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Is Pakistan part of the Middle East or Asia? (Explained)

You may hear the name of Pakistan very often. You may know the countries’ place on the map. Yet, regional definitions can be confusing.

Regional terms like the Middle East have defined geographical proximity as well as the social-political status of the countries. For these reasons, the Middle East has no clear boundaries.

For instance, Worldbank, G8, UNAIDS, and the IMF’s definition of the Middle East is different. These international organizations define regions according to their missions and their take on the socio-political development of the countries.

I will provide the maps of these organizations below so that you can see the difference, but first, let me provide a short answer to your question.

Is Pakistan in Asia or the Middle East?

Pakistan is a Southeast Asian country, and not in the Middle East. Pakistan is culturally closer to South Asian countries such as India and Bangladesh.

Pakistan’s population is mostly Muslim. For these reasons, Pakistan is sometimes regarded to be in MENA (the Middle East and North Africa) or the Greater Middle East region.

Pakistan may have some degree of cultural similarity with Middle Eastern countries.

Yet, it would be better to define Pakistan as a South Asian country because Pakistan historically, culturally, and ethnically shares much more with South Asian countries like India and Bangladesh. 

Pakistan is a country that I love. Click to check my other articles on Pakistan. I also linked them all at the end of this article.

Is Pakistan in the Middle East?

Pakistan is located in the Asian Continent, and Pakistan is rarely defined as a Middle Eastern country. 

Pakistan is not a country included in the traditional description of the Middle East. Yet, MENA (the Middle East and North Africa), and Greater Middle East regional definitions sometimes include Pakistan.

Please check the map below.

Dark Green countries are the traditional Middle East. Greater Middle East countries, as defined by G8, are Green. According to G8, Pakistan is in the Greater Middle East.

Light green is rarely associated with the Middle East. These countries are Georgia, Armenia, and Turkic countries (Turkey, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and others.)

Countries associated with the Middle East. Photo Source Wikipedia
According to the World Bank, Pakistan is not one of the MENA (the Middle East and North Africa) Region countries.

SUGGESTED READING: Is Pakistan an Arab Country? Ethnicity of Pakistan

Is Pakistan an Asian Country?

Pakistan is an Asian country and is one of the 48 countries on the Asian continent.

More specifically, Pakistan is in Southeast Asia, bordering China from the North, India from the East, Iran and Afghanistan from its West, and the Arabian Sea from its southern coastline.

Pakistan is also referred to as the last country in the east that counts as a part of the Middle East because of its strong influences on Arabic, Mesopotamian, and Persian civilizations.

Pakistan was founded on the 14th of August in 1947 by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, a politician, and a lawyer. 

His main purpose was to create a country where people, regardless of their color or religion, could peacefully live together and practice their faiths without hesitation as per Islamic teachings.

Thus, the motto of Pakistan: Iman, Ittehaad, Nazam (Faith, Unity, Discipline).

The country puts great effort into maintaining good relationships with foreign nations, of which China is a strong ally of Pakistan.

The country’s main focus is on its economy and security of possible threats to its existence and developing stronger relations with other countries, especially Muslim nations.

Pakistan is also a member and active participant of numerous Asian organizations and associations, such as the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), as well as global platforms like the UN, UNESCO, and WHO striving to contribute and create a positive change.

Who gave the name of Pakistan?

An activist of the Pakistan movement named Chaudhry Rehmat Ali came up with the name Pakistan.

Chaudhry Rehmat Ali published a pamphlet called Now or Never in 1933 with the demand for an independent homeland for nearly 30 million Muslims living in the five northern regions of India.

It was a creative approach consisting of the 5 regions, including Punjab, Afghan, Indus, Kashmir, and Sindh.

The word Pakistan means “the land of the pure” and is derived from the Persian words Pak (pure) and stan (a place abounding in), highlighting the meaning of being clean and holy.

Pakistan embodies six provinces which are the following: Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Balochistan, Sindh, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Azad Kashmir, with Islamabad as its capital city.

Is Pakistan a developing country?

Pakistan is a poor country compared to other developing countries and ranks in 154th place among 189 countries according to the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) 2020.

Even though Pakistan has an abundance of natural resources like gold, copper, iron, oil, coal, gas, gemstones, and other minerals, the country is still struggling to utilize its potential to grow into a strong economy.

Pakistan has the world’s second-largest salt mine and gold, coal, and copper mine, all ranking in the top 10, and is one of the largest producers of rice, wheat, cotton, mango, sugarcane, and dates due to its large agriculture sector.

Yet, because of corruption, negligence, and uninterest in the previous governments, Pakistan’s economic growth rate is very low.

Lack of education, carelessness in citizen-oriented development, and poor order of law keep the country struggling toward a better future.

Click to read: Is Pakistan a Third World Country? Explained

What language is spoken in Pakistan?

Pakistan’s national and official language is Urdu which is spoken and understood all across the country.

Urdu is a Persian-influenced version of the Hindi language. Although they are quite similar, Urdu draws more vocabulary from Arabic, Persian, and Turkish origins, whereas Hindi includes more words from Sanskrit.

The word Urdu has been derived from the Turkic word “ordu,” or “orda” which translates into “army” referring to it as “the language of the army,” written in a Perso-Arabic style.

Besides Urdu, more than sixty languages are spoken in Pakistan: Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Saraiki, Balochi, Balti, and Kashmiri, which again provides supporting evidence that Urdu is a diverse army of languages.

For more, please read: A Local’s Guide to Many Languages of Pakistan

Is Pakistan an Islamic Country?

According to UN data, almost 97% of the Pakistani population is Muslim, making it the world’s second-largest Muslim country after Indonesia and the fifth-largest country by population.

