Pakistan has great extremes of elevation, reaching the highest point at the Himalayan peak of K2 (also known as Mount Godwin Austen) in the north and the lowest point at the Arabian Sea coast in the south. The Indus River flows the length of Pakistan from north to south. The Indus and its tributaries form a wide river valley with fertile plains in Punjab and Sind (Sindh) provinces. Pakistan is mountainous in the north and west. Earthquakes are frequent, and occasionally severe, in the northern and western areas.
Much of Pakistan is a dry, sun-scorched region. To the west of the Indus are the rugged dry mountains of the Sulaiman Range, which merge with the treeless Kirthar Range in the south. Farther west are the arid regions of the Baluchistan Plateau and the Kharan Basin. A series of mostly barren low mountains and hills predominate in the western border areas. The Thar Desert straddles the border with India in the southeast.
The country also possesses a variety of wetlands, with the glacial lakes of the Himalayas, the mudflats of the Indus Valley plains, and the extensive coastal mangroves of the Indus River delta. The wetland areas cover an estimated area of 7.8 million hectares (19.3 million acres).
Pakistan has some of the world’s highest cold areas and numerous intermediate stages. Thus, within a relatively small area, it has the equivalent of many of the world’s most important climatic and vegetation zones or biomes. Moving from permanent snow and cold desert habitats, through alpine, mountain temperate forests and tropical deciduous forests to the alpine dry steppes, the arid subtropical/desert habitats, thorn forest, the reverain plains of the Indus and its tributaries and finally a rich mangrove and associated systems along the coast.
Map showing extremes of elevation
Map Credit: WWF-Pakistan