This article is about the city of Karachi. For other uses, see Karachi (disambiguation).
Mega City
Nickname(s): City of the Quaid,[1] Paris of Asia,[2] The City of Lights, Bride of the Cities[3] (عروس البلاد[4])

Location in Pakistan

Coordinates: PK 24°51′36″N 67°0′36″E / 24.86000°N 67.01000°E / 24.86000; 67.01000Coordinates: PK 24°51′36″N 67°0′36″E / 24.86000°N 67.01000°E / 24.86000; 67.01000
Country Pakistan
Province Sindh
Metropolitan Corporation 2011
City Council City Complex, Gulshan-e-Iqbal Town
  Type Metropolitan City
  Mayor of Karachi Waseem Akhtar
  Deputy Mayor of Karachi Dr. Arshad A. Vohra
  Total 3,527 km2 (1,362 sq mi)
Elevation 8 m (26 ft)
Population (2016)
  Total 24,300,000[8][9]
  Rank 4th (World)[10][10]
Demonym(s) Karachiite
Time zone PKT (UTC+05:00)
Postal codes 74XXX – 75XXX
Dialling code +9221-XXXX XXXX
Website www.kmc.gos.pk

Karachi (Urdu: کراچی; Sindhi: ڪراچي; ALA-LC: Karācī, IPA: [kəˈrɑːˌtʃi]) is the largest and most populous city in Pakistan[11] and 7th largest metropolitan city in the world.[10] Karachi is the capital of Sindh province. Ranked as a beta world city,[12][13] the city is Pakistan's premier industrial and financial centre.[14] Karachi is also Pakistan's most cosmopolitan city.[15] Situated on the Arabian Sea, Karachi serves as a transport hub, and is home to two of Pakistan's two largest seaports, the Port of Karachi and Port Bin Qasim, as well as the busiest airport in Pakistan.

Though the Karachi region has been inhabited for millennia,[16] the city traces its roots to a small fishing village named Kolachi[17] which was formally established as a fortified trading settlement in 1729.[18] The settlement drastically increased in importance with the arrival of British colonialists who embarked on a major works to transform the city into a major seaport, and established connections to the extensive British Indian railway network.[17] By the time of the Partition of British India, the city was the largest in Sindh with an estimated population of 400,000.[15] Immediately following independence of Pakistan, the city's population increased dramatically with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees from India.[19] The city experienced rapid economic growth following independence, attracting migrants from throughout Pakistan and South Asia.[20]

Karachi is Pakistan's premier industrial and financial centre. The city has a formal economy estimated to be worth $113 billion as of 2014.[21] Karachi collects over a third of Pakistan's tax revenue,[22] and generates approximately 20% of Pakistan's GDP.[23][24] Approximately 30% of Pakistani industrial output is from Karachi,[25] while Karachi's ports handle approximately 95% of Pakistan's foreign trade.[26]Approximately 90% of the multinational corporations operating in Pakistan are headquartered in Karachi.[27] Up to 70% of Karachi's workforce is employed in the informal economy,[28] which is typically not included in GDP calculations.[29]

Karachi is one of Pakistan's most secular and socially liberal cities.[30][31][32] It is also the most linguistically, ethnically, and religiously diverse city in Pakistan.[15] With an estimated population of over 23.5 million people in its greater metropolitan region,[9] Karachi is the second-largest city in the Muslim world,[33] and is the world's 7th most populous urban agglomeration.[10][34] Karachi is considered to be one of the world's fastest growing cities,[35] and has communities representing almost every ethnic group in Pakistan. Karachi is also home over 1 million Bangladeshi migrants, 1 million Afghans, and up to 400,000 Rohingyas from Myanmar.[36][37][38]

Known as the "City of Lights" in the 1960s and 1970s for its vibrant nightlife,[39] Karachi was beset by sharp ethnic, sectarian, and political conflict in the 1980s with the arrival of weaponry from the War in Afghanistan.[40] The city had become well known for its high rates of violent crime, but recorded crimes sharply decreased following a controversial crackdown operation against criminals, the MQM political party, and Islamist militants initiated in 2013 by the Pakistan Rangers.[41] The city's murder rate in 2015 had decreased by 75% compared to 2013, and kidnappings decreased by 90%,[42] with the improved security environment triggering sharp increases in real-estate prices.[43]


Karachi was reputedly founded in 1729 as the settlement of Kolachi.[18] The new settlement is said to have been named in honour of Mai Kolachi, whose son is said to have slayed a man-eating crocodile in the village after his elder brothers had already been killed by it.[18] The city’s inhabitants are referred to by the demonym Karachiite.


Early history

Late Palaeolithic and Mesolithic sites discovered by a team from Karachi University on the Mulri Hills constitute one of the most important archaeological discoveries made in Sindh during the last 50 years. The earliest inhabitants of the Karachi region are believed to have been hunter-gatherers, with ancient flint tools discovered at several sites.

The Karachi region is believed to have been known to the ancient Greeks. The region may be the site of Krokola, where Alexander the Great once camped to prepare a fleet for Babylonia, as well as Morontobara which may possibly be Karachi's Manora neighbourhood.

In 711 C.E., Muhammad bin Qasim conquered the Sindh and Indus Valley. The Karachi region is believed to have been known to the Arabs as Debal, from where Bin Qasim launched his forces into South Asia in 712 C.E.[44]

Under Mirza Ghazi Beg the Mughal administrator of Sindh, development of coastal Sindh and the Indus delta was encouraged. Under his rule, fortifications in the region acted as a bulwark against Portuguese incursions into Sindh. The Ottoman admiral, Seydi Ali Reis, mentioned Debal and Manora Island in his book Mir'ât ül Memâlik in 1554.

