The 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.
It covers an area of 74,521 km² (28,773 sq mi). According to the 1998 census, the total population of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was approximately 17 million out of whom 52% are males and 48% females. The density of population is 187 per km² and the intercensal change of population is of about 30%.
Geographically the province could be divided into two zones: the northern one extending from the ranges of the Hindu Kush to the borders of Peshawar basin; and the southern one extending from Peshawar to the Derajat basin.
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, Bara 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 capital and largest city of the province is Peshawar and other main cities include Nowshera, Mardan, Mansehra, Charsadda, Ayubia, Nathia Gali and Abbottabad. The province's main districts include Dera Ismail Khan, Kohat, Bannu, Peshawar, and Hazara Division.
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.