The Province of Sistan & Baluchistan
The province of Sistan and Baluchistan is 178,431 km2 (68,893 sq mi) in the south-east of Iran bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan and its capital is Zahedan. Its major cities are Khash, Iranshahr, Saravan and commercial free port of Chabahar on the coast of Gulf of Oman.
The province comprises of two sections, Sistan in the north and Baluchistan in the south. In the south of Sistan and Baluchistan, the people are mostly Baluchi and speak the Baluchi language.
The name Baluchistan means ‘Land of the Baluchi’ in Farsi. Similarly, the Farsi name Sistan comes from the Old Persian Sakastana, meaning ‘Land of the Saka’.
The inhabitants of the province of ‘Sistan & Baluchistan’ continue to embrace their own norms and traditions, and the region has the potential to become one of the sight-seeing areas of Iran. The most tribes of the province are nomads and their means of livelihood, life-style, mode of dwelling, customs and traditions are worth seeing.
Many scholars, orators, and literary personalities have sprung up from this part of Iran, amongst which are the reputed Farrokhi Sistani, Yaqoub ibn Layth Saffar and Rostam (Great mythical hero and champion from the book of Shahnameh or ‘The Epic of Kings’).
In the epigraphs of Bistoon and Persepolis, Sistan is mentioned as one of the eastern territories of Darius the Great (Darius I of Achaemenid). The name Sistan, as mentioned above, is derived from Saka, one of the Aryan tribes that had taken control over this area in the year 128 BCE. From the Sassanid period till the early Islamic period, Sistan flourished considerably.
During the reign of Ardashir I of Sassanids, Sistan came under the jurisdiction of the Sassanids, and in 644CE, the Arab invaders gained control as the Persian Empire was in its final moments of collapsing.
The famous Yaqoub ibn Layth Saffar, whose descendants dominated this area for many centuries, later became governor of this province. Dynasties such as the Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, and Seljuqs, all ruled over this territory for periods as well. But the region witnessed particularly heavy damage during the Mongol invasion.
In 1508 CE, Shah Ismail I of the Safavid dynasty conquered Sistan, and during the reign of Nadir Shah of Afsharid due to internal discrepancies, the region underwent turmoil once more.
The ancient name of Baluchistan was Moka and through the passage of time it changed to Mokran, which is now the southern sector of Baluchistan. This territory came to be known as Baluchistan from the time that the Baluch tribes settled here.
According to the relics discovered in the hillocks of Baluchistan, the history of this region dates back to the 3000 BCE.
During the reign of Omar, the second caliph of Islam, this territory was conquered by the Arabs and an Arab commander was assigned as governor. In 916 CE, Baluchistan was conquered by the Daylamids and thereafter the Seljuqs, when it became a part of Kerman.
The combined Sistan & Baluchistan province today accounts for one of the driest regions of Iran with a slight increase in rainfall from east to west, and an obvious rise in humidity in the coastal regions.
The province is subject to seasonal winds from different directions, the most important of which are, the 120-day wind of Sistan known as Levar, the Qousse wind, the seventh (Gav-kosh) wind, the Nambi or south wind, the Hooshak wind, the humid and seasonal winds of the Indian Ocean, the North or (Gurich) wind and the western (Gard) wind.
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History of Khuzestan (part 2)
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