Islamic practices, teachings, and traditions dominate nearly all aspects of daily life in Pakistan.

From 1947-1955 the country was a secular state but became the Islamic Republic of Pakistan after changing its constitution in 1956 and announcing Islam as the state’s religion.

Moreover, other religious minorities such as Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and the Kalash people preserve their unique identities in Pakistan.

To learn more about dress codes in Pakistan, please read: What to Wear When Visiting Pakistan? A Local Answers

Is Pakistan a diverse country?

The region, known today as Pakistan, used to be the major domain and trade gateway of many empires.

Pakistan has been ruled by many great civilizations since the dawn of time.

The most known empires are the Persian Achaemenid Empire, Alexander the Great (Hellenic Empire), the Indo-Greek Kingdom of Demetrius Bactria, Hindu Shahi and Turk dynasties.

The Empire once ruled Pakistan resulted in a rich diversity of people, religions, and cultures.

Pakistan is a multicultural, multilingual country that, even if you spend your whole life there, the country can still surprise you with the unknown.

Yet, what is common all around Pakistan is their hospitality and their love of sports.

Pakistani people are known for their great hospitality, their high values regarding family, morality, pride, and hard labor. 

The country enjoys sports like hockey, polo, and cricket, of which cricket is the country’s most beloved game.

Regions in Pakistan

Pakistan, which is made up of 6 provinces, is a country extremely rich with diverse cultures.

Each province has its own unique identity and traditions that differentiate it from the others, making Pakistan a colorful home of deep rooting heritage.

Regions of Pakistan


Punjab is the most popular and developed region known for its vast literature, architecture, cuisine, and art, especially its hand-painted trucks.

Several of Pakistan’s major cities, like Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, and Rawalpindi, are in Punjab.

Badshahi Mosque in Lahore Punjab. Photo Source Wikipedia

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is known for its ancestral roots as it used to be the trade gateway of many empires giving them more European aesthetics.

Moreover, the Pashtoons are famous for their bravery and longevity due to their clean and healthy diet, along with green tea, also called Kehva.

 Mohabbat Khan Mosque in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Photo Source Wikipedia


Balochistan has a reputation for protecting religious and moral values.

The region is also known for its Khadi Kebab, a stuffed lamb with rice cooked in an underground space, as well as its traditional dress utilizing lots of mirror work.


The province of Sindh owns a history of the most ancient civilizations in the world, Mohenjo-Daro, which dates back to almost 2500 BCE.

Besides that, Sindh is known for its eye-catching handicrafts like painted clay pots, beautifully embroidered scarves, hand fans, and rugs.

Attabad Lake Hunza Gilgit Baltistan. Photo Source Wikipedia


Gilgit-Baltistan is also known as “Pakistan administered Kashmir” by the UN.  This region is known for its cultural diversity and the second highest peak in the world.

Neelam Valley, Azad Kashmir. Photo Source Wikipedia

Azad Kashmir 

Azad Kashmir is also a part of the region “Pakistan administered Kashmir” by the UN. Azad Kashmir means Free Kashmir.

SUGGESTED READING: Is Pakistan a Poor Country? and Why?

Geography of Pakistan

Pakistan’s landscapes depict a wide range of sceneries stretching throughout the country.

There are breathtaking, majestic mountains in the Northern areas, hills, slopes, and vivid, lush valleys with bright blue meltwater streams of glaciers that would leave no space on an artist’s canvas.

Remarkable regions like the Fairy Meadow, Naran Kaghan, and Nathia Galli in KPK, Hunza, Skardu, and Kalash Valley are only a few places to discover.

Pakistan is home to five of the 14 highest peaks in the world, of which most of which lie in the Himalayan, Karakoram (K2), and the Hindu Kush ranges.

Furthermore, the country offers natural beauty in each of Pakistan’s regions. Every region has unique landscapes to explore, ranging from lush green mountains to golden yellow desserts.

You can experience the snowy Himalayas and sunbathe on the beaches of Balochistan during the same season in Pakistan.

Pakistani culture is very rich and breathtaking in some instances. Check out my Pakistani wedding and Pakistani Fashion guides to learn more.

Pakistani Cuisine

Just like its culture, Pakistan has a diverse and wide range of dishes and cooking styles.

Punjab and Sindh’s cuisine consists of a more spicy and strongly seasoned way of preparing food.

Other regions like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Azad Kashmir are characterized by being milder, mainly due to neighboring countries’ influences like Afghanistan, Iran, and other Middle Eastern countries.

Pakistani people are very passionate about their food, thus paying close attention to perfection and exquisite taste in every dish.

Meats like mutton, lamb, beef, and chicken dominate Pakistani cuisine in addition to various vegetables accompanied with flatbread, followed by a cup of Chai (Milk tea), or Kehva (Green tea).

Traditional dishes include Biryani, Qorma, Karahi, Chapli and Seekh Kebab, Balochi Sajji, Dampukht, Nihari, Firni, and Halwa.

Is Pakistan a safe country? 

Pakistan is a safer country than it was before.

After many years of fighting against terrorism, corruption, and violence, Pakistan’s army, and special forces have managed to establish a peaceful and safe environment, especially in the provinces of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), and in more remote areas of the country,

Pakistan still maintains strict security in all public places to ensure the safety of its citizens.

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This article is

written by Asma Schleicher and edited by Efe Genit. Asma is a creative writer with German and Pakistani roots. She is an analytical writer with a degree in business administration.

She mostly writes about cultural, travel, and fashion-related topics reflecting her real-life experiences. You can also check Asma’s profile on Upwork.