182,143,000 (2013); density varies from more than 230 people per sq km in Punjab to 13 in Balochistan; 38 per cent of people live in urban areas and 18 per cent in urban agglomerations of more than one million people; growth 2.1 per cent p.a. 1990–2013; birth rate 25 per 1,000 people (43 in 1970); life expectancy 67 years (54 in 1970).
The population comprises Punjabis (44 per cent), Pashtuns (15 per cent), Sindhis (14 per cent), Saraikis (11 per cent), Muhajirs (7.6 per cent), Balochis (3.6 per cent), and other smaller groups including the tribal groups in the more remote northern areas.
The official language is Urdu, but English is widely used. Regional languages are Punjabi, Pashtu, Sindhi and Saraiki. There are numerous local dialects.
Muslims 96 per cent, the majority of whom are Sunni, with a minority (about 10-15 per cent) of Shia. There are small communities of Hindus, Christians, Qadianis and a few Parsis (Zoroastrians).
Public spending on health was one per cent of GDP in 2012. The network of medical services includes hospitals, dispensaries, rural health centres and basic health units. Family planning services are given at family welfare centres. Some 91 per cent of the population uses an improved drinking water source and 48 per cent have access to adequate sanitation facilities (2012). Malaria remains a serious problem. There are 90 recognised medical colleges in Pakistan (2014). The principal teaching hospitals are in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta. Infant mortality was 69 per 1,000 live births in 2013 (139 in 1960).
Public spending on education was two per cent of GDP in 2012. There are five years of primary education starting at the age of five, and seven years of secondary comprising cycles of three and four years. Some 52 per cent of pupils complete primary school (2010). The school year starts in April.
In October 2013, the Higher Education Commission recognised 151 degree-awarding institutions, 84 in the public sector. Allama Iqbal Open University was established in 1974, the first open university in Asia. Fatima Jinnah Women’s University, Rawalpindi, opened in 1998 and was Pakistan’s first university exclusively for women. The female–male ratio for gross enrolment in tertiary education is 0.90:1 (2011). Literacy among people aged 15–24 is 71 per cent (2009). There is an extensive literacy programme.
In 1994 Pakistan hosted the 12th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers in Islamabad. Commonwealth Education Ministers meet every three years to discuss issues of mutual concern and interest.
The first Urdu journal appeared in 1836. By the 1990s there were more than 2,200 newspapers and periodicals, including some 270 dailies and 500 weeklies. Leading English-language papers include Daily Times (Lahore and Karachi), Dawn (Karachi), The Frontier Post (Peshawar), The Nation (Lahore), The News (Karachi), Pakistan Observer (Islamabad) and Business Recorder (financial daily). The main newspapers in Urdu are Ausaf, Jang and Nawa-i-Waqt. The principal weeklies are Pakistan and Gulf Economist, and The Friday Times (Lahore).
Pakistan Television Corporation provides national and regional public TV services. The many private TV channels broadcast by cable and satellite; some owned by newspaper groups, and one based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation provides public radio services, operating some 25 stations, including an external service. More than 100 private FM stations are licensed to broadcast.
Some 68 per cent of households have TV sets (2009).
Country code 92; internet domain ‘.pk’. Mobile phone coverage is generally limited to main towns. Internet cafés can be found in most urban areas. There is a good postal service in the main towns.
For every 1,000 people there are 35 landlines, 701 mobile phone subscriptions and 109 internet users (2013).
Pakistan Day (23 March), Independence Day (14 August), Defence Day (6 September), Allama Mohammad Iqbal Day (9 November) and Birthday of Quaid-i-Azam (25 December).
Religious festivals whose dates vary from year to year include Prophet’s Birthday, Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan, two days), Eid al- Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice, two days) and Ashura. Christian holidays are taken by the Christian community only.