Beluchistan, or Baluchistan (Belootch'istan), a country of Asia, bounded on the N. by Afghanistan, on the E. by Sind, on the S. by the Arabian Sea, and on the W. by the Persian province of Kerman. The frontier towards Afghanistan is seldom anywhere clearly defined. Beluchistan, which has a coast-line of over 500 miles, corresponds in general with the ancient Gedrosia. The area is about 133,000 sq. m., and the pop. is estimated at some 1,050,000. Until 1810 Beluchistan was almost entirely a terra incognita to Europeans. Most of the country indeed is still unknown, but it has been crossed by several travellers; the laying of the Indo-Afghan Railway (by Quetta to Kandahar, 1885-94) through the desert in the north-east, and the surveys of the Indo-European Telegraph Company in the south, have established its general features. The surface is generally mountainous, more especially towards the north, where branches of the great Suliman Range, running north and south, rise to a height of 12,000 feet. The ranges in the south generally run east and west, parallel with the coast, and the longitudinal valleys between form the principal thoroughfares, there being no regular routes in the country except those through the Bolan and Mula passes to Quetta and Kelat. Even the bottoms of some of the valleys have an elevation of 5700 feet; and the capital, Kelat, situated on the side of one of them, is 6783 feet above the level of the sea. Large deserts, rendered impassable in summer by sand-storms, and swept in winter by benumbing, piercing winds, occupy hundreds of square miles of the country; and the rivers - unless after heavy rains, when those in the north-east frequently inundate great tracts of country - are inconsiderable, few of the streams in the south appearing to be perennial at all. The west is largely a land of drought, with stretches of sand varied by bare hills and treeless valleys. The temperature is one of striking and sudden extremes, 125° F. in the shade having been registered on the coast even in March, although at Kelat, in February, water has been observed to freeze as it was poured on the ground. There are few cattle; sheep, mountain goats, and antelopes are numerous. The camel is the ordinary beast of burden; but in the north-west serviceable horses are bred. The wild animals include the tiger, leopard, wolf, hyena, ape, wild ass, etc, and fish in great quantities are caught off the coast. Wherever there is a sufficiency of water the soil is productive - the lowlands yielding rice, sugar, cotton, indigo, and tobacco; and the higher grounds, wheat, barley, madder, maize, and pulse. The minerals are gold, silver, copper, lead, antimony, iron, tin, sulphur, alum, and sal-ammoniac, and in 1887 valuable petroleum wells were discovered in the north. The only nameworthy towns are the capital, Kelat (q.v.), and Quetta. Gwadar, on the coast, is a fort and a telegraph station.
The inhabitants belong to the distinct races of Brahui and Beluchis. The former are the dominant as well as the aboriginal race, and are hospitable and generous; the latter, a hungry, needy, greedy people, are largely nomadic. The Brahui are usually referred, though doubtfully, to the Dravidian stock. In appearance they are short, sturdy, and strongly built, with round, flat faces, and brown hair. Their dress is a coarse calico tunic, with trousers fastened at the ankles, and a skull-cap with sash of the same colour. The Beluchis are of Iranian descent, with a mingling of Tartar blood, and their language closely resembles the modern Persian; they are both numerically smaller and a more recent element than the Brahui. They are tall, with longer and more prominent features, and are brave, but restless and prone to predatory warfare, in which they frequently show themselves senselessly cruel. Both races are Mohammedans of the Sunni sect. Besides these two races, there are colonies of Persian descent called Dehwars (' villagers'), and scattered families of Luri, a sort of Gypsies of possibly Indian origin. Beluchistan is, in a somewhat indefinite manner, under the authority of the khan of Kelat, who, with a revenue of about £30,000, maintains an army of 3000 men. For his hostility, his capital was held (1839-41) by a British force. In 1877 England obtained by treaty with the khan the right of permanently occupying Quetta (which was annexed, with his consent, in 1887), and of having a political agent at Kelat; and the khan practically became a feudatory of the Indian empire, and placed his territory at the disposal of the British government for all military and strategical purposes. With Kelat may be reckoned the Las Bela. The seini-inde-pendent Marri and Bugti tribes are administered from Sibi. - British Beluchistan is a chief-com-missionership of British India, so constituted in 1887, out of the districts of Pishin, Thal Chotiali, and Sibi, in south-eastern Afghanistan; with Khetran, the Zhob Valley, and the Gumal Pass added later. British Beluchistan, some 46,000 square miles in area, has 310,000 inhabitants.