Lahore is the capital of the Punjab province and the second largest city in Pakistan. The city lies along the Ravi river situated approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) from the Wagah border crossing and is 32 kilometres (20 mi) from the Indian city of Amritsar Amritsar.
Historically, Lahore has been a center of cultural heritage for many civilizations. It successively served as regional capital of the empires of the Shahi kingdoms in the 11th century, the Ghaznavids in the 12th century, the Ghurid State in the 12th and 13th century, the Mughal Empire in the 16th century, the Sikh expansion in the early 19th century, and it was the capital of the Punjab region under the British Raj in the mid 19th and early 20th century. The traditional capital of Punjab for a thousand years, Lahore was the cultural center of the northern part of the subcontinent which extends from the eastern banks of the Indus River to New Delhi. Mughal structures such as the Badshahi Mosque, the Lahore Fort, Shalimar Gardens, and the mausolea of Jehangir and Nur Jehan are popular tourist attractions for the city. Lahore is also home to many British colonial structures built in the Mughal-Gothic style, such as the Lahore High Court, the General Post Office, Lahore Museum and many older universities including the University of the Punjab. The Lahore Zoo, world’s third oldest zoo, is also situated here.
Lahore is also referred to as the cultural heart of Pakistan as it hosts most of the arts, cuisine, festivals, film making, music, gardening and intelligentsia of the country. Lahore is also known for its affiliation with poets and artists; it has the largest number of educational institutions in the country and some of the finest gardens in the continent. Lahore has always been a centre for publications, where 80 percent of country’s books are published. It remains the centre of literary, educational and cultural activity in Pakistan. It is also an important religious center as it is a home to many temples, mosques and shrines like Data Durbar Complex.
According to the 1998 census, Lahore’s population was 6,318,745. A mid-2006 government estimate now puts the population at approximately 10 million. It is ranked 40 in the most populated urban areas in the world and the 8th largest city within the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. In 2008, Lahore was ranked as a city with High Sufficiency to become a Gamma world city. In 2010 it was ranked by The Guardian as the 2nd Best Tourist Destination in Pakistan.
As of 2008, the city’s gross domestic product (GDP) by purchasing power parity (PPP) was estimated at $40 billion with a projected average growth rate of 5.6 percent. This is at par with Pakistan’s other economic hub, Karachi, with Lahore (having half the population) fostering an economy that is 51% of the size of Karachi’s ($78 billion in 2008). The contribution of Lahore to the national economy is supposed to be around 13.2%.Lahore’s GDP is projected to be $102 billion by the year 2025, with a slightly higher growth rate of 5.6% per annum, as compared to Karachi’s 5.5%. Central to Lahore’s economy is the Lahore Stock Exchange (LSE), Pakistan’s second largest stock exchange. Lahore has offices of several Pakistani government corporations including the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and Water and Sewage Authority (WASA). Food and restaurant businesses remain open all night. Lahore is the second largest financial hub of Pakistan and has industrial areas including Kot Lakhpat and the new Sundar Industrial Estate (near Raiwand). Lahore’s economic base is broad and varied. The city is the engineering hub of the country. Major industries include the manufacture of automobiles and motorcycles, home appliances, steel, telecommunications, information technology, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, computers, engineering, and construction material. A major industrial agglomeration with about 9,000 industrial units, Lahore has shifted in recent decades from manufacturing to service industries. Some 42% of its work force is employed in finance, banking, real estate, community, cultural, and social services. The city is the country’s largest software producing center and hosts a growing computer-assembly industry.
Lahore’s economic strength relies on the fact that it is the biggest city of Pakistan’s most populous province. It is also the most advanced in terms of infrastructure, having extensive and relatively well developed road links to all major cities in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a rail link with India and the province’s biggest International airport. It also has the most developed communications infrastructure in the province, which includes a wide network of fiber optic telephone and cable lines, GSM mobile network, IPP and WiMax. It has the most developed education and health sectors as well, making it the economic, political and educational hub of the province. As Lahore expands, former residential areas are being turned into commercial centres, and the suburban population is constantly moving outwards. This has resulted in the development of the Liberty Market, MM Alam Road, the new Jail Road (which has some of the largest office buildings in Lahore), and the Main Boulevard.
Lahore is famous as the hub of handmade carpet manufacturing in Pakistan. At present, hand-knitted carpets produced in and around Lahore are among Pakistan’s leading export products, and their manufacturing is the second-largest cottage and small industry.
Craftsmen in Lahore produce almost every type of handmade carpet using popular motifs such as medallions, paisleys, traceries, and geometric designs. The Lahore Design Centre at the Punjab Small Industries Corporation maintains a separate section of carpet designing to experiment with new designs. Lahore is famous for single-wefted designs in Turkoman and Caucasian style and double-wefted Mughal types.