Islamabad is the capital city of Pakistan located within the Islamabad Capital Territory. It has a population of 2 million and together with its neighboring twin city of Rawalpindi, the greater Islamabad-Rawalpindi metropolitan area is the third largest in Pakistan with a population of over 4.5 million inhabitants.
Since its foundation, Islamabad has attracted people from all over Pakistan, making it one of the most cosmopolitan and urbanized cities of Pakistan. As the national capital, Islamabad is the seat of the Government of Pakistan; the Presidential Palace (Aiwan-e-Sadr) is located here. Islamabad is also home to the Pakistan Monument, which is one of the two national monuments of Pakistan. Islamabad hosts a large number of foreign diplomats, politicians and government employees. The Capital Development Authority is responsible for managing the public works within the city.
Islamabad is located in the Pothohar Plateau in the northeastern part of the country, within the Islamabad Capital Territory. The region has historically been a part of the crossroads of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the Margalla Pass acting as the gateway between the two regions. The city was built during the 1960s to replace Karachi as Pakistan's capital. Islamabad is a well-organised international city divided into several different sectors and zones. It is regarded as the most developed city in Pakistan and is ranked as a Gamma+ world city.
The city is home to the Faisal Mosque, the largest mosque in South Asia and the fourth largest mosque in the world. Islamabad has one of the highest literacy rates in Pakistan. There are 16 recognized universities in Islamabad, including Quaid-i-Azam University and the National University of Sciences and Technology. Allama Iqbal Open University in Islamabad is one of theworld's largest universities by enrollment. Islamabad has the lowest infant mortality rate in the country at 38 deaths per thousand as compared to the national average of 78 deaths per thousand. The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences is one of the largest research oriented hospitals in South Asia.
Islamabad Capital Territory, located on the Pothohar Plateau, is considered one of the earliest sites of human settlement in Asia. Some of the earliest Stone Age artefacts in the world have been found on the plateau, dating from 100,000 to 500,000 years ago. Rudimentary stones recovered from the terraces of the Soan River testify to the endeavours of early man in the inter-glacial period. Items of pottery and utensils dating back to prehistory have been found.
Excavations have revealed evidence of a prehistoric culture. Relics and human skulls have been found dating back to 5000 BC that show this region was home to Neolithic people who settled on the banks of theSwaan River, who developed small communities in the region at around 3000 BC. One end of theIndus Valley Civilization flourished here between the 23rd and 18th centuries BC. Later the area was an early settlement of the Aryan community. A Buddhist town once existed in the region. Many great armies such as those of Zahiruddin Babur, Genghis Khan, Timur and Ahmad Shah Durrani used the corridor through Islamabad on their way to invade the rest of the Indian Subcontinent. Modern Islamabad is based on the old settlement known asSaidpur. The British took control of the region from the Sikhs in 1849 and built South Asia's largest cantonment in the region.
Islamabad has attracted people from all over Pakistan, making it one of the most cosmopolitan and urbanised cities of Pakistan. As the capital city it has hosted a number of important meetings, such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit. Year 2014 has brought in major changes in Islamabad. Construction of the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metrobus began on February 28, 2014 and its expected to be completed by January 2015, with 60 buses initially plying on the route. The Rawalpindi Development Authority oversees the project with a cost of approximately Rs24 billion, which will be shared by both the Federal government and the provincial government of Punjab. In October 2005, the city suffered some damage due to the 2005 Kashmir earthquake which had a magnitude of 7.6. Islamabad has experienced a series of terrorist incidents including the July 2007 Siege of Lal Masjid (Red Mosque), the June 2008 Danish embassy bombing, and the September 2008 Marriott bombing. In 2011, four terrorism incidents occurred in the city, killing four people, including the murder of the then Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer. Tragic air crashes also took place here: on 28 July 2010, Airblue Flight 202 crashed in theMargalla Hills killing all 152 flight crew and passengers on board and Bhoja Air Flight 213 carrying 121 passengers crashed while making the final approach for landing, killing all on board on 20 April 2012.
