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"Gawadar" redirects here. For the village in Iran, see Gawadar, Iran.
Port city
Gwadar is located in Pakistan
Coordinates: 25°07′35″N 62°19′21″E / 25.12639°N 62.32250°E / 25.12639; 62.32250Coordinates: 25°07′35″N 62°19′21″E / 25.12639°N 62.32250°E / 25.12639; 62.32250
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 port city on the southwestern coast of Pakistan's Balochistan province where the Arabian Sea meets the Persian Gulf just outside the Strait of Hormuz near key shipping routes in and out of the Persian Gulf. Under development as a free trade port, it is the district headquarters of Gwadar District. Gwadar has a population of approximately 85,000. It is about 700 km from Karachi and 120 km from the Iranian border. Gwadar was an overseas possession of Muscat and Oman from 1783 to 1958. On 8 September 1958, Pakistan purchased Oman's exclave for 5.5 billion rupees, effective 8 December 1958. Most of the money for the purchase came from donations, with Prince Sultan Mohammad Shah, the reigning Aga Khan, contributing the most. The government paid the remainder through taxes.The area was integrated into Balochistan province on 1 July 1977 as the Gwadar District subdivision.

In 2011, it was designated the winter capital of Balochistan province.[2]

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. It was officially opened by the President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf on 20 March 2007.[3] 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 the plan. A major part of its 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. This rapid development accelerated population growth. The population of Gwadar city is expected to reach half a million in about five years. The new residential and commercial area of Gawadar is known as New Gawadar.

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]


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


Pre-Islamic era[edit]

Inhabitation of Gwadar, like most areas of Balochistan, appears to be ancient. The area shows inhabitation as early as the Bronze age with settlements around some of the area's oases. It is from this settlement pattern that word Makran, the original name of Balochistan, is derived. For a period, 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 Indian rule around about 303 BCE after Seleucus made peace with Emperor Chandragupta and ceded the territory to the Indian Empire.

Omani rule[edit]

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 conquered many parts of India and Oman. They planned to proceed with annexation of the coastal area of Makran. They 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 5.5 billion Rupees (equivalent to USD $1.1 billion in 2015 dollars). Most of the money for the purchase came from donations, with Prince Sultan Mohammad Shah, the reigning Aga Khan, being the greatest contributor, while the remainder was paid through tax revenue. 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[edit]

China has a great strategic interest in Gwadar. In 2013, the state-owned China Overseas Port Holdings Limited acquired Gwadar port.[15] The port is strategically important for China as sixty percent of China's oil comes from the Persian Gulf by ships traveling 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 is setting up a dry port at the Pakistan–China border to take advantage of shorter route to sea through Gwadar. China 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.

China is heavily dependent on Persian Gulf oil which passes through the Strait of Malacca all the way through the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Once the oil reaches China's east coast ports, it is transported thousands of miles inland to western China. The Gwadar port-Karakoram Highway (KKH) route is safer, cheaper and shorter than transporting the oil by ocean tanker. Chinese goods flowing in the opposite direction will find an easier, shorter and secure route to the Middle East, increasing trade. The Government of Pakistan has committed to providing a naval base to China in Gwadar. This will not only help secure Gwadar but also take Pakistan-China relations to new heights.[16] 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. 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.


Gawadar Sea
Main article: Climate of Gwadar

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 these councils, the northern, central, and southern councils, form Gwadar city.[19]


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[edit]

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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] The Gwadar Port is expected to generate billions of dollars in revenues and create at least two million jobs.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] 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 Turkmenistan 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][better source needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stefan Helders, World Gazetteer. "Gwādar". Archived from the original on 2013-05-11. Retrieved 2006-11-06.  C1 control character in |title= at position 4 (help)
  2. ^ "Gwadar made winter capital of Balochistan". Dawn.Com. 2011-10-26. Archived from the original on 2013-05-20. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  3. ^ a b Saleem Shahid. "Gwadar Port inaugurated: Plan for second helloIslamabad". 
  4. ^ "Gwadar port formally handed over to Chinese company". Archived from the original on 2013-06-17. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  5. ^ Afshan Subohi (2013-02-25). "Gwadar deal: business optimism, Baloch reservations". Dawn.Com. Archived from the original on 2013-05-24. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  6. ^ a b "Strategic Gwadar in China's hands". Saudi Gazette. 2013-02-28. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  7. ^ Khaleeq Kiani (2013-02-21). "Iran to set up $4bn oil refinery in Gwadar". Dawn.Com. Archived from the original on 2013-05-26. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  8. ^ Bhutta, Zafar. "A step forward: Pakistan, Iran to sign MoU for oil refinery on March 11 – The Express Tribune". Archived from the original on 2013-09-26. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  9. ^ Jona Lendering, "Gedrosia". Archived from the original on 2013-09-24. Retrieved 2006-11-06. 
  10. ^ "Medieval Sourcebook: Sidi Ali Reis (16th Century CE): Mirat ul Memalik (The Mirror of Countries), 1557 CE". Archived from the original on 2014-03-10. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  11. ^ "Gwādar - Imperial Gazetteer of India". p. 415. Archived from the original on 2013-05-10. Retrieved 2013-11-20.  C1 control character in |title= at position 4 (help)
  12. ^ Dott. Beatrice Nicolini, Oman Studies Centre. "International trade networks: The Omani Enclave of Gwadar". Archived from the original on 2014-04-08. Retrieved 2006-11-06. 
  13. ^ Ahmad, Azhar (5 May 2013). "Unravelling Gwadar town". The Frontier Post Voice of the Federation. Archived from the original on 2013-09-29. Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  14. ^ "Gwadar Development Authority". GDA. Archived from the original on 2013-10-20. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  15. ^ AFP (18 February 2013). "China acquires potential naval base in Pakistan". Manila Times. Archived from the original on 2013-03-19. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  16. ^ "Chinese Interest and Investment | Gwadar Private Scheme Information Center". Archived from the original on 2014-01-02. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  17. ^ David Brewster. "Beyond the String of Pearls: Is there really a Security Dilemma in the Indian Ocean?. Retrieved 11 August 2014". 
  18. ^ [1] Archived June 13, 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ [2] Archived August 29, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "Strategic Importance of Gwadar Port" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  21. ^ Zafar, Mohammad. "Allaying fears: Iran doesn’t disfavour Gwadar port, says top aide – The Express Tribune". Archived from the original on 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  22. ^ Pakistan offers to import Turkmenistan gas through Gwadar | Gwadar City Archived January 16, 2014 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]