Key Facts Pakistan

by World Grain Staff
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Capital: Islamabad

Population: 165 million

Ethnic groups: Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtun (Pathan), Baloch, Muhajir (immigrants from India at the time of partition and their descendants). Religions: Muslim 97% (Sunni 77%, Shi’a 20%), other (includes Christian and Hindu) 3%.

Location: Southern Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea, between India on the east, Iran and Afghanistan on the west and China on the north.

Government: Federal republic. Chief of state: President General Perves Musharraf (since June 20, 2001).

Economy: Pakistan, an impoverished and underdeveloped country, has suffered from decades of internal political disputes, low levels of foreign investment, and a costly, ongoing confrontation with neighboring India. However, International Monetary Fund-approved government policies, bolstered by generous foreign assistance and renewed access to global markets since 2001, have generated solid macroeconomic recovery the last five years. The government has made substantial macroeconomic reforms since 2000, most notably privatizing the banking sector. Poverty levels have decreased by 10% since 2001, and Islamabad has steadily raised development spending in recent years, including a 52% real increase in the budget allocation for development in Fiscal Year 2007, a necessary step toward reversing the broad underdevelopment of its social sector. The fiscal deficit - the result of chronically low tax collection and increased spending, including reconstruction costs from the October 2005 earthquake - appears manageable for now. GDP growth, spurred by gains in the industrial and service sectors, remained in the 6% to 8% range from 2004 through 2006. Inflation remains the biggest threat to the economy, jumping to more than 9% in 2005 before easing to 7.9% in 2006. The central bank is pursuing tighter monetary policy - raising interest rates in 2006 - while trying to preserve growth. Foreign exchange reserves are bolstered by steady worker remittances, but a growing current account deficit - driven by a widening trade gap as import growth outstrips export expansion - could draw down reserves and dampen GDP growth in the medium term.

GDP per capita: $2,600 (PPP); inflation 7.9%; unemployment 6.5% plus substantial underemployment (2006 est.).

Currency: Pakistani rupee

Exports: $19.24 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.); textiles (garments, bed linen, cotton cloth, yarn), rice, leather goods, sports goods, chemicals, manufactures, carpets and rugs.

Imports: $26.79 billion f.o.b; petroleum, petroleum products, machinery, plastics, transportation equipment, edible oils, paper and paperboard, iron and steel, tea.

Major crops/agricultural products: Cotton, wheat, rice, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables, milk, beef, mutton, eggs.

Grain and oilseed crops: Wheat, rice

Agriculture: 22% of GDP and 42% of the labor force.

Internet: code .pk, 72,765 hosts and 10.5 million users (2005).