What is the terrain and geography like in Pakistan?
The major political divisions of the country are the Provinces of Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab, Northwest Frontier, and the federally administered Northern Areas, Tribal Areas, and Azad Kashmir. The provinces roughly correspond with the country’s major geographic, ethnic, and linguistic regions.
There are five distinct geographic regions:
The Thar Desert and Lower Indus Valley, located in the southernmost province of Sindh, consists largely of arid valleys and rocky hills that extend into neighboring India. Farming is successful only in the irrigated areas nearest to the Indus River.
The Balochistan Plateau is a broad, arid tableland that lies between 1,000 and 3,000 feet above sea level in the western province of Balochistan. The plateau is encircled by rugged mountains and covers nearly one-half of the country’s territory.
The Indus Basin features the largest contiguous irrigation system in the world. "Punjab," the name of the province in which much of the basin is located, means "five waters" in Persian, referring to the five major rivers (Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, and Sutlej) in the basin. The province of Punjab comprises the northeastern quarter of Pakistan.
The Northwest Frontier is a region of barren mountains sheltering rich irrigated valleys. The provincial capital of Peshawar is situated on an ancient trade route that leads through the Khyber Pass and into Afghanistan.
The Far North offers Pakistan’s most spectacular scenery with towering snowcapped mountains, deep narrow valleys, and glaciers. The world’s second highest mountain, K–2, is located in the Far North, as are a dozen other peaks of more than 25,000 feet elevation, including Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrun, and Rakaposhi.
The average annual rainfall varies from 6 inches in Karachi, 15 inches in Peshawar, and 18 inches in Lahore, to about 30 inches in Islamabad. Most rain falls during the summer monsoon from July to September, although parts of the Punjab and the Northwest Frontier experience a moderate winter rainy season as well.