Kolachi settlement

Karachi was founded in 1729 as the settlement of Kolachi under the rule of the ethnically Baloch Talpur Mirs of Sindh.[18] The founders of the settlement are said to arrived from the nearby town of Karak Bandar after the harbour there silted in 1728 after heavy rains. The settlement was fortified, and defended with cannons imported by Sindhi sailors from Muscat, Oman. The name Karachee was used for the first time in a Dutch document from 1742, in which a merchant ship de Ridderkerk is shipwrecked near the original settlement.[45][46] The city continued to be ruled by the Talpur Mirs until it was occupied by forces under the command of John Keane in February 1839.[47]

British Raj

Some of Karachi's most recognized structures date from the British Raj.
Karachi features several examples of colonial-era Indo-Saracenic architecture.
D. J. Science College in the 19th century

The British East India Company captured Karachi on February 3, 1839 after the HMS Wellesley opened fire and quickly destroyed the local mud fort at Manora.[48] The town was annexed to British India in 1843 after Sindh was captured by Major General Charles James Napier in the Battle of Miani, with the city declared capital of the new British province. The city was recognized for its strategic importance, prompting the British to establish the Port of Karachi in 1854. Karachi rapidly became a transportation hub for British India owing to newly built port and rail infrastructure, as well as the increase in agricultural exports from the opening of productive tracts of newly irrigated land in Punjab and interior Sindh.[49]

British Karachi was divided between the "New Town" and the "Old Town," with British investments focused primarily in the New Town.[50] The Old Town was a largely unplanned neighbourhood which housed most of the city's indigenous residents, and had no access to sewerage systems, electricity, and water.[50]

The New Town was subdivided into residential, commercial, and military areas.[50] Given the strategic value of the city, the British developed the Karachi Cantonment as a military garrison in the New Town in order to aid the British war effort in the First Anglo-Afghan War.[50] During the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, the 21st Native Infantry, then stationed in Karachi, mutinied and declared allegiance to rebel forces in September 1857, though the British were able to quickly defeat the rebels and reassert control over the city.

Following the Rebellion, British colonial administrators continued to develop the city. In 1864, the first telegraphic message was sent from South Asia to England from Karachi.[51] Public building works were undertaken, including the construction of Frere Hall in 1865 and the later Empress Market. In 1878, the British Raj connected Karachi with the network of British India's vast railway system. By 1899, Karachi had become the largest wheat exporting port in the East.[52] British development projects in Karachi resulted in an influx of economic migrants from several ethnicities and religions, including Anglo-British, Parsis, Marathis, and Goan Christians, among others. Karachi's newly arrived Jewish population established the city's first synagogue in 1893.[53] Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, was born in Karachi's Wazir Mansion in 1876 to migrants from Gujarat. By the end of the 19th century, Karachi's population was estimated to be 105,000.[54]

Under British rule, the city's municipal government was established. Known as the Father of Modern Karachi, mayor Seth Harchandrai Vishandas lead the municipal government to improve sanitary conditions in the Old City, as well as major infrastructure works in the New Town after his election in 1911.[2]


The Mausoleum of Muhammad Ali Jinnah was built in 1970 on the northern outskirts of the city's British-era core.
The Hindu Gymkhana Building was built by Hindus who migrated after the independence of Pakistan, though the building was repurposed to house the National Academy of Performing Arts.

At the dawn of Pakistan's independence in 1947, Karachi was Sindh's largest city with a population of over 400,000.[15] Despite communal violence across India and Pakistan, Karachi remained relatively peaceful compared to cities further north in Punjab.[2] The city became the focus for the resettlement of Muslim Muhajirs fleeing from the anti-Muslim pogroms in India, leading to a dramatic expansion of the city's population, and which ultimately transformed its demographics and economy.

Karachi was selected as the first capital of Pakistan and served as such until the capital was shifted to Rawalpindi in 1958.[55] While foreign embassies shifted away from Karachi, the city is host to numerous consulates and honorary consulates.[56] Between 1958 and 1970, Karachi's role as capital of Sindh was ceased due to the One Unit programme enacted by President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.[2]

Karachi of the 1960s was regarded as an economic role model around the world, with Seoul, South Korea borrowing from the city's second "Five-Year Plan."[57][58] Karachi had both a municipal corporation and a Karachi Divisional Council in the 1960s which developed schools, colleges, roads, municipal gardens, and parks. The Karachi Divisional Council had working committees for education, roads, and residential societies development and planning.[59] Shifting of capital marked the start of a long period of decline in the city, especially causing the reduction in large-scale industry by 37.9%.[60]

The 1970s saw major labour struggles in Karachi's industrial estates. The 1980s and 1990s saw an influx of thousands of Afghan refugees from the Soviet war in Afghanistan into Karachi; they were followed in smaller numbers by refugees escaping from Iran.[61] After the 1970s Karachi has become home to about five to seven million Pashtuns.[62][63]

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Karachi was rocked by political and conflict, while crime rates drastically increased with the arrival of weaponry from the War in Afghanistan.[40] Violence originated in the city's university campuses, and spread into the city.[64] Conflict was especially sharp between MQM party and ethnic Sindhis, Pashtuns, and Punjabis. The party and its vast network of supporters were targeted by Pakistani security forces as part of the controversial Operation Clean-up in 1992, as part of an effort to restore peace in the city that lasted until 1994.[65]

Karachi had become widely known for its high rates of violent crime, but recorded crimes sharply decreased following a controversial crackdown operation against criminals, the MQM party, and Islamist militants initiated in 2013 by the Pakistan Rangers.[41] With 650 murders in 2015, Karachi's murder rate decreased by 75% compared to 2013.[42] Extortion crimes decreased by 80%, while kidnappings decreased by 90%.[42] As a result of the Karachi's improved security environment, real-estate prices in Karachi rose sharply in 2015.[43]


Satellite view of Karachi

Karachi is located on the coastline of Sindh province in southern Pakistan, along a natural harbour on the Arabian Sea Karachi is built on a coastal plains with scattered rocky outcroppings, hills, and coastal marshlands. Coastal Mangrove forests grow in the brackish waters around the Karachi Harbour, and farther southeast towards the expansive Indus River Delta. West of Karachi city is the Cape Monze, locally known as Ras Muari, an area marked by projecting sea cliffs and rocky sandstone promontories and undeveloped beaches until the city of Gadani

Within the city of Karachi are two small ranges: the Khasa Hills and Mulri Hills, which lie in the northwest and act as a barrier between North Nazimabad Town and Orangi Town.[66] Karachi's hills are barren and are part of the larger Kirthar Range, and have a maximum elevation of 528 metres (1,732 feet).

