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Port city
Gwadar is located in Pakistan
Country  Pakistan
Province  Balochistan
District Gwadar
 • Total 12,637 km2 (4,879 sq mi)
Population (1998)
 • Estimate (2006[1]) 85,000
Time zone PST (UTC+5)
Calling code 086
Number of towns 1
Number of Union councils 5

Gwadar (Balochi: گوادر Gwadur) is a city on the southwestern Arabian Sea coastline of Pakistan, in Balochistan province. Under development as a free trade port, it is the district headquarters of Gwadar District and, in 2011, was designated the winter capital of Balochistan province. It is situated near to Persian gulf countries, Eastern European countries Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and western Asian countries Iran and Turkey.

Until 1958, Gwadar was an overseas possession of Muscat and Oman. On 8 September 1958 it was annexed by Pakistan, with Oman then agreeing to sell its former enclave to Pakistan for a price of 5.5 billion rupees, with effect from 8 December 1958. The area was not integrated into Balochistan province of Pakistan until 1 July 1977, when it became a full sub-division called the Gwadar District and was designated as the "winter capital" of Balochistan. Most of the money for the purchase from Oman came from donations, with Prince Sultan Mohammad Shah, the reigning Aga Khan, being the greatest contributor, while the remainder was raised by taxation.[2] Gwadar has a population of approximately 85,000. It is about 700 km from Karachi and 120 km from the Iranian border. Gwadar Port is located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, just outside the Strait of Hormuz, near the key shipping routes in and out of the Persian Gulf.

Gwadar Port is a strategic warm-water deep-sea port developed jointly by the Government of Pakistan and the Government of China at a cost of USD $248 million and officially opened by the President of Pakistan on 20 March 2007.[3]), which have been developed from scratch under an urban master plan. Before its development as a port city, the town was a fishing village. A master plan for the development of Gwadar City with land zoning and internal infrastructure networks was approved by the Government of Pakistan in 2003. The Gwadar Development Authority (GDA) is charged with the execution of this master plan. A major part of its current work program is focused on the fast-track construction of roads, other infrastructure and public buildings. The provincial government of Balochistan has started with the development of infrastructure for the industrial parks located east of the city. Related to this rapid development, the population growth rate of Gwadar has accelerated during the past two years. The current population of Gwadar city is estimated at around 85,000 and is expected to reach half a million in about five years.

In 2013, Gwadar Port operations were officially handed over to China [4] Under the contract with China, the port will be further developed into a full-scale commercial port, with an initial construction investment of $750 million.[5] The port is said to be strategically important to China because it will enable China to more safely and reliably import oil. Currently, sixty percent of China’s oil must be transported by ship from the Persian Gulf to the only commercial port in China, Shanghai, a distance of more than 16,000 kilometres. The journey takes two to three months, during which time the ships are vulnerable to pirates, bad weather, political rivals, and other risks. Using Gwadar port instead will reduce the distance these ships must travel and will also enable oil transfers to be made year-round. [6]

In February 2013, Iran announced it would set up a $4 billion oil refinery in Gwadar with an estimated capacity of about 400,000 barrels per day. According to the plan, the Iranians will also construct an oil pipeline between its territory and Gwadar to transport crude oil for processing.[7][8] It has also been announced that, under China’s coastal refinery plan, China will invest $12 billion in multiple projects in Gwadar and other parts of Pakistan, including construction of a refinery which will have a processing capacity of 60,000 barrels of crude oil per day.


  • Etymology 1
  • History 2
    • Pre-Islamic era 2.1
    • Omani rule 2.2
    • Pakistan 2.3
    • Gwadar port and China 2.4
    • Chinese interests 2.5
  • Geography 3
    • Climate 3.1
  • Administration 4
  • Culture 5
  • Strategic importance 6
  • Economy 7
    • Special economic zone 7.1
    • Gwadar Port 7.2
    • Gwadar industrial park 7.3
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


The word "Gwadar" is a combination of two Balochi words—"Gwat" ("wind") and "Dar" ("gateway"). So the meaning of Gwadar is "The gateway of wind". Another theory is that the name derived from the ancient name of Baluchistan, "Gerdosia", which was given by the Greeks to the arid area of southern Baluchistan.


