The South Waziristan Agency was declared an agency in 1895. South Waziristan Agency is the largest in size among all FATA agencies. South Waziristan is the largest of the tribal Agencies of FATA with total area of 6,620 km. It borders with North Waziristan Agency in the north, Bannu and Lakki Marwat Districts in the northeast, Tank District and D.I. Khan in the east and Zhob district of Balochistan in the south. It also shares about 70 km border with Paktia Province of Afghanistan. (Source: USAID-1991, Socio-economic Profile of South Waziristan).
South Waziristan is mostly a mass of rugged and complex rocky terrains and ridges. There are no regular mountain alignments like the northern part of FATA and hills appear to zig-zag in every direction. The highland area of North and South Waziristan jointly, takes the shape of a somewhat irregular parallelogram, 250 km long and almost 100 km wide.
The hills for the most part are barren and treeless. Most rivers and streams in Waziristan run along a horizontal axis, and are generally flanked by hills and small valleys. There is very limited land available for agriculture in these valleys, as little water flows in the streams of South Waziristan. The chief plains or valleys are the Wana plain, the Zarmilan, which lies northeast of Domandi, the Bermand, and the Spin.
Land use data from 2011-12 shows that 3% of the total geographic area of South Waziristan is arable, while more than 96% of the land is not available for cultivation. This puts intense pressure on the available land for agriculture and creates food insecurity in the agency. Due to the mountainous terrain and limited surface water resources, the agriculture is done on the few small plains using water from the mountain streams. (Source: USAID-1990, profile of North Waziristan). There used to be thick forests on some of the higher ranges, such as the Shawal and Pir Ghal however, most of the wood has been cut in these areas.
South Waziristan is divided into three sub-divisions and a total of eight tehsils. The Wana sub-division comprises Wana, Birmal and Toi Khullah .The Sarwakai sub-division contains Sarwekai and Tiarza tehsils. The Ladha sub-division consists of the Ladha, Sararogha and Makin tehsils. According to 1998 census, the population of South Waziristan agency was 429,841 with population density of 65 persons per square kilometers and an annual growth rate of 1.95%.
South Waziristan Agency Map Showing its Geographical Location and Major Settlements