Punjab (Urdu, Punjabi: پنجاب, pənj-āb, “five waters”: About this sound listen (help·info)), is the most populous of the four provinces of Pakistan. Punjab is Pakistan’s second largest province by area after Balochistan, and is Pakistan’s most populous province with an estimated population of 101,391,000 as of 2015. It is bordered by the Pakistani provinces of Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as well as the regions of Islamabad Capital Territory and Azad Kashmir. It also shares borders with the Indian states of Punjab, Rajasthan, and Jammu and Kashmir. The capital of Punjab is the city Lahore, a cultural centre of Pakistan where the country’s cinema industry, and much of its fashion industry, are based.
Punjab during Mahabharata times was known as Panchanada. Punjab was part of the Indus Valley Civilization, more than 4000 years ago. The main site in Punjab was the city of Harrapa. The Indus Valley Civilization spanned much of what is today Pakistan and eventually evolved into the Indo-Aryan civilisation. The Vedic civilisation flourished along the length of the Indus River. This civilisation shaped subsequent cultures in South Asia and Afghanistan. Although the archaeological site at Harappa was partially damaged in 1857 when engineers constructing the Lahore-Multan railroad used brick from the Harappa ruins for track ballast, an abundance of artefacts have nevertheless been found. Punjab was part of the great ancient empires including the Gandhara Mahajanapadas, Achaemenids, Macedonians, Mauryas, Kushans, Guptas and Hindu Shahi. It also comprised the Gujar empire for a period of time, otherwise known as the Gurjara-Pratihara empire. Agriculture flourished and trading cities (such as Multan and Lahore) grew in wealth.