Baluchistan, a country within the borders of British India which, like Afghanistan, derives its name from its dominant race of inhabitants. It extends from the Gomal river to the Arabian Sea, and from the borders of Persia and Afghanistan to those of the Punjab and Sind. It is divided into two main divisions, British Baluchistan, which is a portion of British India under the chief commissioner, and the foreign territories under the administration or superintendence of the same officer as agent to the governor-general. The former portion, with an area of 9403 sq. m., consists principally of tracts ceded to the British government by Afghanistan under the treaty of Gandamak (1879), and formally declared to be part of British India in 1887. The second class comprises three subdivisions, namely areas directly administered, native states and tribal areas. The directly-administered districts include areas acquired in various ways. Some portions are held on lease from the khan of Kalat; while others are tribal areas in which it has been decided for various reasons that revenue shall be taken. They include the whole of the Zhob and Chagai political agencies, the eastern portion of the Quetta tahsil and other tracts, among which may be mentioned the Bolan Pass, comprising 36,401 sq. m. in all.
The whole of the northern boundary, with the north-eastern corner and the railway which traverses Baluchistan through Quetta up to New Chaman on the Afghan-Baluch frontier, is therefore in one form or other under direct British control. The remainder of the territory (79,382 sq. m.) belongs to the native states of Kalat (including Makran and Kharan) and Las Bela. Tribal areas, in the possession of the Marri and Bugti tribes, cover 7129 sq. m.
Baluchistan as a whole is a sparsely populated tract covering a larger area than any Indian province save Burma, Madras and Bengal. Three hundred miles of its mountain walls facing the Indus are south of the railway from the Indus to Quetta, and about 250 north of it. The railway with the passes and plains about it, and the dominant hills which surround Quetta, divide Baluchistan into two distinct parts. North of the railway line, hedged in between Afghanistan and the plains of the Indus, stretch the long ridges of rough but picturesque highlands, which embrace the central ranges of the Suliman system (the prehistoric home of the Pathan highlander), where vegetation is often alpine, and the climate clear and bracing and subject to no great extremes of temperature. The average breadth of this northern Pathan district is 150 m., but it narrows to less than 100 m. on the line of the Gomal, and expands to more than 200 m. on the line of the railway. Here all the main drainage either runs northwards to the Gomal, passing through the uplands that lie west of the Suliman Range; or it gathers locally in narrow lateral valleys at the back of these mountains and then bursts directly eastwards through the limestone axis of the hills, making for the Indus by the shortest transverse route.
South of the railway lies a square block of territory, measuring roughly 300 m. by 300, primarily the home of the Brahui and the Baluch; but within that block are included almost every conceivable phase of climate and representatives of half the great races of Asia. Here, throughout the elevated highlands of the Kalat plateau which are called Jalawan, the drainage gathers into channels which cut deep gorges in the hills, and passes eastwards into the plains of Sind. Beyond and south of the hydrographical area of the Jalawan highlands the rivers and streams of the hills either run in long straight lines to the Arabian Sea, north of Karachi, or, curving gradually westwards, they disappear in the inland swamps which form so prominent a feature in this part of south-west Asia. A narrow width of the coast districts collects its waters for discharge into the Arabian Sea direct. This section includes Makran. Baluchistan thus becomes naturally divided into two districts, north and south, by an intervening space which contains the Sind-Pishin railway.
This intervening space comprises the wedge-shaped desert of Kach Gandava (Gandava), which is thrust westwards from the Indus as a deep indentation into the mountains, and, above it, the central uplands which figure on the map as "British Baluchistan" - where lies Quetta. All Baluchistan has now been surveyed. From the great Indus series of triangles bases have been selected at intervals which have supported minor chains of triangulation reaching into the heart of the country. These again have been connected by links of more or less regularity, so that, if the Baluchistan triangulation lacks the rigid accuracy of a "first class" system, it at least supports good topography on geographical scales.
From Domandi, at the junction of the Gomal and Kundar rivers, Northern. the boundary between Baluchistan and Afghanistan follows the Kundar stream for about 40 m. to the south-west. It then leaves the river and diverges northwards, so as to include a section of the plain country stretching away towards Lake Ab-i-Istada, before returning to the skirts of the hills. After about 100 m. of this divergence it strikes the Kadanai river, turning the northern spurs of the Toba plateau (the base of the Kwaja Amran (Kojak) Range), and winds through the open plains west of the Kojak. Here, however, the boundary does not follow the river. It deserts it for the western edge of the Toba plateau (8000 ft. high at this point), till it nears the little railway station of New Chaman. It then descends to the plains, returns again to the hills 40 m. south of Chaman, and thenceforward is defined by hill ranges southwards to Nushki. The eastern boundary of this northern section of Baluchistan is the "red line" at the foot of the frontier hills, which defines the border of British India. This part of Baluchistan thus presents a buffer system of independent tribes between the British frontier and Afghanistan. But the independence of the Pathan people south of the Gomal is not as the independence of the Pathans (Waziris, Afridis, etc.) who live north of it.