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Pakistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a sovereign country in South Asia. It sits at the crossroads of the strategically important regions of South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. It has a 1,046-kilometre (650 mi) coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by India to the east, Afghanistan to the west and north, Iran to the southwest and China in the far northeast. It is separated from Tajikistan by Afghanistan's narrow Wakhan Corridor in the north, and it shares a marine border with Oman.
The territory of modern Pakistan was the site of several ancient cultures, including the Neolithic Mehrgarh and the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilisation, and has undergone invasions or settlements by Hindu, Persian, Indo-Greek, Islamic, Turco-Mongol, Afghan and Sikh cultures. Thus the area has been ruled by numerous empires and dynasties, including the Indian Mauryan Empire, the Persian Achaemenid Empire, the Arab Umayyad Caliphate, the Mongol Empire, the Mughal Empire, the Durrani Empire, the Sikh Empire and the British Empire. As a result of the Pakistan Movement led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah and India's struggle for independence, Pakistan was created in 1947 as an independent nation for Muslims from the regions in the east and west of India where there was a Muslim majority. Initially a dominion, Pakistan adopted a new constitution in 1956, becoming an Islamic republic. A civil war in 1971 resulted in the secession of East Pakistan as the new country of Bangladesh.
Pakistan is a federal parliamentary republic consisting of four provinces and four federal territories. With a population exceeding 170 million people, it is the sixth most populous country in the world and has the largest Muslim population after Indonesia. It is an ethnically and linguistically diverse country, with a similar variation in its geography and wildlife. Its semi-industrialized economy is the 27th largest in the world in terms of purchasing power. Pakistan's post-independence history has been characterised by periods of military rule, political instability and conflicts with neighbouring India. The country continues to face challenging problems, including terrorism, poverty, illiteracy and corruption.
A regional and middle power, Pakistan has the seventh largest standing armed forces in the world and is a declared nuclear weapons state, being the first and only nation in the Muslim world, and the second in South Asia, to have that status. It is designated as a major non-NATO ally of the United States and a strategic ally of China. Pakistan is a founding member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (now the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) and is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations and the G20 developing nations.
Pakistan covers an area of 796,095 km2 (307,374 sq mi), approximately equaling the combined land areas of France and the United Kingdom. It is the 36th largest nation by total area, although this ranking varies depending on how the disputed territory of Kashmir is counted. Apart from the 1,046 km (650 mi) coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south, Pakistan's land borders a total of 6,774 km (4,209 mi)—2,430 km (1,510 mi) with Afghanistan, 523 km (325 mi) with China, 2,912 km (1,809 mi) with India and 909 km (565 mi) with Iran. Pakistan shares a marine border with Oman, and is separated from Tajikistan by the frigid, narrow Wakhan Corridor. Located at the crossroads of South Asia, Middle East and Central Asia, Pakistan has an important geopolitical position in the world.
Geologically, Pakistan overlaps with the Indian tectonic plate in its Sindh and Punjab provinces, while Balochistan and most of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lie within the Eurasian plate which mainly comprises the Iranian plateau. Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir lie mainly in Central Asia along the edge of the Indian plate and are hence prone to violent earthquakes. Pakistan's geography is a mix of landscape varying from plains to deserts, forests, hills and plateaus ranging from the coastal areas of the south to the glaciated mountains of the north.
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