Karachi is unique within the context of Pakistan in the diversity of cultures, ethnicities, languages that define its people. No wonder it is called ‘Mini Pakistan’! Here we celebrate this diversity by profiling the people, their festivities and celebrations, food and cuisine and hope to highlight the need to make this diversity and plurality a source of strength rather than divisions. Similarly, Karachi is distinguished by the varieties found in its physical and natural resource capital. From the coast of the Arabian Sea to the rocky wilderness of the Khirthar National Park, the city exhibits a rich tapestry of nature’s wonders. Not many cities in the world can compete with Karachi in the varied topography, landscape and terrain on offer. We document and celebrate our city’s natural capital.
Karachi is located on 24.8615° North and 67.0099° East. It is the largest city of Pakistan covering an area of 3,527 km2. The Division shares it boundaries with District Dadu in the northeast, District Thatta in the southeast, District Lasbela in the west and Arabian Sea in the south.
Karachi has six administrative districts, namely South, East, Central, West, Malir and Korangi.
The population of Karachi proper, according to the census of 2017, stands at 14.9 Million. When the rural population is included the figure stands at 16 Million. The sex ratio of the population stands at 110.90.
Karachi is broadly divided into the hilly areas in the north and west, and an undulating plain and coastal area in the south-east. The hills in Karachi are the off-shoots of the Kirthar Range. The highest point of these hills in Karachi is about 528m in the extreme north. All these hills are devoid of vegetation and have wide intervening plains, dry river beds and water channels. Karachi has a long coastline in the south. The famous sea beaches include Hawks Bay, Paradise Point, Sands Pit, and Clifton. China Creek and Korangi Creek provide excellent calm water channels for rowing and other water activities. Away from the shoreline are small islands including Shams Pir, Baba and Bhit.
The Karachi basin comprises of the drainage basins of the Lyari, Malir and Hub. Major geological formations in the agricultural areas are the deposits of alluvium, providing fertile soils for the cultivated areas. The terrain in the North, West and East of Karachi provides confluence of various streams and their drainage pattern.
Karachi receives 2900 hours of annual sunshine according to the Pakistan Meteorological Department. It has a moderately temperate climate with high humidity that varies from 58 per cent in December (the driest month) to 85 per cent in August (the wettest month). During monsoon season the winds blow from south-west to west while in winter the wind direction changes to east and north-east. The hottest months on record are May and June, while January is the coolest month of the year with temperature touching 0.0°C in 1934. The heaviest rainfall (713mm) was recorded in year 1967. The months from July to September usually experience the monsoon rains in the city. Generally Karachi remains dry during most of the year with scanty rainfall during the monsoon season. The average annual rainfall is 256 mm, but in certain years rainfall is higher and it may rain heavily for a few days.
Based on topography and drainage pattern of Karachi, the potential agricultural areas of Karachi have been identified as Malir, Gadap, Darsano Channa, Kathore, Khar Nai, Hab and Band Murad areas. Karachi is home to about 18 dry rivers. These are perennial streams, dependent on their flow on seasonal rains. Thus the entire area and related agricultural practices depend heavily on rains. Since centuries rainwater is harvested in these areas through small dams by recharging the underground water aquifers. Traditional water wells also exist in the rural areas of Karachi since the last two centuries. In Karachi, most of deh boundaries were around river catchments, as the rain-fed agriculture totally depends on proximity to rivers. Therefore, major wells were located around the river systems providing access to underground aquifers. Through a network of small unlined canals the water from these wells was conveyed to the agricultural fields.
Agricultural areas in Karachi, such as Malir and Gadap, have been famous for the richness of their fruits and vegetables. Historically, these areas provided tremendous amount of vegetables, fruits, fodder and grains to Karachi and Lower Sindh. Karachi's rural areas are famous for Mangoes, Guavas, Chico, Ber and Papaya cultivation.
Modern Karachi had its nascent stage at the time of partition of India, when the population stood at 450,000. 51% of the population of the city composed of Hindus, while 49% composed of Muslims. Later on, extensive migration turned the city into a Muslim majority one. Even today the city enjoys the rich cultural agglomeration of various ethnicities and religions. The mega city boasts multilinguistic populace including Urdu Speaking, Native Sindhis, Memons, Pashtuns and others. Karachi also hosts the largest urban population of Pashtuns.