South Waziristan (Pashto: جنوبی وزیرستان) is the southern part of Waziristan, a mountainous region of northwest Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan and covering some 11,585 km² (4,473 mi²). Waziristan comprises the area west and southwest of Peshawar between the Tochi River to the north and the Gomal River to the south, forming part of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa lies immediately to the east. The region was an independent tribal territory from 1893, remaining outside of British-ruled empire and Afghanistan. Tribal raiding into British-ruled territory was a constant problem for the British, requiring frequent punitive expeditions between 1860 and 1945. Troops of the British Raj coined a name for this region "Hell's Door Knocker" in recognition of the fearsome reputation of the local fighters and inhospitable terrain. The region became part of Pakistan in 1947.
Waziristan is divided into two "agencies", North Waziristan and South Waziristan, with estimated populations (as of 1998) of 361,246 and 429,841 respectively. The two parts have quite distinct characteristics, though both tribes are subgroups of the Waziris and speak a common Waziri language. They have a reputation as warriors and are known for their frequent blood feuds. Traditionally, feuding local Waziri religious leaders have enlisted outsiders—in the Pakistani government, and more recently U.S. forces hunting al-Qaeda fugitives—in attempts at score-settling. The tribes are divided into sub-tribes governed by male village elders who meet in a tribal jirga. Socially and religiously, Waziristan is an extremely conservative area. Women are carefully guarded, and every household must be headed by a male figure. Tribal cohesiveness is strong through so-called Collective Responsibility Acts in the Frontier Crimes Regulation.
Waziristan is named after the Pashtun Wazir tribe. In terms of area South Waziristan is the largest agency in FATA. It has two headquarters: Tank is the winter headquarters of the Agency while Wana is its summer headquarters. It has been functioning since 1895. It is bound to the north by the North Waziristan Agency, to the north-east by Bannu and Lakki Marwat Districts, to the east by Tribal Area Adjoining Tank District and D.I. Khan Districts, to the south by Zhob District of Balochistan Province and Tribal Area Adjoining D.I. Khan District, and to the west by Afghanistan. The total area of the Agency is 6,619 km².
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