pakistan at a glanceAs a tourist destination, Pakistan is probably one of the world's best kept secrets.
Not only does it offer some of the highest and most spectacular mountain ranges in the world, but also it boasts the architectural glories of the Mughal empire, the drama and adventure of the Khyber Pass; and the glories of the Karakoram Highway, which travels 1300km through stunning scenery beside the Indus and Hunza rivers, and over high mountain passes into central Asia.
Although subject to undeniable security problems, Pakistan offers a number of advantages: tourism is minimal and much of the country remains undiscovered by international travellers; Pakistanis are by nature a welcoming people and meet travellers with genuine interest and enthusiasm; the ancient bazaars offer unrivalled shopping; the cuisine is one of the most multi-facetted in the world and the culture and music one of the most colourful.
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, which means ‘Pure Land'.
Total area 803.950 Sq.Km.
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan borders Iran on the west, India in the east. Afghanistan in the north-west, China in the north and the Arabian Sea on the south.
Pakistan has three main seasons: cool (around October to February), hot (around March to June) and wet/monsoon (around July to September).
164,741,900 (2007 est). Population under 14: 37%, Adult literacy 63% (men) 36% women. Infant mortality rate 68%. GDP per capita US$2600. Unemployment rate 6.5%. Ranking on UN Human Development Index: 134 out of 178.
Punjabi 44.68%, Pashtun (Pathan) 15.42%, Sindhi 14.1%, Sariaki 8.38%, Muhagirs 7.57%, Balochi 3.57%, other 6.28%
As a predominantly Muslim state, Pakistan emerged on the world map on 14 August 1947, as a result of the partition of the Indian Sub-continent following the withdrawal of the British.
Muslim 95% (Sunni 75%, Shia 20%), other (includes Christian and Hindu) 5%.
Urdu is the official language, but English is widely spoken and understood. There are also several regional languages and local dialects. Punjabi 48%, Sindhi 12%, Siraiki (a Punjabi variant) 10%, Pashtu 8%, Urdu (official) 8%, Balochi 3%, Hindko 2%, Brahui 1%, English (official; lingua franca of Pakistani elite and most government ministries), Burushaski, and other 8%.
Agriculture: cotton, wheat, rice, sugarcane; milk.
Industry: textiles and apparel, food processing, beverages, construction materials.
Imports and exports
Exports: textiles, rice, leather, sports goods, carpets and rugs.
Imports: petroleum, petroleum products, machinery, plastics, transportation equipment, edible oils, paper and paperboard, iron and steel, tea
The Pakistani Rupee (PKR) is divided into 100 paise. Exchange rates
Pakistani rupees (PKR) per US dollar - 70.64 (2008 est.), 60.6295 (2007), 60.35 (2006), 59.515 (2005), 58.258 (2004)
Travellers cheques (best carried in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling) are accepted at most banks, four and five star hotels and major shops. Larger shops and hotels accept credit cards, mostly American Express.
Bank hours are from 9am to 1.30pm Monday to Saturday, but close at 12.30 pm on Fridays. Bargaining is expected in street markets and small stores.
Automatic teller machines can be found in hubs such as Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi and Quetta and a growing number of smaller centres. Major banks will accept Cirrus, Maestro, MasterCard and Visa.
Are accepted at all top-end hotels and the more upmarket restaurants and shops. Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted.
Where service has been added to your bill tipping is optional. Most hotels and restaurants include a 10% service charge. Where a fee has not been added a tip of around 5-10% is the norm. Porters should be tipped. Tipping is not mandatory for taxis. Tipping is appreciated elsewhere.
Pakistan is covered by a single time zone (GMT plus five hours).
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Round two- or three-pin plugs are used.
Pakistani tap water is not safe to drink. Bottled water is provided in all Serena hotels and resorts and all ice is made with boiled and purified water.
The international dialling code for Pakistan is +92. The outgoing international code is 00, followed by the relevant country code (e.g.0027 for South Africa). City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)51 for Islamabad, (0)21 for Karachi. There are several GSM 900 and 1800 mobile networks in operation, providing fair coverage, concentrated in urban areas. Internet cafes also exist in the main towns and cities.
