Location and Area
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.
The weather system in South Waziristan is extreme with hot summers and very cold winters. The winter season begins in November and lasts up to March. December, January and February are the coldest months. In winters, the temperature falls below freezing point in places of high altitude. The summer season starts in May and ends by September. June generally is the warmest month when the mean maximum temperature rises slightly over 30 degrees Celsius.
Most part of South Waziristan receives little precipitation as the agency is outside the monsoon zone. However, area at higher altitudes receives fair amount of rainfall. The western portion bordering Afghanistan is likely to receive more rainfall than the eastern portion touching on DI Khan. Most of the Agency receives about 200 mm of mean annual rainfall, while a small part in the south east receives higher rainfall than the agency average (Source: 1998 Census Report of South Waziristan Agency).
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.