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West Azerbaijan Province

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Title: West Azerbaijan Province  
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Subject: Azerbaijan (Iran), East Azerbaijan Province, Chaldoran County, Miandoab, Provinces of Iran
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West Azerbaijan Province

West Azerbaijan Province
استان آذربایجان غربی
Map of Iran with West Azerbaijan highlighted
Location of West Azerbaijan within Iran
Country  Iran
Region Region 3
Capital Urmia
Counties 17
 • Governor Ghorbanali Saadat
 • MPs of Parliament West Azerbaijan Province parliamentary districts
 • MPs of Assembly of Experts Namazi, Dirbaz & Ali Akbar Ghoreyshi
 • Representative of the Supreme Leader Mehdi Ghoreyshi
 • Total 37,437 km2 (14,455 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 3,080,576
 • Density 82/km2 (210/sq mi)
Time zone IRST (UTC+03:30)
 • Summer (DST) IRST (UTC+04:30)
Main language(s) Persian (official)
local languages:

West Azerbaijan Province[11] 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.[12] 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).[13] The capital city and largest city of the province is Urmia.


  • Archaeology 1
  • History 2
  • Geography and climate 3
  • Administrative divisions and cities 4
    • Cities and larger towns 4.1
  • Peoples 5
  • Religion 6
  • West Azerbaijan today 7
  • Culture 8
    • Colleges and universities 8.1
  • References 9
  • External links 10


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.[14][15][16] 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 Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran.


The region of the modern province as Matiene, as opposed to Atropatene to the east

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 civilisation.[17] 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.[18][19]

In the late 4th century AD the Sassanids incorporated the area into the neighbouring Adhurpadagan satrapy to the east.[20] The name Adhurpadagan, later Arabicized to Azerbaijan, derives from Atropates,[21][22] an Iranian satrap of Media under the Achaemenid empire, who later was reinstated as the satrap of Media under Alexander of Macedonia.[23]

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 Mākū , Ḵoy, Salmās, and Arasbārān, and the region of Urmia, according to 19th century administrative division became a part of the northwestern Iranian province of Azerbaijan.[24] 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;[25]
  • Simko Insurrections, west of Lake Urmia from 1918 to 1922;[26]
  • 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.[27] 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.[28]

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,[29] of which a substantial proportion is snow.

Administrative divisions and cities

West Azerbaijan counties

West Azerbaijan Province is divided into fourteen counties:

Cities and larger towns

Rank City/town Population
1. Orūmīyeh 583,255
2. Khoy 181,465
3. Būkān 150,703
4. Mahābād 135,780
5. Mīāndoāb 114,153
6. Salamas 81,342
7. Naghadeh 73,438
8. Piranshahr 58,177
9. Takāb 44,043
10. Mākū 42,560
11. Sardasht 37,699
12. Shāhīndezh 34,660
13. Oshnaviyeh (Oshnūyeh) 30,632
14. Qareh Zīā'oddīn 22,671

Source: Statistical Centre of Iran


There are no official statistics or census figures on the ethnic makeup of Iran. Most of the population in West Azerbaijan Province are Azeris[2][3] 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[30] with 76.2 percent of the population[31] and Kurds with 21.7% percent respectively[31] 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.[6][7][8][9][10]

West Azerbaijan Ethnic Composition in 2012[31]
ethnicity percent
without answer


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 (or Ahl-e Haqq, اهل حق) 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[32] 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.[33]

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

Kakh Muzeh Maku, near Maku, built by one of the commanders of Mozzafar-al-Din Shah, is a popular attraction.

