A country of southern Asia. Occupying land crisscrossed by ancient invasion paths, Pakistan was the home of the prehistoric Indus Valley civilization, which flourished until overrun by Aryans c. 1500 B.C. After being conquered by numerous rulers and powers, it passed to the British as part of India and became a separate Muslim state in 1947. The country originally included the Bengalese territory of East Pakistan, which achieved its separate independence in 1971 as Bangladesh. Pakistan became a republic in 1956. Islamabad is the capital and Karachi the largest city. Population: 165,000,000.
- Pakˌi·stanˈi adjective & n.
Many central and south Asian states and regions end with the element -stan,
such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Baluchistan, Kurdistan,
is formed from the Iranian root *stā-,
“to stand, stay,” and means “place (where one stays), home, country.” Iranian peoples have been the principal inhabitants of the geographical region occupied by these states for over a thousand years. The names are compounds of -stan
and the name of the people living there. Pakistan is a bit of an exception; its name was coined in 1933 using the suffix -istan
preceded by the initial letters of P
fghanistan, and K
ashmir. • Interestingly, a word almost identical in form, etymology, and meaning to the Iranian suffix -stan
is found in Polish, which has a word stan
meaning “state” (in the senses of both polity and condition). It can be found in the Polish name for the “United States of America,” Stany Zjednoczone Ameryki
(literally “States United of America”).