1 million (UN, 2005) Capital: Islamabad Area: 796,095 sq km (307,374 sq miles), excluding Pakistani-held parts of Kashmir (83,716 sq km/32,323 sq miles) Major languages: Urdu (official), Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, Balochi and English Major religion: Islam Life expectancy: 63 years (men), 63 years (women) (UN) Monetary unit: 1 Pakistani Rupee = 100 paisa Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a nation greatly concealed from the west with a forefront of religious extremism and violence, which are unfortunately not unfounded.
From massive Pakistani militant movements to their connections in public university, travellers and locals believe it a great danger to be here.
Pakistan does not deny the horrific situations brought about by the conservativists like the Islam Jamiat Taliban, and this resistance by fascists has been made ubiquitous with locals fearing for their seemingly insignificant lives.
The short-lived and often transitory security and peace which are raw and real, in no way hyped, it proves a mighty feat to crave to see the other side of the coin, an educated view of the rich cultural heritage and the entailing tourist attractions, architectural marvels, music and art.
Pakistan is a country always in the headlines, but so far from the truth.
However, Pakistan is progressing and evolving with time, and with a drag at that.
As a country hampered by outdated traditions and poverty, it has become a place where art and cultures are flourishing with particular focus to the media, all in this freshly achieved MTV generation.
Now, Pakistan is that country like it is a country where young people dream to be big and cool.
And it is this blooming trait that credits Pakistan as an "up-and-coming" tourist destination.
GEOGRAPHY & CLIMATE Pakistan (30 00 N, 70 00 E) is a 796,095 km2 large chunk of land in South Asia big enough to have 3 different climates: desert in the east, temperate on the mountain ranges northwest, and arctic in the north.
The legendary Indus plain lies vastly in the east and the prestigious Karakoram Mountain range and the Kirthar range lies up north and northwest.
The real and sole crowd puller of Pakistan for the most part, the K2 or Mt.
Godwin-Austen, is the land's highest point, second in the world at an altitude of 8,611 metres above the sea level, that is the Indian Ocean.
In part due to this size and diverse land, the country relinquishes to 4 seasons, cool and dry winter from December to February, warm spring from March through May, warm and wet summer for the months of June to September, and slightly cooler autumn retreat of the monsoons from October through November.
PEOPLE & CULTURE The Pakistani, as a result, benefit from ample resources and arable land of 24.
An enormous advantage to the 169,342,000 Pakistanis who require a lot from the land and natural resources no doubt, being the sixth most heavily populated country ahead of Russia.
The Punjabis, the dominant ethnic group, are a small number far from constituting half the population (44.
68%), while Islam is the state religion with followers of as much as 96% of the population.
The minuscule remainder of Hindus and Christians are victims of religion-relate violence by militant Muslims.
URDU is the national language used at home, soap operas, etc.
but other Pakistani languages and dialects are also in use such as Punjabi, Pashto, Burushaski, and so on.
ENGLISH, on the other is the other de facto state language utilized in political, education, and business matters, and is also widely spoken in varying levels among the population, with the level of proficiency superior among the elites who have had higher levels of study.
FOOD & ATTRACTION In 2008, Pakistan telecom forced its customers down a cul de sac by interrupting internet traffic as an attempt to block YouTube within the country.
This leaked across the globe making YouTube inaccessible worldwide for 2 hours that day, thus showing that governments, in this case the Pakistani government, who are wont to control internet traffic can do so with ease.
If anything, this says Pakistani is technologically up-to-date like its western urbanized cities of Karachi and Lahore that would logically make foreigners feel at home, wholly contrastive to the imagery of rickshaw camels and people bouncing produce up on their heads.
Karachi, the 8th largest city in the world, is cosmopolitan with a beach! But Pakistan is more of the mountaineer crowd pleaser with its lure of the Karakoram and the K2, as well as its almost unheard of scenic spectacle the Baltoro Glacier up north which is one of the longest glaciers outside the polar regions.
What are even more unheard of are the country's clear lakes and resplendent beaches that are politically veiled by tumultuous borders of Iran, India, and Afghanistan.
Since 2007, rhythmic failed endeavours at launching Pakistan's tourism industry have left people to question if the new Pakistan everybody's talking about is worth seeing, being a tough neighbourhood that is.
Nonetheless, the mythical snow leopards of the Hindu Kush are worth all the time in the world, just as much as Pakistani food which the greater number of us know and love such as kebabs with flat bread or rice.
Meat is pretty standard and is a major ingredient in most dishes and served with starch-based staples such as rice, bread, or root crops like potatoes.
Vegetarian dishes such as dala are also tasty and healthy meal options.
Pakistani desserts are as wild as intense as the religious upheavals, and the flavours are as bountiful as the natural resources.
Cool ice cream to stand out against the heat is a favourite with plentiful flavours of pistachio, kulfi, with just as many ways to serve.
Shirini or mithai are the generic names for most sweets in Pakistan that varies by region.
International fast-food chains are mushrooming all over like McDonalds, Subway, Pizza Hut, KFC, Dominoes, and many other European chains.
Pakistani cuisine varies upon region and your cook's personal taste ranging from mild to spicy.
It is alright though to inform them of your particular preferences in terms of spice and heats, as long as you follow the courtesy of eating without cutlery, not eating too much all at once or finishing your plate squeaky clean, which is the two cents especially if unaware of the heat-factor of the dish, or simply because these are rude behaviours all in all.
A clean plate means you want more, too much left means you didn't enjoy it, so leave a little bit on the plate.
As it is important to be hydrated, tap water is unsafe for drinking.
Travel safe and enjoy.