B. Socio-cultural environment
1. History and languages
As with the physical environment, the socio-cultural contrasts within NWFP are very diverse. The province, which is regarded as the western border of the subcontinent. was the traditional trade route from Central Asia to India. Many conquerors and explorers, such as Mahmood of Ghazni, Cyrus, Alexander the Great, Tamburlane, Emperor Babar, Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali, have travelled through the mountain passes of NWFP. It was also the cradle of the Buddhist Gandhara civilization in the sixth century BC.
The population of NWFP is now predominantly Muslim. Ethnically, the people belong to different tribes. Numerous languages are spoken throughout the province, with the predominant language being Pushto. The other languages include: Saraiki in D. I. Khan Division, Hindko in urban Peshawar, Kohat and Bannun, and Hazara Division; Gujri in the Kohistan areas of Dir, Swat, Manshera and the Koh-i-Gangar area of Ghazi Tehsil; and Chitrali in Chitral district. The predominant Pushto-speaking area includes the districts of Peshawar, Charrsadda, Kohat, Hangu, Karak, Bauun, Mardan, Dir, Swat, Malakand and other tribal agencies (FATA). But despite the geographic, linguistic and cultural variances within the various regions of the province, there is no regional or ethnic conflict to threaten provincial cohesion.