Balochistan is the largest but also the least populated province of Pakistan. Natural resources are found in abundance in this region.
Last Updated: 24 Apr. 2014
Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan with an area of 347,190 square km, which is 43.6% of Pakistan’s entire area. It is located in the southwest corner of Pakistan. Balochistan borders Iran to the southwest and Afghanistan to the northwest. The province of Sindh lies to its southeast, Punjab borders it to the northeast, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA lie immediately north of it. The Arabian Sea bounds the 750 kilometer long southern coast of Balochistan. It is rich in natural resources, being the second major supplier of natural gas in Pakistan. However, the distribution of income from natural resources has been a source great tension and debate for the province.
Balochistan is the least populated province of Pakistan with approximately 6% of Pakistan’s population residing there. In 2005 the National Institute of Population Studies (NIPS) estimated that the population of Balochistan was approximately 7.8 million with a growth rate of 2.5%. In 2011 the Census Bureau of Pakistan house listing operation estimated the population of Balochistan to be approximately 13 million. In addition, it stated that since the 1998 census, Balochistan’s population has grown by 139%, the highest increase in all the provinces. These figures are highly contested by Balochi nationalist parties who claim that millions of Afghan refugees have been listed as locals and local Balochis, displaced due to heavy flooding, are unaccounted for. Though the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) documents over 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees as of early 2013, local sources claim that up to 4 million Afghanis were present in Balochistan as of mid 2012.
Balochistan means the land of Balochi people but this area has been known by various names throughout its long and varied history. Across time, different regions of Balochistan have been linked with Iran, Afghanistan, India and even Oman. The Balochi tribes most likely originated in areas around the Caspian Sea and slowly shifted east across Iran and eventually reached their present home in around 1000-1300 AD. They were mentioned by Firdausi in his famous epic, Shahnama, as being warlike. Upon their arrival, local tribes such as the Brahui put up resistance to these newcomers, but today they have become much assimilated.
A variety of languages are spoken in Balochistan. The main languages spoken include Balochi, Brahui, and Pushto. Other languages spoken include Dehwari, Farsi, Hazaragi, Jadgali, Khetrani, Lasi, and Waneci.
Balochistan province has 6 divisions as follows. Several districts are newly created:
Quetta Division has 5 districts: Quetta, Pishin, Qilla Abdullah, Chagai, and Nushki.
Zhob Division has 6 districts: Zhob, Musakhail, Qilla Saifullah, Loralai, Barkhan, and Sherani.
Kalat Division has 7 districts: Kalat, Mastung, Khuzdar, Kharan, Washuk, Awaran, and Lasbela.
Sibi Division has 5 districts: Sibi, Ziarat, Dera Bugti, Kohlu, and Harnai.
Nasirabad Division has 6 districts: Nasirabad, Jaffarabad, Jhal Magsi, Sohbatpur, Lehri, and Kachi. Kachi district was formerly known as Bolan district until 2008.
Makran Division has 3 districts: Kech, Panjgur, and Gwadar.
Major cities in Balochistan include Quetta, Kalat, Kech and Khuzdar. Additional cities are difficult to determine given the lack of consistent population figures.