Banks 9am to 1.30pm Monday to Thursday. 9am to 12.30pm Friday and Saturday
Businesses and shops 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm Saturday.
Major English language dailies in Pakistan include Dawn, The Nation, The News, Daily Times and Frontier Post. Pakistan has satellite and cable TV available at all top end and many midrange hotels. Channels include Discovery, BBC, CNN and Star Movies. The national broadcaster is PTV.
Pakistan is a special interest destination. Its main attractions include adventure tourism in the Northern Areas, cultural and archaeological tourism as found in Taxila, Moenjodaro, Harrappa, and early Muslim and Mughal heritage of Multan, Lahore. For centuries, the ancient Silk Road remained the main trading route between the South and the Central Asia. After the construction of the Karakoram Highway (KKH), which joins Pakistan with the Chinese Muslim autonomous region of Xinjang, tourism on the ancient trade link has been revived. The KKH has provided a great opportunity for international travelers to explore the unspoiled natural beauty, unique culture and traditions of Northern Pakistan together with other Silk Route destinations, such as China, Kirgizstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Sport and activities
From the mighty stretches of the Karakoram's in the north to the vast alluvial delta of the Indus River in the south, Pakistan is a land of high adventure. Trekking, mountaineering, white water rafting, wild boar hunting, mountain and desert jeep safaris, camel and yak safaris, trout fishing and bird watching are all popular activities.
The whole of Pakistan is dotted with magnificent shrines and mosques, some of the finest of which are in Lahore and souttern Punjab.
Pakistan is in the northwest part of South Asia. The eastern and southern parts of the country are dominated by the Indus River and its tributaries. Most of Pakistan's population lives along the Indus. West of the Indus the land becomes increasingly arid and mountainous. To the north the land rises to the great mountains of the Hindu Kush and Karakoram and include K2, the world's second highest mountain after Everest, at 8,611 meters (28,250 feet). The High Himalayas, Karakoram and the Hindukush ranges feature alpine meadows up to the permanent snow line. Coniferous forests and sub-mountain scrub cloak the foot hills. The vast plains of the Indus merge into the great desert, coast line and wetlands.
Flora and fauna
Pakistan is endowed with a rich and varied flora and fauna, both endemic and migratory. Pakistan's ocean-to-alpine geography supports an amazing variety of animals and plants: 188 species of mammals, 666 species of migratory and resident birds, 174 species of retiles, 16 species of amphibians and 525 species of fish. Of the approximately 5,000 wild plants, 372 are endemic.
National Parks and reserves
Pakistan has 255 protected areas including 14 national parks, 99 wildlife sanctuaries and 96 game reserved equating approximately to 91,700 sq km or 10.5% of the country. The main parks are : Central Karakoram National Park, Chitral Gol National Park, Deosai Plains National Park, Khunjerab National Park and Lal Suhanra National Park.
Visa and Health Certification
A visa must be obtained before arriving in Pakistan. The cost varies depending on nationality. Nationals of most countries are issued with a single-entry visa that enables entry up to six months from the date of issue. Tourist visas should be applied for at least 3 weeks in advance.
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required ONLY if you are arriving in Pakistan from an infected area.
A number of vaccinations are recommended for visitors to Pakistan (check with your doctor in advance).
Malaria is endemic in Pakistan and protection against it is necessary.
HIV/AIDS represents a serious problem throughout Asia.
Travellers to Pakistan are recommended to obtain medical insurance prior to arrival.
Visitors require a valid international driving permit and a carnet de passage.
Because Pakistan is a conservative society revealing clothing (sleeveless tops, shorts, miniskirts, tight or body-hugging items of clothing) are unacceptable. Women should be prepared to cover their head and chest when in the mosque, in a crowded bazaar or in conservative company. Sunbathing in public view other than in a hotel is not acceptable.
Pakistan is officially dry but non-Muslim visitors are permitted to consume alcohol in some hotels.