Balochistan


Balochistan

Province (pop., 1998: 6,511,000), southwestern Pakistan.

Its capital is Quetta (pop., 1998: 560,307). Its landscape includes mountains, notably the Sulaiman and Kithar ranges; barren, flat plains; arid desert; and marshy swamps. In ancient times, it was part of Gedrosia. Alexander the Great traversed it in 325 BC. It was included in the Bactrian kingdom, then was ruled by Arabs from the 7th to the 10th century AD. It was ruled by Persia for centuries, with the exception of a period when it belonged to the Mughal Empire (1594–1638). It became a British dependency in 1876 and a British province of India in 1887. It was made part of Pakistan in 1947–48 and was designated a separate province in 1970. Wheat, sorghum, and rice are staple crops; manufactures include cotton and woolen goods.

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also spelled  Balūchistān 

      westernmost province of Pakistan. It is bordered by Iran (west), by Afghanistan (northwest), by North-West Frontier and Punjab provinces (northeast and east), by Sindh province (southeast), and by the Arabian Sea (south).

      Although an indigenous population of the region passed through the Stone and Bronze ages and was part of Alexander the Great's empire, the Baloch people themselves did not enter the region until the 14th century AD. The Baloch and Pashtun (Pathan) people constitute the two major and more distinct ethnic groups; a mixed ethnic stock, mainly of Sindhi origin, forms the third major group. Balochi, Brahui, Pashto, and Sindhi are the main languages. Balochistān was established as a separate province in its present form in 1970. It is the largest and most sparsely populated province in Pakistan. Its capital is Quetta.

      There are four major physical regions in Balochistān. The upper highlands of the central and northeastern areas are bounded by the Sulaimān Range to the east and the Toba Kākar Range to the northwest. The lower highlands include the eastern slopes of the Sulaimān Range; the lower ranges of the Makrān, Khārān, and Chāgai on the west; and the Pab and Kīrthar ranges on the southeast. These highland regions are primarily inhabited by nomadic herdsmen. Flat plains extend northward along the coast into the mountains; in the northwest an arid desert region consists of the Chāgai, Khārān, and Makran deserts and the swamps of Lora and Māshkel. The upper highlands drain into the Indus River, while the lower highlands drain northward into the swamps or southward into the Arabian Sea. Outside the influence of the Asian monsoon, most of the province is dry with continental extremes of heat and cold.

      Agriculture is limited by the scarcity of water, power, and adequate transportation facilities. Wheat, jowar (sorghum), and rice are the major food crops, and fruits are the principal cash crops. Sheep raising employs the great majority of the population and occupies most of the land. The sheep provide a high-quality wool, part of which is exported. Almost all industry is small-scale and includes cotton and woolen manufacturing, food processing, carpet making, textile and leather embroidery, small machinery and appliance manufacturing, and handicrafts. The transportation network is poorly developed, but roads connect the major towns, and Quetta is connected by road to the ocean port of Karāchi in Sindh province. Quetta is a centre of the railway network, and its airport offers domestic service.

      The University of Balochistān was established in Quetta in 1970. The Balochi Academy and the Pashto Academy, also in Quetta, promote the preservation of traditional cultures. Area 134,051 square miles (347,190 square km). Pop. (2003 est.) 7,450,000.

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Universalium. 2010.

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