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Gwadar is located on the southwestern coast of Pakistan, on the Arabian Sea. It is strategically located between three increasingly important regions: the oil-rich Middle East, heavily populated South Asia and the economically emerging and resource-laden region of Central Asia.
The Makran region surrounding Gwadar was occupied by an ancient Bronze age people which settled in the few oases. It later became the Gedrosia region of the Achaemenid Persian empire. It is believed to have been conquered by the founder of the Persian empire, Cyrus the Great.
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"), a Greek rendering of the ancient Persian phrase "Mahi khoran" (which has itself become the modern word "Makran"). After the collapse of Alexander's empire the area was ruled by Seleucus Nicator, one of Alexander’s generals. The region then came under "local rule" around about 303 BC.
The region remained on the sidelines of history for a millennium, until the Arab-Muslim army of Muhammad bin Qasim captured the town of Gwadar in 711 CE and over the intervening (and nearly equivalent) amount of time the area was contested by various powers, including the Mughals (from the east) and the Safavids (from the west).
The Portuguese captured, sacked and burnt Gwadar in 1581 and this was then followed by almost two centuries of local rule by the various Balochi tribes.
Until 1958 Gwadar was part of Oman but was transferred to Pakistan on 8 September 1958. The Gwadar enclave sold to Pakistan (effective 8 December 1958). It was integrated within the Balochistan (Pakistan) on 1 July 1977 and became a full sub-division of the Gwadar District.
Gwadar is at 0-300 meters above sea level, is dry arid hot. The oceanic influence keeps the temperature lower than that in the interior in summer and higher in winter. The mean temperature in the hottest month (June) remains between 31°C and 32°. 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 coastal region in Balochistan. Occasionally, winds moving down the Balochistan plateau bring brief cold spells, otherwise the winter is pleasant.
In Gwadar, winter is shorter than summer. Although Gwadar is not a monsoon region it still receives light monsoon showers coming from Karachi. But in winter, Western Disturbance can cause heavy showers. Annual rainfall is only 100mm
The Gwadar Port was built on a turnkey basis by China and signifies an enlarging Chinese footprint in a critically important area. Opened in spring 2007 by then Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, in the presence of Chinese Communications Minister Li Shenglin, Gwadar Port is now being expanded into a naval base with Chinese technical and financial assistance. Gwadar Port became operational in 2008, with the first ship to dock bringing 52000 tonnes of wheat from Canada.
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 the close proximity of other Arab-majority regions. The legacy of the Omani slave trade is observed in the population by the presence of residents which can trace their descent from the African slaves who were trafficked through the town. The area also has a remarkable religious diversity, being home to not only Sunni and Zikri Muslims, but also to groups of Christians, Hindus, Parsis, and various minorities such as the Ahmadies.
Gwadar is located on the Gulf of Oman close to the entrance of the Persian Gulf, about 460 kilometres west of Karachi. In 1993, Pakistan started feasibility studies for the development of a major deepwater seaport at Gwadar. The port project commenced on 22 March 2002 with the first phase completed in December 2005.
The construction of the port has spurred other major infrastructure projects in the area. This includes the 700 km Makran Coastal Highway which is now complete. The road links Karachi with several ports along the coast including Ormara, Pasni, Gwadar and will be extended to the Iranian border in the future. The highway has reduced travel time to Karachi from 48 hours to only 7 hours. Other road projects include the Gwadar-Quetta-Chaman road which is due for completion in 2006 and a roadlink to the town of Khuzdar in eastern Balochistan. There are also plans for a terminal for passenger ships.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan has earmarked 3000 acres (12 km²) of land for Gwadar International Airport which will be built 26 km away to the northeast of the existing airport towards Pasni and is likely to cost between $200–250 million. The new airport will be given international status and operate under the open sky policy.
* All figures and stats are approximate