The University was established in 2002 by a charter from the Federal Government on the orders of President Pervez Musharraf.
The University is situated against a dramatic backdrop of steep mountains at the confluence of the Gilgit and Hunza rivers.
The main and currently the only campus of the university is located in Gilgit, the central town of the entire Northern Areas. Gilgit has an airport, providing daily flights to Islamabad, punctuated only by adverse weather conditions. The famous Karakoram Highway (KKH), formerly known as part of the Silk Route, runs all the way for Islamabad to the Khunjarab Pass (the Chinese border), passing through Gilgit. An offshoot of the KKH connects Gilgit with Skardu (Baltistan).
Gilgit gets very hot in June and July, whereas it is severely cold in December and January. However, travel by road and by air continues throughout the year.
The campus, situated on the University Road, is easily accessible from the airport and the bus station. Taxis are found all around the town and are a convenient way of transport.
According to its charter, KIU is to be a multi-campus university and is to seek to establish its various campuses where feasible, according to the availability of special support, local resources and indigenous expertise. Currently it has nearly 2000 students with one-third females, 80 faculty members and nearly 200 staff members.