People and Culture of Pakistan
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The society of Pakistan comprises numerous diverse cultures and ethnic groups from the Punjabis and Sindhis in the east to the tribal cultures of the Baloch and Pashtun in the west and the ancient Dardic in the north. These Pakistani cultures have been greatly influenced by many of the surrounding countries' cultures, such as those of Turkish, Persian, Afghan, and Indians of South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.
In ancient times, Pakistan was a major cultural hub and the home of ancient civilizations, such as the Indus Valley Civilization (2800 BC – 1800 BC). Many cultural practices and great monuments have been inherited from the time of the ancient rulers of the region. One of the greatest cultural influences is that of the Persian Empire. Other key influences include the Afghan Empire and later the short lived but influential Mughal Empire.
Pakistan has a rich cultural and ethnic background going back to the Indus Valley Civilization. A civilization remarkable for its ordered cities, advanced-planned sanitation, straight roads, uniquely structured and one of the first 'settled' society. Present day Pakistan has been invaded many times in the past. it has been occupied and settled by many different peoples each of whom have left their imprint on the current inhabitants of the country.
The region has formed a distinct cultural unit within the main cultural complex of South Asia, the Middle East and Central Asia from the earliest times. There are differences in culture among the different ethnic groups in matters such as dress, food, and religion, especially where pre-Islamic customs differ from Islamic practices. Their cultural origins also show influences from far afield; including from: Tibet, Nepal, India and eastern Afghanistan. All groups show varying degrees of significant influence from Persia, Turkestan and Hellenistic Greece. Pakistan was the first region of the South Asia to receive the full impact of Islam and has developed a distinct Islamic identity, historically different from that further west.
Pakistani society is largely multilingual, multi-ethnic and multicultural. Though cultures within the country differ to some extent, more similarities than differences can be found as most Pakistanis are of mainly 'Aryan' heritage and/or have lived side by side along the Indus River for the past several thousand years and coexisted. However, over 60 years of integration, a distinctive "Pakistani" culture has sprung up especially in the urban areas. Education is highly regarded by members of every socio-economic stratum. The traditional family values are highly respected and considered sacred.
The past few decades have seen emergence of a middle class in big cities. The rural areas of Pakistan are regarded as more conservative and are dominated by regional tribal customs dating back hundreds of years.
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