The Pakistani city of Sialkot may not be a household name, but it is the source of the Adidas footballs that are being used in the World Cup (as they had been in the last one).
In fact, Pakistan’s twelfth-largest city — with less than 700,000 residents — is the world’s largest producer of footballs, manufacturing of 40-60 million footballs annually, about 60% of global production. Sialkot is also the world’s biggest maker of surgical tools. Even Germany’s iconic lenderhosen are best crafted by the leather-workers of the city. Unlike many other manufacturing hubs, most of this work is done by family-owned small and medium sized enterprises, often clustering together to pool their resources.
Sialkot’s reputation for superb craftsmanship goes back centuries, where it was known for producing some of the finest paper in the vast Mughal Empire of South Asia. (As a result, it also became a major center of science and learning, given the wide availability of paper.) The city’s metalworkers also provided most of the fine weaponry of this powerful empire.
When the British took over, they too learned the value of the city’s skilled and adaptable artisans. It produced everything from bagpipes, to cricket equipment, and even surgical tools for medics in World War Two. Despite the partition of India destroying up to 80 percent of the city’s industry, and it has since bounced back as the unsung hero of global manufacturing today.
H/T: The Economist;