Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Karachi (کراچي) is the largest city of Pakistan and the capital of the province of Sindh. It is the financial and commercial hub of Pakistan. The city is located on the Arabian Sea north west of the mouths of the Indus River. With a population of around 14 million it is considered one of the most populous cities of the world.
Karachi is located at latitude 24° 48´ N and longitude 66° 59´ E. The urban sprawl starts from the westernmost mouth of the River Indus and goes up to the mountains and hills that form the southernmost edges of the Kirthar Mountain Range. The Arabian Sea is the southern boundary of the city.
Karachi is mostly made up of flat or rolling plains with hills on the western and northern boundaries of the urban sprawl. Two rivers pass through the city: the Malir River (north east to centre) and the Liyari River (north to south). Many other smaller rivers pass through the city as well with general drainage being from the western and northern areas towards the south. The Karachi harbour is a protected bay to the south west of the city. The harbour is protected from storms by Keamari Island, Manora Island and Oyster Rocks, which together block the greater part of the harbour entrance in the west. The southern limit of the city is the Arabian Sea and forms a chain of warm water beaches that are rich in natural beauty, but in very bad shape environmentally. However, the new city government has made a lot of enhancements and beautification in the sea-view area for the benfit of general public.
Karachi is located on the coast and as a result has a relatively mild climate. The level of precipitation is low for most of the year. However, due to the city's proximity to the sea, humidity levels usually remain high throughout the year. The city enjoys mild winters and very warm summers. Karachi also receives the tail end of the monsoon rains.
The area that now consists of Karachi was originally a group of small villages including Kalachi-jo-Kun or just Kolachi and the fort of Manora. Any history of Karachi prior to the 19th century is sketchy. It is said that the city called Krokola from which one of Alexander the Great's admirals sailed at the end of his conquests was the same as Karachi. When Muhammad bin Qasim came to India in the year 712 he captured the city of Debul. It has been said that Debal was the ancestral village of present day Karachi. However, this has neither been proven or disproven.
It was in 1729 that Kolachi-jo-Goth was transformed from a fishing village to a trading post when it was selected as a port for trade with Muscat and Bahrain. In the following years a fort was built and cannons brought in from Muscat were mounted on it. The fort had two doorways, one facing the sea called the Khara Darwaza or Brackish Gate and one facing the River Lyari called the Meetha Darwaza or Sweet Gate. Currently, the site of those gates corresponds to the location of the neighbourhoods of Kharadar and Meethadar. In 1795 the city passed from the Khan of Kalat to the Talpur rulers of Sindh.
Karachi gained in position as port which led to its importance being recognised by the British, and consequently led to the conquering of the town on the 3rd of February 1839. Three years later, it was annexed into British India as a district. The British recognized the importance of Karachi as a natural harbor and port for the produce of the Indus basin, and the city was rapidly developed into a bustling port city. A famous quote about Karachi attributed to Charles Napier is "Would that I could come again to see you in your grandeur!". Napier's quote proved almost prophetic as it was under the British raj that Karachi would grow rapily as its harbour was developed. When the Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar declared the War of Independence in 1857, the 21st Native Infantry stationed in Karachi declared allegiance to the Emperor and joined the cause of the War on the 10th of September 1857. The uprising though, was defeated by the British who were able to quickly reassert their control over Karachi.
In 1876, the founder of Pakistan Muhammed Ali Jinnah was born in the city, and he would later be buried there. By this time Karachi was a city with railroads, churches, paved streets, courts and many commercial centres as well as a magnificent harbour built by the British. Many of the buildings were built in classical British colonial style, contrasting significantly with the "Mughal Gothic" of Lahore. Many of these old buildings exist today and provide interesting destinations for visitors.
Karachi continued to grow in size as well as importance due to its position as a major port. A railroad connected Karachi to the rest of British India in the 1880s. Population grew from 73,500 (1881), to 105,199 (1891), to 115,407 (1901) (Britannica 1911 ed.). In 1899 Karachi was said to be the largest wheat exporting port in the East (Feldman 1970:57). In 1911 when the capital was shifted to Delhi, Karachi became closer to being a Gateway to India. Karachi was declared the capital of the newly formed Sindh province in 1936, chosen over the traditional capital of Hyderabad.
In 1947, Karachi was made the capital of the new nation of Pakistan. At that time Karachi was a city of only 400,000 people, and its growth accelerated as a result of its new status. Being the capital, Karachi became a focal point for the new nation and this added to its status as a cultural centre in this part of the world. Although the capital later moved to Rawalpindi and then Islamabad, Karachi remains the economic centre of Pakistan, accounting for a large portion of the GNP of the nation and a large chunk of the nation's white collar workers.
In the last 20 years, Karachi has continued to grow, passing the ten million mark. It is a city of diverse neighbourhoods, ranging from the upscale Clifton and Defence areas to numerous slums that are home to the large numbers of migrants who have flocked to Karachi in search of opportunities.
The current economic boom in Pakistan has created a sudden growth spurt in Karachi as jobs and infrastructure projects are increasing with time.
