world, may of which are snow- covered all the year round. To the south are some of the hottest deserts in the world temperatures can hover around 50°C. These Southern areas are not irrigated by the rivers and canals that web the rest of the country.
Pakistan is in the warm Temperate zone with hot, dry, summers and cool winters. There are three distinct seasons. The northern areas can experience heavy snowfall and temperatures below freezing point.