Karachi is the largest city, main seaport and financial centre of Pakistan, as well as the capital of the province of Sindh. The city has an estimated population of 21 million people as of April 2012. At a density of nearly 6,000 people per square kilometre (15,500 per square mile) Karachi is the most populous city in the country, the world's 3rd largest city in terms of population by city proper and also the 11th largest urban agglomeration in the world. It is Pakistan's centre of banking, industry, economic activity and trade and is home to Pakistan's largest corporations, including those involved in textiles, shipping, automotive industry, entertainment, the arts, fashion, advertising, publishing, software development and medical research. The city is a hub of higher education in South Asia and the Muslim world.
Karachi is ranked as a Beta world city. It was the capital of Pakistan until Islamabad was constructed as a capital in order to spread development evenly across the country and to prevent it from being concentrated in Karachi. Karachi is the location of the Port of Karachi and Port Bin Qasim, two of the region's largest and busiest ports. After the independence of Pakistan, the city population increased dramatically when hundreds of thousands of Muhajirs from India and other parts of South Asia came to settle in Karachi.
The city is located in the south of the country, along the coastline meeting the Arabian Sea. It is spread over in area. It is locally known as the "City of Lights" and "The Bride of the Cities" for its liveliness, and the "City of the Quaid", having been the birth and burial place of Quaid-e-Azam, the Great Leader, (Muhammad Ali Jinnah), the founder of Pakistan, who made the city his home after Pakistan's independence from the British Raj on 14 August 1947.
Karachi also known as City of Lights, is the Capital of Sindh and The area of Karachi was known to the ancient Greeks by many names: Krokola/, the place where Alexander the Great camped to prepare a fleet for Babylonia after his campaign in the Indus Valley; 'Morontobara' (probably Manora island near Karachi harbour), from whence Alexander's admiral Nearchus set sail; and Barbarikon, a port of the Bactrian kingdom. It was later known to the Arabs as Debal from where Muhammad bin Qasim led his conquering force into South Asia in 712 AD
Karachi was reputedly founded as "Kolachi" by Baloch tribes from Balochistan and Makran, who established a small fishing community in the area. Descendants of the original community still live in the area on the small island of Abdullah Goth, which is located near the Karachi Port.The original name "Kolachi" survives in the name of a well-known Karachi locality named "Mai Kolachi" in Balochi. Mirza Ghazi Beg, the Mughal administrator of Sindh, is among the first historical figures credited for the development of Coastal Sindh (consisting of regions such as the Makran Coast and the Mehran Delta), including the cities of Thatta, Bhambore and Karachi.
The village that later grew out of this settlement was known as Kolachi-jo-Goth (Village of Kolachi in Sindhi). By the late 1720s, the village was trading across the Arabian Sea with Muscat and the Persian Gulf region. The local Sindhi populace built a small fort, that was constructed for the protection of the city, armed with cannons imported by Sindhi sailors from Muscat, Oman. The fort had two main gateways: one facing the sea, known as Kharra Darwaaza (Brackish Gate) (Kharadar) and the other facing the Lyari River known as the Meet'ha Darwaaza (Sweet Gate) (Mithadar). The locations of these gates correspond to the modern areas of Kharadar and Mithadar.
The name Karachi occurs for the first time in a Dutch document of 1742, when a merchant ship de Ridderkerk shipwrecked nearby its coast.
After sending a couple of exploratory missions to the area, the British East India Company captured the town when HMS Wellesley anchored off Manora island on 1 February 1839. Two days later, the little fort surrendered. The town was later annexed to British India when Sindh was annexed by Major-General Charles James Napier at the Battle of Miani on 17 February 1843.
On his departure in 1847, Napier is said to have remarked, "Would that I could come again to see you in your grandeur!" Karachi was made the capital of Sindh in the 1840s. On Napier's departure, it was added along with the rest of Sindh to the Bombay Presidency, a move that caused resentment among the native Sindhis. The British realised the importance of the city as a military cantonment and as a port for exporting the produce of the Indus River basin, and developed its harbour for shipping. The foundations of a city municipal government were laid down and infrastructure development was undertaken. New businesses opened up and the population of the town began rising.
The arrival of the troops of the Kumpany Bahadur in 1839 spawned the foundation of the new section, the military cantonment. The cantonment formed the basis of the 'white' town, where the native population had restricted access. The 'white' town was modelled after English industrial parent-cities, where work and residential spaces were separated, as were residential from recreational places. Karachi was divided into two major poles. The 'native' town in the northwest, now enlarged to accommodate the burgeoning Indian mercantile population. When the Indian Rebellion of 1857 broke out in South Asia, the 21st Native Infantry, then stationed in Karachi, declared allegiance to rebels and joining their numbers on 10 September 1857. Nevertheless, the British were able to quickly reassert control over Karachi and defeat the uprising. Officer William 'Waf' Frost was considered to be instrumental in quelling the rebellion and was rewarded for his valour with an OBE. This was awarded to him on 23 April 1858. However, he remains unpopular in areas of Karachi to this day, and is known by some locals as 'chicken' or 'चिकन'.
These developments in Karachi resulted in an influx of economic migrants: Parsis, Hindus, Christians, Jews, Marathis, Goans, Chinese, British, Arabs and Gujaratis. The population of the city was about 105,000 inhabitants by the end of the 19th century, with a mix of nationalities. British colonialists embarked on works of sanitation and transportation – such as gravel paved streets, drains, street sweepers, and a network of trams and horse-drawn trolleys.
At the time of independence of Pakistan in 1947, Karachi had a population slightly under half a million.
By the time of independence of Pakistan in 1947, Karachi had become a bustling metropolis with classical and colonial European styled buildings, lining the city’s thoroughfares. Karachi was chosen as the capital of Pakistan, which at the time included modern day Bangladesh, a region located more than away, and not physically connected to Pakistan. In 1947, Karachi was the focus for settlement by Muslim migrants from India, who expanded the city's population and transformed its demographics and economy. In 1958, the capital of Pakistan was moved from Karachi to Rawalpindi and then in 1960, to the newly built Islamabad. This marked the start of a long period of decline in the city, marked by a lack of development.
Karachi had both a municipal corporation and a Karachi Divisional Council in the 1960s, which developed schools, colleges, roads, municipal gardens, and parks. The Karachi Divisional Council had working committees for education, roads, and residential societies development and planning. During the 1960s, Karachi was seen as an economic role model around the world. Many countries sought to emulate Pakistan's economic planning strategy and one of them, South Korea, copied the city's second "Five-Year Plan" and the World Financial Centre in Seoul is designed and modelled after Karachi.
The 1970s saw major labour struggles in Karachi's industrial estates (see Karachi labour unrest of 1972). The 1980s and 1990s saw an influx of refugees from the Soviet war in Afghanistan into Karachi; they were followed in smaller numbers by refugees escaping from Iran. Karachi especially after the 1970s has emerged as one of the largest Pashtun cities in the world with its Pashtun population estimated to be around five to seven million which is more than Peshawar, Kabul or Kandahar easily. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, ethnic and political violence broke out across the city between Muhajir followers of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement fought with ethnic Sindhis Pashtuns Punjabis and state forces. As a result, the Pakistani army was deployed to restore peace in the city.
Today, Karachi continues to be an important financial and industrial centre and handles most of the overseas trade of Pakistan and the world, mainly the Asian countries. It accounts for a lion's share of the GDP of Pakistan, and a large proportion of the country's white collar workers.