Pakistanis (Urdu: پاكِستانى قوم, romanizedPākistānī Qaum, lit.'Pakistani Nation') are the nationals and citizens of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. According to the 2017 Pakistani national census, the population of Pakistan stood at over 213 million people, making it the fifth-most populous country on Earth.[1] The majority of Pakistanis natively speak languages belonging to the Indo-Aryan and Iranian language families.

Located in South Asia, the country is also the source of a significantly large diaspora known as overseas Pakistanis, most of whom reside in the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf region, with an estimated population of 4.7 million.[2] The second-largest Pakistani diaspora is situated throughout Europe, where there are an estimated 2.4 million; over half of this figure reside in the United Kingdom (see British Pakistanis).[3][4]

پاكِستانى قوم
Flag of Pakistan.svg
Total population
c. 242,341,368[a]
Map of the Pakistani Diaspora in the World.svg
Regions with significant populations
 Pakistan 233,500,636[5]
 Saudi Arabia 2,600,000 (2017 estimate)[6]
 United Arab Emirates 1,500,000 (2017 estimate)[7]
 United Kingdom 1,174,983 (2011 official British census)[4][b]
 United States 526,956 (2018 American Community Survey estimate)[8]
 Oman 235,000 (2013 estimate)[9]
 Canada 215,560 (2016 official Canadian census)[10]
 Kuwait 150,000 (2009 estimate)[11]
 Qatar 125,000 (2016 official Qatari estimate)[12]
 Italy 118,181 (2017 official Italian estimate)[13]
 Bahrain 112,000 (2013 estimate)[9]
 Spain 82,738 (2018 official Spanish estimate)[14]
 Germany 124,000 (2019 official German estimate)
 France 104,000 (2017 estimate)
 Australia 61,913 (2016 official Australian census)[15]
 Malaysia 59,281 (2017 official Malaysian estimate)[16][17]
 China 54,000[18]
 Norway 38,000 (2019 official Norwegian estimate)[19]
 Hong Kong 18,094 (2016 estimate)[20]
 Ireland 12,891 (2016 estimate)[21][22]
Urdu (national)
Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Saraiki, Balochi, Bengali, Hindko, Brahui, Kashmiri, Kalasha-mun, Shina, Balti and others
Islam (96.28%)
(80–90% Sunni, 5–20% Shia)
Hinduism, Christianity, Ahmadiyya, Baháʼí Faith, Kalasha, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism[23]

Ethnic subgroups

Having one of the fastest-growing populations in the world, Pakistan's people belong to various ethnic subgroups, with the overwhelming majority being speakers of the Indo-Iranian languages.[24] Ethnically, Indo-Aryan peoples comprise the majority of the population in the eastern provinces of Pakistani Punjab and Sindh, while Iranian peoples comprise the majority in the western provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In addition to its four provinces, Pakistan also administers two disputed territories known as Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit−Baltistan within the greater Kashmir region; both territories also have an Indo-Aryan majority with the exception of the Baltistan subregion, which is largely inhabited by Tibetan peoples. Pakistan also hosts significant populations of Dravidian peoples, the majority of whom are South Indians who trace their historical roots to regions such as Hyderabad Deccan and are identified with the multi-ethnic community of Muhajirs (lit.'migrants'; also referred to as Urdu-speaking people), whose arrival to the country en masse occurred as a direct result of the Partition of British India along religious lines in 1947.[25][26]

Major ethnolinguistic groups in the country include Punjabis, Pashtuns, Sindhis, Saraikis and Baloch people,[27][28] with significant numbers of Kashmiris, Brahuis, Hindkowans, Paharis, Shina people, Burusho people, Wakhis, Baltis, Chitralis and other various minorities.[29][30]


The existence of Pakistan as an Islamic state has led to the injection of Islam into most aspects of Pakistani culture and everyday life, which has accordingly impacted the historical values and traditions of the Muslim-majority population. Marriages and other major events are significantly impacted by regional differences in culture, but generally follow Islamic jurisprudence where required. The national dress of Pakistan is the shalwar kameez, a unisex garment commonly worn throughout Central and South Asia.[31][32] However, Pakistani clothing varies regionally and traditionally reflects historical ethnolinguistic links,[33] with Indian cultural clothing such as kurtas, dhotis and saris having more prominence among the likes of the Muhajir and Punjabi communities[34] and Persianate clothing such as chador/burqa, khetpartug and perahan-o tunban having more prominence among the Baloch and Pashtun communities.[35]


Urdu is the lingua franca of Pakistan, and while sharing official status with English, it is the preferred and dominant language used for inter-communication between different ethnic groups. Despite serving as the country's national language, Urdu is spoken as a second language by most Pakistanis, with nearly 93% of the population having a mother tongue other than Urdu. Numerous regional and provincial languages are spoken as first languages by Pakistan's various ethnolinguistic groups, with the Punjabi language having a national plurality as the first language of approximately 45% of the total population. Languages with more than a million speakers each include Pashto, Sindhi, Saraiki, Balochi, Brahui and Hindko. The Pakistani dialect of English is also widely spoken throughout the country, albeit mostly in urban centres such as Islamabad and Karachi.


Pakistan officially endorses Islam as a state religion and utilizes Sharia in governance across the entire country to a large degree. The overwhelming majority of Pakistanis identify as Muslims, and the country has the second-largest population of Muslims in the world after Indonesia.[36][37] Other minority religious faiths in Pakistan include Hinduism, Christianity, Ahmadiyya, Sikhism, the Baháʼí Faith, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism and Kalasha-mun. The Pakistani Hindu and Pakistani Christian minority comprise the second- and third-largest religious groups in the country, respectively.


Irreligion, agnosticism and atheism are present amongst a minority of Pakistanis, the majority of whom belong to the new generations.[38][39][40] According to a 2005 Gallup World Poll, 1% of Pakistani participants declared themselves as atheists. By 2012, the figure had risen to 2%. The same poll also surveyed 2,700 in Pakistan, of whom 54 were self-declared irreligious.[23]


Distribution of Pakistani diaspora
  + 1,000,000
  + 100,000
  + 10,000
  + 1,000

The Pakistani diaspora maintains a significant presence in the Middle East, Europe, North America and Australia. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Pakistan has the seventh-largest diaspora in the world.[41] According to the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development of the Government of Pakistan, approximately 8.8 million Pakistanis live abroad, with the vast majority (over 4.7 million) residing in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf.[42]

See also