The Punjab (pronounced Punjab; Punjabi: ਪੰਜਾਬ, پنجاب, Urdu: پنجاب, Hindi: पंजाब), also spelled Panjab (Persian: پنجاب, panj-āb, “five waters”), is a cultural region straddling the border between Punjab (Pakistan) and Punjab (India). The so-called “five waters” are the Jhelum, the Chenab, the Ravi, the Sutlej, and the Beas. All are tributaries of the Indus River, the Jhelum being the largest. Punjab has a long history and rich cultural heritage. The people of the Punjab are called Punjabis and their language is also called Punjabi. The main religions of the Punjab region are, in order of population, Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism.
The area now known as the Greater Punjab comprises what were once vast territories of eastern Pakistan and northern western India. The bigger section of the Punjab is 80% within Pakistan and has the Republic of India 20%. The region, populated by Indo-Aryan speaking peoples, has been ruled by many different empires and ethnic groups, including Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Greeks, Persians, Arabs, Turks, Mughals, Afghans, Balochis, Sikhs and British. In 1947, it was partitioned between British India\’s successor states with 4 out of the 5 rivers going to Pakistan and the remaining river was allotted to India.
The Pakistani Punjab now comprises the majority of the region together with the Hazara region of the North-West Frontier Province, Islamabad, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian Government further sub-divided Punjab into the modern Indian states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi. The Pakistani part of the region West Punjab covers an area of 205,344 square kilometers (79,284 square miles), whereas the Indian State of Punjab is 50,362 square kilometers (19,445 square miles). Besides the Indian Punjab, the region also includes the areas of Jammu region and Himachal and Haryana states of India that were created out of East Punjab in 1966.
The populations of the region are similarly divided as 86,084,000 (2005) in West Punjab (Pakistan) and 24,289,296 (2000) in the present-day State of (East) Punjab (India) and a further 30 million in the rest of the region. Punjabi is spoken by (approximately) 65% of population in Pakistani Punjab (another 25% speak Punjabi variants) and 92.2% in Indian Punjab. The capital city of undivided Punjab was Lahore, which now sits close to the partition line as the capital of West Punjab. Indian Punjab has as its capital the city of Chandigarh. Indian Punjab uses the Gurmukhi script, while Pakistani Punjab uses the Shahmukhi script.