Quetta is the capital of the Balochistan Province, the largest province of Pakistan and is 1692 metres above sea level. Most of it is a desert. It is located to the North-West of Karachi, the largest city of Pakistan and to the South-West of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan at the mouth of the Bolan Pass. It is situated in a river valley and is very close to the border of Afghanistan, with a road leading from Quetta to Kandahar in Afghanistan in the North-West.
Quetta is the wrong pronunciation of Kwatta, which, in Pushtu means a fort. It is so called as it is surrounded on all three sides by imposing mountains like the Chiltan, Takatoo, Mordar and Zarghun.
The first recorded mention of Quetta was in the 11th century, when Mahmood of Ghazni, was on a spree of invasions in the subcontinent. The Mughals were in control of Quetta after this till 1556. In 1543, mention of Quetta is found in the chronicles of the Moghul emperor, Humayun, who rested here while returning from Persia. The Persians took control of Quetta after 1556 and the Moghul Emperor Akbar, son of Humayun, reoccupied it in 1595.
The British occupied Quetta, for a short length of time in 1839, after the first Afghan War. However, after 1876, the British took full control over it. On the 31st of May, 1935, Quetta witnessed a massive and devastating earthquake, in which the city was almost totally demolished and about 40, 000 people died.
Quetta is an important trading centre in Pakistan, and because of its strategic position, an important military base.
Quetta is renowned for its fruit orchards. It is called the ‘fruit garden’ of Pakistan. Fruits are grown on a commercial basis. Fruits like plums, apricots, apples, guavas, which are locally known as zaitoon, pomegranates, melons, cherries, pistachios, almonds and peaches are some of the fruits which are grown in abundance here. Saffron and Tulip are also grown on a commercial basis. It has a blooming business of exporting the fruits to various parts of the world.
The majority of the population in Balochistan are the Pashtun, the Baloch and the Hazara make up the minority. The weather in Quetta is quite harsh. In winter, the temperature touches approximately 8 degrees Fahrenheit.
There are many places worth visiting, in and around Quetta. The highest railway station in Asia, Kan Mehtarzai which is situated 2240 metres, above sea level is a very close by. Another place worth visiting is Loralai. It can be termed as the almond bowl of Pakistan, and is 265 kms away. Besides, other places of interest are the Pishin Valley, about 50 kms from Quetta and the Hanna Lake about 10 kms east of Quetta.
Quetta is connected with Lahore, Peshawar, Islamabad and Karachi by air. One of the most prominent hotels of Quetta, is the Quetta Serena Hotel, the other two star hotels are the Fibs Hotel, Bloom Star Hotel, PTDC Taftan and the PTDC Ziarat.