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Province of West Azarbaijan

lake urumieh

The province of West Azarbaijan covers an area of 39,487 km², or 43,660 km² including Lake Urmia. In 2006 the province had a population of 3,015,361. The capital city of the province is Urmia. The townships of Piranshahr, Oshnavieh, Bukan, Urmia, Takab, Chaldran, Khoy, Sardasht, Salmas, Shahindej, Maku, Mahabad, Miandoab and Naqadeh are in this province.


The name of Azerbaijan derives from Atropates, a Iranian satrap of Media under the Achaemenid empire, who later was reinstated as the satrap of Media under Alexander of Macedonia.

 The original etymology of this name is thought to have its roots in the ancient Zoroastrianism, namely, in Avestan Frawardin Yasht ('Hymn to the Guardian Angels'), there is a mentioning of: âterepâtahe ashaonô fravashîm ?azamaide, which literally translates from Old Persian as 'we worship the Fravashi of the holy Atare-pata'. Atropates ruled over the region of present-day Iranian Azerbaijan.

According to various sources cited in Encyclopedia Iranicathe current province of West Azarbaijan was part of the Sassanid Azarbadegan satrap as far back as the 3rd century. The current ruins of Takht-i Suleiman in today’s West Azarbaijan was the capital of the Azarbaijan Satrapy.

Permanent settlements were established in the province as early as the 6th millennium BCE as excavation at sites such as Teppe Hasanlu establish. In Hasanlu, a famous Golden Vase was found in 1958. Gooy Teppe is another significant site, where a metal plaque dating from 800 BCE was found that depicts a scene from the epic of Gilgamesh.

Ruins such as these and the UNESCO world heritage site at the Sassanid compound of Takht-e-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.

While some Islamic researchers have proclaimed that the birth of the prophet Zoroaster was in this area, in the vicinity of Lake Orumieh (Chichesht), Konzak City, recent scholarship indicates that Ardabil or sites in Central Asia are more likely.

The province continued to experience many wars over the centuries. Numerous Azeris arrived in the region, including to the west of Lake Urmia beginning around the 13th century.


The first monarch of Iran's Qajar dynasty, Agha Muhammad Khan, was crowned in Urmia in 1795.

Significant events in 19th and 20th century that took place are:

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

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

• The Soviet occupation in 1946

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

Geography and Climate

With an area of 43,660 square kilometers, including Lake Urmia,the province of West Azarbayjan is located on the north-west of Iran.

Pleasant climatic conditions have created suitable living conditions in the Azarbaijan provinces.

  Climatically, the province is influenced by the humid air currents of the Atlantic Ocean, and in the winter months the Mediterranean air currents have an effect here, bringing down the temperature.

 Generally the climate is variable, rising to 34?C in hot summer months and dropping to -16?C in the winter season, such that the cities of Urumieh and Maku have dry summers and cold winters, Mahabad has long, dry summers and extremely cold winters, whereas Naqadeh and Miandoab experience a semi-humid climate with mild summers and cold winters

West- Azarbayjan province, encompassing vast and fertile plains, high mountains, enjoying moderate and healthy weather, rivers with high volume of water, vineyards, orchards, luxuriant forest and rangelands, mountain outskirt with wonderful flora, magnificent wildlife and beautiful shores around the lake with different recreational facilities, which all together form one of the most beautiful and spectacular region in Iran. A land with wonderful flora during the spring and the summer covered with tulip, poppy, narcissus and hyacinth extending from Arass rivers banks in the north to Zab Kouchak valley in the south.

motalebkhan mosque in khoy



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

Notably, the city of Maku in northern West Azarbaijan was the only city in Iran (before World War II) where Christians comprised the majority.

 Before World War I, Christian Armenians and Assyrians compromised a significant minority in Urmia, but that during the Ottoman and Russian Wars (during WWI) many left the region.

West Azarbaijan today

Kakh Muzeh Maku, near Maku, built by one of the commanders of Mozzafar-al-Din Shah, is a popular attraction.In the city of Urumieh, some residents have a high standard of living in comparison with the other cities of the province. There are plenty of parks, coffee shops, cinemas, and internet cafes throughout the city. There are hundreds of small villages in the province as well, most of which have running water and electricity as well as television, satellite, and telephone lines.

West Azarbaijan province is one of the most important provinces for Iran’s agriculture.

maku city

Other links:

Photo Gallery:Takhte Jamshid,Shiraz

Hafez & Saadi tomb in Shiraz

The province of Qom

The Province of Markazi

Historical Palaces,Esfahan

Esfahan or Half the world

Introducing of Fars province

Kish Island

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