Swat District (Pashto: سوات ولسوالۍ, pronounced [ˈswaːt̪]) is a district in the Malakand Division of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Centred upon the upper portions of the Swat River, the modern-day district was a major centre of early Buddhism under the ancient kingdom of Gandhara, due to which a strong presence of Buddhist cultural influence exists in the region. Swat was home to Hinduism and later Gandharan Buddhism until the 10th century, after which the area predominantly came under Muslim control and Islamic influence. Until 1969, Swat was part of the Yusafzai State of Swat, a self-governing princely state that was inherited by Pakistan following its independence from British rule. The region was seized by the Tehrik-i-Taliban in late-2007, and its highly-popular tourist industry was subsequently decimated until Pakistani control was re-established in mid-2009.
Swat’s capital is the city of Saidu Sharif, although the largest city and main commercial center is the nearby city of Mingora.[better source needed] With a population of 2,309,570 per the 2017 national census, Swat is the 15th-largest district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. With the exception of the uppermost regions of the valley, which are inhabited by ethnic Kohistanis, Swat is mostly inhabited by Yusufzai Pashtuns, who arrived in the region from the southern Kabul Valley in 16 CE.
The average elevation of Swat is 980 m (3,220 ft), resulting in a considerably cooler and wetter climate compared to the rest of Pakistan. With lush forests, verdant alpine meadows, and snow-capped mountains, Swat is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.