Lahore is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the second largest city in Pakistan, after Karachi. The city lies along the Ravi River, situated approximately 25 kilometers from the Wagah border crossing and is 32 kilometers from the Indian city of Amritsar. Historically, Lahore has been a center of cultural heritage for many civilizations. It successively served as regional capital of the empires of the Shahi kingdoms in the 11th century, the Ghaznavids in the 12th century, the Ghurid State in the 12th and 13th century, the Mughal Empire in the 16th century, the Sikh expansion in the early 19th century, and it was the capital of the Punjab region under the British Raj in the mid 19th and early 20th century.
The traditional capital of Punjab for a thousand years, Lahore was the cultural center of the northern part of the subcontinent which extends from the eastern banks of the Indus River to New Delhi. Mughal structures such as the Badshahi Mosque, the Lahore Fort, Shalimar Gardens, and the mausoleum of Jehangir and Nur Jehan are popular tourist attractions for the city. Lahore is also home to many British colonial structures built in the Mughal-Gothic style, such as the Lahore High Court, the General Post Office, Lahore Museum and many older universities including the University of the Punjab. The Lahore Zoo, world's third oldest zoo, is also situated here.
Lahore is also referred to as the cultural heart of Punjab as it hosts most of the arts, cuisine, festivals, film making, music, gardening and intelligentsia of the country. Lahore is also known for its affiliation with poets and artists; it has the largest number of educational institutions in Punjab and some of the finest gardens in the continent. Lahore has always been a centre for publications, where 80 percent of Punjab's books are published. It remains the centre of literary, educational and cultural activity in Punjab. It is also an important religious center as it is a home to many temples, mosques and shrines like Data Durbar Complex.
According to the 1998 census, Lahore's population was 6,318,745. A mid-2006 government estimate now puts the population at approximately 10 million. It is ranked 40 in the most populated urban areas in the world and the 8th largest city within the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. In 2008, Lahore was ranked as a city with High Sufficiency to become a Gamma world city. In 2010 it was ranked by The Guardian as the 2nd Best Tourist Destination in Pakistan.