Pakistan country profile
The Muslim-majority state of Pakistan was born out of the partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947, and has faced both domestic political upheavals and regional confrontations.
Created to meet the demands of Indian Muslims for their own homeland, Pakistan was originally made up of two parts.
The east wing - present-day Bangladesh - is on the Bay of Bengal bordering India and Burma. The west wing - present-day Pakistan - stretches from the Himalayas down to the Arabian Sea.
The break-up of the two wings came in 1971 when the Bengali-speaking east wing seceded with help from India.
Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Population 193 million
Area 796,095 sq km (307,374 sq miles), excluding Kashmir
Major languages English, Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, Balochi
Major religion Islam
Life expectancy 65 years (men), 67 years (women)
Currency Pakistani Rupee
President: Mamnoon Hussain
Mamnoon Hussain was elected to the largely ceremonial role of president by parliament in July 2013.
He succeeded Asif Ali Zardari, who stepped down at the end of his five-year term as the first democratically-elected president to complete a full-term in Pakistan.
Prime Minister: Nawaz Sharif
Nawaz Sharif is currently serving his third term in office as prime minister. While serving his second term, he was deposed by army chief Pervez Musharraf in a coup in 1999 and went into exile in Saudi Arabia.
Mr Sharif returned from exile in 2008, and took up the premiership for the third time after his Muslim League party won parliamentary elections in 2013.
Pakistan is one of the world's deadliest countries for journalists, with 14 media workers being killed in 2014 alone. Both intelligence agents and members of banned militant organisations are responsible for the threats to reporters, according to media watchdog organisations.
The government uses legal and constitutional powers to curb press freedom and the law on blasphemy has been used against journalists. Critics have raised concerns over the restrictive nature of a new code of conduct for broadcasters introduced in 2015.
Some key dates in Pakistan's history:
1947 - Muslim state of East and West Pakistan created out of partition of India at the end of British rule.
1948 - First war with India over disputed territory of Kashmir.
1971 - East Pakistan attempts to secede, leading to civil war. India intervenes in support of East Pakistan which eventually breaks away to become Bangladesh.
1999 - Army chief Pervez Musharraf seizes power in coup, ousting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
2007 - Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is assassinated while on campaign trail for 2008 parliamentary election.
2013 - Nawaz Sharif becomes prime minister for third time after his Muslim League party wins parliamentary elections.