Karachi as a city is governed by the City District Government of Karachi (CDGK). The CDGK has an elected city council that looks after the working of the CDGK. The current Nazim-e-Aala (mayor) of Karachi is Naimatullah Khan.
The city district of Karachi is divided into eighteen towns each with its own council and Nazim. These towns are:
The current city government format was introduced in the year 2000. This has caused some friction between the city government and the established authorities and boards in the city due to slight confusion regarding the division of powers.
The population of Karachi according to the official census results:
1856 : 56,875
1872 : 56,753
1881 : 73,560
1891 : 105,199
1901 : 136,297
1911 : 186,771
1921 : 244,162
1931 : 300,799
1941 : 435,887
1951 : 1,068,459
1961 : 1,912,598
1972 : 3,426,310
1981 : 5,208,132
1998 : 9,269,265 (Metro. 10.2 million)
Karachi's current population is estimated to be about 15 million. A much larger figure than it was in 1947 (400,000). The city's population has grown at a very rapid rate. Currently , Karachi is counted as one of the largest mega cities of the world.
The breakup of Karachi's population is as follows: Males form 53.7% of Karachiites. 37.6% of which are under the age of 15. 4.4% are older than 50. 22.1% of the city's population are migrants from other places.
According the census the linguistic breakup of the city is as follows. Urdu 48.52%; Punjabi 13.94%; Sindhi 7.22%; Pushto 11.42%; Balochi 4.34%; Seraiki 2.11%; Others 12.4%. The others include Gujarati, Brahui and Bengali.
Karachi is the financial capital of Pakistan. It is also home to the largest stock exchange of Pakistan: the Karachi Stock Exchange. Most Pakistani banks have their headquarters in Karachi. Most of these are located on the I.I.Chundrigarh Road. The headquarters of nearly all the MNCs (multi-national companies) based in Pakistan are in Karachi. Most Pakistani corporations are headquartered in Karachi as well.
Karachi also has a huge industrial base. There are large industrial estates on most of the fringes of the main city. The main industries are textiles, pharmaceuticals, steel, and automobiles. Apart from this there are many cottage industries in the city as well. Karachi is also known as software outsourcing hub of Pakistan.
Currently, the Karachi Port is the only large port in Pakistan, and is central to all shipping in Pakistan. Plans are underway to build a motorway linking Karachi to the rest of the nation but it will be some time before it gets to Karachi. The airport of Karachi, Quaid-e-Azam International Airport is also the largest airport in Pakistan and the hub of most local airlines. For years it served as the gateway to Asia with all major airlines operating from the Airport. The airport serves a potential to act as the major logistic hub for the sub-continent but bureaucracy and internal and geo-political compulsions undermine the efforts.
Karachi is the nerve centre of Pakistan's economy and is pinnacle to any economic activity. The economic stagnation due to ethnic strife in the 80s & 90s led to mass efflux of industry from Karachi but led to the economic stagnation of the country despite a revival and economic boom in the up country. Has a well developed Free Zone with growth rate of nearly 15% year on year.
Karachi accounts for the lion's share of Pakistan's GDP. The city is said to contribute about 48 percent of the national revenues.
The city has one international airport called the Quaid-e-Azam International Airport. An extension of this airport is the old airport, which is now used for Haj flights,cargo facilities and ceremonial visits from heads of state. U.S. Coalition forces were using Old Airport for there strategic supply base as well. Apart from this the city also has two other airstrips. Karachi port is not used for passenger traffic as a regular service.
Karachi is linked via railway to the rest of the country. Karachi City and Karachi Cantt are the two major junctions / railway stations of the city. Karachi also has a circular railway system that is going to be extended and made functional shortly. This will form the backbone of the city's mass transit system.
Currently the basic mode of mass transit in the city is via bus. The city is said to have nearly 10,000 busses. However, even with so many busses, they are jam packed during rush hour due to the city's growing population. The number of private vehicles plying the city are said to be more than one million, causing too much traffic on the roads and loss of time due to clogging and traffic jams.
Karachi district has the highest literacy rate in any of Pakistan's districts. The city is home to many universities and colleges. See List of universities in Karachi and List of educational institutions in Karachi.
Karachi is a melting pot of peoples and cultures. Before 1839, the village of Kolachi was inhabited mainly by people from the surrounding areas, the people basically being Sindhis, Baluchis, and Mekranis. After the village was annexed into British India as a district, the culture of Karachi underwent a shift. Growing buisness activity brought with it increasing communities of entrepreneurs from British India and abroad. In time, sizeable communities of Parsis, Goans, Iranians, Indians from other provinces, Lebanese, English, and other people developed. The Parsi community also made substantial contribution to the development of the city by contributing heavily towards public projects.
In 1947, when Pakistan was created, most of the city's Hindu population left and a large number of immigrants and refugees (Mohajirs) arrived from India. Most of these are from the Urdu speaking parts of India. However, Memons from Gujarat and a small number of communities from other areas also arrived, giving Karachi a flavour of all the provinces and parts of British India. After independence, a steady stream of immigrants coming to the city from different parts of Pakistan has resulted in large Punjabi, Pathan, Bengali and Hazara communities to develop in Karachi. In 1971, there was a large influx of mainly Urdu speaking people from the former East Pakistan. In the 1980s a massive influx of Afghan refugees streamed into the city as a direct result of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.
