Iran Tourism Attraction/West Azerbaijan Province

West Azerbaijan Province

West Azerbaijan Province tourist information

West Azerbaijan Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran . It is in the northwest of the country , bordering Turkey , Iraq and Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic , and the provinces of East Azerbaijan , Zanjan and Kurdistan . The province is part of Region 3 . It is separated from Armenia by Turkey's short border with the Azerbaijan Republic . The province of West Azerbaijan covers an area of 39,487 km² , or 43,660 km² including Lake Urmia . In 2012 the province had a population of about 3 million (estimate) . The capital city and largest city of the province is Urmia .



Permanent settlements were established in the province as early as the 6th millennium BC as excavation at sites such as Teppe Hasanlu establish . In Hasanlu , a famous Golden Vase was found in 1958 . The province is the location of Tepe Hajji Firuz , site of some of the world's earliest evidence of wine production . Gooy Teppe is another significant site , where a metal plaque dating from 800 BC was found that depicts a scene from the epic of Epic of Gilgamesh .

Ruins such as these and the UNESCO world heritage site at the Sassanid compound of Takht-i-Suleiman illustrate the strategic importance and tumultuous history of the province through the millennia . Overall , the province enjoys a wealth of historical attractions , with 169 sites registered by the Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran .



The major known ancient civilization in the region was that of Mannaeans , a buffer state between Urartian and Assyrian sphere of influence . Mannaeans in turn spoke a language related to Urartian . After the fall of Assyria , the region was known as Mantiene (or Matiene) in Greek sources . Matiene bordered on Atropatene situated east of Lake Urmia .

The region is known as Vaspurakan in Armenian history and made up an important part of historical Armenia , functioning as one of the cradle's of Armenian civilization . On 26 May 451 AD , a very important battle was fought that would prove immensely pivotal in Armenian history . On the Avarayr Plain , at what is modern-day Churs in the West Azerbaijan Province , the Armenian Army under Vardan Mamikonian clashed with Sassanid Persia . Although the Persians were victorious on the battlefield itself , the battle proved to be a major strategic victory for Armenians , as Avarayr paved the way to the Nvarsak Treaty (484 AD) , which affirmed Armenia's right to practice Christianity freely .

In the late 4th century AD the Sassanids incorporated the area into the neighbouring Adhurpadagan satrapy to the east . The name Adhurpadagan , later Arabicized to Azerbaijan , derives from Atropates , an Iranian satrap of Media under the Achaemenid empire , who later was reinstated as the satrap of Media under Alexander of Macedonia .

At 7th century this area was under Islamic rule . After Babak Khorramdin revolted , the grip of the Abbasid caliphate weakened , allowing some native dynasties to rise .The Seljuk Turkic tribes , who were initially resisted by the local Hadhabani Kurds , eventually conquered the region in the 11th and early 12th centuries . During Timurid rule in the 14th century , Khoy gained an important role in all over the region . After Hadhabanis , three other Kurdish principalities , Mukriyans in southern part , Bradosti in the middle and Donboli in the northern part ruled the region for centuries , who temporarily sided with either the Ottomans or Safavids . The battle of DimDim between the Safavids and local Bradosti Kurds took place in this region . After a long and bloody siege led by the Safavid grand vizier Hatem Beg , which lasted from November 1609 to the summer of 1610 , the Castle of Dimdim was captured . All the defenders were killed and Shah Abbas I ordered a general massacre in Bradost and Mukriyan (reported by Eskandar Beg , Safavid historian in the book Alam Aray-e Abbasi) and resettled the Afshar tribe in the region while deporting many Kurdish tribes to Khorasan region , where many of their descendants still reside of as of today .

The Safavid control was firmly restored by Shah Abbas but during the Afghan invasion (1722–8) more than a century later , the Ottomans captured the northwestern regions of Iran , until Nadir Shah expelled them and reasserted Iranian suzerainty over the region and far beyond . The Russian (Tsarist) army occupied the region in 1909 , and again in 1912–1914 and 1915 - 1918 period . The Ottomans occupied the region in 1914 - 1915 and 1918 - 1919 periods . The Soviet forces occupied the region in 1941 , resulting in establishment of a short-lived , Soviet-supported puppet state called the Republic of Mahabad , from November 1945 to November 1946 .

The districts of M?kū  , Ḵoy , Salm?s , and Arasb?r?n , and the region of Urmia , according to 19th century administrative division became a part of the northwestern Iranian province of Azerbaijan . In 1937 the province was renamed to Shomal-e gharb (northwestern province) Shortly after it the province of Azerbaijan was divided into a western and eastern part which were renamed to Chaharom (fourth province) and sevom (third province) , respectively . In 1961 Fourth province was renamed West Azerbaijan by the Iranian authorities .

Some events in the 19th and 20th centuries are :

•        Shaikh Ubeidullah Attacks , west and south of Lake Urmia in 1880

•        Simko Insurrections , west of Lake Urmia from 1918 to 1922

•        The Soviet occupation in 1944

•        The foundation and destruction of the Azerbaijan People's Government in 1945-1946

•        The foundation and destruction of the Republic of Mahabad in 1946 in County of Mahabad

•        Periodic severe fighting from 1979 until the 1990s near to boundreies of Iraq-Iran between kurdish militia belonging to kurdish political parties and the Iranian government . During the early 1980s parts of the province were outside central government's control .