Between the hills are wide coastal plains interspersed with dry river beds and water channels. Karachi has developed around the Malir River and Lyari Rivers, with the Lyari shore being the site of the settlement for Kolachi. To the west of Karachi lies the Indus River flood plain.[67]


Main article: Climate of Karachi
The Arabian Sea influences Karachi's climate, providing the city with more moderate temperatures compared to interior Sindh province.

Karachi has an arid climate (Köppen: BWh) moderated by oceanic influence from the Arabian Sea. The city has low annual average precipitation levels (approx. 250 mm (9.8 in) per annum), the bulk of which occurs during the July–August monsoon season. While the summers are hot and humid, cool sea breezes typically provide relief during hot summer months, though Karachi is prone to deadly heat waves.[68] The winter climate is dry and lasts between December and February. It is dry and pleasant relative to the warm hot season, which starts in March and lasts until monsoons arrive in June. Proximity to the sea maintains humidity levels at near-constant levels year-round.

The city's highest monthly rainfall, 429.3 mm (16.90 in), occurred in July 1967.[69] The city's highest rainfall in 24 hours occurred on 7 August 1953, when about 278.1 millimetres (10.95 in) of rain lashed the city, resulting in major flooding.[70] Karachi's highest recorded temperature is 48 °C (118 °F) which was recorded on 9 May 1938,[71] and the lowest is 0 °C (32 °F) recorded on 21 January 1934.[69]

Climate data for Karachi
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 32.8
Average high °C (°F) 25.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 18.1
Average low °C (°F) 10.4
Record low °C (°F) 0.0
Average rainfall mm (inches) 6.0
Mean monthly sunshine hours 270.7 249.4 271.6 277.4 299.1 231.8 155.0 147.7 218.8 283.5 273.3 272.0 2,950.3
Source #1: NOAA[72]
Source #2: PMD (extremes)[73]


A nighttime view of Karachi's posh seaside locality of Clifton.

The city first developed around the Karachi Harbour, and owes much of its growth to it role as a seaport at the end of the 18th century,[74] contrasted with Pakistan's millennia-old cities further north in upper Sindh and Punjab. The city's development was largely confined to the area north of the Chinna Creek prior to independence, although the seaside are of Clifton was also developed as a posh locale under the British, and its large bungalows and estates remain some of the city's most desirable properties. The aforementioned historic areas form the oldest portions of Karachi, and contain its most important monuments and government buildings, with the I. I. Chundrigar Road being home to most of Pakistan's banks, including the Habib Bank Plaza which was Pakistan's tallest building from 1963 until the early 2000s.[2]

Situated on a coastal plain northwest of Karachi's historic core lies the sprawling district of Orangi Town. North of the historic core is the largely middle-class district of Nazimabad, and upper-middle class North Nazimabad, which were developed in the 1950s. To the east of the historic core is the area known as Defence - an expansive upscale suburb developed and administered by the Pakistan Army. Karachi's coastal plains along the Arabian Sea south of Clifton were also developed much later as part of the greater Defence Housing Authority project.

Karachi's city limits also include several islands, including Baba and Bhit Islands, Oyster Rocks, and Manora, a former island which is now connected to the mainland by a thin 12 kilometre long shoal known as Sandspit. The city has been described as one divided into sections for those able to afford to live in planned localities with access to urban amenities, and those who live in unplanned communities with inadequate access to such services.[75] Up to 60% of Karachi's residents live in such unplanned communities.[76]


Main article: Economy of Karachi
Karachi's financial heart is centered on I.I. Chundrigar Road
Karachi's colonial-era Empress Market is located in Saddar.

Karachi is Pakistan's financial and commercial capital.[77] Since Pakistan's independence, Karachi has been the centre of the nation's economy, and remain's Pakistan's largest urban economy despite the economic stagnation caused by sociopolitical unrest during the late 1980s and 1990s.

With an estimated GDP of $113 billion as of 2014,[21] Karachi contributes the bulk of Sindh's gross domestic product,[78][79][80][81] and accounts for approximately 20% of the total GDP of Pakistan.[23][24] The city has a large informal economy which is not typically reflected in GDP estimates.[82] The informal economy may constitute up to 36% of Pakistan's total economy, versus 22% of India's economy, and 13% of the Chinese economy.[83] The informal sector employs up to 70% of the city's workforce.[28]

Following a controversial crackdown operation against criminals initiated in 2013 by the Pakistan Rangers,[41] crime rates have dramatically fallen in the city,[42] triggering sharp increases in real-estate prices.[43] In addition to increased land values, upmarket restaurants and cafés are described by Reuters as "overflowing."[84]

Finance and Banking

Most of Pakistan's public and private banks are headquartered on Karachi's I. I. Chundrigar Road, which is known as "Pakistan's Wall Street",[2] with a large percentage of the cashflow in the Pakistani economy taking place on I. I. Chundrigar Road. Most major foreign multinational corporations operating in Pakistan have their headquarters in Karachi. Karachi is also home to the Pakistan Stock Exchange, which was rated as Asia's best performing stock market in 2015 on the heels of Pakistan's upgrade to emerging-market status by MSCI.[85]

Skyline of Karachi

Media and Technology

Karachi has been the pioneer in cable networking in Pakistan with the most sophisticated of the cable networks of any city of Pakistan,[86] and has seen an expansion of information and communications technology and electronic media. The city has become a software outsourcing hub for Pakistan. Several independent television and radio stations are based in Karachi, including Business Plus, AAJ News, Geo TV, KTN,[87] Sindh TV,[88] CNBC Pakistan, TV ONE, Express TV,[89] ARY Digital, Indus Television Network, Samaa TV, Abb Tak, BoL TV, and Dawn News, as well as several local stations.


