At the beach in Koh Nang Yuan, Thailand

By Norbert Figueroa, an experienced architect, travel writer, long-term budget traveler, and photographer with over 13 years of travel experience in over 139 countries and counting. @globotreks

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You might know Pakistan as the land of mangoes, towering mountains, and cricket-obsessed citizens. However, there’s more to this fascinating country than meets the eye — thanks to its ancient history and vibrant culture. 

Pakistan is a special country known for making tourists feel like royalty. The unmissable dramatic landscapes, natural beauty, and culinary escapades are heavenly.

However, not everyone gets to travel to this South Asian jewel. These facts about Pakistan will surely clue you in on the lesser-known (and quirky) bits of information so you don’t have to stray from the conversation.

Who knows, after reading this, you might finally understand why Pakistan is one of the best South Asian places to visit in the world. 

Ready to broaden your knowledge? Let’s jump in. 

Badshahi Mosque in Lahore Pakistan

1. Pakistan Has the World’s Second-Largest Muslim Population

The country is officially known as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for a reason. And that’s because it contains the second largest population of Muslims all over the globe, after its fellow Southeast Asian country, Indonesia

The fact that Pakistan currently has a population of nearly 243 million people adds to this statistic. Not only that, but about 97% of Pakistanis are Muslims. 

2. Imran Khan Went From Famous Cricket Captain to an Iconic Pakistani Politician

Prime minister Imran Khan made history in the world of politics and sport when he went from a cricketing hero to prime minister and then ousted opposition leader.

Imran Khan, born on October 5th, 1952, in Lahore, became one of the greatest cricket players when he captained the Pakistani team to its first World Cup title. 

His celebrity status didn’t end there. Instead, he entered the realm of philanthropy and later, politics. He then worked his way up to becoming the 22nd prime minister of Pakistan, serving between 2018–2022.  

Malala Yousafzai
Photo by Southbank CentreCC BY 2.0

3. Pakistan Is Home to the Youngest Nobel Prize Winner 

The name Malala Yousafzai will stand the test of time in world history to come. This resulted from Malala’s bravery when she took a bullet to stand up for girls’ education, opposing the radical Taliban restrictions of 2012. 

Since the incident, she became a Pakistani education activist and the youngest person ever to receive the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. 

4. One of the World’s Oldest and Largest Civilizations Thrived in This Country 

As the world’s fifth most populous country, you can expect a melting pot of cultures and languages. One that has thrived throughout Pakistan’s history is the renowned Indus Valley Civilization. 

The Indus Valley Civilization is one of the three earliest to exist, along with ancient Mesopotamians and Egyptians. Part of the Bronze Age, this society lasted from 3300 BCE through 1300 BCE in the northwestern parts of South Asia, comprising Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.

Growing along the banks of the Indus River, this society encompassed thoroughly planned cities and towns with water and drainage infrastructure that resembles modern government-like systems. 

Traces of this ancient civilization can be found in museums across the globe in the form of relics, weaponry, handicrafts, and fossils. 

Book in Urdu

5. Urdu is the Official National Language, But It’s the Fourth Most Commonly Spoken

Expanding on the previous point, Pakistan has abundant languages attached to all its different cultures. Currently, there are 14 other languages spoken, including Urdu, Punjab, Pashto, Sindhi, and Saraiki. 

According to Translators Without Borders, Punjabi is the most widely spoken language in the country — 39% of the population speaks Punjabi as their first language. This is followed by Pushto (16%), then Saraiki (14%). 

Urdu and English are the official languages. However, only about 10% of Pakistan’s population uses it. English comes in last place, with only 0.01% of the people using it as their first language to communicate. 

ATM at night

6. The National Bank of Pakistan Has the World’s Highest ATM

Fancy drawing some fresh notes from the world’s highest ATM? You can’t really say you’ve lived life to the extreme if you haven’t had this bucket-list-worthy moment (just kidding).

Imagine this; you’re surrounded by snow-capped mountains, a staggering 15,300 ft (4693 m) above ground, just to draw some cash from a solar and wind-powered ATM.

There’s a reason for its seemingly odd location at the Khunjerab Pass border between China and Pakistan, though. This cash machine aids staff and residents crossing the Pakistani-Chinese border. As for travelers, they come here for epic selfies while, you know, drawing cash.

7. The South Asia Crisis Led to the Founding of Bangladesh

Bangladesh was once known as East Pakistan, a Pakistani province established in 1955 by the One Unit Policy. While West and East Pakistan shared a dominant religion of Islam, there were still significant cultural, language, and ethnic differences. 

During the 1970 parliamentary elections, the majority of East Pakistan sought to vote for autonomy, which the existing Pakistani government detested resulting in mass protests that the army violently suppressed. 

Naturally, a massive movement of refugees into neighboring India ensued, to which India responded by supporting East Pakistan’s efforts against the army. 

West Pakistan retaliated with open-air attacks on India, which sparked a third war between the powerful countries. Eventually, Pakistan would accede to establishing the independent state of Bangladesh in 1974. 