Islamabad is home to many migrants from other regions of Pakistan and has a cultural and religious diversity of considerable antiquity. Due to its location on the Pothohar Plateau, remnants of ancient cultures and civilisations such as Aryan, Soanian, and Indus Valley civilisation can still be found in the region. A 15th-century Gakhar fort, Pharwala Fort, which was built on the remains of a 10th-century Hindu fort, is located near Islamabad. Rawat Fort in the region was built by the Gakhars in 16th century and contains the grave of the Gakhar chief, Sultan Sarang Khan.
Saidpur village in Islamabad is supposedly named after Said Khan, the son of Sultan Sarang Khan. The 500-year-old village was converted into the a place of Hindu worship by a Mughal commander, Raja Man Singh. He constructed a number of small ponds: Rama kunda, Sita kunda, Lakshaman kunda, and Hanuman kunda. The region is home to many Hindu temples that are preserved, showing the history of Hindu civilisation and architecture in the region.. The shrine of Sufi mystic Pir Meher Ali Shah is located at Golra Sharif, which has a rich cultural heritage of the pre-Islamic period. Archaeological remains of the Buddhist era can also still be found in the region. The shrine of Bari Imam was built by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Thousands of devotees from across Pakistan attend the annual Urs of Bari Imam. The event is one of the largest religious gatherings in Islamabad. In 2004, the Urs was attended by more than 1.2 million people.
The Lok Virsa Museum in Islamabad preserves a wide variety of expressions of folk and traditional cultural legacy of Pakistan. It is located near theShakarparian hills and boasts a large display of embroidered costumes, jewellery, musical instruments, woodwork, utensils and folkloristic objects from the region and other parts of Pakistan.
Islamabad had an estimated population of around 1.67 million in 2011 which according to the estimate of Population Census Organization will rise to around 2 million in 2020. Urdu, the national language of the country, is predominantly spoken within the city due to the ethnic mix of populations. pothwari is also widely spoken alongside Urdu. Other languages include English. The mother tongue of the majority of the population is Punjabi, at 68%. 15% of the population are native Sindhi speakers, 10% are native Pashto speakers, and 8% other languages. The total migrant population of the city is 1m, with the majority from Punjab (691,977). Around 210,614 of the migrated population came from Sindh and rest from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Kashmir. Smaller populations emigrated from Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Balochistan, and Gilgit–Baltistan.
The majority of the population lies in the age group of 15–64 years, around 59.38%. Only 2.73% of the population is above 65 years of age; 37.90% is below the age of 15. Islamabad has the highest literacy rate in Pakistan, at 88%. 9.8% of the population has done intermediate education (equivalent to grades 11 and 12). 10.26% have a bachelor or equivalent degree while 5.2% have a master or equivalent degree. The labour force of Islamabad is 185,213 and the unemployment rate is 15.70%.
Islam is the largest religion in the city, with 95.53% of the population Muslim. In rural areas this percentage is 98.80%. Per 1998 census in urban areas the percentage of Muslims is 97.83%. The second largest religion is Christianity, with 4.07% of the population, 0.94% in rural areas and 5.70% in the city. Hinduism accounts for 0.02% of the population, and other minorities 0.03%.
Islamabad's architecture is a combination of modernity and old Islamic and regional traditions. The Saudi-Pak Tower is an example of the integration of modern architecture with traditional styles. The beige-coloured edifice is trimmed with blue tile works in Islamic tradition, and is one of Islamabad's tallest buildings. Other examples of intertwined Islamic and modern architecture include Pakistan Monument and Faisal Mosque. Other notable structures are: Secretariat Complex designed by Gio Ponti, Presidency based on Mughal architecture and the National Assembly by Edward Durell Stone.
The murals on the inside of the large petals of Pakistan Monument are based on Islamic architecture. The Shah Faisal Mosque is a fusion of contemporary architecture with a more traditional large triangular prayer hall and four minarets, designed by Vedat Dalokay, a Turkish architect and built with the help of funding provided by King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. The architecture of Faisal Mosque is unusual as it lacks a dome structure. It is a combination of Arabic, Turkish, and Mughal architectural traditions. The Centaurus is an example of modern architecture under construction in Islamabad. The seven star hotel was designed by WS Atkins PLC. The newly built Islamabad Stock Exchange Towers is another example of modern architecture in the city.