Quetta is the provincial capital and largest city of Balochistan, Pakistan. It has a population of 1,001,205 according to the 2017 census. The city is known as the fruit garden of Pakistan, due to the numerous fruit orchards in and around it, and the large variety of fruits and dry fruits produced there. The immediate area has long been one of pastures and mountains, with varied plants and animals relative to the dry plains to the west. Quetta is at an average elevation of 1,680 meters (5,510 feet) above sea level, making it Pakistan's only high-altitude major city. Located in northwestern Balochistan near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, Quetta is a trade and communication centre between the two countries. The city lies on the Bolan Pass route which was once one of the major gateways from Central Asia to South Asia. Quetta played an important role militarily for the Pakistani Armed Forces in the intermittent Afghanistan conflict.Quetta is also spelled Kuwatah, which is a variation of Kot, a Pashto word meaning "fortress". It is believed that it relates to the four imposing hills (Zarghun Ghar, Chiltan, Takatu, and Murdaar) that surround the city and form a natural bulwark.