Industry contributes a large portion of Karachi's economy, with the city home to several of Pakistan's largest companies dealing in textiles, cement, steel, heavy machinery, chemicals, and food products.[90] The city is home to approximately 30 percent of Pakistan's manufacturing sector,[25] and produces approximately 42 percent of Pakistan's value added in large scale manufacturing.[91] At least 4500 industrial units form Karachi's formal industrial economy.[92] Karachi's informal manufacturing sector employs far more people than the formal sector, though proxy data suggest that the capital employed and value added from such informal enterprises is far smaller than that offormal sector enterprises.[93]

Karachi Export Processing Zone, SITE, Korangi, Northern Bypass Industrial Zone, Bin Qasim and North Karachi serve as large industrial estates in Karachi.[94] The Karachi Expo Centre also complements Karachi's industrial economy by hosting regional and international exhibitions.[95]

Name of estate Location Established Area in acres
SITE Karachi SITE Town 1947 4700[96]
Korangi Industrial Area Korangi Town 1960 8500[97]
Landhi Industrial Area Landhi Town 1949 11000[98]
North Karachi Industrial Area New Karachi Town 1974 725[99]
Federal B Industrial Area Gulberg Town 1987 [100]
Korangi Creek Industrial Park Korangi Creek Cantonment 250[101]
Bin Qasim Industrial Zone Bin Qasim Town 1970 25000[102]
Karachi Export Processing Zone Landhi Town 1980[103] 315[104]
Pakistan Textile City Bin Qasim Town 2004 1250[105]
West Wharf Industrial Area Keamari Town 430
SITE Super Highway Phase-I Super Highway 1983 300[106]
SITE Super Highway Phase-II Super Highway 1992 1000[106]

Revenue collection

As home to Pakistan's largest ports and a large portion of its manufacturing base, Karachi contributes a large share of Pakistan's collected tax revenue. As most of Pakistan's large multinational corporations are based in Karachi, income taxes are paid in the city even though income may be generated from other parts of the country.[107] As home to the country's two largest ports, Pakistani customs officials collect the bulk of federal duty and tariffs at Karachi's ports, even if those imports are destined for one of Pakistan's other provinces.[108] Approximately 25% of Pakistan's national revenue is generated in Karachi.[23]

According to the Federal Board of Revenue's 2006–2007 year book, tax and customs units in Karachi were responsible for 46.75% of direct taxes, 33.65% of federal excise tax, and 23.38% of domestic sales tax.[109] Karachi accounts for 75.14% of customs duty and 79% of sales tax on imports,[109] and collects 53.38% of the total collections of the Federal Board of Revenue, of which 53.33% are customs duty and sales tax on imports.[109][110]

Civic administration

Historical background

In response to a cholera epidemic in 1846, the Karachi Conservancy Board was organized by British administrators.[111][112] The board became a Karachi Municipal Commission in 1852, and a Karachi Municipal Committee the following year.[111] The City of Karachi Municipal Act of 1933 transformed the city administration into the Karachi Municipal Corporation with a mayor, a deputy mayor and 57 councillors.[111] In 1976, the body became the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation.[111]

During the 1900s, Karachi saw its major beautification project under the mayoral administration of Harchandrai Vishandas. New roads, parks, residential and recreational areas were developed as part of this project. In 1948, the Federal Capital Territory of Pakistan was created, comprising approximately 2,103 km2 (812 sq mi) of Karachi and surrounding areas, but this was merged into the province of West Pakistan in 1961.[113] In 1996, the metropolitan area was divided into five districts, each with its own municipal corporation.[111]

Union Councils

In 2001, five districts of Karachi were merged to form the city district of Karachi, with a three-tier structure. The two most local tiers are composed of 18 towns, and 178 union councils.[114] Each tier focused on elected councils with some common members to provide "vertical linkage" within the federation.[115] Naimatullah Khan was the first Nazim of Karachi and Shafiq-Ur-Rehman Paracha was the first district co-ordination officer (DCO) of Karachi, Paracha even served as the last Commissioner of Karachi. Syed Mustafa Kamal was elected City Nazim of Karachi to succeed Naimatullah Khan in 2005 elections, and Nasreen Jalil was elected as the City Naib Nazim.

Each Union Council had thirteen members elected from specified electorates: four men and two women elected directly by the general population; two men and two women elected by peasants and workers; one member for minority communities; two members are elected jointly as the Union Mayor (Nazim) and Deputy Union Mayor (Naib Nazim).[116] Each council included up to three council secretaries and a number of other civil servants. The Union Council system was dismantled in 2011.

District Municipal Corporations

In 2011, City District Government of Karachi was reverted its original constituent units known as District Municipal Corporations (DMC). The five original DMCs are: Karachi East, Karachi West, Karachi Central, Karachi South and Malir. In November 2013, a sixth DMC, "Korangi" was carved out from District East.[117][118][119][120][121]

The current City administrator is Muhammad Hussain Syed[122] and Municipal Commissioner of Karachi is Matanat Ali Khan.[123] The position of Commissioner of Karachi was created and Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui was appointed as the Commissioner of Karachi.[124] There are six military cantonments, which are administered by the military.