Next Read: If you enjoy these facts about Pakistan, you might also like these 40 facts about India.  

Karakoram Highway in Pakistan

8. The Highest-paved International Road in the World Is in Pakistan

Technically a part of China as well, the Karakoram Highway (KKH) connects the western parts of China to Pakistan.  

Known as the China-Pakistan friendship highway, this road’s construction started in 1962 and was completed and opened in 1979. It’s one of the few roads that cross the Himalayas, extending almost 500 miles (800 km). 

Tip: Why not take up an epic adventure along the Karakoram Highway and into the magical Hunza Valley with a 9-day cultural tour? 

Faisal Mosque in Islamabad

9. The World’s Fifth-Largest Mosque Resides in Pakistan’s Capital City

Pakistan’s capital city, Islamabad, is home to one of the largest mosques in the world and the largest in South Asia, the Faisal Mosque. 

The mosque is located in the Margalla Hills and stands out for its unique appearance. Unlike most mosques that feature the typical dome structure, this landmark boasts an unconventional design shaped like a Bedouin tent surrounded by four towering minarets. 

As the iconic symbol of Islamabad, you can imagine how many visitors it receives daily. About 300,000 worshippers can fit into this massive mosque during a prayer session. 

10. Pakistan is Home to the Largest Sea Port in the World

The Arabian Sea sits along Pakistan’s southern border, with a coastline stretching for 649.9 miles (1,046 kilometers), which the Indus River flows into.

This sea grants access to several significant shipping lanes and encompasses many major ports. So it serves as an essential trade route between Pakistan and other countries. 

Unsurprisingly, the country is working with China to develop the largest natural deep port in the world. It will be known as the Gwadar Port in the Arabian Sea, serving as a portal to Western China and landlocked Asian countries. 

Football in the field

11. Pakistan Is the Largest Football Producer

While Pakistan has an affinity for cricketing, it plays a major role in the footballing realm, not for the actual sport but for producing more than half of the world’s footballs. Nearly 70% of the globe’s soccer balls are made in Sialkot, Pakistan.  

Moreover, the multi-national company in Sialkot, Forward Sports, makes 750,000 balls per month for renowned brands, including Adidas.   

Field Hockey Players

12. Field Hockey is Pakistan’s National Sport

Here’s one of the Pakistan facts that might shock you: contrary to popular belief — field hockey is actually the country’s national sport. In fact, Pakistan’s achievements in field hockey are often overlooked by their cricketing accomplishments.

The country has won both World Cup and Olympic awards in this sport. And did you know that Pakistan holds the record of being the most successful nation in the men’s hockey World Cup? 

Pakistan has achieved four titles (1971, 1978, 1982, and 1994). Only three other countries have won three World Cups: Germany, the Netherlands, and Australia

Related Read: Here are 22 Facts about Australia you would never have guessed.  

Tarbela Dam, Pakistan

13. Home to the Largest Earth-Filled Dam

The Tarbela Dam in the small town of Tarbela is the world’s largest earth and rock-fill dam. Built 482 ft (147 m) above the Indus River, this dam serves as a source of hydroelectricity to the nation. 

An earth-filled dam or embankment dam is a vast artificial dam built with compacted layers of earth by utilizing the most impermeable materials. So, a man-made dam made from soil and impenetrable materials? 

K2 Mountain

14. You’ll Find One of the Highest and Most Dangerous Mountains in Pakistan

Pakistan is home to the second-highest mountain peak, Killer K2 (or Godwin Austin), which forms part of the Karakoram Mountain Range (or Greater Himalaya Mountain range). This mountain reaches 28,251 feet (8,611 meters) — insane, right?

And that’s not all. Many think that summiting Mount Everest is the most dangerous climb. However, the K2 mountain is the deadliest of the five highest mountains in the world — it’s called ‘Killer Mountain,’ after all. 

It’s so dangerous that approximately one out of four people die on the mountain before reaching the summit. It’s believed that the steepness and the icy and windy conditions make this mountain so dangerous. 

Thar Desert, Pakistan

15. The World’s Only Fertile Desert Lies in Pakistan’s Southern Province   

You’ll find the only existing fertile desert in Pakistan’s Sindh province. The Tharparkar Desert landscape transforms into a lush green vista after sufficient rainfall, allowing farmers to reap a good harvest.

It hosts an array of indigenous trees, grasses, and herbs — which sounds odd considering it’s the 18th largest desert in the world. This unique phenomenon attracts many tourists to Sindh to witness the desert in full bloom. 

16. Pakistan Was Once Under British India Rule

Also known as the British raj, there was a time when the British Crown ruled directly over the Indian subcontinent. The British ruled from 1858 until 1947 — when India and Pakistan finally gained independence. 

