Federal Administered Tribal Area (FATA) is a narrow tract of land 600 km long and 130 km at its widest, encompassing an area of 27,220 sq km. It lies between the north western Himalayan zone and the south western chain of the Sulaiman Mountains. The mountainous terrain of FATA region is broken by small basins or valleys, dotted with settlements and agricultural fields. The area can be divided into the northern, central and southern regions. FATA lies on the border of two major climatic systems, the monsoon to the east and the Mediterranean towards the west. Most parts of FATA are dry and semi-dry, with warm summers and cool winters, although some areas in the Kurram and Orakzai agencies fall within the humid and sub-humid zone.
FATA located along the Durand Line is comprised of seven agencies. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas, since after partition, have been governed under a special dispensation enshrined in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. FATA is mainly administered by the Governor of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) being a representative to the President of Pakistan, under the overall supervision of the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions in Islamabad. FATA still continues to be governed primarily through the Frontier Crimes Regulation 1901.
The entire population in FATA is characterized by a strong tribal structure and rich ethnic diversity. There are about a dozen major tribes with several smaller tribes and sub-tribes. Utmankhel, Mohmand, Tarkani and Safi are the major tribes living in Bajaur and Mohmand agencies. Afridi, Shilmani, Shinwari, Mulagori Orakzai are settled in Khyber and Orakzai agencies. Turi, Bangash, and Masozai inhabit Kurram Agency. The major tribes of North and South Waziristan are Darwesh Khel Wazirs, with Mahsuds living in the central part of the region. Other tribes of the region include; Utmanzai, Ahmadzai Dawar, Saidgai, Kharasin and Gurbaz. The cultural heritage of FATA is very rich in terms of hospitality, tribal arts and crafts, historical places, ethnic diversity and natural beauty.
Out of the total 2722000 hectre area in FATA, only 8% area is under cultivation. As per last census in 1998, the total population of FATA is more than 3 million with an average annual growth rate of 2.19%. There are a few livelihood opportunities available to the people. The local economy is chiefly pastoral, with agriculture practiced in a few fertile valleys. Most households are engaged in primary-level activities, such as, subsistence agriculture and livestock rearing, or small-scale business conducted locally. Others are involved in trade within the tribal belt or with down-country markets.