Islamabad (اسلاماباد, population 530,000) is the capital city of Pakistan, located in the north-east of the country. It is located within the Islamabad Capital Territory, though the area has historically been a part of the Punjab region.
The city is situated at the edge of the Potohar plateau, south of the Margalla hills. The area's micro-climate is regulated by three man-made lakes (Rawal, Simli and Khanpur). The city has hot summers with monsoon rains during July-August. Winters are cold, with temperatures regularly falling below zero in December-February.
From independence until 1958 Pakistan's capital was Karachi in Sindh in the far-south. Worries about the concentration of investment and development in the area with the subsequent effect on the rest of the country prompted the notion of building a new, better-sited, capital. When Ayub Khan became Pakistan's president in 1958 he made the building of a new capital a priority. A site immediately north of Rawalpindi was chosen. Rawalpindi was designated as the temporary capital. Work on the new capital started during the 1960s The planning and construction was largely headed by the Greek urban planner Constantinos A. Doxiadis. His plan revolved around the building of the city in sectors, each containing four sub-sectors separated by green-belts and parks. There was a strong emphasis on greenery and open-space. When Islamabad was finally built growth was slow - indeed the government did not fully relocate to the city from Rawalpindi until the 1980s. During this time the capital's population was small, at around 250,000. This changed dramatically during the 1990s with the population increasing, instigating the building of new sectors.
Rawalpindi is considered to be Islamabad's sister-city due to the proximity between the two cities. In fact most of the Pakistani Military's headquarters are actually in Rawalpindi.
Islamabad is a modern and clean city, especially in comparison with other cities of Pakistan. It is well-organized, with the city being divided into different sectors, each with certain facilities like a mosque and market. The city is very green, with much afforestation of what was formerly scrub forest and open ground. The city's climate has enabled many exotic plants to be introduced to the area. There is also much wildlife in the north in the Margallas, which have been turned into a national park.
Islamabad's architecture has to walk a tight-rope between modernity and tradition. Some buildings deemed too modern have been 'Islamicised'. The Saudi-Pak Tower is a good example of modern and traditional in one building. The city is home to the Faisal Mosque, which is well-known for its architecture and immense size. Quaid-i-Azam University is also located in the capital city along with numerous government buildings and foreign embassies such as the National Assembly building, the Supreme Court and the President's House.
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