South Khorasan Province
|South Khorasan Province
استان خراسان جنوبی
Location of South Khorasan within Iran
|• Total||69,555 km2 (26,855 sq mi)|
|• Density||9.1/km2 (24/sq mi)|
|Time zone||IRST (UTC+03:30)|
|• Summer (DST)||IRST (UTC+04:30)|
South Khorasan Province (Persian: استان خراسان جنوبی Ostān-e Khorāsān-e Jonūbī ) is a province located in eastern Iran. Birjand is the centre of the province. The other major cities are Ferdows, Tabas and Qaen.
This new province, is but the old Quhistan which was included into greater Khorasan in the Iranian administrative planning. However, historically Qohistan forms a separate entity, with a distinct culture, history, environment and ecology.
South Khorasan is one the three provinces that were created after the division of Khorasan in 2004. While at the beginning, the newly created "South Khorasan" included only Birjand County and some new counties detached from that county (i.e. Nehbandan, Darmian and Sarbisheh), in subsequent years, all northern and western cities and territories of the old Quhistan (such as Qaen, Ferdows and Tabas) have been annexed into the South Khorasan.
Greater Khorasan has witnessed the rise and fall of many dynasties and governments in its territory throughout history. Various tribes of the Arabs, Turks, Kurds Mongols, Turkemen and Afghans brought changes to the region time and time again.
Ancient geographers of Iran divided Iran ("Iran-Shahr") into eight segments of which the most flourishing and largest was the territory of Greater Khorasan. Esfarayen, among other cities of the province, was one of the focal points for residence of the Aryan tribes after entering Iran.
During the Sassanid dynasty the province was governed by a Spahbod (Lieutenant General) called "Padgoosban" and four margraves, each commander of one of the four parts of the province.
In the year 651, the army of Islamic Arabs invaded Khorasan. The territory remained in the hands of the Abbasid clan until 820, followed by the rule of the Iranian Taherid clan in the year 896 and the Samanid dynasty in 900.
Mahmud Qaznavi retaliated against the invaders several times, and finally the Qaznavi Turks defeated Sultan Sanjar. But there was more to come, as in 1157 Khorasan was conquered by the Khwarazmids and because of simultaneous attacks by the Mongols, Khorasan was annexed to the territories of the Mongol Ilkhanate.
During the Qajar period, Britain supported the Afghans to protect their East India Company. Herat was thus separated from Persia, and Nasser-al-Din Shah was unable to defeat the British to take back Herat. Finally, the Paris Treaty was concluded in 1903 and Iran was compelled not to challenge the British for Herat and other parts of what is today Afghanistan.
Finally Khorasan was divided into two parts: the eastern part, which was the most densely populated region came under British occupation, and the other western section remained part of Iran.
Khorasan was the largest province of Iran until it was divided into three provinces on September 29, 2004. The provinces approved by the parliament of Iran (on May 18, 2004) and the Council of Guardians (on May 29, 2004) were Razavi Khorasan, North Khorasan, and South Khorasan.
South Khorasan today
South Khorasan has many historical and natural attractions, but besides these, South Khorasan encompasses various religious buildings and places of pilgrimage as well.
The Cultural Heritage of Iran lists 1179 sites of historical and cultural significance in all three provinces of Khorasan.
In the past, Birjand was a small part of a region which called Qohestan. Qohestan, was a part of old Khorasan which now is named South Khorasan Province. The main cities of Qohestan, were Toon (now Ferdows) and Qaen. Birjand grew in recent centuries especially during Qajar dynasty and found its important role in this region.
On the one hand, this region was a place of refuge for some movements like the Ismaili, and was the target of Arab refugees who escaped from the tyranny of the Abbasid Caliphate. On the other hand, some Zoroastrian vestiges have exist in the area.
Some of the popular attractions of South Khorasan are:
- Ferdows Hot Mineral Spring
- Ferdows Congregation Mosque or Jame’ mosque of Ferdows
- Ferdows Religious School
- Nehbandan citadel
- Furg citadel
- Ferdows Religious School (Belonged to Safavid dynasty)
- Kolah Farangi mansion in Birjand
- Ghal'eh Paeen-Shahr
- Chahr Derakht Mosque
- Amir Abad garden
- Behgard Garden
- Akbariyeh Garden
- Chenshat cave,
- Jame’ mosque of Birjand
- Imamzadeh Mosa,
- Alam palace
- deragon cave in Sarayan
- ghaleh ghala castle of Sarayan
and 260 other sites of historical and cultural significance, as listed by Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization.
Colleges and universities
- University of Birjand
- Birjand University of Medical Sciences
- Islamic Azad University of Birjand
- Islamic Azad University of Ferdows
- The text of the law for division of Khorasan into three provinces (in Persian)
- Cultural Heritage Foundation of Khorasan
||Semnan Province||Razavi Khorasan Province||Herat Province, Afghanistan|
|Yazd Province, Isfahan||Farah Province, Afghanistan|
|Yazd Province||Kerman Province, Sistan and Baluchestan Province||Sistan and Baluchestan Province|