GwadarBalochistan in Pakistan. The town is the capital of its surrounding district that is also named Gwadar. The population of the town is near one-hundred thousand.
Gwadar has a long and varied history. It has existed as a settlement for thousands of years. Portuguese explorers captured the town in the late 16th century, and sacked it. This was followed by centuries of local rule by various Baluch tribes. In the late 18th century, the town of Gwadar itself was turned over to the ruler of Muscat, who used it as an port for transporting goods into Central Asia from Arabia. Among the important goods transported were ivory, spices, and slaves from Africa.
During Omani rule, a fort was built, and telegraph lines were built into the town courtesy of the British. In 1958, the city was turned over to Pakistan, and was made part of the Baluchistan province. In 2002 a project to build a large deep-sea port was begun in the town. The government of Pakistan intends to develop the entire area in order to reduce reliance on Karachi for shipping. In addition to expanding port facilities, the project aims to build industrial complexes in the area, and to connect the town via a modernized highway to the rest of Pakistan. The People's Republic of China is providing help on the project, and the first phase should be finished by the end of 2004.
Gwadar's location and it's history have given it a unique blend of inhabitants. The presence of the slave trade is still felt in the town with the continuing presence of tribes of people who are descended from African slaves who passed through the town. The area also has remarkable religious diversity, being home to not only Muslims, but also Hindus, Sikhs, Ahmadis, Parsis, Christians, and other minor Islamic sects. Among the most important religious sects is the Zikri sect, a faith that about half of Gwadars inhabitants claim to follow.