Chenab River, Lahore Fort, Nankana Sahib,Faisalabad, Noor Mahal – Bahawalpur,
Punjab , also spelled Panjab, is the most populous province of Pakistan with approximately 56% of the country's total population. Lahore is the provincial capital and Punjab's main cultural, historical, administrative and economic center.
Punjab during Mahabharata times was known as Panchanada. Punjab was part of the Indus Valley Civilization, more than 4000 years old. The main site in Punjab was the city of Harrapa. The Indus Valley Civilization spanned much of what is today Pakistan and eventually evolved into the Indo-Aryan civilization. The arrival of the Indo-Aryans led to the flourishing of the Vedic civilization along the length of the Indus River. This civilization shaped subsequent cultures in South Asia and Afghanistan. Although the archaeological site at Harappa was partially damaged in 1857 when engineers constructing the Lahore-Multan railroad used brick from the Harappa ruins for track ballast, an abundance of artifacts have nevertheless been found. Punjab was part of the great ancient empires including the Gandhara Mahajanapadas, Achaemenids, Macedonians,Mauryas, Kushans, Guptas, Hindu Shahi, Gurjara-Pratihara and old Rajputana. Agriculture flourished and trading cities (such as Multanand Lahore) grew in wealth.
Due to its location, the Punjab region came under constant attack and influence from the west and witnessed centuries of foreign invasions by the Persians, Greeks, Kushans, Scythians, Turks, andAfghans. The city of Taxila, founded by son of Taksh the son Bharat who was the brother of Ram. It was reputed to house the oldest university in the world, Takshashila University. One of the teachers was the great Vedic thinker and politician Chanakya. Taxila was a great centre of learning and intellectual discussion during the Maurya Empire. It is a UN World Heritage site, valued for its archaeological and religious history.
The northwestern part of the South Asia, including Punjab, was repeatedly invaded or conquered by various foreign empires, such as those of Tamerlane, Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan. Having conquered Drangiana, Arachosia, Gedrosia and Seistan in ten days, Alexander crossed the Hindu Kush and was thus fully informed of the magnificence of the country and its riches in gold, gems and pearls. However, Alexander had to encounter and reduce the tribes on the border of Punjab before entering the luxuriant plains. Having taken a northeasterly direction, he marched against the Aspii (mountaineers), who offered vigorous resistance, but were subdued. Alexander then marched through Ghazni, blockaded Magassa, and then marched to Ora and Bazira. Turning to the northeast, Alexander marched to Pucela, the capital of the district now known as Pakhli. He entered Western Punjab, where the ancient city of Nysa (at the site of modern day Mong) was situated. A coalition was formed against Alexander by the Cathians, the people of Multan, who were very skillful in war. Alexander invested many troops, eventually killing seventeen thousand Cathians in this battle, and the city of Sagala (present-day Sialkot) was razed to the ground. Alexander left Punjab in 326 B.C. and took his army to Persia and Susa.
Punjab is Pakistan's second largest province in terms of Land area at 205,344 km2 (79,284 sq mi) after Balochistan and is located at the north western edge of the geologic Indian plate in South Asia. The province is bordered by Kashmir (Azad Kashmir, Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir, India) to the north-east, the Indian states of Punjab and Rajasthan to the east, the Pakistani province of Sindh to the south, the province of Balochistan to the southwest, the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the west, and the Islamabad Capital Territory to the north.
The capital and largest city is Lahore which was the historical capital of the wider Punjab region. Other important cities include Faisalabad,Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Multan, Sialkot, Bahawalpur, Sargodha, Gujrat, Sheikhupura, Jhelum and Sahiwal. Undivided Punjab is home to six rivers, of which five flow through Pakistani Punjab. From west to east, these are: the Indus, Jhelum, Beas, Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej. Nearly 60% of Pakistan's population lives in the Punjab. It is the nation's only province that touches every other province; it also surrounds the federal enclave of the national capital city at Islamabad. In the acronym P-A-K-I-S-T-A-N, the P is for Punjab.
The province is a mainly a fertile region along the river valleys, while sparse deserts can be found near the border with Rajasthan and theSulaiman Range. The region contains the Thal and Cholistan deserts. The Indus River and its many tributaries traverse the Punjab from north to south.
The landscape is amongst the most heavily irrigated on earth and canals can be found throughout the province. Weather extremes are notable from the hot and barren south to the cool hills of the north. The foothills of the Himalayas are found in the extreme north as well.
The population of Punjab (Pakistan) is estimated to be 97.21% Muslim with a Sunni Hanafi majority and Shia Ithna 'ashariyah minority. The largest non-Muslim minority is Christians and make up 2.31% of the population. The other minorities include Ahmedi, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsisand Bahá'í.
Most areas in Punjab experience extreme weather with foggy winters, often accompanied by rain. By mid-February the temperature begins to rise; springtime weather continues until mid-April, when the summer heat sets in.
The onset of the southwest monsoon is anticipated to reach Punjab by May, but since the early 1970s the weather pattern has been irregular. The spring monsoon has either skipped over the area or has caused it to rain so hard that floods have resulted. June and July are oppressively hot. Although official estimates rarely place the temperature above 46 °C, newspaper sources claim that it reaches 51 °C and regularly carry reports about people who have succumbed to the heat. Heat records were broken in Multan in June 1993, when the mercury was reported to have risen to 54 °C. In August the oppressive heat is punctuated by the rainy season, referred to as barsat, which brings relief in its wake. The hardest part of the summer is then over, but cooler weather does not come until late October.
Recently the province experienced one of the coldest winters in the last 70 years.
Punjab's region temperature ranges from −2° to 45 °C, but can reach 50 °C (122 °F) in summer and can touch down to −10 °C in winter.
Climatically, Punjab has three major seasons: