Balochistan is a vast, arid and mountainous country in Asia, situated on the northern shore of the Arabian Sea. Most of its population belongs to the Baloch people, who mostly speak the eponymous language and profess Sunni Islam. The Baloch are organized into more than 100 tribes.
The country is divided between three sovereign states: Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
During the first decades of the 20th century, some Baloch intellectuals embarked on the modern process of Baluchi national identity building. The tribal division made it difficult to extend a common national identity to the entire people. However, since the mid-20th century has been in place a Baloch insurgency against the Iranian and Pakistani governments, who it blames for marginalizing Balochistan.
The insurgency is led by several political-military organizations, which tend to demand a fully independent Greater Balochistan bringing together the regions under the control of the three aforementioned states. Among the most significant groups, the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) can be mentioned.
In addition, several political parties demand the autonomy or federalization of the Balochistan regions within Pakistan (such as the Balochistan National Party) and Iran (such as the Balochistan People's Party).
[Further information: “Balochistan. The State versus the Nation”]
Balochi is a language spoken by at least 10 million people. Its speakers live in Balochistan as well as in various diaspora territories, including Turkmenistan, the Gulf states, India, East Africa, and Europe.
The Arabic and Latin alphabets are used to write Balochi, which belongs to the Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. Kurdish, Persian and Talysh are among its closest relatives.
(Last updated March 2021.)