The Punjab, or Panjab ("five rivers"), is a region in South Asia that includes territories of north India and eastern Pakistan. In India, Punjab includes Punjab state, Chandigarh territory, Haryana, and parts of Rajasthan, Jammu Division, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi. In Pakistan, Punjab includes the Punjab province and parts of Azad Kashmir and the Islamabad Capital Territory. The name Punjab means "the land of five waters," which refers to the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej Rivers, all of which are tributaries of the Indus River.
Major cities in Punjab include:
Lahore (Punjab, Pakistan): population 10.5 million. Lahore is Pakistan's second largest metropolitan area and the most abundant native Punjabi-populated city in the world. It's also one of the world's most densely populated cities.
Faisalabad (Punjab, Pakistan): population: 5.28 million. Faisalabad is the third-largest metropolis in Pakistan and a famous industrial city.
Rawalpindi (Punjab, Pakistan): population 3.25 million. Commonly called Pindi, the city is located 9 miles from Islamabad, and it's the 4th most populous urban area in Pakistan.
Multan (Punjab, Pakistan): 2.6 million.
Guijranwala (Punjab, Pakistan): 2.57 million.
Ludhiana (Punjab, India): 1.6 million.
Faridabad (Haryana, India): 1.4 million.
Amritsar (Punjab, India): 1.18 million.
Islamabad (Islamabad Capital Territory, Pakistan): 1.15 million.
Chandigarh (Chandigarh, India): 960,000.
Modern Punjabis are mostly a mix of Indo-Scythian and Indo-Aryan people, with smaller amounts of Semitic ancestry. Indo-Scythians refers to Scythians (or Sakas), Iranian equestrian tribes who migrated into central and northern South Asia during the 2nd century BC to the 4th century AD.
The rise of Islam also brought many settlers from Kashmir, Arabia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Mongolia into the area. Today, most Punjab is made up of Dalits, Arains, Ahirs, Gujjars, Jatts, Khatris, Rajputs and Maliks.
Punjabi is the primary language of the region, with several dialects spoken. The majority of Pakistani Punjabis are Sunni Muslim, with minorities that include Ahmadi Muslim, Shia Muslim, and Christians. In Indian Punjab, Hindus and Sikhs are the majority. Nearly 60% of the Indian Punjab population in Sikh, followed by 37% Hindu, while the rest are Jains, Muslims, and Christians.
The size of each state/province in Punjab with estimated populations are:
Punjab, India: 21 million (60% Sikhs, 35% Hindus, 2% Muslims)
Haryana, India: 18 million (90% Hindus)
Himachal Pradesh, India: 5.5 million (96% Hindus)
Punjab, Pakistan: 80 million (95% Muslims)
History of Punjab
Punjab is today home to many religions and ethnic groups due to a long history of invasions. It was also the home of one of the earliest known South Asia cultures, the Harappa, in prehistoric times. In 326 BCE, Alexander the Great invaded the tip of Punjab near present-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, defeating King Porus. His armies then entered the rest of the region with a rule up to modern-day Sialkot, Pakistan. The Maurya Empire ruled the area starting in 305 BCE and for many generations before it was consolidated into the Indo-Greek Kingdom in 180 BCE.
Between 711 and 713 CE, 18-year-old Arab Sultan Muhammad bin Qasim came to the region to defeat Raja Dahir, conquering the Sindh and Punjab areas and bringing Islam to the region for the first time. Muslim empires then ruled Punjab for nearly 1,000 years.
In 1748, the formation of the Dal Khalsa at Amritsar led to the division of the region in 36 areas and 12 separate Sikh principalities. It was then that the start of a Punjabi Sikh Empire began. 22 of the 36 regions were united by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, with the other 14 accepting British sovereignty. Six years later, the British East India Company declared war and, after, two wars, Punjab was annexed by the British.
Partition in 1947 led to the region being split into East and West Punjab, with East Punjab becoming part of India while West Punjab became part of Pakistan.