Karachi is the largest and most populous metropolitan city in Pakistan and the capital of Sindh province. Located on the Arabian Sea, Karachi is also known as the "City of Lights" and "The Bride of the Cities." The 2016 population for the city is estimated to be 16.62 million.
In 2016, Karachi had an estimated population of more than 16 million people, which makes it the the 7th largest urban agglomeration and the largest city in the Muslim world.
City Size and Population Density
Karachi has proliferated in the last few decades, and the metropolitan area has more than 23 million people, with a population density of over 24,000 people per square kilometer, or 63,000 per square mile. This means Karachi is by far more dense than any other "megacity" with an urban population of more than 10 million except Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Mumbai. This makes Karachi the largest city in Pakistan. Karachi was previously the capital of Pakistan until Islamabad was constructed.
Karachi's rapid growth and massive migration mean nearly 5 million people, or 50% of the population, in 2000 lived in slums, a number that is believed to have grown.
By the time Pakistan gained independence in 1947, the population was mostly Sindhi and Baloch Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus. Karachi has historically been home to a large number of Gujarati Muslims, who were very early settlers to the area and formed a majority in Saddar Town. Large Gujarati Muslim communities in Karachi are the Chhipa, Ghanchi, Memon, Khoja, Bohra, and Tai.
After the 1950s, most non-Muslims left Karachi for India, but there are still small communities of Anglo-Indians, Parsis, and Goan Catholics. Many Muslim Muhajirs came to Karachi after independence from India to escape anti-Muslim programs in the country. This is why Karachi today has many South Asians. Descendants of Muslim refugees who left India are called Muhajirs, and they form a huge group in the city. They include Urdu, Gujarati, Marathi, Konkani, Rajasthani, and Malabari Muslims. Muhajirs are the largest ethnic group, accounting for 50% of the population.
There are about 10 million Bengali and Biharis from Bangladesh as well. Karachi has 1-2 million ethnic Bengalis from Bangladesh, most of whom came during the 1980s and 1990s. There are also many Rohingya Muslim refugees from Burma and Asian refugees from Uganda. Many refugees from Iran and Central Asian countries have settled in Karachi, as well as a large number of Arabs, Filipinos and Sinhalese from Sri Lanka.
The second largest ethnic group are the Pashtuns, originally from Afghanistan and Balochistan, who have been in the city for decades. Karachi has the largest concentration of urban Pakhtun in the world, including 50,000 registered Afghan refugees, making up 25% of the city's population.
Karachi also has a large number of Western expatriates, including Polish, American and British expatriates.
Baloch tribes from Makran and Balochistan founded Karachi as a small fishing community. Many descendants of this original population still live on the island of Abdullah Goth, near Karachi port. This village became a settlement called Kolachi-jo-Goth, which was trading across the Arabian Sea by the early 18th century. A fort was constructed with two gateways leading to the sea and the Lyari River.
After missions to the area, the British East India Company captured Karachi in 1839 and the town was annexed to British India in 1843 by Major General Charles James Napier. Karachi was then made the capital of Sindh, and the British developed its harbor for shipping produce. New businesses began to open, and the town started growing in population.
When the military cantonment was created, it became a "white" town and natives had limited access. The "native" town to the northwest was made larger to accommodate a growing mercantile population. The city was eventually connected to the rest of British India by rail in 1878 and public buildings were constructed. By 1880, the community was mostly comprised of indigenous Balochis and Sindhis. This development also led to many migrants to the city, including Arabs, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Parsis, Goan Christian, Chinese, Marathis, and Gujaratis, with a population that hit 105,000 by the end of the 19th century.
By the time of Pakistan's independence in 1947, the city was a metropolis with just under one million people. It became the capital of Pakistan for about a decade.
Karachi Population Growth
Karachi is growing at a rate of around 5% per year, in large part to due rural to urban migration in the area and the 45,000 migrant workers who come to Karachi every month from around Pakistan.
Karachi's population is now growing much faster than projected. Between 1998 and 2011, Karachi's metropolitan area rose from 9.8 to 21.2 million, an increase of 115%. This is by far the fastest growth of any metro region in the world. This rapid growth is expected to make the city of Karachi the seventh largest in the world by 2030.