Geography and climate

With an area of 43,660 square kilometers , including Lake Urmia , the province of West Azerbaijan is located on the northwest of Iran .

The climate of the province is largely influenced by the rainy winds of the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean . Cold northern winds affect the province during winter and cause heavy snow .

According to meteorological data , local temperatures vary within the province . Average temperature differs from 9.4 °C in Maku to 11.6 °C in Tekab , while it is 9.8 °C in Urmia , 10.8 °C in Khoy , 9.4 °C in Maku 11.6 °C. According to same data , the highest temperature in the province reaches 34 °C in July , and the lowest temperature is –16 °C in January . Maximum change of temperature in summer is 4 °C and in winter 15 °C . Average annual precipitation ranges from 870 millimetres (34 in) of rainfall equivalent in exposed southern areas down to around 300 millimetres (12 in) in Maku in the north , of which a substantial proportion is snow .


Administrative divisions and cities

West Azerbaijan Province is divided into fourteen counties :

•        Bukan

•        Chaldoran

•        Khoy

•        Mahabad

•        Maku

•        Miandoab

•        Naghadeh

•        Oshnaviyeh

•        Piranshahr

•        Salmas

•        Sardasht

•        Shahindej

•        Takab

•        Urmia



There are no official statistics or census figures on the ethnic makeup of Iran . Most of the population in West Azerbaijan Province are Azeris and Kurds . There are three other ethnic and religious groups who are native to the province and have minority status : Armenians , Assyrians , and Jews . Assyrians once took up a population , but due to the Turks invading the area with hopes to chase down Assyrians who fled here to escape the Assyrian Genocide in the early 1900s , near all were massacred or displaced , and now there are now only 15,000 left . There are also kurdish immigrants from neighbor province in the some southern cities of the province .

The majority population of West Azarbaijan are Azeris with 76.2 percent of the population and Kurds with 21.7% percent respectively Azeris live mostly in Chaldoran , Maku , Khoy , Salmas , Urmia , Naghadeh , Miandoab , Shahindej and Takab counties and Kurds inhabit mostly Oshnaviyeh , Sardasht , Mahabad , Piranshahr and Bukan counties .



The diversity of religions in the province has been a major factor throughout the history of the province . The religions in the province are Shia and Sunni Islam , Christianity , Judaism , and Yarasani . Both Azerbaijanis and Kurds follow Islam , the Azerbaijanis belonging mainly to Shias and the Kurds being of the Sunni branch , nonetheless there are also Sunni Azeris in some parts of the province . The small minority who follow Yarasani are in decline . The remaining Armenians and Assyrians are Christians . The Jews follow Judaism . There were also Bahais and Zoroastrians in the province , although no recent statistics are available .

Some Muslim researchers have proclaimed that the birth of the prophet Zoroaster was in this area , in the vicinity of Lake Orumieh , Chichesht or Ganzak ; recent scholarship , however , indicates that sites in Central Asia are more likely .

In this province , Islam (Shiite and Sunni) is the majority religion . However , there is also a large Assyrians Christian minority , who have historically lived on the west shore of Lake Urmia .


West Azerbaijan today

The city of Urmia has a higher standard of living in comparison with the other cities of the province . There are plenty of parks , coffee shops , cinemas , and internet cafes throughout . There are hundreds of small villages in the province , most of which have running water and electricity as well as television , satellite , and telephone lines . Southern cities which economically are considered poor areas have always been the venue of Kurdish demonstrators against the Islamic regime .

West Azerbaijan Province is one of the most important provinces for Iran's agriculture .



West Azerbaijan possesses a rich culture , stemming from Azeri and Kurdish traditions . Many local traditions , such as music and dance , continue to survive among the peoples of the province . As a longstanding province of Persia , West Azerbaijan is mentioned favorably on many occasions in Persian literature by Iran's greatest authors and poets :

All the nobles and greats of Iran , Choose from Azerbaijan , Ray , and Gorgan .

Vis o Ramin

From there the wise and the free , set off to Azerbaijan


For a month's time , The Kings and The Free , Would choose in Azerbaijan to be



Colleges and universities

Urmia University was first built by an American Presbyterian missionary in 1878 . A medical faculty was also established there headed by Joseph Cochran and a team of American medical associates . Cochran and his colleagues were buried in an old cemetery in the vicinity of Urmia . Urmia University website says this about them :

"There they lie in peace away from their homeland , and the testimonial epitaphs on their tombs signify their endeavor and devotion to humanity" .

The province today has the following major institutes of higher education :

1-    Urmia University

2-    Urmia University of Medical Sciences

3-    Urmia University of Technology

4-    Islamic Azad University of Urmia

5-    Islamic Azad University of Salmas

6-    Islamic Azad University of Khoi

7-    Islamic Azad University of Mahabad

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