Wakhi is spoken in the sparsely populated upper portions of four of the northernmost valleys in Pakistan: Hunza (Gojal), Ishkoman, Yasin, and Yarkhun. The latter is located in Chitral District while the others are in the Northern Areas. Gojal, the part of the Hunza Valley from Gulmit northwards, upstream of Burushaski-speaking central Hunza, has the largest Wakhi population of any of the four areas. For Wakhis living in Gojal, Ishkoman, and Yasin, Gilgit is the primary center for trade and services, including government services. There they come into contact with speakers of various other languages, especially Shina and Burushaski. Urdu is often used as a trade language between those who do not share one of the local languages. For Wakhi people living in the Yarkhun Valley, Chitral is the major trade and service center. The total number of Wakhi speakers is estimated to be between 7,500 and 10,000.

 

The name Wakhi is derived from Wakhan, the name of the narrow corridor of Badakhshan province in Afghanistan which separates Pakistan from Tajikistan. The Wakhi people are traditionally pastoralists who keep herds of sheep, goats, cows, yaks, and, in some places, camels. Recently, due to improved education, many Wakhi people have also entered various other professions and service jobs, including government service, the medical profession, teaching, and engineering.

 

Most Wakhi people, like most of the other peoples who live in close proximity to them, belong to the Ismaili sect of Islam. The percentages of children going to school in Gojal and Imit, Ishkoman seem encouragingly high. In fact, all respondents from Gojal stated that 100 percent of the children in their villages were going to school. In Imit, the percentage was said to be about 70 percent. The Wakhi people in general seem to be quite progressive with respect to education, and are taking full advantage of the educational opportunities available to them. Both government and Agha Khan schools are operating in Wakhi areas.