Punjab, the land of “five waters”, is one of the largest provinces geographically and the single largest in terms of demographics, of Pakistan. Its capital, Lahore is a major economic and cultural center, and is one of the oldest cities in Pakistan.
Punjab has a total population of approximately 72 million and a literacy rate of 59.6%. The official language of the province is Punjabi, but the province also has portions of Saraiki, Urdu and Pashto speakers. Punjab is predominantly Muslim, with a small population of Christians.
Punjab has a primarily agriculture-based economy, with rice and cotton being the most important to the state and national economy. Punjab is also the most-industrialized economy in Pakistan (key industries include textiles, machinery, electrical appliances, surgical instruments, metals, bicycles and rickshaws, floor coverings, and processed foods) and reportedly does better in terms of economic indicators than the rest of Pakistan.
Historically, political actors from Punjab have dominated Pakistan. Pakistan’s current Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif for instance, began his career as a member of the Punjab Provincial Council and then the Chief Minister. The province is home to 148 of 272 seats in the National Assembly.
The ruling party in Punjab since 1993 has been various incarnations and factions of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz, Quaid e Azam, Junejo). The current Chief Minister (CM), Shehbaz Sharif, is the longest-serving CM of the state and is the brother of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The main opposition parties of Punjab are the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP) and Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM).