Quetta is the provincial capital of Balochistan, Pakistanand the ninth-largest city of Pakistan. The city is known as the fruit garden of Pakistan, due to the numerous fruit orchards in and around it, and the large variety of fruits and dry fruits produced there.
The city was also known as Little Paris in the past due to its beauty and geographical location. The immediate area has long been one of pastures and mountains, with varied plants and animals relative to the dry plains to the west. Quetta is at an average elevation of 1,680 meters (5,510 feet) above sea level, making it Pakistan's only high-altitude major city. The population of the city is estimated to be approximately 1,140,000.
Located in north western Balochistan near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, Quetta is a trade and communication centre between the two countries. The city lies on the Bolan Pass route which was once the only gateway from Central Asia to South Asia. Quetta played an important role militarily for the Pakistani Armed Forces in the intermittent Afghanistan conflict.
Quetta is also spelled Kuwatah, which is a variation of Kot, a Pashto word meaning "fortress". It is believed that it relates to the four imposing hills (Chiltan, Takatu, Zarghoon and Murdaar) that surround the city and form a natural bulwark.
It is believed that the earliest inhabitants of the city were the Pashtun Kasi Tribe. The first important event in the history of Quetta is from the 11th century when it was captured by Amir Mahmud of Ghazni during his invasions of South Asia.
In 1876 Quetta was incorporated into British controlled territories of India. British Troops constructed the infrastructure for their establishment as it was a strategic location. By the time of the earthquake on 31 May 1935 Quetta had developed into a bustling city with a number of multistory buildings and was known as "Little Paris" because of that. The epicenter of the earthquake was close to the city and destroyed most of the city’s infrastructure and killed an estimated 40,000 people.
During the independence movement of Indian subcontinent the predominantly Muslim population of the region supported the Muslim League and the Pakistan Movement.
On joining Pakistan, Quetta was made the capital city of the newly created province of Balochistan before it was combined with other Balochi princely states (Kalat, Makran, Lasbela and Kharan) to form the Baloch province. Quetta remained the capital of the province until 1959 when the provincial system was abolished under Ayub Khan. After the 1971 war, the provincial system was re-instated, and Quetta was once again made capital of Balochistan.
Quetta has an area of 2,653 km2 (1,024 sq mi) and consists of series of small river valleys which act as a natural fort surrounded on all sides by hills; these are named Chiltan, Takatoo, Murdar and Zarghun. Although a mostly rocky landscape, there are few natural boundaries between Quetta and its adjoining districts of Dera Ismail Khan to the northeast, Dera Ghazi Khan and Sibi to the east,Sukkur and Jacobabad to the southeast, Karachi and Gawadar to the south and Ziarat to the northeast. The closest city is Kandaharin Afghanistan, north-west at the end of the N25 road. Three main roads gradually fan out to the south, the central route, the N25 leads via the city of Khuzdar to the coastal metropolis of Karachi.
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