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Pakistan*Pakistan flag
Basic facts
The country 
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Capital: Islamabad
Area: 796,095 sq km; 307,374 sq miles
Population: 144,616,639 (July 2001 estimate)
Urbanisation: Urban 36 per cent; Rural 64 per cent


Exports: Cotton, textiles, clothing, rice, leather, carpets

Industry: Textiles, food processing, beverages, construction materials, clothing, paper products, shrimp

Agriculture: Major crops: cotton, wheat, rice, sugar cane, fruits, vegetables; livestock products: milk, beef, mutton, eggs

Currency: 1 Pakistani rupee (PKR), consisting of 100 paisa

Natural resources: Natural gas, petroleum, low-grade coal, iron ore, copper, salt, limestone


The people

Ethnic: Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtun (Pathan), Baluch, Muhajir (people of Indian origin)

Language: Urdu (official), English (official; commonly used), Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, Balochi. Many languages and dialects are spoken in Pakistan, reflecting the country's ethnic diversity. English is an official language and is used in Government and education. However, the use of Urdu, the other official language, is encouraged in place of English to foster unity. Although only 7 per cent of the people speak Urdu as a first language, most Pakistanis speak it as a second language. Each province is free to use its own regional languages and dialects.

Religion: Muslim 97 per cent (Sunni 77 per cent , Shi'a 20 per cent), Christian, Hindu, and other 3 per cent.


The history

Independence: 14 August 1947 (from the United Kingdom)

Government: Pakistan's President, who is elected by the national and provincial legislatures, has the power under the constitution to dismiss the Prime Minister and dissolve parliament. The bicameral legislature comprises a 217-member national assembly (the lower house) elected for five years and an 87-member senate elected to six-year terms; one-third of senate seats are up for election every two years. Pakistan is made up of four provinces (each with an appointed governor and an elected legislature), the federal capital of Islamabad and federally administered "tribal" areas. The voting age is 18. There has been an ongoing debate within Pakistan as to how much influence shariah (the Islamic code of religious law) should have on society. Most people support the current approach in which shariah is used when practical, but Western legal and business practices also exist. This approach allows for certain personal freedoms, but some Pakistanis oppose the mixed system, which they claim undermines Islamic values.

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