Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain in the world © Tahsin Anwar Ali
Strategically situated between India, China, Afghanistan and Iran, Pakistan follows the Indus River down from the spectacular mountain ranges in the north (which include the world's second highest peak, K2) to the Arabian Sea. The river passes through the fertile provinces of Punjab and Sindh in the east and south. The southwest of Pakistan consists of the arid plateau of Baluchistan. The major cities of Karachi, the capital Islamabad, Lahore and Rawalpindi are all situated in the lowlands of the Indus valley.
The nation of Pakistan itself may be relatively new, but the Indus region has hosted civilisation for thousands of years and the country has a rich culture and fascinating history from Alexander the Great to the heyday of the Silk Route, with the lucrative trade between China, India and the Roman empire; and rivalries between Hindu and Islamic dynasties and later the British Empire.
Life in the bustling southern cities is a mix of ancient tradition and modern technology, where shoppers haggle in colourful bazaars and craftsmen ply their trade, while others tuck into hot and spicy treats at street restaurants, or take their ease at teahouses.
Pakistan is largely overlooked as a travel destination due to valid safety concerns, but those brave enough to explore its cities and landscapes will be rewarded with unforgettable sights and experiences.