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Pakistan Travel Guide

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Full country name: Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Area: 796,095 sq km
Population: 174,58 million (July 2010 est.)
Capital City: Islamabad
Language: Punjabi 48%, Sindhi 12%, Siraiki (a Punjabi variant) 10%, Pashtu 8%, Urdu (official) 8%, Balochi 3%, Hindko 2%, Brahui 1%, English (official; lingua franca of Pakistani elite and most government ministries), Burushaski, and other 8%
Religion: Muslim 95% (Sunni 75%, Shia 20%), other (includes Christian and Hindu) 5%
Government: Federal republic
Time Zone: UTC+5
Dialing Code: 92
Electricity: 220V 50 Hz
Weights & measures: Metric

Money & Costs:
Currency: Pakistani rupee (PKR)
Average Yearly Salary: USD 2,500

Budget: USD2-4
Mid-range: USD4-10
High: USD15+
Budget: USD10-20
Mid-range: USD25-50
High: USD80+

Geography: The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is located in South Asia, and has a 1,046 kilometers coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman. The country borders Afghanistan, China, India, and is very close to Tajikistan, which is separated by the narrow Wakhan Corridor. Pakistan has a varied terrain, with plains, deserts, forests, hills, coastal areas, and mountains, that cover a big part of the country's area.

Climate: Although Pakistan lies in the temperate zone, its climate varies from temperate to tropical. The climate is generally characterized by cold winters and hot summers. There are four distinct seasons in Pakistan: a dry and cool winter (December – February), a dry and hot spring (March – May), a rainy summer season (June – September), and a rainy southwest monsoon period, or autumn (October – November). There is little rainfall, but it varies from year to year. Generally, the coastal area along the Arabian Sea is usually warm, whereas the frozen snow-covered ridges of the Karakoram Range are very cold throughout the year.

Recommended clothing: Loose, long, non-revealing clothes are recommended when in Pakistan. Showing as little skin as possible is best for both sexes. Women should always carry a scarf, since entering a mosque requires head covering. Warm winter clothes, along with winter boots are required for the winter period. Lightweight summer clothes should be worn during summer.

Social conventions: Locals use the right hand both for shaking hands when greeting and for passing or receiving things. You should remember that most Pakistanis are Muslim, and you should respect their beliefs and customs. Since smoking is prohibited in some public places, you should ask for permission before lighting a cigarette.

Health: Since medical facilities and medications are quite poor, you are strongly advised to take out full travel health insurance before going to Pakistan. Hepatitis A and E occur and hepatitis B is endemic. Japanese encephalitis is a risk in forested and rural areas between June and January. Dengue fever may also occur, and rabies is present. Note that a certificate proving HIV-negative is required if you are planning to stay over 1 year in Pakistan.

Food & Drink: Pakistani cuisine is a blend of various regional cooking traditions, and it is well known for its flavor and richness. Cuisine varies from region to region reflecting the country's cultural and ethnic diversity. The food is highly seasoned and spicy in the provinces of Sindh and the Punjab, whereas food in the western Pakistan are only mildly spiced, and less oil is used for cooking. There are quite many fast food restaurants all around the country, especially in bigger cities. Fusion food, blending foreign and local recipes, is common in large urban centres. The most popular nowadays food in Pakistan is kebab. One can find countless varieties of kebabs, but some like the Seekh Kebab, Shami Kabab, and Chicken Tikka are especially popular. Barbecued food is also extremely popular throughout the country. Main courses are usually served with wheat bread or rice, and salads are a side dish. Water is not treated in Pakistan, therefore you should stick to bottled water. Pakistani drink a great deal of black and green tea, but besides tea, there are other popular drinks that may be characterized as traditional Pakistani drinks. All of them, of course, are non-alcoholic, as the consumption of alcohol is prohibited by Islam.

Public Holidays:
Feb 26 Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi (Birth of the Prophet)
Mar 23 Pakistan Day
Aug 14 Independence Day
Dec 25 Quaid-e-Azam's Birthday

Disclaimer: The above information is for reference purposes only. The content of this page is not intended to substitute for advice given by the user's own government travel departments or a licensed travel health advisor. The viewer/user of this web page should always contact the user's own government representatives in that area for the most up-to-date information at that time, before making a final decision to travel to that country or destination.

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