Located in northwestern Balochistan near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, Quetta is a trade and communication centre between the two countries. The city lies on the Bolan Pass route which was once one of the major gateways from Central Asia to South Asia. Quetta played an important role militarily for the Pakistani Armed Forces in the intermittent Afghanistan conflict.
Quetta is also spelled Kuwatah, which is a variation of Kot, a Pashto word meaning "fortress". It is believed that it relates to the four imposing hills (Chiltan, Takatu, Zarghoon and Murdaar) that surround the city and form a natural bulwark.
In 1876 Quetta was incorporated into British controlled territories of the subcontinent. British Troops constructed the infrastructure for their establishment as it was a strategic location. By the time of the earthquake on 31 May 1935 Quetta had developed into a bustling city with a number of multistory buildings and was known as "Little Paris" because of that. The epicenter of the earthquake was close to the city and destroyed most of the city’s infrastructure and killed an estimated 40,000 people.
Quetta has a high semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk) with a significant variation between summer and winter temperatures. Summer starts about late May and goes on until early September with average temperatures ranging from 24–26 °C (75–79 °F). The highest temperature in Quetta is 42 °C (108 °F) which was recorded on 10 July 1998. Autumn starts in late September and continues until mid-November with average temperatures in the 12–18 °C (54–64 °F) range. Winter starts in late November and ends in late March, with average temperatures near 4–5 °C (39–41 °F). The lowest temperature in Quetta is −18.3 °C (−0.9 °F) which was recorded on 8 January 1970. Spring starts in early April and ends in late May, with average temperatures close to 15 °C (59 °F). Unlike more easterly parts of Pakistan, Quetta does not have a monsoon season of heavy rainfall. Highest rainfall during 24 hours in Quetta is 113 millimetres (4.4 in) which was recorded on 17 December 2000, Highest monthly rainfall is 232.4 millimetres (9.15 in) which was recorded in March, 1982, also the year of the highest annual rainfall, at 949.8 millimetres (37.39 in). In the winter, snowfall has become quite erratic (December, January and February).
The city saw a severe drought from 1999 to 2001, during which the city did not receive snowfall and below normal rains. In 2003 the city received snowfall after a hiatus of five years. In 2004, and 2005 the city received normal rains after three years without snowfall while in 2006, 2007 and 2009 the city received no snow except in 2008 when Quetta received a snowfall of 10 centimetres (4 in) in four hours on 29 January 2008. On 2 February it further received 25.4 centimetres (10 in) in 10 hours which was the heaviest snowfall for the city in the last ten years. During the winter of 2010 it received no snow and saw below normal rains due to the presence of El-Nino over Pakistan.
At the local government level, the city is governed by a municipal corporation consisting of 66 ward members which elects a mayor and a deputy mayor.
Quetta is on the western side of Pakistan and is connected to the rest of the country by a network of roads, railways and its international airport close to its center.
At an altitude of 1,605 metres (5,266 feet) above sea level, Quetta Airport is the second highest airport in Pakistan. Pakistan International Airlines has regular flights to and from the other major cities of Pakistan including Islamabad, Gwadar, Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar.
Quetta Railway Station is one of the highest railway stations in Pakistan at 1,676 metres (5,499 feet) above sea level. The railway track was laid in the 1890s during the British era to link Quetta with rest of the country. The extensive network of Pakistan Railways connects Quetta to Karachi in the south, by a 863 km (536 mi) track, Lahore in the northeast (1,170 km or 727 miles) and Peshawar further northeast (1,587 km or 986 miles). A metalled road runs alongside the railway that connects Quetta to Karachi via the nearby town of Sibi to Jacobabad and Rohri in the plain of the River Indus.
Hanna Lake, which nestles in the hills ten kilometres (six miles) east of the city, is a turquoise body of water that contrasts markedly with the bare surrounding hills. It is an attractive destination for vacationers, with facilities for boat hire. A lakeside restaurant is crowded with hikers and campers during holiday periods. At one end there is an irrigation dam, while on the eastern shore there is Hayat Durrani Water Sports Academy, the only water sports training center in Balochistan. The Hanna Lake Development Authority, the Hayat Durrani Water Sports Academy and Merck Marker have planted a range of trees in the Hanna Lake Mountains both for beautification and the protection of the environment.
Quetta serves as the learning center for the Balochistan province. The city has a number of government and private colleges, including the following:University of Balochistan
Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences (BUITEMS)
Sardar Bahadur Khan Women's University
Islamia High School: It was frequently visited by Quaid-e-Azam in 1937 and was nicknamed as Chhota Aligarh (Little Aligarh) by him
Bolan Medical College
Balochistan Agriculture College
Geological Survey of Pakistan
Tameer-e-Nau Public College
St Francis Grammar School
Command and Staff College
The population of the city is around one million. In 2016, it was estimated at 1,140,000. This makes it the largest city in Balochistan province and one of the major cities of Pakistan. The scholars disagree about the demographics of the city. According to some, the city has a Pashtun plurality followed by Baloch / Brahui, other indigenous people of Balochistan and lastly the settlers from other areas of Pakistan. Others think, the city has a Pashtun majority followed by Brahui, Baloch, Punjabis, Muhajir people and Hazaras. Urdu being national language is used and understood by all the residents and serves as lingua franca. Languages spoken as first language include Pashto, Punjabi, Balochi and others.
Cricket and football are the two most popular sports among the people of Quetta. However, a number of other sports are also played. This includes, hockey, taekwondo, boxing, squash, mountaineering, and bodybuilding.
Football teams from Quetta include Quetta Zorawar, Muslim FC, Hazara Green Football, Baluch Football and Quetta Bazigars Club. The Shaheed Nauoroz Stadium is the largest stadium in the city. The city also has Ayub National Stadium, a multipurpose stadium used for football and cricket and Bugti Stadium used only for cricket.
The Quetta Bears are a domestic cricket team represented the city in the List A and Twenty 20 tournaments.
Quetta Gladiators (Urdu: کوئٹہ گلیڈئیٹرز) is a Pakistani professional Twenty20 cricket team that competes in Pakistan Super League (PSL).
In hockey, Quetta has produced Zeeshan Ashraf and Shakeel Abbasi, who are members of the Pakistan national hockey team.
Local facilities were created in the city for mountain climbing and caving as well as water sports. Hayatullah Khan Durrani (Pride of Performance) is the chief executive of Hayat Durrani Water Sports Academy at Hanna Lake. In kayaking, Muhammad Abubakar Durrani, National Junior Champion was selected for the world Junior Canoeing Championship in 2009 in Moscow.