    Karachi South

  1. Lyari Town
  2. Saddar Town
  3. Karachi East

  4. Jamshed Town
  5. Gulshan Town
  6. Karachi Central

  7. Liaquatabad Town
  8. North Nazimabad Town
  9. Gulberg Town
  10. New Karachi Town
  11. Karachi West

  12. Kemari Town
  13. SITE Town
  14. Baldia Town
  15. Orangi Town


  1. Malir Town
  2. Bin Qasim Town
  3. Gadap Town
  4. Korangi

  5. Korangi Town
  6. Landhi Town
  7. Shah Faisal Town
A. Karachi Cantonment
B. Clifton Cantonment
C. Korangi Creek Cantonment
D. Faisal Cantonment
E. Malir Cantonment
F. Manora Cantonment


Karachi Downtown.

Karachi is the most linguistically, ethnically, and religiously diverse city in Pakistan.[15] The city is a melting pot of ethno-linguistic groups from throughout Pakistan, as well as migrants from other parts of Asia. The city’s inhabitants are referred to by the demonym Karachiite.


Established as a fortified settlement in 1729,[18] Karachi remained a small town until British-sponsored infrastructure works in the 19th century resulted in rapid growth. At the end of the 19th century, Karachi had an estimated population of 105,000.[125] By the dawn of Pakistan’s independence in 1947, the city had an estimated population of 400,000.[15] The city’s population grew dramatically with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees from the newly independent Republic of India.[19] Rapid economic growth following independence attracted further migrants from throughout Pakistan and South Asia.[20]

With an estimated population of 23.5 million,[9] the city’s expansive metro region has a population density estimated at more than 6,000 people per square kilometre (15,500 per square mile).[126] Karachi is now the second-largest city in the Muslim world,[33] and is thought to be the world's 7th most populous urban agglomeration.[10][127] The city is also one of the fastest growing cities,[35] with an estimated 45,000 new migrants settle in the city every month.[128] As a result of strong migration, the city's population is estimated to be increasing by 5% annum, largely as a result of migration from rural to urban areas.


The first inhabitants of the Kolachi settlement were mostly Sindhi fishermen and Baloch nomads. The oldest portions of modern Karachi reflect the ethnic composition of the first settlement, with Balochis and Sindhis continuing to make up a large portion of the Lyari neighbourhood,[30] though many of the residents are relatively recent migrants. Following Partition, large numbers of Hindus fled Pakistan for the newly-independent Republic of India, while a larger percentage of Muslim refugees fleeing anti-Muslim pogroms in India settled in Karachi. The city grew 150% during the ten period between 1941 and 1951 with the arrival of refugees from India,[132] who made up 57% of Karachi’s population in 1951.[133] The city is now considered a melting pot of Pakistan, and is the country’s most diverse city.[30] In 2011, an estimated 2.5 million foreign migrants lived in the city, mostly from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.[134]

Much of Karachi’s citizenry descend from Urdu-speaking refugees from North India who became known by the Arabic term for “refugee” - Muhajir. The first Muhajirs of Karachi arrived in 1946 in the aftermath of the Great Calcutta Killings and subsequent 1946 Bihar riots.[135] The city’s wealthy Hindus opposed the resettlement of refugees near their homes, and so many refugees were accommodated in the older and more congested parts of Karachi.[136] The city witnessed a large influx of Muhajirs following Partition, who were drawn to the port city and newly-designated federal capital for its white-collar job opportunities.[137] Indian Muslims continued to migrate to Pakistan throughout the 1950s and early 1960s,[138] and today the Muhajir community now forms an estimated 48% of Karachi’s population.[30] Muhajirs form the bulk of Karachi’s middle class.[30] Muhajirs are regarded as the city’s most secular community, encouraging other minorities such as Christians and Hindus increasingly regarding themselves as part of the Muhajir community.[30]

Non Urdu-speaking refugees also arrived in the city, with Karachi home to a wide array of Muslim peoples from what is now the Republic of India. The city has a sizable community of Gujarati, Marathi, Konkani-speaking refugees.[30] Karachi is also home to a several-thousand member strong community of Malabari Muslims from Kerala in South India.[139] These ethno-linguistic groups are being assimilated in the Urdu-speaking community.[140]

During the period of rapid economic growth in the 1960s, large numbers Pashtuns from the NWFP migrated to Karachi with Afghan Pashtun refugees settling in Karachi during the 80's.[62][63][141][142][143] By some estimates, Karachi is home to the world's largest urban Pashtun population,[144] with more Pashtun citizens than the FATA.[2][144][144] While generally considered to be one of Karachi’s most conservative communities, Pashtuns in Karachi generally vote for the nationalist Awami National Party rather than religious parties.[2] Afghan Pashtuns are regarded as the most conservative community.[2] Pashtuns from the Swat Valley, by contrast, are generally seen as more liberal in social outlook.[2] The community forms the bulk of manual labourers and transporters.[145]

Migrants from Punjab began settling in Karachi in large numbers in 1960s, and now make up an estimated 14% of Karachi’s population.[2] The community forms the bulk of the city’s police force,[2] and also form a large portion of Karachi’s entrepreneurial classes and direct a large portion of Karachi’s service-sector economy.[2] The bulk of Karachi's Christian community, which makes up 2.5% of the city's population, is Punjabi.[146]

Despite being the capital of Sindh province, only 6-8% of the city is Sindhi.[2] Sindhis form much of the municipal and provincial bureaucracy.[2] 4% of Karachi’s population speaks Balochi as its mother tongue, though most Baloch speakers are of Sheedi heritage - a community that traces its roots to Africa.[2]

