The province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is largely located on the Iranian plateau and Eurasian land plate, while peripheral eastern regions are located near the Indian subcontinent and this has led to seismic activity in the past. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, spread over 74,521 sq km, has a population of over 22 million. It comprises of three major administrative parts. The capital and largest city of the province is Peshawar. One part, composed of settled areas, consists of the districts of Abbottabad, Bannu, Battagram, Charsadda, Dera Ismail Khan, Hangu, Haripur, Kohistan, Kohat, Karak, Lakki Marwat, Mansehra, Mardan, Nowshera, Swabi, Peshawar and Tank. The second known as PATA (Provincially Administered Tribal Areas) has a population of 831,000 and consists of Malakand Agency and the districts of Upper Dir, Lower Dir, Chitral, Swat, Buner, Shangla, and the pocket of Kala Dhaka / “Black Mountains”, Kohistan (previously part of Swat State) and the State of Amb, now submerged in the Tarbela Dam reservoir. The third part, FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), is spread over 27,220 sq km and has a population of 3,764,000. It comprises of seven Tribal Agencies and six Frontier Regions. The Tribal Agencies are Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, Kurram, North Waziristan and South Waziristan. The Frontier Regions include F.R. Bannu, Central Kurram, F.R. Dera Ismail Khan, F.R. Kohat, F.R. Lakki, F.R. Peshawar and F.R. Tank. These are directly controlled by the Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The northern zone is cold and snowy in winters with heavy rainfall and pleasant summers with the exception of Peshawar basin, which is hot in summer and cold in winter. It has moderate rainfall. The southern zone is arid with hot summers and relatively cold winters and scantly rainfall. Its climate varies from very cold (Chitral in the north) to very hot in places like D.I. Khan. The major rivers that cross the province are Kabul River, Swat River, Chitral River, Panjgora River, ara River, Karam River, Gomal River and Zob River.
Its snow-capped peaks and lush green valleys of unusual beauty attract tourists from far and wide while its art and architecture no less known than the historic Khyber Pass. Once the cradle of Gandhara civilization, the area is now known for its devout Muslims who zealously guard their religion and culture and the way of life that they have been following for centuries. The region varies in topography from dry rocky areas in the south to forests and green plains in the north. The climate can be extreme with intensely hot summers to freezing cold winters. Despite these extremes in weather, agriculture remains important and viable in the area. The hilly terrain of Swat, Kalam,Upper Dir, Naran and Kaghan is renowned for its beauty and attracts a great many tourists from neighbouring regions and from around the world. Swat-Kalam is also termed ‘a piece of Switzerland’ as there are many landscape similarities between it and the mountainous terrain of Switzerland. The chai-khanas of Peshawar’s Old City allow visitors to witness the multicultural inhabitants in a relaxed setting. Qissa Kahani Bazaar and other parts of Peshawar can remind visitors of an Arabian
Nights tale.The Takht-i-Bahi is perhaps the most impressive Buddhist ruin in the province and dates back to the 1st century BCE.