Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


Frere Hall

Karachi (کراچي) is a city in Pakistan on the east coast of the Arabian Sea and to the north-west of the Indus river. It is the capital of the province of Sindh and the largest settlement in Pakistan with a population over 13 million people. It is considered to be the 16th biggest city of the world.


The area that now consists of Karachi was originally a group of small villages including Kalachi-jo-Kun and the fort of Manora. Any history of Karachi prior to the 19th century is essentially non-existant, although some legends state that it was the city called Krokola from which one of Alexander the Great's admirals sailed at the end of his conquests.

The recorded history of Karachi begins with the arrival of the British in the mid-19th century. In 1839 a vessel belonging to the Royal Navy fired upon the fort of Manora, and accepted it's immediate surrender. A few years later, Karachi was made the capital of the Sindh replacing the historical city of Hyderabad, on account of Karachi's magnificent harbor. 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 would prove prophetic, as it was during British rule that Karachi would grow as it's harbor was developed. In 1876, the founder of Pakistan, Muhammed Ali Jinnah was born in the city, and he would later be buried there. As the turn of the century approached, Karachi would become perhaps the largest wheat exporting port in the east. Karachi by now was a city with railroads, churches, paved streets, courts and many commercial centers. Many of these buildings were built in classical British style, and contrast with the "Mughal Gothic" of Lahore. Many of these old buildings continue to stand, and are interesting destinations for visitors.

With the 20th century, Karachi began to grow even more diverse with workers from all over South Asia and the British empire arriving.

In 1947, Karachi would be made the capital of the new nation of Pakistan. At that time Karachi was only a city of 400,000, and it's growth accelerated. Although the capital would later move to Rawalpindi and then Islamabad, Karachi remains the economic center of Pakistan, accounting for a large portion of the GNP of the nation.

In the last 20 years, Karachi has continued to grow, passing the ten million mark. It is a city of diverse neighborhoods, ranging from the upscale Clifton and Defense areas to numerous slums that are home to the large numbers of migrants who have flocked to Karachi in search of opportunities. Karachi is also plagued by crime, and is not immune from numerous ethnic conflicts that continue to rock Pakistan. Karachi was the epicenter of numerous ethnic conflicts during the 1980's, and continues to see a lot of religious violence between Sunnis and Shias.


Karachi is located north-west of the Indus River delta, but it has many rivers running through it. The area around Karachi is relatively flat, although there are some hilly regions on the inland boundries of the city. The southern part of the city is on the coast of the Indian Ocean and is home to numerous beaches. The city has a warm and coastal climate.


Karachi is the financial capital of Pakistan. It is also home to the largest stock exchange of Pakistan: the Karachi Stock Exchange. Currently, Karachi is the only large port in Pakistan, and is central to all shipping in Pakistan. To reduce reliance on just one port, the government of Pakistan is expanding the port at Gwadar, but the project continues. Likewise, plans are underway to build a motorway linking Karachi to the rest of the nation. So far though, the only motorway present links Islamabad to Lahore, and it will be some time before it gets to Karachi. The airport of Karachi, Karachi International Airport is also the largest airport in Pakistan.


The population of Karachi is currently estimated to be about 13 million. Considering that the population of the city was only 400,000 in 1947, it is obvious that Karachi has grown extremely rapidly. Karachi is home to a large mix of peoples. Being the capital of Sindh, it is home to many Sindhis, but it is also home to a large number of Mohajirs, and this has caused ethnic conflicts in the past. All the other ethnic groups of Pakistan can also be found in Karachi, especially those from Balochistan which is not too far from Karachi, and a large number of Afghani refugees. Karachi is also home to a large population of Bangladeshis sometimes estimated to be over a million. Even some migrants from as far away as Africa have found home in Karachi, clearly making it the most diverse city in all of Pakistan.

Mausoleum of Muhammed Ali Jinnah


Culturally, Karachi is the most cosmopolitan city of Pakistan. Karachi is home to numerous companies from across the world, including famous American restaurant chains such as McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut and others. It also has a wide variety of hotels, including many western ones. Karachi also provides many rare opportunities for women in Pakistan, and it is not surprising to see a woman driving a cab or doing some other normally male-dominated job.


Being one of the most rapidly growing cities in the world, Karachi faces problems that are central to many developing metropolises including overpopulations, overcrowding, traffic and crime. Karachi is especially notorious for ethnic strife. 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 there, and it has seen attacks by militant groups linked to Al-Qaeda against foreigners.

Famous Sites

Probably the most famous site in the city of Karachi is the mausoleum of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Other important landmarks include the Masjid E Tooba, Frere Hall, Clifton Beach, Mohatta Museum, Pakistan Air Force Museum, Wazir Mansion, and others.

External Links