Urdu is an Indo-European language which originated in the 13th century and is closely related to Hindi.
Urdu is the state language of Pakistan, spoken by 10 million Pakistanis as mother tongue. Worldwide, about 60 million mother tongue speakers exist. Including second language speakers, 104 million people speak Urdu. The language is spoken in these countries:
Urdu is written in a derivation of the Persian alphabet which is itself a derivation of the Arabic alphabet. Urdu differs in appearance from Arabic in that it used the more complex and beautiful Nastaleeq script whereas Arabic tends to the more modern Naskh. Nastaleeq is notoriously difficult to typeset so Urdu newspapers are made from hand-written masters. There are efforts underway to develop decent Urdu support on computers. (Hindi is written in the Devanagari alphabet.)
Transliterations of Urdu into english usually omit many subtle announciations which have no equivalent in english, such as a sharp exhale at the end of certain words.