India has long been a mostly Hindu nation.
But Muslims invaded parts of India as early as the eighth century, and Muslim emperors, called Moguls, ruled much of India between the 16th and 19th centuries. So in addition to Hindus, there have been large numbers of Muslims in India, too.
In 1941, when India was governed by Britain, there were some 255 million Hindus in India, and 92 million Muslims. Hindus and Muslims were often in conflict. In 1947, when the nation of India was born, the British decided to create a homeland for the Muslim people of India, too, a country that was named Pakistan.
Pakistan consisted of two regions that were already largely Muslim, the western part of India, and in the east, a region known as Bengal. Millions of Hindus who lived in these regions had to move to India, while millions of Muslims in India had to move to the newly created Pakistan.
The conflicts that resulted cost the lives of millions of people. Then in 1971, the Bengal region broke away from Pakistan and became the nation of Bangladesh.
Today, Pakistan is a nation of 342,750 square miles. It stretches 1,000 miles, from the Arabian Sea to the Hindu Kush Mountains of central Asia. Pakistan’s population of 77 million makes it one of the ten most populated countries on earth.
Much of Pakistan is made up of the Indus River plain, site of one of the world’s oldest civilizations.