As 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.
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%.
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.
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.
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. 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.