Pre-Islamic era

Inhabitation of Gwadar, like most areas of Balochistan, appears to be ancient. The area shows inhabitation as early as the ancient Bronze age people where settlements existed around some of the area's oases. It is from this that word Makran, the original name of Balochistan is derived. It was a region of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. It is believed to have been conquered by the founder of the Persian Empire, Cyrus the Great. The capital of the satrapy of Gedrosia was Pura, which is thought to have been located near the modern Bampūr, in Iranian Balochistan. During the homeward march of Alexander the Great, his admiral, Nearchus, led a fleet along the modern-day Makran coast and recorded that the area was dry, mountainous, and inhabited by the "Ichthyophagoi" (or "fish eaters"), an ancient Greek rendering of the ancient Persian phrase "Mahi khoran" (which has itself become the modern word "Makran").[9] After the collapse of Alexander's empire the area was ruled by Seleucus Nicator, one of Alexander's generals. The region then reverted to indigenous rule around about 303 BCE.

Omani rule

The region remained on the sidelines of history for a millennium until the Arab-Muslim army of Umar captured Makran in 643 CE and over the intervening (and nearly equivalent) amount of time the area was contested by various powers. This was then followed by almost two centuries of local rule by the various Baloch tribes. The city was visited by Ottoman Admiral Seydi Ali Reis in the 1550s and mentioned in his book Mirat ul Memalik (The Mirror of Countries), 1557.[10] According to Seydi Ali Reis, the inhabitants of Gwadar were Baloch and their chief was Malik Jelaleddin, son of Malik Dinar.

In the 15th century The Portuguese captured many parts of India and Oman, and they planned to proceed with annexation to coastal area of Makran. The Portuguese attacked Gwadar under the leadership of Vasco de Gama, but under the supervision of Commander Mir Ismaheel Baloch, the Portuguese were defeated by the Baloch. A few times the Portuguese looted and set the coastal villages on fire, but they failed to capture Gwadar . Cannons of the Portuguese army were found lying near the Central Jail of Gwadar, heirless. The grave of Mir Ismaheel Baloch is situated near the Mountain of Batal Gwadar, constructed by Mir Ismaheel Baloch himself during life. He died in 873 Hijri. .[11]

In 1783, the Khan of Kalat Mir Noori Naseer Khan Baloch granted suzerainty over Gwadar to Taimur Sultan, the defeated ruler of Muscat.[12] When the sultan subsequently retook Muscat, he was to continue his rule in Gwadar by appointing a wali (or "governor"). This wali was then ordered to subjugate the nearby coastal town of Chah Bahar (now in Iran). The Gwadar fort was built during Omani rule, whilst telegraph lines were later extended into the town courtesy of the British. In the middle of the 18th century, Mir Noori Naseer Khan Baloch captured Gwadar and its surrounding areas after defeating the Gichki Baloch tribe and included it in the Kalat Khanate. However, realizing that maintaining control of the area will be difficult without the support of the Gichkis, Mir Nasir entered into an agreement with the local Gichki Chief, which allowed the Gichkis to maintain administrative control of the area, in return for furnishing half the collected revenues to Kalat, this arrangement continued till 1783. When Saiad Sultan fell out with his brother, the ruler of Muscat, and asked for help, Mir Noori Naseer Khan handed over Gwadar, as part of his share of revenues, to Saiad Sultan for his maintenance with the understanding that the area be returned to Kalat, when Saiad Sultan acquires the throne. Saiad Sultan ascended to the throne of Muscat in 1797 but never returned Gwadar enclave to Kalat. The ensuing struggle between the heirs of the Sultan and Khan of Kalat, for possession of Gwadar, allowed the British to intervene. The British after extracting concessions from the Sultan for the use of the area facilitated Muscat to retain Gwadar. Later on, the British claimed that the area was permanently gifted to the Sultan by Mir Nasir, however, local accounts and the declassified documents of that time refute this claim.[13]