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.[4]

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:

گزیده هر چه در ایران بزرگان
زآذربایگان و ری و گرگان

All the nobles and greats of Iran,
Choose from Azerbaijan, Gorgan.
Vis o Ramin

از آنجا بتدبیر آزادگان
بیامد سوی آذرآبادگان

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

بیک ماه در آذرآبادگان
ببودند شاهان و آزادگان

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 [5]
  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


  1. ^ Selected Findings of National Population and Housing Census 2011
  2. ^ a b "Geography: Turkic-speaking Groups" Iran: A Country Study, Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, (2008)
  3. ^ a b Minahan, James (2002) Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: S-Z (Volume 4 of Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: Ethnic and National Groups Around the World) Greenwood Publishing Group, Westport, Connecticut, page 1765, ISBN 978-0-313-32384-3
  4. ^ Price, Glanville (editor) (2000) Encyclopedia of the languages of Europe Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, England, page 21, ISBN 978-0-631-22039-8
  5. ^ Shaffer, Brenda (2002) Borders and brethren: Iran and the challenge of Azarbaijani identity, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, page 1, ISBN 978-0-262-69277-9
  6. ^ a b گنجینه ای بنام آذربایجانغربی - سازمان تعزیرات حکومتی (The government suspended) Farsi
  7. ^ a b معرفی آذربایجان غربی - پورتال جامع آذربایجان غربی (Farsi & English)
  8. ^ a b آذربایجان غربی ؛ رنگین کمان اقوام و اقلیت ها در مسیر توسعه - مهر نیوز Mehr News (Farsi)
  9. ^ a b گردشگری استان - سازمان نظام کاردانی ساختمان استان آذربایجان غربی (Farsi)
  10. ^ a b استان آذربایجان غربی - سايت جامع گردشگري ايران (Farsi)
  11. ^ Locally, "West Azerbaijan Province" is written: Persian: استان آذربایجان غربی‎‎, Ostān-e Āzarbāijān-e Gharbī; :Azerbaijani: غربی آذربایجان اوستانی;
  12. ^ "همشهری آنلاین-استان‌های کشور به ۵ منطقه تقسیم شدند (Provinces were divided into 5 regions)". Hamshahri Online (in Persian). 22 June 2014 (1 Tir 1393, Jalaali). Archived from the original on 23 June 2014. 
  13. ^ "Azarbayejān-e Gharbi". World Gazetteer. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. 
  14. ^ "World's Oldest Known Wine Jar" University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
  15. ^ Voigt, Mary M. and Meadow, Richard H. (1983) Hajji Firuz Tepe, Iran: the neolithic settlement University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ISBN 0-934718-49-0
  16. ^ Bert G. Fragner, ‘Soviet Nationalism’: An Ideological Legacy to the Independent Republics of Central Asia ’ in” in Van Schendel, Willem(Editor) . Identity Politics in Central Asia and the Muslim World: Nationalism, Ethnicity and Labour in the Twentieth Century. London , GBR: I. B. Tauris & Company, Limited, 2001. Excerpt from pg 24: "Under Soviet auspices and in accordance with Soviet nationalism, historical Azerbaijan proper was reinterpreted as 'Southern Azerbaijan', with demands for liberation and, eventually, for 're'-unification with Northern (Soviet) Azerbaijan a breathtaking manipulation. No need to point to concrete Soviet political activities in this direction, as in 1945–46 etc. The really interesting point is that in the independent former Soviet republics this typically Soviet ideological pattern has long outlasted the Soviet Union."
  17. ^ Hovannisian, Richard G. (1999). Armenian Van/Vaspurakan. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers.  
