The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, in South Asia, borders the Arabian Sea and sits between India to the east, Iran and Afghanistan to the west, and China to the north. Besides being the 33rd largest country by area, Pakistan is also the world’s fifth most populous, with nearly 238.2 million people. Noted for its diverse ancient cultures, Pakistan has the second largest Muslim population in the world, with 96 percent of its people practicing Islam. Islamabad is the nation’s capital. The country is linguistically and ethnically diverse, with Punjabis, Pashtuns, Sindhis, Saraikis, and Muhajirs as the major ethnic groups. Over 60 languages are spoken, but Urdu and English are the official languages. Natural resources include limestone, arable land, extensive natural gas reserves, limited petroleum, coal, iron ore, copper, and salt.
Pakistan gained independence in 1947 after the partition of the British Indian Empire. Noted for its nuclear power, Pakistan has the sixth-largest standing military in the world. The country is considered a strong emerging and growth-leading economy, due to its large and growing middle class. Despite this growth, Pakistan is faced with challenges such as illiteracy, corruption, and poverty.
Pakistan has experienced a steady increase in both communicable and non-communicable diseases. The major infectious diseases include hepatitis A and E, bacterial diarrhea, typhoid fever, dengue fever, malaria, and rabies. The leading causes of death include neonatal disorders, ischemic heart disease, stroke, diarrheal diseases, lower respiratory infections, tuberculosis, COPD, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and cirrhosis. Pakistan has one of the highest rates of hepatitis C virus infection in the world, with about 4 percent to 5 percent of its population infected.
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