Following the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and independence of Bangladesh, thousands of Urdu-speaking Bihari arrived in the city, preferring to remain Pakistani rather than live in the newly-independent country. Large numbers of Bengalis also migrated from Bangladesh to Karachi during periods of economic growth in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Karachi is now home to an estimated 1 to 2 million ethnic Bengalis living in Pakistan.[36][37] Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, who speak a dialect of Bengali and are sometimes regarded as Bengalis also live in the city. Karachi is home to an estimated 400,000 Rohingya residents.[147][148]

Central Asian migrants from Uzbekistan and Kyrghyzstan have also settled in the city.[149] Domestic workers from the Philippines are employed in Karachi’s posh locals, while many of the city’s teachers hail from Sri Lanka.[149] Expatriates from China began migrating to Karachi in the 1940s, to work as dentists, chefs and shoemakers, while many of their decedents continue to live in Pakistan.[149][150] The city is also home to a small number of British and American expatriates.[151]

During World War II, about 3,000 Polish refugees from the Soviet Union, with some Polish families who chose to remain in the city after Partition.[152][153] Post-Partition Karachi also once had a sizable refugee community from post-revolutionary Iran.[149]


Religions in Karachi[154][155][156][157]
Religions Percent
The Swaminarayan Temple is the largest Hindu temple in Karachi.

Karachi is one of Pakistan’s most religiously diverse cities.[15] Karachiites adhere to numerous sects and sub-sects of Islam, as well as Protestant Christianity, and community of Goan Catholics. The city also is home to large numbers of Hindus, and a small community of Zoroastrians.

Prior to Pakistan’s independence in 1947, the population of the city was estimated to be 50% Hindu, 40% Muslim, with the remaining 10% primarily Christians (both British and native), with a small numbers of Jews. Following the independence of Pakistan, much of Karachi’s Hindu population left for India while Muslim refugees from India in turn settled in the city. The city continued to attract migrants from throughout Pakistan, who were overwhelmingly Muslim, and city’s population nearly doubled again in the 1950s.[132] As a result of continued migration, over 90% of the city is now estimated to be Muslim.[2]

Karachi is overwhelmingly Muslim,[2] though the city is one of Pakistan's most secular cities.[30][31][32] Approximately 65% of Karachi’s Muslims are Sunnis, while 35% are Shi'ites.[158][159][160] Sunnis primarily follow the Hanafi school of jurisprudence, with Sufism influencing religious practices by encouraging reverence for Sufi saints such as Abdullah Shah Ghazi and Mewa Shah. Shi'ites are predominantly Twelver, with a significant Ismaili minority which is further subdivided into Nizaris, Mustaalis, Dawoodi Bohras, and Sulaymanis.

Approximately 2.5% of Karachi’s population is Christian.[154][155][156] The city’s Christian community is primarily composed of Punjabi Christians,[146] who converted to Christianity during the British Raj.[161] Karachi has a community of Goan Catholics who are typically better-educated and more affluent than their Punjabi co-religionists.[162] The Goan community dates from 1820 and has a population estimated to be 12,000-15,000 strong.[163]

While most of the city’s Hindu population left en masse for India following Pakistan’s independence, Karachi still has a large Hindu community with an estimated population of 250,000 based on 2013 data.[164] Karachi's affluent and influential Parsis have lived in the region in the 12th century, though the modern community dates from the mid 19th century when they served as military contractors and commissariat agents to the British.[165] Further waves of Parsi immigrants from Persia settled in the city in the late 19th century.[166] The population of Parsis in Karachi and throughout South Asia is in continuous decline due to low birth-rates and migration to Western countries.[167]


Karachi has the largest number of Urdu speakers in Pakistan.[86] According to the last official census of the city held in 1998, the linguistic distribution of the city was: Urdu: 48.52%; Punjabi: 16.05%; Pashto: 11.42%; Sindhi: 7.22%; Balochi: 4.34%; others: 12.44%. The others include Dari, Gujarati, Dawoodi Bohra, Memon, Marwari, Brahui, Makrani, Hazara, Khowar, Burushaski, Arabic, Farsi and Bengali.[168]

Rank Language 1998 census[169] Speakers 1981 census[170] Speakers
1 Urdu 48.52% 4,497,747 54.34% 2,830,098
2 Standard Punjabi 13.94% 1,292,335 13.64% 710,389
3 Pashto 11.42% 1,058,650 08.71% 453,628
4 Sindhi 07.22% 669,340 06.29% 327,591
5 Balochi 04.34% 402,386 04.39% 228,636
6 Saraiki
02.11% 195,681 00.35% 18,228
7 Others 12.44% 1,153,126 12.27% 639,560
All 100% 9,269,265 100% 5,208,132


Main article: Transport in Karachi
Karachi's transportation infrastructure


The Malir River Bridge is Pakistan's longest with a length of 5 kilometres.
Karachi's Nagan Chowrungi

Karachi is served by a road network estimated to be approximately 9,500 kilometres in length,[171] serving approximately 3.1 million vehicles per day.[172]

Karachi is served by three "Signal-Free Corridors" which are designed as urban expressways to permit traffic to transverse large urban distances without the need to stop at intersections and stop lights.[173] The first opened in 2007 and connects Shah Faisal Town in eastern Karachi to the industrial-estates in SITE Town 10.5 kilometres away. The second corridor connects Surjani Town with Shahrah-e-Faisal over a 19 kilometre span, while the third stretch 28 kilometres and connects Karachi's urban centre to the Gulistan-e-Johar suburb. A fourth corridor is currently under construction that will link Karachi's centre to Karachi's Malir Town.

Karachi will be the terminus of the under construction M-9 motorway, which will connect Karachi to Hyderabad. The road is being constructed as part of a much larger motorway network under construction as part of the expansive China Pakistan Economic Corridor. From Hyderabad, motorways have been built, or are being constructed, to provide high-speed road access to the northern Pakistani cities of Peshawar and Mansehra 1,100 kilometres to the north of Karachi. Karachi is also the terminus of the N-5 National Highway which connects the city to the Afghan border near Torkham, and the N-25 National Highway which connects the port city to the Afghan border near Quetta.