  18. ^  
  19. ^ Susan Paul Pattie (1997). Faith in History: Armenians Rebuilding Community. Smithsonian Institution Press. p. 40.  
  20. ^ Richard G. Hovannisian, 2004, The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume I: The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century, Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 1-4039-6421-1, ISBN 978-1-4039-6421-2, p. 92
  21. ^ Minorsky, V.; Minorsky, V. Ādharbaydjān (Azerbāydjān). Encyclopaedia of Islam. Edited by P.Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2007. Brill Online. [6]
  22. ^ Encyclopædia Iranica, "Azerbaijan: Pre-Islamic History", K. Shippmann
  23. ^ Historical Dictionary of Azerbaijan by Tadeusz Swietochowski and Brian C. Collins. The Scarecrow Press, Inc., Lanham, Maryland (1999), ISBN 0-8108-3550-9 (retrieved 7 June 2006)
  24. ^ Ehsan Yar-Shater, 1982, Encyclopaedia iranica: publisher: Routledge & Kegan Paul, University of California, Volume 2, Issues 5-8, p. 476
  25. ^ The Kurdish Question, by W. G. Elphinston, Journal of International Affairs, Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1946, p.94
  26. ^ The Kurdish Question, by W. G. Elphinston, Journal of International Affairs, Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1946, p.97
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ See Iranian Meteorological Agency
  30. ^ Federal Research Division, 2004, Iran A Country Study, Kessinger Publishing, ISBN 1-4191-2670-9, ISBN 978-1-4191-2670-3, p. 121, "The Azeri area of Iran includes most of West Azarbaijan"
  31. ^ a b c General Culture Council of Islamic Republic of Iran for West Azerbaijan province: فهرست نویسی پیش از انتشار کتابخانه ملی جمهوری اسلامی ایران * شماره کتابشناسه ملّی:۲۸۹۰۶۹۰ *عنوان و نام پدیدآورنده:طرح بررسی و سنجش شاخص های فرهنگ عمومی کشور(شاخص های غیرثبتی){گزارش}:گزارش های پیشرفت طرح ها وکلان شهرها/به سفارش شورای فرهنگ عمومی کشور؛مدیر طرح و مسئول سیاست گذاری:منصور واعظی؛اجرا:شرکت پژوهشگران خبره پارس *بهاء:۱۰۰۰۰۰ ریال-شابک:۷-۶۸-۶۶۲۷-۶۰۰-۹۷۸ *وضعیت نشر:تهران-موسسه انتشارات کتاب نشر ۱۳۹۱ *وضعیت ظاهری:۲۹۵ ص:جدول(بخش رنگی)،نمودار(بخش رنگی)*یادداشت:عنوان دیگر:طرح و بررسی و سنجش شاخص های فرهنگ عمومی کشور(شاخص های غیرثبتی) سال ۱۳۸۹ *توصیفگر:شاخص های غیرثبتی+شاخص های فرهنگی+گزارش های پیشرفت طرح ها و کلان شهرها *توصیفگر:ایران ۳۸۶۲۸۹ *تهران۱۹۹۰۶۶ /مشهد۲۹۲۳۴۱ /اصفهان ۱۷۰۰۱۷/تبریز۱۸۴۸۱/کرج ۲۷۸۲۵۲/شیراز۲۵۱۷۰۳/اهواز۱۷۶۴۰۳/قم۲۷۰۸۷۷ *شناسنامه افزوده:واعظی،منصور،۱۳۳۳-۷۳۵۰۶۸ *شناسنامه افزوده:شرکت پژوهشگران خبره پارس /شورای فرهنگ عمومی *مرکز پخش:خیابان ولیعصر،زرتشت غربی،خیابان کامبیز،بخش طباطبایی رفیعی،پلاک۱۸،تلفن:۷-۸۸۹۷۸۴۱۵ *لیتوگرافی،چاپ وصحافی:سازمان چاپ و انتشارات اوقاف , (German)Titel: Der Plan um Untersuchungen und Auswertungen der Indikatoren der generellen Kultur des Landes, ISBN 978-600-6627-68-7, Jahr der Veröffentlichung: 2012, Verlag: Ketabe Nashr |language=Persian
  32. ^ Balādâorī and Ebn Kordādâbeh
  33. ^ "As a matter of fact, only untrustworthy and late traditions place Zoroaster's birthplace at Urmia." Tarbiyat, Muḥammad Ali (1935) Dānishmandān-i Āzarbayjān Tehran, p. 162, reissued in 1999, ISBN 964-422-138-9

External links

  • Official website of West Azerbaijan Governor’s Office
  • West Azerbaijan’s Government Portal
  • Urmia sport news agency
  • West Azerbaijan Provincial Management Organization
  • West Azerbaijan Cultural Heritage Organization
  • Recent photos from Azerbaijan
  • Lake Urmia UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
  • About Urmia
  • Urmia Website
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