Baloch group of tribes speaking the Balochi language and estimated at about five million inhabitants in the province of Balochistān in Pakistan and also neighbouring areas of Iran and Afghanistan. In Pakistan the Baloch people are divided into two groups, the Sulaimani and the Makrani, separated from each other by a compact block of Brahui tribes.
he Baloch are traditionally nomads, but settled agricultural existence is becoming more common; every chief has a fixed residence. The villages are collections of mud or stone huts; on the hills, enclosures of rough stone walls are covered with matting to serve as temporary habitations. The Baloch raise camels, cattle, sheep, and goats and engage in carpet making and embroidery. Their agricultural methods are primitive. They profess Islam.
In ancient times, Iranian Balochistān provided a land route to the Indus River valley and the Babylonian civilizations. The armies of Alexander the Great marched through Balochistān in 326 bce on their way to the Hindu Kush and, on their return march in 325, experienced great hardships in the region’s barren wastes.
The Seljuq invasion of Kermān in the 11th century ce stimulated the eastward migration of the Baloch. The Seljuq ruler Qāwurd (Kavurt) sent an expedition against the Kufichis (Qufs), Baloch mountaineers whose banditry had long threatened the region’s southern and eastern parts. After suppressing the Baloch, the Seljuqs put watchtowers, cisterns, and caravansaries along the desert route to encourage trade with India. The Baloch remained rebellious under Ṣafavid rule (1501–1736). Western Balochistān was conquered by Iran in the 19th century, and its boundary was fixed in 1872. The Iranian government began to assist settlement and economic development in the 1970s by building dams and thermoelectric-power plants, though these efforts slackened after the Iranian Islamic Revolution.