Some cotton is raised and processed; grains are grown in some valleys, and fruits in the highlands. Sheep and goats also are raised. Extensive mineral resources include coal and lignite, gypsum, chromite, limestone, sulphur, and lead. Natural gas and oil discoveries are being developed and exploited. On the coast there is trade in fish and salt.
Many invaders going India have crossed Baluchistan; the return route of Alexander the Great (325 B.C.) from India to Persia was through S coastal Baluchistan. During 7th-10th cent., Arabs held most of area; in early 17th-cent., the region was under Mughal control. Baluchistan was later ruled by tribal chiefs, the most important of whom was khan of Kalat. During the Afghan Wars (see Afghanistan) the British began to establish control over the area. By the treaties of 1876, 1879, and 1891 the northern sections (later known as British Baluchistan) were placed under British control and a military base was established at Quetta.
The area was incorporated (1947-48) into Pakistan and then (1955) into West Pakistan prov. It was returned to full provincial status in 1970. In 1976 the Pakistani central government revoked the authority of local chiefs to administer their own peoples, touching off a significant popular revolt against the government; there had been several more minor tribal uprisings in the previous decades. Guerrilla fighting between local groups and government forces re-erupted sporadically, resuming in 2004 over proposed economic and military development that seems likely to bring large numbers of Punjabis into the province. A truce from Sept., 2008, to Jan., 2009, ended when it failed to lead to meaningful negotiations. There also has been feuding between local Baluch tribes. In 2007 a cyclone caused devastating flooding in the province, affecting some 800,000 persons.
Province (pop., 2003 est.: 7,450,000), southwestern Pakistan. Its capital is Quetta (pop., 1998: 560,307). Its landscape includes mountains, notably the Sulaiman and Kithar ranges; barren, flat plains; arid desert; and marshy swamps. In ancient times, it was part of Gedrosia. Alexander the Great traversed it in 325 BC. It was included in the Bactrian kingdom, then was ruled by Arabs from the 7th to the 10th century AD. It was ruled by Persia for centuries, with the exception of a period when it belonged to the Mughal Empire (1594–1638). It became a British dependency in 1876 and a British province of India in 1887. It was made part of Pakistan in 1947–48 and was designated a separate province in 1970. Wheat, sorghum, and rice are staple crops; manufactures include cotton and woolen goods.
Learn more about Balochistan with a free trial on Britannica.com.