Islamabad is the capital city of Pakistan, located in the Potwar Plateau, north-west of the country. It is located within the Islamabad Capital Territory, though the area has historically been a part of the crossroads of the Punjab, Kashmir and the Sarhad Province (the Margalla pass being a historic gateway to the Sarhad, and the Potwar plateau historically a part of the Punjab). Islamabad is located at 33°40'N 73°10'E.

Geography and Climate

The city is situated at the edge of the Potwar plateau, south of the Margalla hills. The modern capital Islamabad and the ancient Gakhar city of Rawalpindi stand side by side, displaying the country’s past and present. The area's micro-climate is regulated by three man-made lakes (Rawal, Simli and Khanpur). The city has hot summers with monsoon rains occurring during July and August. During the winters, even on the few days when pre-dawn temperatures fall below freezing, the afternoons are usually sunny and mild — in the coldest month, January, the average daily maximum temperature is 16°C (61°F) Islamabad saw its first snows in over 50 years in 2003.


From independence until 1958 Pakistan's capital was Karachi in Sindh in the far south. Worries about the concentration of investment and development in that city are said to have led to the idea of building a new capital in a different location. During the administration of Pakistani President Ayub Khan, a site immediately north of Rawalpindi was chosen. Rawalpindi was designated as the temporary capital. Work on the new capital started during the 1960s.

The planning and construction was largely headed by the Greek urban planner Constantinos A. Doxiadis. His plan revolved around the building of the city in sectors, each containing four sub-sectors separated by green belts and parks. There was a strong emphasis on greenery and open space. When Islamabad was finally built growth was slow - the government did not fully relocate to the city from Rawalpindi until the 1980s. During this time the capital's population was small, at around 250,000. This changed dramatically during the 1990s with the population increasing, instigating the building of new sectors. The Capital Development Authority or CDA for short under the Ministry of Interior was accorded the task of developing Islamabad as well as all major government buildings. CDA is also responsible for running the city of Islamabad and does most city services such as trash pickup, street cleaning etc. CDA was created by an act of the federal parliament and its chairperson is appointed by the Ministry of Interior, Government of Pakistan.


Islamabad's population is estimated to be over 1.1 million in 2006. The ethnic groups are: Punjabis 60%, Pakhtuns 15%, Muhajirs 10%, Sindhi 5%, Kashmiri 5%, Baloch 3% and others including the foreign diplomatic staff. Over 99% of the population is Muslim and there is a small Christian minority.













Page last updated:  Friday, January 27, 2006 11:30:24 -0500