Gwadar Port

On 8 September 1958, Pakistan purchased the Gwadar enclave from Oman for $1 million by Karim Aga Khan. At the time, Gwadar was a small and underdeveloped fishing village with a population of a few thousand. The Pakistani government integrated Gwadar into Balochistan province on 1 July 1977 as the district headquarters of the newly formed Gwadar District. In 1993, the Government of Pakistan formally conceived the plan to develop Gwadar into a major port city with a deep-sea port and to connect it with Pakistan's highway and rail networks. On 22 March 2002, the Government of Pakistan began construction of Gwadar Port, a modern deep-sea port, Phase I of which was completed in March 2007. Gwadar Port was inaugurated on 20 March 2007.[3]

Gwadar underwent major development from 2002 to 2007. In 2002, Pakistan's National Highway Authority (NHA) began construction of the 653 km-long Makran Coastal Highway linking Gwadar with Karachi via Pasni and Ormara and onwards with the rest of the National Highways of Pakistan, which was completed in 2004. In 2003, the Gwadar Development Authority was established to oversee the planning and development of Gwadar and Gwadar Industrial Estate Development Authority was established to promote industrial activities in mega port city of Gwadar .[14] In 2004, Pakistan's NHA began construction of the 820-km long M8 motorway linking Gwadar with Ratodero in Sindh province via Turbat, Hoshab, Awaran and Khuzdar and onwards with the rest of the Motorways of Pakistan. In 2006, the Gwadar Development Authority conceived, developed and adopted a 50-year Master Plan for Gwadar. In 2007, the Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan acquired 4,300 acres (17 km2) to construct a new greenfield airport, the New Gwadar International Airport, on 6,000 acres (24 km2), at an estimated cost of Rs. 7.5 billion.

Gwadar port and China

In 2013 Gwadar port was acquired by the state-owned China Overseas Port Holdings Limited.[15] The port is said to be strategically important for China as sixty percent of China's oil comes from the Persian Gulf by ships travelling over 16,000 kilometres in two to three months, confronting pirates, bad weather, political rivals, and other risks up to its only commercial port, Shanghai. Gwadar will reduce the distance to a mere 5000 kilometres and also serve round the year. [6]

  • China has been instrumental in design of the project.
  • China is providing approximately 80% of the cost of the port in the shape of grants and soft loans
  • Over 500 Chinese workers have worked on the project on a 24-hour basis to complete the port setup. There are still a large number of Chinese workers and engineers working on the project.
  • China has further committed to provide money and resources as and when needed.
  • China is setting up a dry port at the Pakistan–China border to take advantage of shorter route to sea through Gwadar.
  • China has paid US$360 million to Pakistan for expansion and an upgrade for all weather trafficability of Karakoram Highway linking Pakistan with China. The contract has been awarded to Frontier Works Organization, who has also started the project.
  • Feasibility and engineering studies to connect China with Gwadar through a pipeline and railway track have already begun. This railway track also has the significance of being an engineering marvel of the world.

Chinese interests

China has a great strategic interest in Gwadar. The following are important ones:-[16]

  • China is heavily dependent upon the oil from the Persian Gulf; at present this oil passes via a very long route through the Strait of Malacca, which is under US influence. After this oil has reached Shanghai or the Chinese East Coast, it has to be transported thousands of miles inland to the West of China. By using Gwadar port and then the Karakoram Highway (KKH), the oil follows a much safer, cheaper and shorter route to the West of China.
  • The Middle East is a very important region in the world because of its Oil Reserves and large markets. China has a natural dependence on this but does not have the means to influence it. The Government of Pakistan has already committed to providing a Naval Base to China in Gwadar. This will not only help secure Gwadar but also take the Pakistan China Friendship to new heights.
  • Chinese goods will find an easier, shorter and secure route to the Middle East, increasing profitability and increasing trade.
  • China will greatly benefit from the industrial zone by setting up industries close to the markets.

