Located in a unique position that allows access to many important regions of South and Central Asia, as well as the Middle East, Pakistan is a country with an ancient past and a blending of many cultures. It sits along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman, giving it a 650-mile coastline.
Today's Pakistan has endured many different invasions and migrations including Hindu, Persian, Indo-Greek, Islamic, Turco-Mongol, Afghan and the Sikh civilizations.
The last group to occupy this region was the British Empire, who gave up their rule in 1947. At that time, during India's fight for independence from Great Britain, Pakistan was created as an independent country for Muslims from India. In 1956 Pakistan became an Islamic republic.
Currently the population exceeds 170 million people, making it the sixth most populous country in the world. It is an extraordinarily diverse country, both culturally and linguistically, being home to the largest Muslim population after Indonesia. It is ranked 27th in purchasing power and is labeled as a semi-industrial economy. Independence has proven to be a rocky road for Pakistan, with long periods of military rule and political instability as well as border disputes with its largest neighbor, India.