Countries that fall under the Indian subcontinent include India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives

Polo Match

17. The Highest Polo Ground in the World

Pakistanis also love polo so much that they’ve decided to open up the highest polo ground ever. Reaching heights of 12,139 ft (3,700 m), you’ll find the polo ground at Shandur Top in District Ghizer, Gilgit–Baltistan, Pakistan. 

The traditional Shandur Polo Festival has been taking place here since 1936, ensuring the rivalry between local teams takes place.

Visitors are further entertained with dance and folk music to enhance the celebratory setting. Between the highest ATM and polo grounds, you’ll surely live the high life in Pakistan (wink). 

18. Home to the World’s Second-largest Salt Mines

Rising from the Indo-Gangetic Plain is the Potohar plateau, where you’ll find the world’s second-largest salt mine, the Khewra Salt Mine. And, of course, this epic natural wonder sits in the Punjab Region of Pakistan. 

The Khewra mines produce 325,000 tons of salt annually and contain over 24 miles (40km) of tunnels. It’s so big that the mine has a mosque and miniature salt statues of famous landmarks such as the Great Wall of China and the Badshahi Mosque.

The world-famous pink Himalayan salt is also mined in Pakistan near the foothills of the Himalayas. 

Computer Screen with Virus

19. Pakistani Brothers Invented the First PC Virus

Two Pakistani brothers, Basit and Amjad Farooq Alvi, wrote the first ever PC virus for Windows in 1986. The mind-blowing thing is they were only 17 and 24 years old when they wrote it.

Simply named the “brain,” the brothers explained that the virus wasn’t created to damage other computers, but rather to protect their medical software from copycats (interesting indeed). 

20. Home to the Youngest Civilian Judge in the World

Pakistan made history again when the country became the birthplace of the youngest civil judge worldwide. Muhammad Ilyas (not to be mistaken for the Karachi Kings cricketer) passed the civil judge exam at only 20 years old. 

21. Pakistan Produced the First Female Prime Minister of the Muslim World

While Pakistan has suffered many political issues, the country broke huge barriers when Benazir Bhutto, a woman, rose to such a powerful position in an Islamic state.

Serving as her country’s 11th and 13th prime minister, she managed to maintain her position until she faced corruption charges and had to spend years in exile in London. 

Benazir Bhutto also made history by being the youngest elected leader in the Islamic world. She was also the youngest PM in the world and the youngest female PM ever elected — at only 35 years old. 

Changa Manga Forest in Pakistan

22. Home to the Largest Man-Made Forest on the Globe

Pakistan seems to enjoy breaking world records, so it makes sense that the country has the world’s largest man-made forest, the mythical Changa Manga Forest.

It’s also one of the oldest plantations, boasting abundant plant and wildlife species. The forest contains over 50 species of birds and 14 species of mammals. 

Located south of Lahore, the Changa Manga Forest Park covers 12,510 acres of irrigated plantations and even features an artificial lake and a miniature railway. Practically a mini zoo, this forest is seen as the largest wildlife reserve in Pakistan.  

23. Pakistan Is Excellent for Freelance Work

If you enjoy working from home on your terms, then this is the country for you. Why, though? Well, Pakistan currently boasts the fourth biggest number of freelancing jobs in the entire globe. The freelancing industry in Pakistan racked up over $1 billion in 2017 alone.

Pakistan is fourth, just after India, Bangladesh, and the US. The average Pakistani freelancer earns about $354 or 100182 PKR (Pakistani Rupee) per month, which is higher than the average salary of $288 or 81,800 PKR. 

Kalash, Pakistan

24. Pakistan Has A Unique Indo-Aryan People Living in the Hindu Kush Mountains

The Kalasha (or Kalash) are an Indo-Aryan indigenous people isolated in Hindu Kush mountain valleys in northwest Pakistan, making them unique from the rest of the country.

As one of the religious minorities, there are only 5,000 known individuals representing their distinctive cultural traditions and beliefs. 

The traditional Kalash religion is based on animism (the belief that all objects, places, and creatures possess a spirit) and ancient Vedic Hinduism.

Regarding ethnicity, the Kalash tribal genetics traces back to the Western Eurasian race. A Eurasian is someone with a mixture of European and Asian parentage. 

25. A Pakistani Family Holds the World Record for Most Birthdays on One Day

You read that right, all nine members of this Pakistani family celebrate their birthday on the same day! What are the odds? Ali Mangi, his wife Khudija, and their seven children have to sing ‘happy birthday to you’ to each other in one day (imagine all the stress about gifts). 

Ambulance in Service

26. The Largest Volunteer Ambulance Service

This is one of the most heartwarming facts about Pakistan. It seems this country cares about its citizen’s safety and well-being. Otherwise, why would it be home to the largest volunteer ambulance service in the world?

Holding this record since 1997, the Edhi Foundation works around the clock for anyone needing healthcare, orphanage services, drug rehabilitation, homeless shelters, and more. Today, this foundation operates over 300 centers in Pakistan.  

Next Read: Here’s why Southeast Asia is so popular with backpackers.

Facts About Pakistan That Will Surprise You
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