Friday, March 11, 2011

Passport Series: Pakistan: Country Profile

This month, the Kiva Passport Series will focus on Pakistan. Pakistan in rich in culture, history, and geography. Follow us this month while we learn about the country, their booming microfinance sector, and dive into how microfinance played in role in the post-disaster reconstruction of Pakistan after their devastating 2010 floods.

Pakistan, a large country in Asia, is the 6th most populated country in the world, with over 180 million citizens. It has a land area of 796,095 sq km (about twice the size of California), and is home to a large variety of climates, geography, and people. 

Photo Credit: CIA Factbook

The People:  
Karachi,  a Southern coastal city, is Pakistan's largest city and is home to about 13 million people. 36% of the population live in urban areas and the numbers are increasing, there is a 3.1% urbanization rate. About 50% of the population is literate and the average citizen gets about 7 years of formal education. The country's population has an average age of 21.6 years, a growth rate of 1.5%, is 95% Muslim, and has a current unemployment rate of around 15%.

The History: 
"The Indus Valley civilization, one of the oldest in the world and dating back at least 5,000 years, spread over much of what is presently Pakistan. During the second millennium B.C., remnants of this culture fused with the migrating Indo-Aryan peoples. The area underwent successive invasions in subsequent centuries from the Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Arabs (who brought Islam), Afghans, and Turks. The Mughal Empire flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries; the British came to dominate the region in the 18th century. The separation in 1947 of British India into the Muslim state of Pakistan (with West and East sections) and largely Hindu India was never satisfactorily resolved, and India and Pakistan fought two wars - in 1947-48 and 1965 - over the disputed Kashmir territory. A third war between these countries in 1971 - in which India capitalized on Islamabad's marginalization of Bengalis in Pakistani politics - resulted in East Pakistan becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh. In response to Indian nuclear weapons testing, Pakistan conducted its own tests in 1998. India-Pakistan relations have been rocky since the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, but both countries are taking small steps to put relations back on track. In February 2008, Pakistan held parliamentary elections and in September 2008, after the resignation of former President Musharraf, elected Asif Ali Zardari to the presidency. Pakistani government and military leaders are struggling to control domestic insurgents, many of whom are located in the tribal areas adjacent to the border with Afghanistan." (CIA Factbook)

The Economy:
The country has a GDP of over $450 billion, which breaks down to about $2,400 per capita GDP.  About 24% of the population lives below the poverty line. 21.8% of the country's GDP  comes from agriculture (and 43% of the labor force is devoted to it); 23.6% of the GDP comes from industry which includes textiles and apparel, food processing, pharmaceuticals, construction materials, paper products, fertilizer, and shrimp!; and 54.6% of GDP are devoted to services.

Great economic growth has been seen in Pakistan in the last decade, but inflation has been really high the past few years.
There was a 13% inflation rate of consumer goods in 2010. 

Here is a graph to put the per capita GDP of Pakistan in relation to the world and countries directly around it: 

Stay tuned to the Kiva Blog's Passport Series this month to learn more about Pakistan! Up next: A look into Pakistan's microfinance sector. 

* Thank you, CIA Factbook for use of the photos and History text section.