The economy of Sindh is the second-largest in Pakistan after the province of Punjab; its provincial capital of Karachi is the most populous city in the country as well as its main financial hub. Sindh is home to a large portion of Pakistan’s industrial sector and contains two of the country’s busiest commercial seaports: Port Qasim and the Port of Karachi. The remainder of Sindh consists of an agriculture-based economy and produces fruits, consumer items, and vegetables for other parts of the country.
Sindh is sometimes referred to as the Bab-ul Islam (transl. ’Gateway of Islam’), as it was one of the first regions of the Indian subcontinent to fall under Islamic rule. Parts of the modern-day province were intermittently subject to raids by the Rashidun army during the early Muslim conquests, but the region did not fall under Muslim rule until the Arab invasion of Sind occurred under the Umayyad Caliphate, headed by Muhammad ibn Qasim in 712 CE. Ethnic Sindhi people constitute the largest group in the province; Sindh is also the place of residence for the overwhelming majority of Muhajirs (lit. ’migrants’), a multiethnic group of Indian Muslims who migrated to the region after the Partition of British India in 1947. The province is well known for its distinct culture, which is strongly influenced by Sufism, an important marker of Sindhi identity for both Hindus and Muslims. Several important Sindhi Sufi shrines are located throughout the province and attract millions of devotees annually.
Sindh is prominent for its history during the Bronze Age under the Indus Valley civilization and is home to two UNESCO-designated World Heritage Sites: the Makli Necropolis and Mohenjo-daro.
- Sindhi (61.60%)
- Urdu (18.20%)
- Pashto (5.46%)
- Punjabi (5.31%)
- Saraiki (2.23%)
- Balochi (2.00%)
- Hindko (1.58%)
- Others (3.62%)
According to the 2017 census, the most widely spoken language in the province is Sindhi, the first language of 62% of the population. It is followed by Urdu (18%), Pashto (5.5%), Punjabi (5.3%), Saraiki (2.2%), Balochi (2%), and Hindko (1.6).
Other minority languages include Kutchi, Gujarati, Aer, Bagri, Bhaya, Brahui, Dhatki, Ghera, Goaria, Gurgula, Jadgali, Jandavra, Jogi, Kabutra, Kachi Koli, Parkari Koli, Wadiyari Koli, Loarki, Marwari, Sansi, and Vaghri.
Karachi city is Pakistan’s most multiethnic city. Urdu speakers form a plurality, while Pashto is the second-largest group. Sindhis themselves are 8.1% of the population in Karachi, a number that has increased due to the migration of rural Sindhis to the city for work.
Geography and nature
Sindh is in the western corner of South Asia, bordering the Iranian plateau in the west. Geographically it is the third largest province of Pakistan, stretching about 579 kilometers (360 mi) from north to south and 442 kilometers (275 mi) (extreme) or 281 kilometers (175 mi) (average) from east to west, with an area of 140,915 square kilometers (54,408 sq mi) of Pakistani territory. Sindh is bounded by the Thar Desert to the east, the Kirthar Mountains to the west, and the Arabian Sea and Rann of Kutch to the south. In the center is a fertile plain along the Indus River.
Sindh is divided into three main geographical regions: Siro (“upper country”), aka Upper Sindh, which is above Sehwan; Vicholo (“middle country”), or Middle Sindh, from Sehwan to Hyderabad; and Lāṟu (“sloping, descending country”), or Lower Sindh, mostly consisting of the Indus Delta below Hyderabad.
The province is mostly arid with scant vegetation except for the irrigated Indus Valley. The dwarf palm, Acacia Rupestris (kher), and Tecomella undulata (lohirro) trees are typical of the western hill region. In the Indus valley, the Acacia nilotica (babul) (babbur) is the most dominant and occurs in thick forests along the Indus banks. The Azadirachta indica (neem) (nim), Zizyphys vulgaris (bir) (ber), Tamarix orientalis (jujuba lai) and Capparis aphylla (kirir) are among the more common trees.
Mango, date palms and the more recently introduced banana, guava, orange and chiku are the typical fruit-bearing trees. The coastal strip and the creeks abound in semi-aquatic and aquatic plants and the inshore Indus delta islands have forests of Avicennia tomentosa (timmer) and Ceriops candolleana (chaunir) trees. Water lilies grow in abundance in the numerous lake and ponds, particularly in the lower Sindh region.
Among the wild animals, the Sindh ibex (sareh), blackbuck, wild sheep (Urial or gadh) and wild bear are found in the western rocky range. The leopard is now rare and the Asiatic cheetah extinct. The Pirrang (large tiger cat or fishing cat) of the eastern desert region is also disappearing. Deer occur in the lower rocky plains and in the eastern region, as do the Striped hyena (charakh), jackal, fox, porcupine, common gray mongoose and hedgehog. The Sindhi phekari, red lynx or Caracal cat, is found in some areas. Phartho (hog deer) and wild bear occur, particularly in the central inundation belt. There are bats, lizards and reptiles, including the cobra, lundi (viper) and the mysterious Sindh krait of the Thar region, which is supposed to suck the victim’s breath in his sleep. Some unusual sightings of Asian cheetah occurred in 2003 near the Balochistan border in Kirthar Mountains. The rare houbara bustard find Sindh’s warm climate suitable to rest and mate. Unfortunately, it is hunted by locals and foreigners.
Crocodiles are rare and inhabit only the backwaters of the Indus, eastern Nara channel and Karachi backwater. Besides a large variety of marine fish, the plumbeous dolphin, the beaked dolphin, rorqual or blue whale and skates frequent the seas along the Sindh coast. The Pallo (Sable fish), a marine fish, ascends the Indus annually from February to April to spawn. The Indus river dolphin is among the most endangered species in Pakistan and is found in the part of the Indus river in northern Sindh. Hog deer and wild bear occur, particularly in the central inundation belt.
Climate of Sindh
Sindh lies in a tropical to the subtropical region; it is hot in the summer and mild to warm in winter. Temperatures frequently rise above 46 °C (115 °F) between May and August, and the minimum average temperature of 2 °C (36 °F) occurs during December and January in the northern and higher elevated regions. The annual rainfall averages about seven inches, falling mainly during July and August. The southwest monsoon wind begins in mid-February and continues until the end of September, whereas the cool northerly wind blows during the winter months from October to January.
Sindh lies between the two monsoons—the southwest monsoon from the Indian Ocean and the northeast or retreating monsoon, deflected towards it by the Himalayan mountains—and escapes the influence of both. The region’s scarcity of rainfall is compensated by the inundation of the Indus twice a year, caused by the spring and summer melting of Himalayan snow and by rainfall in the monsoon season.
Sindh is divided into three climatic regions: Siro (the upper region, centered on Jacobabad), Wicholo (the middle region, centered on Hyderabad), and Lar (the lower region, centered on Karachi). The thermal equator passes through upper Sindh, where the air is generally very dry. Central Sindh’s temperatures are generally lower than those of upper Sindh but higher than those of lower Sindh. Dry hot days and cool nights are typical during the summer. Central Sindh’s maximum temperature typically reaches 43–44 °C (109–111 °F). Lower Sindh has a damper and humid maritime climate affected by the southwestern winds in summer and northeastern winds in winter, with lower rainfall than Central Sindh. Lower Sindh’s maximum temperature reaches about 35–38 °C (95–100 °F). In the Kirthar range at 1,800 m (5,900 ft) and higher at Gorakh Hill and other peaks in Dadu District, temperatures near freezing have been recorded and brief snowfall is received in the winters.