Today, Karachi has sizeable communities of people from all the different parts of Pakistan. Karachi also contains large numbers of people from different cultural segments of South Asia and Afghanistan as well as small immigrant communities from as far off as Africa and Burma. This mixture of peoples and cultures gives Karachi a very cosmopolitan feel.
Karachi can be called a melting pot of many different flavours. It is a very cosmopolitan city with different languages and cultures intermingling all the time. The city is a beautiful mixture of the old and the new. Burqa clad women can be seen on the same roads as working independent women. On the whole, Karachi possesses a fast-paced, evolutionary culture which is unique in its entity across the country.
The city has slowly become a cultural hub and is home to many artists, poets, writers, and thinkers. The number of art galleries and museums is also on the rise.
The city has the National Museum, one of the few well-kept museums in Pakistan. It contains many artifacts from the Indus Valley Civilization and later eras in present day Pakistan. Apart from this there is the Air Force and Navy museum that catalog Pakistan's aerial and maritime history. Another museum is the Mohatta Palace Museum which is made in an old renovated building. The museum-going trend is on the rise in the city.
Karachi is home to many musicians from the South Asian Classical and Semi Classical musical traditions. Unfortunately their number is dwindling with time.
Karachi is also home to a large number of music bands belonging to modern popular music and solo singers. Making the city quite productive in terms of music.
Karachi is host to the annual KaraFilm festival. Although this festival is very new it has gained an eminent position in international circles.
Karachi is home to a large number of poets. The language of poetry and literature is mainly Urdu. Some of the most prominent names in Urdu poetry are from Karachi. It is no wonder that the first international Urdu mushaira was conducted in Karachi. Unfortunately this tradition died out slowly.
Karachi has as varied a cuisine as its people. Burns Road (Lovingly pronounced Bruns Road) is the hot spot for local mughlai style delicacies. Dhoraji is known for its excellent Gola Ganda. Defence and Clifton have a large number of upscale restaurants that generally have fusion or international cuisine. Apart from this there are a multitude of places in the city, each one famous for one thing or the other.
Good food is never too far in Karachi. As long as you keep an open mind you can stumble across the most excellent of meals in the city.
The most important of all tourist attractions in the city is the Mausoleum of Quaid e Azam. Masjid e Tooba, a very large domed mosque is also frequented by visitors. The National Museum, Mohatta Palace Museum, Pakistan Air Force Museum and the Pakistan Naval Museum catalogue the history of present day Pakistan and South Asia. Apart from this, many beautiful victorian era colonial buildings can be found throughout the city center. Buildings of historical importance such as Wazir Mansion and the Khaliqdina Hall, and beautiful colonial buildings such as the KMC building, the Hindu Gymkhana, the Frere Hall , Denso Hall and the Empress Market are also tourist attractions.
The Clifton Beach in Karachi is one of the most beautiful and longest city beaches in the world. Unfortunately it has become very polluted due to neglect and a recent oil spill. However, there are a lot of other excellent beaches close to the city, such as Sandspit, Hawke's Bay, and Paradise Point - a sandstone rock promotory with a natural arch - that are frequented by visitors. The imagery is colorful, wholesome, and teeming with flocks of people on weekends.
Being one of the most rapidly growing cities in the world, Karachi faces problems that are central to many developing metropolises including overpopulation, overcrowding, traffic, terrorism and crime. Karachi is especially notorious for its ethnic strife due to the multi ethnic fabric of the city. Another major problem facing Karachi is the enormous disparity between rich and poor. While many of Karachi's well-off live lives similar to their western-counterparts, the poor of Karachi are often relegated to conditions similar to those faced by the poorest people in the world. The large size of Karachi has also led many terrorists to make their home here, and it has seen attacks by militant groups linked to Al-Qaeda against foreigners.
Karachi faces a very severe problem of excessive traffic. The number of cars far outstrips the roads that they need to ply on. This makes driving considerably dangerous and causes loss of time due to traffic congestion. Most of the roads are in bad shape, which further adds to the traffic problem. Currently, President Musharraf has launched the Tameer-e-Karachi (Build Karachi) program that included construction of a lot of bridges, flyovers, and bypasses, as well as other major projects to correct the city's infrastructure problems.
Karachi is a windy city located close to the sea, which is why the pollution levels in the city are not very high. But even so, the city has a high level of atmospheric pollution due to automobile and industrial exhausts.
- The City District Government of Karachi
- Historic Karachi - the history of Karachi through photographs
- Karachi Profile
- Karachi Stock Exchange
- The Official KaraFilm Festival website
- Karachi International Airport
- Karachi Port Trust
- About Karachi on itsPakistan
- Link to Soviet topographic map 1:500 000
- 4x4 Offroaders Club Karachi
- Street Photography from around Karachi
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