Pakistan (پاکِستان), officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It has a 1,046 kilometre (650 mile) coastline along the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman in the south, and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and the People’s Republic of China in the far northeast. Tajikistan also lies very close to Pakistan but is separated by the narrow Wakhan Corridor. Thus, it occupies a crossroads between South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.
The region forming modern Pakistan was at the heart of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation and then later was the recipient of Vedic, Persian, Turco-Mongol, Indo-Greek and Islamic cultures. The area has witnessed invasions and/or settlements by the Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Arabs, Turks, Afghans, Mongols, Sikhs and the British.
In addition to the Indian independence movement which demanded an independent India, the Pakistan Movement (led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah of the Muslim League), which also sought an independent India, sought an independent state for the majority Muslim populations of the eastern and western regions of British India. The British granted independence and also the creation of the Muslim majority state of Pakistan that comprised the provinces of Sindh, North-West Frontier Province, West Punjab, Balochistan and East Bengal. With the adoption of its constitution in 1956, Pakistan became an Islamic republic. In 1971, a civil war in East Pakistan resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.
Pakistan’s history has been characterized by periods of military rule and political instability. It is a developing country that faces problems with high levels of poverty and illiteracy. It is also the sixth most populous country in the world and has the second largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia. Pakistan has the second largest Shia Muslim population in the world. It is the world’s only Muslim-majority nuclear state. Pakistan is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Next Eleven economies and the D8.