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The Punjab (sometimes spelt Panjab) is a region straddling the border between India and Pakistan. Once a single entity, it is now split between two nations: see Punjab, India and Punjab, Pakistan. Punjab, India covers an area of 50,362 square kilometres (19,445 square miles). Punjab, Pakistan is 205,344 square kilometres, (79,284 square miles). Population: 24,000,000 (2000) in India: 70,000,000 (1994) in Pakistan.

The region came under British rule when the East India Company annexed the Punjab on March 29, 1849. The region was divided between India and Pakistan when they gained independence in 1947.

Under Indian rule, it was further divided into East Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh in 1966. This further reduced the boundaries of the Punjab to a East Punjab of mostly Sikhs and a Haryana predominantly Hindu. Himachal Pradesh contains the part of Punjab that contained the Himalayas. Chandigarh, on the outskirts of both East Punjab and Haryana, is the capital of both states but is administered as a Union Territory from Delhi.

The name "Punjab" means "land of five rivers" and derives from the Persian words 'panj,' meaning five, and 'aab,' meaning water. The rivers, tributaries of the Indus River, are the Beas, Chenab, Jhelum, Ravi, and Sutlej . The five rivers, now divided between India and Pakistan, merge to form the Panjnad, which joins the Indus.

Most of the Punjab is an alluvial plain, bounded by mountains to the North. Despite its dry conditions, it is a rich agricultural area due to the extensive irrigation made possible by the great rivers. The Indian Punjab is the wealthiest state in the country with most of the revenue generated from Agriculture.

Sikhism is the main religion of the Indian Punjab. About 60% of the population are Sikhs, 37% is Hindu and the remaining 3% is split between mostly Christians and Muslims. Islam is the religion of about 97% of the population of the Punjab in Pakistan. The language of the region is Punjabi.

Chandigarh city is the capital of the Indian state of Punjab. Lahore, the second largest city in Pakistan, is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab.


Main article: History of the Punjab

The word "Punjab" was mentioned for the first time in the Persian work Tarikh-e-Sher Shah (1580). The book refers to the construction of a fort by Sher Khan of Punjab. The name is mentioned again in Ain-e-Akbari, Part 1, by Abul Fazal, who also mentions that the territory of Punjab was divided into the two provinces of Lahore and Multan. Similarly in the second volume of Aeen-e-Akbari a title of a chapter contains the word "Punjab" in it. Also the Mughal King Jahangir mentions the Punjab in Tuzk-i-Janhageer [Quraishee 73].

Archeologists have traced the signs of human habitation to times long before that of the Mughals' arrival. The upper basin of the Indus River and the Baluchistan Plateau hosted one of the earliest human civilizations, known as the Indus Valley Civilization. The first signs of human activity date from 7000 BC. The Indus Valley Civilization grew from small village settlements to highly-refined urban life. At its height, around 3000 BC, it boasted the splendid cities of Harrapa (near present day Sahiwal in West Punjab) and Mohenjo Daro in the lower Indus Valley. The story of the decline of the civilization, the full reasons for which are still unclear, is told through the remains of these cities. The decline is evidently linked to the desiccation of the main river that fed the civilisation on its shores.

Further reading

Punjabis is a plural and refers to people who come from the area known as Punjab, which now lies across present-day Pakistan and India. It also refers to any body of people who speak the Punjabi language.

See also: Punjabi language, History of the Punjab,Punjabi cuisine, Culture of Punjab

Last updated: 02-05-2005 14:47:46
Last updated: 03-18-2005 11:16:12