Although some analysts claim that China intends to establish a naval presence at Gwadar, others argue that China will be cautious about such a development. China may not wish to become involved in Pakistan's domestic conflicts and a Chinese military presence in Gwadar may provoke a significant reaction from both the United States and India.[17]


Gwadar is situated on the southwestern Arabian Sea coast of Pakistan in Gwadar District of Balochistan province. Like Ormara further east, Gwadar is situated on a natural hammerhead-shaped peninsula forming two almost perfect, but naturally curved, semicircular bays on either side, namely the Paddi Zirr (West Bay) and Deymi Zirr (East Bay). Gwadar is largely flat barren land with two hills, the Koh-e-Batil (maximum height 449 ft.) at the head of the hammerhead peninsula and Koh-e-Mehdi (maximum height 1,112 ft.) to the east of the city. Following an earthquake in September 2013 a small island called Zalzala Jazeera formed approximately 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) off the coast.


Gwadar is 0–300 meters above sea level and is mainly dry, arid and hot. The oceanic influence keeps the temperature lower in summer and higher in winter as compared to the inland. The mean temperature in the hottest month (June) remains between 31 °C and 32 °C. The mean temperature in the coolest month (January) varies from 18 °C to 19 °C. The uniformity of temperature is a unique characteristic of the Makran Coastal region. Occasionally, winds moving down the Balochistan plateau bring brief cold spells, otherwise the winter is pleasant. In Gwadar, winters are shorter than summers. Although Gwadar is situated outside the monsoon belt, it receives light monsoon showers in summer (June–August). However, in winter, Western Disturbance can cause heavy rainfall. Annual rainfall is only 100 mm (3 inches). In June 2010, Gwadar was lashed by Cyclone Phet with record-breaking rains of 372 mm and winds up to 75 mph.

Climate data for Gwadar, Pakistan
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 31.1
Average high °C (°F) 24.1
Average low °C (°F) 13.8
Record low °C (°F) 2.3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 25.9
Source: [18]


Gwadar is the district headquarters of Gwadar District and the tehsil (subdistrict) headquarters of Gwadar Tehsil, which is administratively subdivided into five Union councils, three of which form Gwadar city. These are:[19]

  • Gwadar Northern
  • Gwadar Central
  • Gwadar Southern


Gwadar is located across the mouth of the Persian Gulf from the Arabian Peninsula.

Gwadar's location and history have given it a unique blend of cultures. The Arabic influence upon Gwadar is strong as a consequence of the Omani era and its close proximity to the Arabian peninsula. The legacy of the Omanis is observed in the local Makrani population who can trace their lineage to Afro-Arabs and Zanj slaves, who settled in the town during Omani rule. They have an Arab dance and music called Liwa, which is also performed in the Arabian Peninsula.

Strategic importance

Gwadar is strategically located on the western end of Baluchistan coast on the opposite end of the Gulf of Oman which is an important route for oil tankers bound for Japan and western countries out of Gulf. Since outflow of goods from western China and Central Asia reaching Gwadar will pass through this overland trade route, Pakistan could earn millions of dollars a year in terms of port and cargo handling charges and also as freight charges for import cargoes and export goods. According to Arthur D. Little (Malaysia), the main consultant firm of the Gwadar development phases, low-cost land and labour are available, there is proximity to oil and gas resources and Gulf countries, there are some agricultural and mineral resources, while there could be tax-free status for investments and trade. The Gwadar Port is expected to generate billions of dollars in revenues and create at least two million jobs.

Gwadar has the potential to acquire the status of a center piece as a gate to Strait of Hurmoz; it can compete with the United Arab Emirates ports by improving the exiting links to Caspian Region, and thus providing a better trade for route to land locked Caspian Region. Gwadar has the potential to be developed into a full-fledged regional hub and a trans-shipment port in the future. In case Strait of Malacca is blocked by U.S Gwadar can serve as an alternate route for Chinese trade in the Indian Ocean and to Western Asia. In military and strategic terms, Gwadar can help China to monitor the sea-lanes from the Persian Gulf as about 60% of Chinese energy requirements come from the Persian Gulf and transit along this sea-lane. Gwadar is also further away from the reach of the Indian Navy than Karachi, which was attacked twice during in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. The port of Gwadar Port can provide China a Listening Post to Observe the Indian naval activities around the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Aden. Central Asia and South Asia, encompassing the Caspian Region, Central Asian republics, Afghanistan and Iran, and the energy-rich ‘lake’ called the Caspian Sea, is a significant region because of its huge monetary prospective and geographically vital positioning, which has formed the region as a centre piece in the international arena.[20] Iran has also declared support for the development of Gwadar and its port [21]


