Karachi

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Geography

The city of Karachi is located at latitude 24° 48´ N and longitude 66° 59´ E. The city occupies an area of over 4,000 km² and is expanding. Karachi is mostly made up of flat or rolling plains with hills on the western and northern boundaries of the urban sprawl. Two small rivers pass through the city: the Malir River (north east to centre) and the Lyari River (north to south). Many other smaller streams also pass through the city as well with general drainage being from the western and northern areas towards the south. The Karachi harbor is a protected bay to the south west of the city. The harbor is protected from storms by Kemari Island, Manora Island and Oyster Rocks, which together block the greater part of the harbor entrance in the west. The southern limit of the city is the Arabian Sea and forms a chain of warm water beaches that are rich in natural beauty.

Climate

Karachi is located on the coast and as a result has a relatively mild climate. The level of precipitation is low for most of the year. However, due to the city's proximity to the sea, humidity levels usually remain high throughout the year. The city enjoys mild winters and very warm summers. Karachi also receives the tail end of the monsoon rains. Since summer temperatures (the end of April through the end of August are approximately 30 to 48 degrees Celsius), the winter months (November through March) are the mildest time of the year.

History

The modern humans after their evolution in Africa spread to the rest of the world. Karachi lies along their coastal migration path to South Asia and beyond. The fertile Indus valley has been inhabited since the dawn of the history. The Indus Valley civilization of Pakistan traded with Mesopotamian civilization and with Persian Gulf communities. Karachi's natural harbor was probably served as the main port of the Indus Valley civilization. The earliest known reference of the area that is now Karachi is during the Alexander the Great's invasion of Pakistan in 326 B.C. Alexander the Great after conquering the Indus Valley, modern Pakistan, camped on the port city of "Krokola" on the return voyage to Mesopotamia. Alexander the Great planned to build a port city at this location for the trade and communication with his Indus valley satrapy and his empire. Alexander 's admiral Nearchus sailed back to Mesopotamia from 'Morontobara' port which is probably the modern Manora Island at Karachi harbor. According to legend, "Krokola" was started when an old woman by the name of Mai Kolachi, settled near the mouth of the Indus to start a community. A small fishing village developed in the area, which was called Kolachi-jo-Goth i.e. 'Village of Kolachi". The Arab general Mohammad Bin Qasim conquered Karachi in 712 A.D. and introduced Islam in Pakistan. The Arab empire stretched from Kashmir to Sindh along the Indus river, i.e. modern Pakistan. In the sixteenth century Ottoman empire was defending Arabian sea trade routes from the Portuguese pirates. Portuguese captured 'Keti Bandar' small port in Karachi harbor and also other ports along Sindh Gujarat ports during the war between Mughal emperor Humayun and Gujarat's ruler Bahadur Shah. The local governor requested help from the Ottoman empire. When the Ottoman governor of Egypt, Suleiman Pasha heard this, he left Suez on the 15th of Moharram of the Year 945 Hijri (1538 A.D.) with a well-equipped fleet of 80 vessels. Ottoman fleet sailed on to Sindh and after a successful battle, the two strongholds Kukeke and Ket (Keti-bender in the district of Karachi) were liberated from the Portuguese occupation. Ottoman Turkish Amir-ul-Bahr (Admiral) Sidi (Syed) Ali Reis (Rais) wrote his autobiography entitled 'Mirat al Memalik' (the Mirror of Countries) during the year 1553-1556 in which he mentions visiting port of Debal (Karachi) and described it as a important harbor on the Sindh coast. It was in 1729 that Kolachi-jo-Goth was transformed from a fishing village to a trading post when it was selected as a port for trade with Muscat and Bahrain. In the following years a fort was built and cannons brought in from Muscat were mounted on it. The fort had two doorways, one facing the Arabian sea called the 'Khara Darwaza' i.e. Brackish Gate and one facing the River Lyari called the 'Meetha Darwaza' i.e. Sweet Gate. Currently, the site of those gates corresponds to the location of the neighborhoods of Kharadar and Meethadar. In 1795 the city passed from the Khan of Kalat to the Talpur rulers of Sindh. British first visited Karachi in 1809 when a diplomatic mission visited the Talpur Mirs. The British saw the importance of the of Karachi and Indus River, believing it could be an important commercial highway. British also feared the invasion of South Asia from the expanding Russian empire and needed a route to supply and strengthen relations with Afghanistan. On 3rd February 1839, the British captured the Karachi and three years later, annexed it into British Empire as the district of Karachi. The British, who realized its potential as a port city for the produce of the Indus Valley, developed it into a commercial trading center. The harbor was developed, and a railroad that connected the city to the rest of South Asian British Empire was constructed in the 1880's. The city for which Sir Charles Napier once quoted, "One day it shall be the Queen of the East", quickly blossomed into a major commercial center that attracted businessmen from all over the world including communities of Goans, Zorastarians (Parsis), Lebanese, and other South Asian traders apart from the British. Thus was the beginning of the city of Karachi. After the independence of Pakistan, the city absorbed the tides of Muslim refugees into the new country, and it was made the capital of Pakistan. In 1961, the capital was shifted from Karachi to the new city of Islamabad, and Karachi fell a victim of mismanagement and bad governance. Since its beginnings, the city of Karachi has immensely swelled in size and population, and today ranks as one of the world's mega-cities with a unique culture, dynamism, and energy of its own.

Demography

The population of Karachi was estimated to be more than 15 million in 2005. Linguistically, approximately 45% are Urdu speaking, 15% Sindhis, 15% Punjabis, 15% Pakhtuns, 10% Balochis, and the rest are Kashmiris, Brahuis, Seraikis, Bengalis, Goans, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, Turkmen, Iranians, Arabs, and Burmese. Religiously, over 98% of the inhabitants are Muslim and there are small minorities of Christians, Hindus, Qadianis, Zorastarians, and Bahais.

Towns

City District Government of Karachi (CDGK) is a federation of eighteen autonomous towns, formed in 2001.

Baldia Town
Bin Qasim Town
Gadap Town
Gulberg Town
Gulshan Town
Jamshed Town
Kiamari Town
Korangi Town
Landhi Town
Liaquatabad Town
Lyari Town
Malir Town
New Karachi Town
North Nazimabad Town
Orangi Town
Saddar Town
Shah Faisal Town
SITE Town

The Defense House Society and Cantonment area in Karachi is maintained seperately by an agency of the Pakistan armed forces. Defense House Society is the most posh neighborhood of Karachi. The Cantonment area includes major part of Karachi's downtown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page last updated:  Thursday, November 10, 2005 04:22:25 PM -0500