Within the city of Karachi, the Lyari Expressway is a controlled-access highway under construction along the Lyari River in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan. Lyari Expressway's north-bound section is under construction, while the south-bound corridor is open for traffic.[174] This toll highway is designed to relieve congestion in the city of Karachi. To the north of Karachi lies the Karachi Northern Bypass (M10), which starts near the junction of the M9. It then continues north for a few kilometres before turning west, where it intersects the N25.


Karachi's Cantonment Railway Station is one of the city's primary railway stations.

Karachi is linked by rail to the rest of the country by Pakistan Railways. The Karachi City Station and Karachi Cantonment Railway Station are the city's two major railway stations.[2] The city has an international rail link, the Thar Express which links Karachi Cantonment Station with Bhagat Ki Kothi station in Jodhpur, India.[175]

The railway system also handles freight linking Karachi port to destinations up-country in northern Pakistan.[176] The city is the terminus for the Main Line-1 Railway which connects Karachi to Peshawar. Pakistan's rail network, including the Main Line-1 Railway is being upgraded as part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, allowing trains to depart Karachi and travel on Pakistani railways at an average speed of 160 kilometres per hour versus the average 60 to 105 km per hour speed currently possible on existing track.[177]

Public Transport

Karachi's public transport infrastructure is inadequate and constrained by low levels of investment.[178] Karachi is not currently served by any municipal public transit, and is instead serviced primarily by the private and informal sector.[179] The Pakistani Government is developing the Karachi Metrobus project, which is a multi-line 109 kilometres (68 miles) bus rapid transit system currently under-construction that is expected to be partially operational in 2017.[180] Karachi was once served by numerous trams and the Karachi Circular Railway, although both systems are no longer in operation. While the Japanese Government has expressed willingness to help fund the refurbishment of the Karachi Circular Railway,[181] the project has not been finalized.


Karachi's Jinnah International Airport is the largest and busiest airport in Pakistan.

Karachi's Jinnah International Airport is the largest and busiest airport of Pakistan with a total of 6.2 million passengers in 2015.[182] The current terminal structure was built in 1992, and is divided into international and domestic sections. Karachi's airport serves as a hub for the flag carrier, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), as well as for Air Indus, Shaheen Air, and airblue. The airport offers non-stop flights to destinations throughout East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Persian Gulf States, Europe and North America.[183][184]


The Port of Karachi is one of South Asia's largest and busiest deep-water seaports.

The largest shipping ports in Pakistan are the Port of Karachi and the nearby Port Qasim, the former being the oldest port of Pakistan. Port Qasim is located 35 kilometres (22 miles) east of the Port of Karachi on the Indus River estuary. These ports handle 95% of Pakistan's trade cargo to and from foreign ports. These seaports have modern facilities which include bulk handling, containers and oil terminals.[185]

Plans have been announced for new passenger facilities at the Port of Karachi.[186]


Main article: Education in Karachi

Major universities Include:

Health and medicine

Karachi is a centre of research in biomedicine with at least 30 public hospitals, 80 registered private hospitals and 12 recognized medical colleges,[187] including the Karachi Institute of Heart Diseases,[188] National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases,[189] Civil Hospital,[190] Combined Military Hospital,[191] PNS Rahat,[192] PNS Shifa,[193] Aga Khan University Hospital, Liaquat National Hospital, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre,[194] Holy Family Hospital[195] and Ziauddin Hospital. In 1995, Ziauddin Hospital was the site of Pakistan's first bone marrow transplant.[196]

Art and culture

Main article: Culture of Karachi

Museums and galleries

The National Museum of Pakistan is located in Karachi.
Built as a home for a wealthy Hindu businessman, the Mohatta Palace is now a museum open to the public.

Karachi is home to several of Pakistan's most important museums. The National Museum of Pakistan and Mohatta Palace display artwork, while the city also has several private art galleries.[197] The city is also home to the Pakistan Airforce Museum and Pakistan Maritime Museum are also located in the city. Wazir Mansion, the birthplace of Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah has also been preserved as a museum open to the public.

Theatre and film

Karachi is home to some of Pakistan's important cultural institutions. The National Academy of Performing Arts,[198] located in the former Hindu Gymkhana, offers diploma courses in performing arts that includes classical music and contemporary theatre. Karachi is home to groups such as Thespianz Theater, a professional youth-based, non-profit performing arts group, which works on theatre and arts activities in Pakistan.[199][200]

Though Lahore is considered to be home of Pakistan's film industry, Karachi is home to Kara Film Festival annually showcases independent Pakistani and international films and documentaries.[201]


The All Pakistan Music Conference, linked to the 45-year-old similar institution in Lahore, has been holding its annual music festival since its inception in 2004.[202] The National Arts Council (Koocha-e-Saqafat) has musical performances and mushaira.

Tourist attractions

Frere Hall, Karachi

Karachi is a tourist destination for domestic and international tourists. Tourist attractions near Karachi city include:

Museums: Museums located in Karachi include the National Museum of Pakistan, Pakistan Air Force Museum, and Pakistan Maritime Museum.

Parks: Parks located in Karachi include Bagh Ibne Qasim, Boat Basin Park, Mazar-e-Quaid, Karachi Zoo, Hill Park, Safari Park, Bagh-e-Jinnah, PAF Museum Park and Maritime Museum Park.


