Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is one of the four provinces of Pakistan, located in the northwestern region of the country. It was formerly known as North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and commonly called Sarhad, which in Urdu means "frontier." Its provincial capital and largest city is Peshawar, followed by Mardan. It shares borders with the Federally Administered Tribal Areas to the west; Gilgit–Baltistan to the northeast; Azad Kashmir, Islamabad and Punjab to the east and southeast. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa does not share a border with Balochistan, which lies to its southwest. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also shares an international border with Afghanistan, connected through the Khyber Pass.
It is also the site of the ancient kingdom Gandhara, the ruins of its capital, Pushkalavati, (modern day Charsadda), and the most prominent center of learning in the Peshawar Valley, Takht-i-Bahi. It has been under the suzerainty of the Persians, Greeks, Mauryans, Kushans, Shahis, Ghaznavids, Mughals, Afghanistan, Sikhs, and British Empire throughout its long history. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the third largest province of Pakistan by the size of both population and economy though it is geographically the smallest of four. It comprises 10.5% of Pakistan's economy, and is home to 11.9% of Pakistan's total population, with the majority of the province's inhabitants being Pashtuns, Hazarewal, Chitrali, and Kohistanis.
Since the 9/11 attacks in the United States in 2001, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is a major theatre of militancy and terrorism which intensified when the Taliban began an unsuccessful attempt to seize the control of the province in 2004. With the launch of Zarb-e-Azb against the Taliban insurgency, the casualty and crime rates in the country as a whole dropped by 40.0% as compared to 2011-13, with even greater drops noted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, despite the province capital being the site of a massacre of schoolchildren on 16 December 2014.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa sits primarily on the Iranian plateau and comprises the junction where the slopes of the Hindu Kush mountains on the Eurasian plate give way to the Indus-watered hills approaching South Asia. This situation has led to seismic activity in the past. The famous Khyber Pass links the province to Afghanistan, while the Kohalla Bridge in Circle Bakote Abbottabad is a major crossing point over the Jhelum River in the east.
Geographically the province could be divided into two zones: the northern one extending from the ranges of the Hindu Kush to the borders of Peshawar basin and the southern one extending from Peshawar to the Derajat basin.
The northern zone is cold and snowy in winters with heavy rainfall and pleasant summers with the exception of Peshawar basin, which is hot in summer and cold in winter. It has moderate rainfall. The southern zone is arid with hot summers and relatively cold winters and scanty rainfall.
The major rivers that criss-cross the province are the Kabul, Swat, Chitral, Kunar, Siran, Panjkora, Bara, Kurram, Dor, Haroo, Gomal and Zhob.
Its snow-capped peaks and lush green valleys of unusual beauty have enormous potential for tourism
The climate of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa varies immensely for a region of its size, encompassing most of the many climate types found in Pakistan. The province stretching southwards from the Baroghil Pass in the Hindu Kush covers almost six degrees of latitude; it is mainly a mountainous region. Dera Ismail Khan is one of the hottest places in South Asia while in the mountains to the north the weather is mild in the summer and intensely cold in the winter. The air is generally very dry; consequently, the daily and annual range of temperature is quite large.
Rainfall also varies widely. Although large parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are typically dry, the province also contains the wettest parts of Pakistan in its eastern fringe specially in monsoon season from mid June to mid September.
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