Fishing boats in Gwadar East Bay with the Koh-e-Mehdi Hills in the background

Gwadar's economy has, in the past, been dependent mostly on fishing. Gwadar's economy is undergoing rapid transformation as a small fishing village is being transformed into a major port city of Pakistan with improved communication links with the rest of Pakistan. In 1993, the Government of Pakistan commenced a feasibility study for the construction of a deep-sea port at Gwadar. On 22 March 2002, the Government of Pakistan began construction of Gwadar Port, a modern deep-sea port, the first phase of which was completed in December 2005 and the second in March 2007. Gwadar Port became fully operational in December 2009. The 1400 km Trans-Afghan Gas Pipeline (TAP) from Turkemenistan to Gwadar(Pakistan), a long-dormant project that would pump Turkmen natural gas to markets in South Asia, may finally be poised to begin at a cost of $3 billion.[22] The Government has announced that a massive defence facility will be constructed in the city to guarantee the security of the area. The Government has also announced that a new shipbuilding centre will be built at Gwadar, with an as-yet unspecified international partner.

Special economic zone

To facilitate rapid commercial and economic development, Gwadar will be declared a special economic zone for a certain period. The length of this period has not yet been determined. The SEZ is likely to cover the city of Gwadar and the industrial areas currently planned and foreseen. The specific incentives-regime is likely to include general tax-holidays, no VAT and generous incentives pertaining to business ownership and employment of foreigners. The main purpose of this concept is to accelerate economic development and investments, both foreign and local, in general. This in turn will spur industrial development and port traffic throughput demand. It would also contribute more rapidly to employment creation and uplifting of the Gwadar district and of Balochistan.

Gwadar Port

Current port infrastructure

  • 3 multipurpose berths—each 200 meters long.
  • 1 RO-RO berth
  • 1 100 meter service berth
  • 4.7 km long approach channel dredged to 15.5 m inner harbour and 12.5 m outer harbour
  • Width of channel-206 m
  • Port Basin and Turning Area 595 m diameter
  • Related port infrastructure and port handling equipment & pilot boats, tugs, survey vessels, etc.
  • The port, currently, has the capacity to handle 50,000 DWT bulk carriers.

Current port facilities:

  • Port Area: 64,000 sq m
  • Container stacking area: 48,278 sq m
  • Reefer area (400 points): 367 sq m
  • Empty container stacking area: 6,815 sq m
  • Storage yard: 28,669 sq m
  • Transit shed: 3,750 sq m
  • Hazardous cargo storage yard: 1,800 sq m

Gwadar industrial park

The Government of Balochistan is developing an industrial estate in Gwadar to meet the demand for industrial plots in the port city, which is expected to have substantial potential for industrial investment in view of the opportunities offered by the establishment of deep sea port and construction of major highways linking Gwadar with Karachi, Quetta, Iran and Central Asian countries. There are also plans to extend railway to Gwadar. Gwadar Industrial park will be developed for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) mostly based on value-added industries. No large manufacturing industries would be expected, except those feasible on imported raw materials with final product to be exported. The major areas of business will be: import and export, construction, transportation, shipping, clearing and forwarding, warehousing, building material, value added processing, textile and leather made-up garments, repackaging and trans-shipment. For development and management of Gwadar Industrial Estate, an autonomous body Gwadar Industrial Estate Development Authority (GIEDA) has been established by the Government of Balochistan, which is headed by its Chairman, the Secretary Industries & Commerce, Balochistan, while other Directors of the board include Secretary Finance, Balochistan, Director Industries, Balochistan and Managing Director GIEDA. This will provide substantial executive and financial authority to GIEDA and facilitate accelerated development.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b
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  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ [1] Archived June 13, 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ [2] Archived August 29, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ Pakistan offers to import Turkmenistan gas through Gwadar | Gwadar City Archived January 16, 2014 at the Wayback Machine

External links

  • Official site

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