Frere Hall – completed in 1865

Karachi has a collection of buildings and structures of varied architectural styles. The downtown districts of Saddar and Clifton contain early 20th-century architecture, ranging in style from the neo-classical KPT building to the Sindh High Court Building. Karachi acquired its first neo-Gothic or Indo-Gothic buildings when Frere Hall, Empress Market and St. Patrick's Cathedral were completed. The Mock Tudor architectural style was introduced in the Karachi Gymkhana and the Boat Club. Neo-Renaissance architecture was popular in the 19th century and was the architectural style for St. Joseph's Convent (1870) and the Sind Club (1883).[203] The classical style made a comeback in the late 19th century, as seen in Lady Dufferin Hospital (1898)[204] and the Cantt. Railway Station. While Italianate buildings remained popular, an eclectic blend termed Indo-Saracenic or Anglo-Mughal began to emerge in some locations.[205]

The local mercantile community began acquiring impressive structures. Zaibunnisa Street in the Saddar area (known as Elphinstone Street in British days) is an example where the mercantile groups adopted the Italianate and Indo-Saracenic style to demonstrate their familiarity with Western culture and their own. The Hindu Gymkhana (1925) and Mohatta Palace are examples of Mughal revival buildings.[206] The Sindh Wildlife Conservation Building, located in Saddar, served as a Freemasonic Lodge until it was taken over by the government. There are talks of it being taken away from this custody and being renovated and the Lodge being preserved with its original woodwork and ornate wooden staircase.[207]

Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture is one of the prime examples of Architectural conservation and restoration where an entire Nusserwanjee building from Kharadar area of Karachi has been relocated to Clifton for adaptive reuse in an art school. The procedure involved the careful removal of each piece of timber and stone, stacked temporarily, loaded on the trucks for transportation to the Clifton site, unloaded and re-arranged according to a given layout, stone by stone, piece by piece, and completed within three months.[208]

Architecturally distinctive, even eccentric, buildings have sprung up throughout Karachi. Notable example of contemporary architecture include the Pakistan State Oil Headquarters building. The city has examples of modern Islamic architecture, including the Aga Khan University hospital, Masjid e Tooba, Faran Mosque, Bait-ul Mukarram Mosque, Quaid's Mausoleum, and the Textile Institute of Pakistan. One of the unique cultural elements of Karachi is that the residences, which are two- or three-story townhouses, are built with the front yard protected by a high brick wall. Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar Road features a range of extremely tall buildings. The most prominent examples include the Habib Bank Plaza, PRC Towers and the MCB Tower which is the tallest skyscraper in Pakistan.[209]

Colonial era edifices

Social issues

Violence, poverty, criminality and availability of clean drinking water are some of the major issues being faced by Karachiites. By 2015, 30,000 people were dying due to water-borne diseases annually.[210] Several criminal mafias have been active in Karachi for a long time as what has been described as "the rule of the mafias."[211] Major mafias active in the city included land mafia, water tanker mafia, transport mafia and reti bajri mafia (sand and gravel mafia); the last one being related to the construction business.[212][211][213][214] Affordable housing is another major issue of Karachi as many poor people live in slums and shanty towns. Crime and resentment grew during the Ayub era among mostly Mohajir and Balochi shanty towns due to economic disparities which turned into a growing movement against Ayub regime, contributing to a national movement resulting in the regime's fall in 1969.[2]


Match between Sindh & Australia in Karachi on 22 November 1935 was report by Daily Sydney Morning Herald

When it comes to sports Karachi has a distinction, because some sources cite that it was in 1877 at Karachi in (British) India, where the first attempt was made to form a set of rules of badminton[215] and likely place is said to Frere Hall.

Cricket in Pakistan has a history of even before the creation of the country in 1947. The first ever international cricket match in Karachi was held on 22 November 1935 between Sindh and Australian cricket teams. The match was seen by 5,000 Karachiites.[216]

The inaugural first-class match at the National Stadium was played between Pakistan and India on 26 February 1955 and since then Pakistani national cricket team has won 20 of the 41 Test matches played at the National Stadium.[217] The first One Day International at the National Stadium was against the West Indies on 21 November 1980, with the match going to the last ball.

The national team has been less successful in such limited-overs matches at the ground, including a five-year stint between 1996 and 2001, when they failed to win any matches. The city has been host to a number of domestic cricket teams including Karachi,[218] Karachi Blues,[219] Karachi Greens,[220] and Karachi Whites.[221] The National Stadium hosted two group matches (Pakistan v. South Africa on 29 February and Pakistan v. England on 3 March), and a quarter-final match (South Africa v. West Indies on 11 March) during the 1996 Cricket World Cup.[222]

The city has hosted seven editions of the National Games of Pakistan, most recently in 2007.[223]

In 2005, the city hosted the SAFF Championship at this ground, as well as the Geo Super Football League 2007, which attracted capacity crowds during the games. The popularity of golf is increasing, with clubs in Karachi like Dreamworld Resort, Hotel & Golf Club, Arabian Sea Country Club, DA Country & Golf Club. The city has facilities for field hockey (the Hockey Club of Pakistan, UBL Hockey Ground), boxing (KPT Sports Complex), squash (Jahangir Khan Squash Complex), and polo. There are marinas and boating clubs. National Bank of Pakistan Sports Complex is First-class cricket venue and Multi-purpose sports facility in Karachi,

Professional Karachi teams
Club League Sport Venue Established
Karachi Kings Pakistan Super League Cricket Dubai International Cricket Stadium 2015
Karachi Dolphins National T20 League/National One-day Championship Cricket National Stadium 2004
Karachi Zebras National T20 League/National One-day Championship Cricket National Stadium 2004
HBL FC Pakistan Premier League Football Peoples Football Stadium 1975
K-Electric F.C. Pakistan Premier League Football Peoples Football Stadium 1913
KPT F.C. Pakistan Premier League Football KPT Football Stadium 1887
NBP F.C. Pakistan Premier League Football KPT Football Stadium N/A
PIA F.C. Pakistan Premier League Football KPT Football Stadium 1958


See also


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