Situated in the southwest of the country, and spread over 347,190 sq km, the province of Balochistan comprises 43% of Pakistan’s territory. In the west it has common borders with Iran and in the northwest with Afghanistan. In the south, Balochistan has a long coastline on the Arabian Sea. Greater part of Balochistan is mountainous, although there are some plains and desert areas also. The terrain is generally barren and rugged. The land of Balochistan is rich in mineral resources. Apart from gas, it holds deposits of coal, copper, silver, gold, platinum, aluminum and uranium. It is also said to possess oil in substantial quantities.
Balochistan has an estimated population of 7,000,000, (according to the census of 1998 it was nearly 6,511,000) which comes to about 4½ % of the total population of the country. A little over half of this population is ethnically Baloch. The second largest ethnic group in Balochistan is that of the Pashtuns, which has concentration in the northern part of the province and along its border with Afghanistan. Nearly 70% of the total Balochi population lives in Balochistan and other provinces of Pakistan, whereas about 20% inhabits the southeastern Iran or what is Irani Balochistan. There is a considerable population of the Balochis in Afghanistan also.
The Balochis have preserved their ancient tribal structure. Each tribe or tuman has its chief and consists of several clans. Generally, the attachment to the tumandar i.e., the tribal chief is very strong and the Balochis blindly follow him.
The prominent Balochi tribes in Pakistan are Mengal, Marri, Bugti, Mohammad Hasni, Zehri, Bizenjo and Raisani. Differences between tribes and clans are not uncommon.
Describing the lifestyle of the Balochi people, Encyclopedia Britannica observes:
“The Balochis are traditionally nomads, but settled agricultural existence is becoming more common; every chief has a fixed residence. The villages are collection of mud