Posted on August 14, 2016
Great Britain colonized – and ruled over – a lot of portions of the world. One of these British-ruled regions is sometimes referred to as “Southern Asia” or “the Indian subcontinent.” While the Brits ruled that area, it was called the British Raj.
After World War II, many former colonies broke away from their European rulers, and that includes the people of the Indian subcontinent. But not all of the people of the British Raj wanted to be part of the new, independent India. So Britain's Indian Independence Act 1947 carved away from India two parts that were dominated by people who followed Islam. Those two parts were West Pakistan (now present-day Pakistan) and East Pakistan (which eventually broke away into the independent nation of Bangladesh).
I found it a bit interesting that the Act of Parliament that made both Pakistan and India independent timed the transfer of power at midnight of August 14/15. because of the midnight timing, the Indian Independence Act 1947 recognized August 15 as the birthday of both nations, and Pakistan's first commemorative stamp, released in July of 1948, were printed with “15 August 1947” as Pakistan's independence day. But later August 14 was adopted as the official Independence Day. I wonder if that decision was made partly to differentiate Pakistan even more from India (which kept August 15 as Independence Day).
Here are a few things that make Pakistan particularly special:
- It's craggy, rugged mountains feature the second-highest peak in the world AND four out of seven of the world's longest non-polar glaciers.
- Because of those craggy, rugged mountains, some areas of Pakistan are pretty much cut off from most of the rest of the world. The Hunza Valley was very isolated until the Karakorum Highway connected it to the rest of Pakistan in 1986; the people of that valley speak what is called a “language isolate.” This is a language that is not related to any other spoken language in the world!
The Hunza Valley is really lovely!
- Another isolated group of people is the Kalash. This tribe kept its pre-Islamic polytheistic religion even though it was surrounded by Muslim believers. (Islam is a monotheist religion that teaches that there is one god, and polytheistic religions teach that there are two or more -- sometimes way more -- gods.)
- Did I mention the craggy, rugged mountains of Pakistan? Well, some of these mountains include some world record holders. For example, Nanga Parbat is, by some definitions at least, the site of the world's biggest mountain face and the world's deepest gorge.
- Trango Towers offers the world's longest nearly-vertical drop.
- Some people call the Karakorum Highway the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” It is the highest-altitude paved border crossing (from Pakistan to China), and it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region.
- Some of Pakistan's mountains provide the second largest salt mine and the largest source of salt in the world: Khewara Salt Mine. This mine produces about 350,000 tons of salt per year, but estimates of the salt reserves still waiting to be mined are about 600 MILLION tons!
These electric lamps (above),
the the brick mosque(below),
and the sphere (even more below)
are all made of pink rock salt!
- Finally, not about mountains: the Thar Desert is about 10,000 years old and is one of the world's largest deserts.
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